The belief that the skilled trades are only for men is a myth. 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
There is projected to be an increase of over 20,000 new HVAC positions between now and 2031 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (bls.gov). Tides are shifting, and with many positions opening nationwide, the skilled trades have seen more and more women joining and dominating these industries.
How to Pursue an HVAC Career
Becoming an HVAC tech is the same process regardless of your sex. 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 people going into a trade. Most are non-gender related, so anyone is able to apply for them. But, there are a few specific scholarships out there to help women pay for their HVAC education.
- The Refrigeration School: This scholarship is only available to women enrolled in The Refrigeration School’s HVAC program. Scholarships are for those who demonstrate they are in need, and will not exceed $3,000.
- Women in HVAC/R: This organization offers a few different scholarships, each worth $2,000. One is for women going through a 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 breadwinners. The winner is awarded up to $16,000 to help pay for her education.
- ASHRAE Undergraduate Engineering Scholarships: This scholarship is not specific to women. Awards from $3,000-$10,000 are given out to students studying pre-engineering or engineering fields prepping them for HVAC.
- NAWIC: This scholarship is designated for women who are going into construction trades, including HVAC. The amounts awarded range from $500-$2,500.
As more women enter trade industries, organization have been founded to support their endeavors. Joining an organization that empowers and supports women 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.” There is also a conference held annually providing further knowledge and resources hosted by Women in HVACR.
Salary and Job Growth for Women in HVAC
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the 2021 average annual salary for HVAC technicians was $54,690, with the top 10% reporting an average of $78,210. You may find higher paying jobs within the wholesale trade industry, as well as educational services.
The top paying states for HVAC technicians in 2021 were, Alaska ($70,100), New Jersey ($68,460), New York ($66,180), and Hawaii ($69,100).
Outdated beliefs 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, a competitive salary, and a successful future.
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