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Are you are thinking about starting a new career? Or are you in a dead-end job you want to get out of? If so, then you need to read this article because HVAC as a career may be a smart route to take. So many people are under the impression that they need to go to college in order to be successful. The reality is college isn’t for everyone. Nor should it be considered superior to trade schools. In many cases, choosing to go to a trade school could be a better career option to take. The schooling costs to be trained in the HVAC career field are much lower and quicker than going to college. Even still, once trained, the earnings received match or exceed the average pay for Bay County, FL. Another big problem currently being experienced by college graduates is job potential. Many degree holders are without degree related jobs due to the abundance of qualified applicants. On the other hand, HVAC technician jobs are growing much faster than average. A quick search through standard job boards and various social media platforms reveals that nearly all HVAC companies are hiring. There are more jobs available than qualified people to fill them.

Schooling Time and Cost vs. College

HVAC training can be completed in several months in some places, to somewhere around a year. Here in our local area, Tom P. Haney Technical Center in Panama City offers a program that is 54 weeks long. The projected cost of this course is only $5,862. Whereas the average cost of in-state tuition in Florida is $13,532 per year and takes four years to complete. That means to get a bachelor’s degree, students on average pay $54,128. That is nine times as much money to become qualified for an entry-level position. If student loans are involved, the total expense could topple $100,000 after interest is factored in. We won’t even delve into what out of state tuition costs.

Scholarship Opportunities

Even though going to school to be an air conditioning technician is cheaper than college, it still might be hard for some to be able to afford it. There are several opportunities to get the costs down if needed. First there are Free Applications for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) grants. While not guaranteed to be given a grant, it does not hurt to apply for one. You may find out that you do qualify for a student loan, but we cannot recommend this route. Then there are the VA GI Bills. If you have served in the military, you could qualify to use the GI Bill to pay your tuition. The Post 9/11 version even gives you a housing allowance and book stipend. There are too many to list, but other private organizations also offer scholarships. Locally, in Bay County, The Emerald Coast Business Women’s Association, Inc. has grants available to women for education and can be applied for on their website. One of the most notorious of them is the Mike Rowe Work Ethic Scholarship Program but there are many others that just need to be searched for.

Average pay in Bay County vs. Starting and Experienced pay in HVAC

When first starting out in the HVAC career field without training, nearly anyone can qualify to be a helper. Helpers in this area typically earn between $10 -$ 15 per hour. This is a great position to hold part time while attending trade school. Once trained as a technician, the pay range moves to $17 – $22 per hour. This is about $41K a year. Experienced technicians who have been in the career for several years can earn $23 – $29 per hour. This calculates out to about $54K per year.

As of 2017, the U.S. Census shows Bay County, FL as having a median household income of $52,283. This figure considers all income sources within each household and is not a good reflection of average pay earned per individual. The Bureau of Labor Statistics does release this data on a quarterly basis. According to their data, as of the third quarter of 2018, the average weekly wage in Bay County, FL is $757. Divided by 40 hours (assumed workweek length), that gives us an average hourly wage of $18.93. Or, multiplied by 52 (number of weeks in a year) gives an average annual salary of $39,364. As of 2018, the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows the metropolitan area of Panama City, FL as having 370 employees working as HVAC mechanics/installers and having an annual mean wage of $39,410.

As you can see, An HVAC technician in Bay County, FL can be making well above the local average pay.

Job growth potential

With career choices, you can’t only look at the pay. You must also consider the future potential. On this front, The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects the HVAC mechanic/installer jobs to grow 15% from 2016 to 2026. This is rated as “much faster than average” with the average occupation growth rate being only 7%. If you have decided to pursue HVAC as a career, Beahan’s Heat and Air is always accepting applications.

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