Before beginning any career, it’s important to have realistic expectations about wages and earnings potential. Especially here in the New York metropolitan area, where the cost of living is high, be sure the field you chose can provide the income and benefits you will need.
The heating, ventilation, air conditioning, and refrigeration (HVACR) industry offers great job opportunities and a promising career path. But, what is the typical HVAC technician salary and refrigeration technician salary in New York City? And, how does it compare with the wages in other careers that you might be considering?
Average HVAC & refrigeration technician salary in New York
HVACR salary compared with other jobs
According to the New York State Department of Labor, the average entry-level HVAC technician salary and refrigeration technician salary in New York City is $46,840 annually. Median wages average $67,045 and experienced workers get $85,193 or more. The starting salary for HVACR technicians is higher than the average entry-level salaries in New York City for other occupations including:
- Auto mechanic ($35,925 per year)
- Sanitation worker ($43,880 per year)
- Police (patrol) officer ($45,850 per year)
- Construction workers such as laborers ($32,590 per year), carpenters ($36,457 per year), painters ($40,493 per year), drywallers ($43,823), and roofers ($35,055 per year)
- Computer and office machine repair technician ($40,056)
Job requirements to consider
A job such as mechanical engineer has a higher average starting salary, at $67,190 annually. However, most entry-level jobs in that field require a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from an accredited school. That means a big investment in time and money before you even get a foot in the door. In addition, most mechanical engineers must be state licensed.
Becoming an officer in the NYPD has even more specific requirements:
- a minimum age (21)
- completion of 60 college credits with a minimum 2.0 grade point average or 2 years of active U.S. military service
- residency in one of the NYC boroughs or Nassau, Suffolk, Rockland, Westchester, Putnam, or Orange county
- Passing a written exam (with no guarantee of appointment to the force)
In contrast, none of those requirements apply to HVACR. Most companies in NYC will hire people for entry-level technician positions with a high school diploma or GED and little or no experience.
These entry-level technicians, called apprentices or helpers, are trained on the job by working alongside more experienced technicians. That means HVAC or refrigeration technicians start building their career experience and earning a good income right from the start.
Learn more about working in the HVAC & Refrigeration industry:
Wage standards for HVACR union workers
Workers in the HVACR field can also benefit from joining their local union. In the five boroughs and Long Island, the Enterprise Association of Steamfitters Local 638 is the branch of the United Association (UA) that represents HVACR technicians. They also represent pipefitters, sprinkler fitters, and plumbers.
By joining UA Local 638, HVACR technicians benefit from collective bargaining agreements that provide union members with a structured wage schedule. Technicians who stay on the job and put in the required hours receive standard wages.
Under the current agreement, here’s how the HVAC technician salary and refrigeration technician salary rate is structured:
- In year 1, earn $15.90 per hour for the first six months as a union service technician.
- For the second six months of year 1, earn $21.71 per hour.
- After one year, $26.21 per hour in year 2.
- Earn $30.53 per hour in year 3.
- Earn $36.87 per hour in year 4.
- In year 5, earn $44.85 per hour as a journeyman service technician.
According to the union contract, each January and July there may also be increases of $0.75 to $1.00 on top of the standard wages. (You can look for updates on UA Local 638 wage notices here.)
Overtime pay can also increase the HVAC or refrigeration technician salary significantly. Technicians earn time and a half for working after-hours or on Saturdays, and double time for working on Sundays.
Other union benefits that add value
Besides the HVAC technician salary and refrigeration technician salary rate, union members get other valuable benefits:
- Fully-funded individual or family medical, dental, vision, and life insurance coverage
- A pension that’s fully vested after 15 years in the industry
- Contractor-, state-, and union-sponsored training programs to kickstart a tech career, supplement on-the-job training, and keep technician up to date on new technology
- Paid time off for holidays, vacation time, sick days, and jury duty
- Bereavement pay in the even of a death in the immediate family
- Advocacy and support in disputes such as wrongful termination or improper pay
Other advantages of a career in HVACR
There is a growing, ongoing demand for technicians in the HVACR field. According to projections from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS):
- The need for HVACR mechanics and installers will increase 13% in the period from 2018 to 2028. That’s more than the average growth for all occupations combined.
- Right now, there is a shortage of about 70,000 jobs in HVACR. That shortage will grow to 115,000 jobs in the next few years.
That means HVACR companies need to hire more technicians, now and in the future.
For experienced workers in the New York City area, HVAC technician salary and refrigeration technician salary is more than $90,000 per year. And that’s not including overtime and benefits. While experienced mechanical engineers and police officers might earn more, advancement in those jobs usually come with additional requirements such as exams, certifications, or college degrees.
But as technicians gain more experience and skills, it naturally opens up opportunities for career growth and higher pay. Without the need for a college degree. For example, being a service technician can lead to positions such as job estimator, field supervisor, project manager, or operations manager.
In addition, the need for new technologies and more energy-efficient heating and cooling systems can open up opportunities for technicians to develop areas of specialization that may pay more.
To learn what skills can help you gain entry to the HVACR field, read our blog Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Jobs: What’s Required to Get Hired.
HVACR Career Connect NY was created to promote the exceptional quality-of-life benefits of a career in HVAC and Refrigeration service, and also to provide a clear path for getting started in the profession. In doing so, we serve as a resource for employers in the New York City metro area to find and hire smart and capable new technicians. We also serve as an educational resource to support business growth and to help service technicians succeed in their chosen profession.