5 Tips for Building a Lasting Career in the HVAC/R Industry

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The HVAC/R industry is rapidly growing. In fact, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statics says it is one of the fastest growing industries in the United States.

According to the 2016-17 edition of the Bureau’s Occupational Outlook Handbook, “employment of heating, air conditioning, and refrigeration mechanics and installers is projected to grow 14 percent from 2014 to 2024,” which is much faster than the average for all occupations.

Rhonda Wiggins, a master technician and professor of a two-year residential and commercial HVAC/R program at Hennepin Technical College, in Minnesota, has seen an increase in job opportunities for her students over the past nine years she has been teaching. She believes that the growing demand for technicians is great news for the industry, but it also means that the competition in the job market is higher.

Wiggins emphasizes the importance of building a reputation for responsiveness and quality work to her students.

“That’s always been the key to a successful career in HVAC/R,” Wiggins says,” but now, with more competition for jobs, it’s even more so.”

Here are five more tips that Wiggins offers to HVAC/R technicians to help build a lasting career in the industry.

1. Your work is your signature
It’s important to remember that the quality of your work speaks volumes – not just to your customer, but also your employer. Make sure you’ve completed the job to the highest level of your abilities. Exceed your customer’s expectations. Work that’s just ‘good enough’ won’t cut it in today’s competitive environment.

Your job goes beyond solving the HVAC/R problem. Your job also includes acting professionally, communicating well with your customer, and if something goes wrong, quickly alerting your customer about the issue. Every job offers an opportunity to build a reputation, and over time, that’s what creates demand for your services.

2. Change opinions by changing experiences
It’s no secret that tradespeople suffer from stereotypes. But, it’s possible to change those stereotypes by remaining mindful that they exist.

When the HVAC/R technician knows that the service call is about the client and not about the service tech, he or she has the opportunity to leave a positive, lasting experience for the client.

3. Your phone is a tool
Cellphones, and the associated apps that come with them, are useful tools for technicians on the job. However, if a technician spends too much time on the phone or uses it for reasons not associated with the job, it can be seen as unprofessional. A phone can quickly become a hindrance to productivity and attitude if not used for its intended purpose.

4. Use travel time to prepare for the job
The time spent traveling to jobs is the perfect opportunity to prepare mentally for the next call. Use your time in traffic to think about the call and prepare for how you will solve your customer’s issue quickly and efficiently. The more prepared you are, the better the impression you will leave on your customer. Avoid using your travel time to deal with personal issues, or distracting yourself with non-business related problems

5. Remain humble
The outlook for HVAC techs is strong. It’s a big trade with great opportunities for growth and many avenues for one to go down. For technicians starting their careers, it’s important to remain humble and to keep an open mind. Approach each job as a new adventure and seek to learn as much as you can from each situation you encounter.

Success in HVAC/R is a journey, not a destination. There are many ways to do the job, and in the years to come, as technology changes, there will be even more options for the HVAC/R technician to consider. Along the way, keep a level head and focus on learning and improving, because for technicians, that will never go out of style.