HVAC industry jobs are here to stay for the long haul. are you?
All trades workers build and re-build Alberta every year, and keep our systems running. Whether the person is fixing your furnace or ensuring our province continues to be a leader in energy production, trades people are the ones who help keep your world functioning so you can focus on your work, your family, and your life. Being a trades person in Alberta is a choice with fantastic career longevity and earning potential.
If you're considering getting into the trades in Alberta, the HVAC industry is one of the most popular choices, with work opportunities in residential, commercial, and industrial capacities. In this article, we'll take a look at some information about the HVAC industry, my personal involvement in it, and you can see if this might be the right option for you.
Need to create your hvac resume?
My start in the HVAC industry
I was first introduced to the HVAC industry when I was 14 years old. My father, after being let go from a maintenance position, started his own family residential HVAC service business. From then on, I would spend my mornings in school and my afternoons helping him do the work and build his business.
I quickly picked up a knack for installing systems. From soldering, to wiring, to installing ductwork, I had a blast doing it all, and I went on to a technical school. There I learned about how to service units as well as build ductwork. Although the service side of HVAC would take me further in my career, sheet metal was where my heart lay.Eventually, I became a manager in my dad's business, managing the installation side while he oversaw the service side. I would play many roles within the company until I became part owner. This was a great career progression, but I decided I needed to do even more, so I opened my own supply house, which I continue to own and manage to this day. Working in the HVAC industry has been the foundation of my financial and business success, and I recommend it to anybody considering entering Alberta's trades workforce.
What can you expect from working in the residential HVAC industry?
Providing what customers need
Working in HVAC is one of the most rewarding and taxing jobs I have ever experienced. Almost every day, I can get someone's AC or furnace running so that they can go back to living in comfort. I can relieve their suffering by repairing their equipment and conditioning their house once again.There is a real risk for seniors that they may freeze during a -40˚C winter night if they don't have their heat running. Or a family with young babies and children in the house won't sleep if the A/C isn't running at the height of summer. These are the best calls – you get the instant gratification of helping your community by doing your job well.
On the other hand, there are days when you will have to give people news they don't want to hear – for example, when you have to tell a customer that their unit will no longer work and that it will have to be replaced, so you have to give them a bid for thousands of dollars that they may not have. HVAC can be a very emotionally taxing job in this regard. You have highs and lows every week, but as long as you know that you are delivering the best possible outcome, even the lows should be positive.
The service side tends to be the more emotionally taxing side of the industry, but generally, it is not usually an overly physically demanding job. In comparison, installation is exceptionally physically demanding. You will constantly be crawling through small spaces, dealing with the heat of summer and the cold of winter, and lifting heavy units.
The typical path a person can expect when starting in the HVAC industry is to begin your career on the installation side and develop knowledge and skills with the equipment you work with until you can move over to the service side. This is a good path, as it teaches people to be very well-rounded throughout the trade.
The most important lesson I have learned working in the HVAC industry
Honesty is truly the best policy. Trades work can sometimes attract overconfident people who don't want to ask for help or admit that they don't know what they are doing. That is not the best way to do things. If you are starting in a new career field, whether it be HVAC, oil field, or something else, admit that you don't know what you are doing when you don't and allow others to teach you something if you don't know it.
I have seen young people who think they can bluff their way through it and figure it out as they go, which is generally not the case, especially when dealing with technical problems such as diagnosing a furnace or designing a duct system properly.
When you mess something up, it is better to be honest. Own it. If something went wrong and it was your fault, then admit you did something wrong and do your best to fix it. It will help you learn and earn respect from your managers and customers.
PROS AND CONS OF WORKING IN THE HVAC INDUSTRY IN ALBERTA
HVAC is an excellent industry to get into. It offers young people competitive pay as they work up the ladder. There is such a broad diversity of specialties within HVAC that you can choose what you want to do. You do not have to be an installer or a service tech solely, plus Alberta has a need for residential, commercial, and industrial techs and mechanics, so you have plenty of options for work.
I have always loved ductwork, airflow, building fittings, and designing systems, so that has always been my specialty. On the other hand, an acquaintance I know likes the electrical components side of it, and therefore has studied and become an expert on how electricity is used by HVAC systems and what each part does.
Maybe you love the industry but don't want to be a service technician or an installer long-term. You could pursue teaching, or you could become an HVAC technology engineer. When considering the HVAC industry as a career option, there are many different potential paths.
HVAC is a wonderful industry and needs new people to enter the workforce as Alberta grows and the workforce continues to age. Don't wait any longer – find an HVAC school near you or a company that will pay you to go to school and get started today.