Considering a career in the HVAC industry? It’s smart to consider not only the immediate job prospects in the NYC area, but also the HVAC job outlook over the long term.
Well, we have good news: experts predict a high rate of job growth for HVAC and Refrigeration. Here’s what you can expect, and what’s fueling the growth of the industry.
HVAC job outlook: HVAC and Refrigeration service jobs are growing, experts say
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (the principal federal agency responsible for measuring labor market activity), employment of heating, air conditioning, and refrigeration mechanics and installers is projected to grow 15 percent from 2016 to 2026, much faster than the average for all occupations. Nearly 50,000 new jobs will be added over the 10-year span.
What’s driving the growth?
Promising HVAC job outlook predictions from economic experts are great to see. But why are the experts so sure this will happen? Let’s take a look at some of the factors that are driving the growth of the HVAC and Refrigeration industry, and ensuring a healthy supply of new jobs.
NYC building boom
According to New York Building Congress, “New York is in the midst of its second and most robust building boom of the 21st century,” boosted by continued growth in residential construction and building of massive non-residential buildings throughout the city, as well as significant investment in public works projects.
What does this mean for the HVAC job outlook? Many more spaces that require heating, air conditioning, and refrigeration installation and service will bring increased work and more jobs to the NYC area.
Heating and cooling will always be in demand
In many industries, jobs are declining because demand decreases over time. That happens for many reasons, such as new technology taking over jobs that people once did, and jobs getting sourced overseas where there are less expensive sources of labor.
In the HVAC industry, local skilled workers will always be in demand. Everyone needs heating and cooling to live and to work, even during economic downturns. And, the work that must be done to provide heating and cooling requires human workers. Automated systems are helping to monitor and control systems, but people are needed to install and replace equipment, change out parts, make repairs, and perform regular maintenance.
In the HVAC and Refrigeration business, automated technology is creating the need for more jobs, rather than taking jobs away.
HVAC systems are being designed to work together with other systems, such as building automation systems and smart home systems that integrate control of different aspects of building operation. Here’s an example: in an office building, the CEO walks into the lobby. His presence is detected via an app, which signals his private elevator to descend to the lobby, his office lighting to turn on, and the HVAC to set his office temperature to his specific preferences.
How does this automation create more work for HVAC technicians?
- More retrofit opportunities as homeowners and business owners adopt the new technology.
- Complex systems have more components that take extra time to install and repair.
- Systems with more sophisticated technology may require more frequent maintenance with more components to check and optimize.
- New technology requires a new breed of HVAC technicians who not only understand traditional HVAC mechanics and troubleshooting, but also have electronics and computer technology skills.
- When automated systems become mission-critical, customers require faster response times and 24/7 availability.
For environmental reasons, the EPA has mandated the phase-out of a refrigerant (known as R22 or freon) that was formerly the industry standard used in many air conditioning and refrigeration systems. That means, over the next few years, many older systems that currently use R22 will need to be retrofitted to use newer refrigerants, or will need to be replaced.
That will boost the volume of work for HVAC and refrigeration service and installation technicians for at least the next few years.
Need for energy efficiency
Whether they are motivated by climate change, reducing expenses, earning utility rebates or tax incentives, or meeting regulatory requirements such as NYC’s new building emissions law, homeowners and business owners are increasingly interested in “going green” or decreasing their energy consumption. Building retrofit regulations aimed at carbon reduction are driving the demand for building energy improvements, including more efficient HVAC systems.
In fact, experts predict investment in energy efficiency to increase dramatically through 2020 and beyond, which will bring increased job security to HVAC and Refrigeration workers.
HVAC manufacturers are continuously improving the energy footprint of new systems. In fact, experts say that operational efficiency has improved 250% over the past 20 years. As a result, customers are choosing to upgrade systems sooner in order to get the energy-saving benefits of a more efficient system.
Plus, more customers are investing in preventative maintenance plans to keep their systems operating efficiently and minimize energy usage, which also serves to boost the HVAC job outlook.
The other factors we have described here are driving an increase in the amount of HVAC and Refrigeration service work. The other critical factor impacting the HVAC technician job outlook is the shrinking workforce. Right now, as the work is increasing, there are fewer skilled workers available to do it.
The US Bureau of Labor and Statistics estimates that there is currently a shortage of 70,000 jobs in HVAC and Refrigeration, and the shortage will grow to 115,000 over the next few years.
The shortage has happened primarily because a large portion of the current workforce is retiring or nearing retirement. Also, schools and parents are steering every student toward college, and high school technical programs that used to promote careers in the trades have all but dried up.
There’s never been a better time to begin a career in HVAC and Refrigeration service
For men and women with the right skills and aptitude, the HVAC job outlook is very promising, offering an unprecedented opportunity for a stable career in a growing industry.
Find out if you are a good fit for a career in HVAC and Refrigeration service by taking our quiz.