As buildings continue to become more complex, the systems within them require installation and maintenance people who understand the latest technology. HVAC/R encompasses much of the field and the profession has an encouraging projected growth rate of an astounding 21%.
Where the Jobs Are
Industries such as construction, building maintenance and operations, and local air conditioning/heating retail and installation companies make up a large proportion of employers for this occupation. However, an often-overlooked employer is the government. Government encompasses everything from a small town or city government or government branch, to the federal government, including the military and the specific military forces. These are some of the opportunities one with HVAC training should look into when getting started.
Opportunities for employment by local government often include the title of inspector, and responsibilities can run the gamut from coordinating energy saving renovations in government buildings, to making sure that vital refrigeration and heating equipment are working properly. Inspectors usually work for agencies – such as the health department – that may have a technician insuring that the heat in a residential apartment building is working properly in the morning, and checking that a meat storage facility is operating at a safe cold temperature in the afternoon.
Other jobs in local government include working for agencies such as schools, government building maintenance, municipal-owned museums, and even the parks department. Duties include the maintenance and repair of systems, specifications for new equipment, inspections, and approval of installed units and other duties as assigned that vary within local governments.
Government data centers often have specific operating temperatures that if not followed, can result in data loss and equipment breakdown. An HVAC/R technician routinely inspects and monitors these facilities to guard against ambient temperature getting out of range.
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State and Federal Government (non-military)
Similar positions for HVAC/R technicians to those in local governments are available in the state and federal governments. However, the federal government has some very interesting agencies where the skills of a HVAC/R technician are in demand.
For example, the National Aeronautics and Space Agency is one. Working on the HVAC/R systems of spacecraft can involve working on the crew quarters, engine room, and filtration systems throughout the craft. At NASA, the average salary for an HVAC/R technician is $72,000, which is almost $10k more than the average salary for all NASA employees.
Every branch of the military has positions for HVAC/R technicians. While many of these positions come from being a member of a branch of the military, many other jobs are as civilian contractors for the armed forces.
A military HVAC/R mechanic works on more than climate control for structures. These military members also work on systems in tanks, submarines and other military vessels, and aircraft.
Heating, Air conditioning, Ventilation, and Refrigeration Engineers design new and modify existing climate control systems. They also prepare the protocols that mechanics use when inspecting and evaluating parts and systems. And the occupation is growing; work is available in many industries with some extraordinarily interesting possibilities. The pay is good, and should to continue to rise in the coming years.