The idea of skilled trades being exclusively for men is an outdated one. Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) is no exception. If you're a woman interested in pursuing HVAC, you should feel confident moving forward. After all, training, knowledge, and skill, are what make a quality technician.
Women and HVAC
The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts an increase of around 23,000 HVAC job openings between now and 2032. This increased opportunity combined with talented women becoming technicians paves a promising path for women wanting to begin their careers in the HVAC industry.
How to Pursue an HVAC Career
Becoming an HVAC tech is the same across the board, regardless of your gender. Women heading into the HVAC trade will go through the same rigorous training as their male classmates. First, you’ll have to decide whether you want to go through an apprenticeship, or through an HVAC program at a community college or trade school.
The "right" choice is the one that best fits your lifestyle and budget.
To become an HVAC tech, you must:
- Get your high school diploma or GED.
- Enroll in an apprenticeship, community college, or trade school. Apprenticeships take 3-5 years to complete. Associate degrees will take two years if you attend full time. Certificate programs can have you career-ready in as few as six months.
- Be licensed — most states will require it.
- Earn your certification. The EPA requires anyone handling refrigerants to be certified.
Once you have your license and certification, you will be able work as an HVAC technician.
Scholarships for Women Heading into HVAC
There are many scholarship options available to those going into the trades. Most are non-gender specific, but there are a few scholarships aimed at helping women wanting to pursue a career in HVAC. Keep in mind, scholarships are only available to those who qualify.
- The Refrigeration School: This scholarship is only available to women enrolled in The Refrigeration School’s HVAC program.
- Women in HVAC/R: This organization offers a few different scholarships. One is for women attending trade school, and the other is for those aiming to get a bachelor’s degree. You must be going into HVAC to be eligible.
- Live Your Dream through Soroptimist: These scholarships are awarded to women who are the primary financial support of their house holds. Aimed specifically at helping these women improve their lives, it is a great scholarship foundation, and not limited to HVAC alone.
- ASHRAE Undergraduate Engineering Scholarships: While not specific to women, it has many opportunities that are available to those preparing for a future in an HVAC/R program. Women entering the industry should take advantage of this scholarship!
- NAWIC: This scholarship is designated to assist women who are going into construction trades, including HVAC.
As more women enter trade industries, organizations have been founded to support their endeavors. Joining an organization that empowers and supports you is always highly encouraged, no matter what field you’re going into.
Having resources at your disposal and a community around you can create a strong support system. Look into organizations such as Women in HVACR. It was formed to “mentor and educate women on trends, technology, and opportunity within the HVACR industry.” The organization also hosts conferences and events to provide additional resources and support to technicians in the industry.
Salary and Job Growth for Women in HVAC
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the 2022 average salary for HVAC technicians was $57,460, with the top 10% reporting an average of $82,630. You may find higher paying jobs within the wholesale trade industry, as well as educational services.
The top paying states for HVAC technicians in 2022 were, Alaska ($72,200), Hawaii ($71,310), Minnesota ($70,080), and Massachusetts ($70,010).
Outdated ideas will continue to fade into the past as long as we continue to move forward. Women joining the HVAC industry can anticipate a great career and a successful future ahead.
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