The HVAC Service Industry
Heating and air conditioning repair or service technicians along with installers are positions in demand throughout the largest portion of the United States, and other nations throughout the Spring and Summer. While full time positions for the entire year are certainly available, the simple fact of the matter is that an air conditioner has more moving parts within it than does a furnace for heating, and what this boils down to is the fact air conditioners have more need of repair, for having more parts likely to fail.
Heating, air conditioning, and refrigeration are all mechanical processes based on technology that isn't exactly new, but isn't likely at all to change or be improved upon in a significant way in our lifetimes. The refrigeration cycle does not change, but new refrigerants come into the fold, and so new things must always be learned as the refrigerant itself is a product of new technology, but the manner of cycle in which it is used to cool, and in some cases, heat a home, does not and will not change.
Electricity and electronics are forever a large part of the industry, and the workings of heating, air conditioning, and refrigeration systems, and just as with refrigeration's cycle - electricity, and the rules under which it functions - is a static thing. Electricity does not change, but new modes of electrical controls in heating, air conditioning, and refrigeration systems do get designed and implemented within such systems.
To become a top notch heating, air conditioning, ventilation and refrigeration technician - you need to have the ability to learn complex mechanical concepts. The refrigeration cycle, however, is more physics than mechanics - there is a lot of science involved in this industry too.
For myself, I had nothing in the way of mechanical experience when I started learning the heating, ventilation, air conditioning, and refrigeration industry. I'd not recommend jumping into this industry without first having some experience or real interest in mechanical things, and repairing them. Preferably, one should have some interest and experience in regards to repairing things that are both electrical and mechanical. As for myself, I jumped into HVAC simply because the opportunity presented itself, and I was sure I could learn it, and do it. While I certainly have learned to repair residential and light commercial HVAC equipment - it was far more difficult for me than it would have been for someone who had already had an interest in such things, and some experience in working on either electrical or mechanical devices.
Can A Woman Become An HVAC Service Technician?
There is absolutely no reason why a woman could not become an HVAC and refrigeration technician. There is nothing in this world to display why a woman can not learn to do anything that a man can learn to do. Women have just as much ability to learn scientific, or mechanical things as can any man. As is always the case, some individuals have more talent for some things than others.
As for myself, I am not a large man. I stand five feet and nine inches high from the ground, and I weigh about one hundred and fifty pounds. I am, however, a man - and because of this, I am vastly stronger than the largest majority of women in this world of comparable size. I am, however, often not strong enough to do all the lifting and moving of things like an a/c condenser on my own. Oh I can move the things for sure, but I can not pick one up and put it into a van or the back of a pickup truck, and neither can I pick one up and put it onto the back of a trailer. I can not tilt a large condenser back on a two wheel dolly, and then move it wherever it needs to go. Yes, sometimes the use of a strap can allow me to do the tilting back onto a dolly thing....but then there is still the loading or unloading of a new or replaced condenser onto a van, pickup, or trailer. So I have to have help with such things. In this sense, I am no different from any woman. Yes, there are six foot or even shorter or taller men who are vastly more powerfully built than I am, and they can do some things such as these on their own....but at their own peril do they do this. We each get exactly ONE back in our lives, and a condenser is a heavy piece of equipment.
There is a lot more, of course, to the heavy lifting in HVAC and refrigeration than moving around a condenser. Vacuum pumps, recovery machines, jugs of refrigerant, bags of tools, there are so many very heavy things to be lifted that the job of HVAC and refrigeration service technician isn't "likely" to be suited to a woman, but if a female somewhere was fit for the job, and determined to do it, then far be it from me to say, "no."
Literally, I'm a small man for this industry, but my somewhat small size has also made me rather useful in many ways - I can crawl into spaces where other men can not, and I can still move around and get to things others can not. Literally, there have been jobs that would not and could not have got done without someone like me, a smaller than normal for the trade male, to go and do it. So women smaller than myself, and not necessarily as stong as I, could certainly fill a roll in HVAC. There is no doubt in my mind about this.
There is Always Customer SERVICE In The Service Industry.
In the field of HVAC, I have excelled in one area more than any other. I can talk to people, and I can sense their moods, and I can simply get along with folks that other people are left clueless on how to deal with. Little wonder that I have also in my working adult life excelled also in sales. I can talk to you. I can knock on your door, and you, a total stranger will not be suspicious of me, in fact, before we are done, you are very likely to offer me coffee, soda, water, beer even - we will respect each other, and we might become friends.
The HVAC service technician has got to be a people person. The HVAC service technician will be expected to meet and greet, and respect and be kind, thoughtful, and willing to listen to the many persons he or she will meet in the course of every single day on the job. The HVAC service technician in a residential job will constantly be knocking on doors of absolute strangers, and going into their homes. This can be a very uncomfortable thing for some persons, but it isn't for me. I love that part of it. If you do not like people, then rarely will your ability or skill in mechanics make this job one you can enjoy.
