During World War II, the message movies, newspapers, and good old Rosie the Riveter sent women was to do their part to help defeat the Axis powers by entering skilled positions in aircraft and munitions factories.
Women did in unprecedented numbers. 1 Once the Allies won the war, many women traded in their tools for telephones and other traditionally female-dominated jobs. Since then, women have worked primarily in offices, schools and hospitals.
As the construction and manufacturing industries face a nationwide shortage of tradespeople, the country again needs female workers to close the skills gap. 2 3 With all the career opportunities and advantages that trades offer, there has never been a better time for women to apply a “We Can Do it!” attitude to finding a calling in these industries.
The future for female heating, ventilation, air conditioning, and refrigeration (HVAC/R) technicians is especially bright. Let’s take a closer look at how a career in HVAC/R can fit into women’s lives.
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HVAC/R Job Growth
We need our HVAC/R equipment to stay comfortable indoors, breathe quality air and keep perishable food around for a long time. Even so, this equipment doesn’t last forever. It has to be replaced every 10 to 15 years, and HVAC/R technicians are the men and women for the job. 4
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts 15% job growth for HVAC/R technicians through 2026. This is more than twice the national average job growth rate projection for all occupations. 5 The employment outlook for other skilled trades is also healthy, according to the BLS:
- 9% job growth for electricians
- 16% job growth for pipefitters
- 105% job growth for solar photovoltaic installers
An HVAC/R technician’s biggest responsibilities are installation, maintenance and reparation. Not all techs, however, work on the same equipment.
Some HVAC/R techs focus on only specific types of equipment 6:
- Heating and cooling units like furnaces and air conditioners
- Ventilation systems
- Refrigeration wiring, components and units
- Solar panels
HVAC/R & Skilled Trades Earning Potential
Not only can women help fill skilled job positions, they can also typically enjoy higher wages while doing so. Skilled trades are usually higher paying fields than traditionally female-dominated professions.
- Nursing assistants earn an average annual salary of $27,650.
- Receptionists take home $29,120.
- Preschool teachers make $33,300.
HVAC technicians, on the other hand, make $48,320 on average, and electricians make $56,650 on average.
HVAC/R Training Cost
The surest path to a career in installing, maintaining, and repairing heating, ventilation, air conditioning, and refrigeration equipment is formal HVAC/R training.
Most HVAC/R programs can be completed in 6 months to 2 years. 7 This means less time in school compared to other occupations that require four of more years of study at a university.
This also means a lower cost of education to become an HVAC/R technician. For example, four years of study can cost $112,000 at a public college and $236,000 at a private university.
Compare this to spending less than one year in trade school learning the HVAC/R trade: $16,600. This comes out to an average savings of between $94,000 and $114,000.
Vocational schools are also a viable educational path to other skilled trades, such as welding and electrical work. Both welding training and electrician programs can be completed within less than a year.
The HVAC/R Career Advantage
A career in the HVAC/R field can have a lot to offer women. Not only can women enter the HVAC/R industry in less time than is necessary for many occupations requiring a four-year degree and at a fraction of the cost, they also have the potential to earn more money once plying their trade in the field.
Women are an important part of the HVAC/R industry’s future. Learn more about the career opportunities for women to see how they fit into the bigger picture.
1 – http://www.history.com/topics/world-war-ii/rosie-the-riveter
2 – https://www.cbsnews.com/news/labor-shortage-a-new-blueprint-for-americas-construction-trades/
3 – https://www2.deloitte.com/us/en/pages/manufacturing/articles/boiling-point-the-skills-gap-in-us-manufacturing.html
4 – https://www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?c=heat_cool.pr_checklist_consumers
5 – https://www.bls.gov/ooh/installation-maintenance-and-repair/heating-air-conditioning-and-refrigeration-mechanics-and-installers.htm#tab-1
6 – https://www.bls.gov/ooh/installation-maintenance-and-repair/heating-air-conditioning-and-refrigeration-mechanics-and-installers.htm#tab-2
7 – https://www.bls.gov/ooh/installation-maintenance-and-repair/heating-air-conditioning-and-refrigeration-mechanics-and-installers.htm#tab-4