HVAC Mechanic Career Profile in St. Louis, MO
HVAC technicians play an important role in the comfort and safety of people from all walks of life. Working with heating, air conditioning and refrigeration -- these individuals ensure that homes and businesses are comfortable to live and work in no matter what the weather happens to be outside. Anyone who has ever experienced an HVAC system failure in the heat of the summer or the dead of the St. Louis winter knows just how vital the work of HVAC technicians
Job Outlook for HVAC Mechanics
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projections for HVAC technicians are promising. These include:
- Employment growth for heating, air conditioning, and refrigeration mechanics and installers is projected to grow 21 percent from 2012 to 2022, faster than the average for all occupations.
- The commercial and residential construction industries are recovering from the recent economic troubles and are increasing production across the country.
Advanced Climate Control Fuels Growth
High-tech climate control systems are another area of expected growth in the HVAC industry. Rapid advances in technology are resulting in new and innovative ways of keeping the climate comfortable in buildings and homes while achieving as much energy efficiency as possible. HVAC technicians training
will be required to meet the increasing demand for these services.
Salary Outlook for HVAC Mechanics
The BLS offers encouraging data about this career path, including:
- The median annual wage for HVAC technicians in the United States in 2012 was $43,640.
- The lowest 10 percent of those surveyed made less than $27,330 while the highest 10 percent made over $68,990.
- The median annual wage for HVAC technicians in St. Louis in 2013 was $52,300.
Outlook of Career Path
The actual career path an HVAC technician takes will vary depending on the company or companies a person works for. Typically this career path will advance through four different stages of increasing responsibility and therefore increasing pay levels. These stages include:
- Service Technician - Most people who graduate with an HVAC degree begin as service technicians, providing repair, installation and maintenance services to residential and commercial customers.
- Field Manager - Works overseeing other technicians in the company.
- Operations Manager - This position oversees the bigger picture for an HVAC company, including managing field managers.
- Distribution Manager - Moving into the business side of a company, working to increase market penetration and increase sales on a company-wide level.
The career path of each HVAC specialist will depend on his/her training
and abilities, as well as the particular company he or she works for. Not everyone aims to be a distribution manager and may specialize in one area or another over time.
The career path of a St. Louis HVAC technician will depend on a number of different factors. Each company will have a set of guidelines it uses to determine advancement and ability. However, the demand projected by the BLS is a good indicator that this particular set of skills will remain desirable for some time to come. With cold winters and hot summers HVAC technicians in St. Louis can expect demand for their services -- not only for numerous new construction projects in the state, but also for everyday repair, maintenance and installation work from home owners and small businesses.
Education and Training for HVAC Technicians
There are several ways to enter the field, including:
- HVAC College or trade school degrees
- Now the most popular method of learning the basics of HVAC work, these programs can last from six months to two years and yield a certificate or associate's degree.
- Apprenticeship - It is still possible to learn through apprenticeship, which can take anywhere from three to five years and requires at least 2,000 hours on training on the job. Some formal education is still required in an apprenticeship, currently 144 hours according to the BLS.
Whether one chooses to go to school or to seek apprenticeship, a high school diploma or GED equivalent is necessary to begin down the career path.
Resources for HVAC Technicians
There are several good resources for HVAC technicians and those interested in this career. Some of these include:
American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers
Air Conditioning Contractors of America -- St. Louis Chapter
Bureau of Labor Statistics -- Heating, Air Conditioning, and Refrigeration Mechanics and Installers