In the commercial realm of HVAC/R, a less sociable or "people person" with high mechanical aptitude can be very useful. Commercial equipment is very often more complex, and it certainly doesn't involve going into homes, but rather, businesses. In commercial air conditioning the service technician deals less often with persons or personalities, or strange homes full of junk, or so pristine and clean that the technician has to adapt to things like taking off their shoes, or minding the cultural nuances of a Christian, a Jew, a Muslim, or any other type of thing one must be ever mindful of.
In some cases, commercial jobs are more taxing on social skill than are residential jobs, one just never knows what kind of person or social circumstance might be ran into in the HVAC/R service industry, and for this reason, one must ever be ready to be very polite, and very discerning of the current moods or circumstances of the customer.
Environmental Factors For HVAC Service Technicians.
The HVAC service technician is only truly needed when systems are down, or non existent. The Service technician, then, must expect extreme environmental factors, and where I live in North East Texas, that means extreme HEAT. You must be ready and able to meet the conditions head on, and if you are over weight, then these conditions will be all the more challenging for you. A temperature out doors of over one hundred degrees can't be too much for you to handle, and handle for several hours at a time.
I'm never one to tell someone how their hair must be, or how they must dress - but some companies think shorts are not business worthy....despite the persons making such decisions sitting in an office. Hair? I don't do hair. I shave mine off completely to where I look like a fresh recruit to the military, and this is what works best for me. I'm at a luxury at present - I can wear a simple white t shirt, and shorts for the company I work for....but most often a uniform shirt is required, and so are jeans, and steel toe boots or shoes, and the footwear is per OSHA requirements.
I'm not working in the city, I'm working in rural towns most often, and we don't care about OSHA requirements at all, but at our own peril. I swear to you, I have never in my life seen an OSHA employee, and you are highly unlikely to ever see one either. I've been doing this for fifteen years now.
The heat outside, is hardly the issue. The real issue is the heat in the attic of a home. In residential applications of air conditioning, there is always the attic to consider.
Now it is absolutely true that in maybe half the cases or situations needing attending to, the air handler or furnace is NOT in the attic, but the ductwork of standard split systems is, and one might have to go into the attic to either repair an air handler, or some ductwork. In Texas Summers, it might be over one hundred degrees outside, but in the attic of a residence, it might well be one hundred thirty, one hundred forty, or even higher.
Now it is true that most HVAC companies will not send a man or woman into an attic in the heat of the day to do a major repair, they will most often tell the customer, via policy (the technician must relay this information most often) that the job simply can not be done during the hottest part of the day, and so it will be scheduled for a late evening or an early morning. However, when initially arriving at a service call, when the problem seems likely to be something at the air handler in the attic, you must go up there, and you must figure out what that problem is, and sometimes it is a thing that can be done, and you must be able and willing to do it....regardless of if it is one hundred and fifty degrees fahrenheit in that attic.
Can you do this? If you can not, then you can not be a HVAC service technician, and especially in the residential field. You might be more suited to the commercial side of HVAC, but only if you are able to handle what is sometimes a more diverse set of mechanical and electrical problems, and those are likely to be on a rooftop of a building in the Sunshine, where it is also very hot.
Pay, and recommendations.
Most HVAC and refrigeration technicians are paid by the hour, and the hourly wages range from around twelve dollars an hour on the low side, all the way up to twenty five dollars an hour for top notch commercial HVAC technicians. I personally took a course from a man who stated he knew a guy who made thirty five dollars per hour in the HVAC industry, but the man was a total savant concerning these mechanical and electrical systems, and that he was only sent on the most complex commercial service calls. This was, however, a long while ago - and so at this time, wages might be higher than that for some persons.
An HVAC service technician can always go higher in their field, and then become a contractor with a state license for HVAC/R, and when this is the case, or has been achieved, then the person can then charge what they wish, and play the market. They will then rely entirely upon their own skills in managing a business, earning a reputation, and securing their customers and pay, while maintaining their stock of parts, tools, and equipment.
Sometimes a person can become very wealthy doing this, growing a company, hiring great talents and managing people. Becoming a millionaire businessman isn't unheard of, and in fact, I have worked for some persons that were just that, millionaires.
It is anything but easy, and the work itself requires a lot os skill.
My recommendations are primarily for ex military persons, and in fact, one can learn the trade entirely in the military - then go on to civilian jobs, and greater pay. An ex marine would be super capable of jumping into a super hot attic to do what must be done, but the crux of the matter is the person must have the skill to figure out just what the problem is, and handle it in a timely manner....the clock towards heat stroke or death is ticking in such situations, and it is ticking outside in the Sunshine too, though at a lesser pace. Army personnel having spent time in Arab lands are also equally suited to this work, so long as they are capable of doing it, being polite, sociable, and have mechanical and electrical skill.
There is also the issue of the loads of paperwork that must be done, and the issue of breaking to a customer the news when their situation is best handled by replacing expensive things....despite their financially taxed situation (pun intended).
Are you right for the HVAC industry? No, only you can answer that. Not I. It can be very rewarding, it is a stable industry with high demands for persons able to do the work, and for skilled minds, labor, and then come the financial rewards.
Are you right for the HVAC/R industry? You decide.