The salary of an HVAC technician has a wide range. On the low end of the spectrum, a technician makes about $26,000 per year (maybe less at entry level). On the high-end, the salary can be $68,000 per year or more. The average is between $43,000 and $44,000 with the median at around $42,000. There are many factors that can affect your salary as well as opportunities to steadily increase it.
What Affects the Salary?
There are several factors that affect salary that can be categorized as follows:
- Work hours
When an HVAC technician is specialized such as for refrigeration, the salary will naturally be higher due to the training that this employee brings to the company.
Those who are members of unions tend to be paid higher. However the fees associated with being part of a union might negate any higher wages.
The position is important as well. For example, if a technician gets a sales job with an HVAC equipment retailer or wholesaler then there is the potential for commissions. Of course if a technician moves to a supervisory or management position the pay will increase as well.
Technicians can increase their short range salaries by working more overtime during peak periods. Peak seasons are typically during the hot and cold months of the year. However, technicians must also practice good money management to compensate for low seasons.
Geographical location is also important with some of the highest salaries paid to technicians in New Jersey, Connecticut, and Alaska. Metropolitan areas such as New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Tampa, and Dallas pay top salaries as well.
Experience is just as important in this field as it is in any other. HVAC technicians who work on a variety of assignments over several years boost their marketability, especially if seeking another position with a different employer that offers a more attractive salary and benefits package.
How to Increase Your Salary
There are several ways as an HVAC technician to position oneself for a higher salary. Some of these ways are:
- Moving to a higher-paying location
- Becoming self-employed
- Getting specialized training
- Keeping up with new technology
It is important for an HVAC technician to always seek HVAC cross-training and specialization opportunities to increase salary. For example, if you start out as a maintenance-only type of technician, then look for opportunities to get into installation. As your skills become more diversified, you will naturally become a more valuable resource to your employer because you can be used on different types of projects.
While there are geographical locations that command higher salaries such as New York, it is important study the cost of living before making a move. Nonetheless, moving to a new location is one way to increase your salary provided that the cost of living is reasonable.
Some HVAC technicians go the self-employment route. Being self-employed is not necessarily a guarantee to higher pay. However, if you focus on marketing and building a strong client base you are unlikely to suffer setbacks as you would in a regular company should it go out of business or reduce staff.
Look for opportunities to get trained and become certified on any specialized equipment. Here again, it adds value to your resourcefulness and places more value on you as an employee because the scope of projects that you can be used on increases. At a minimum, you should be trained and certified on both heating and cooling so that you can be put on assignments throughout the year.
One area of new technology where you should seek all of the training and certification possible is in green and sustainable technology. This technology holds the promise for job sources of the future. Increasingly, new construction will be based on green standards as well as climate control systems that are more energy-efficient. Training and certification in aspects of this technology such as geothermal heating and cooling systems plus solar power will take you a long way and present more opportunities for salary advancement.