Indoor climate control and solar energy are two growing industries. Job opportunities are expected to be available for those with the training to work on HVAC and solar panel system equipment in the coming years. 1 2 An electro-mechanical technologies training program is one path to either career.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) outlines the job of heating, air conditioning, and refrigeration mechanics and installers (49-9021) as working on indoor climate control systems. These include heaters, A/C units, ventilators, and refrigerators. HVAC technicians maintain the air quality and appropriate temperature of our homes, office buildings, schools, and factories.
HVAC Technician Job Duties
Techs perform a variety of tasks on comfort systems:
- Replacement 3
Across the country, the rate of job growth for all occupations is 7 percent through 2024, but for HVAC technicians it’s 14 percent notes the BLS. Florida has the highest level of employment for these professionals, followed by California, Texas, New York, and Pennsylvania.
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HVAC Technician Salary
The mean annual salary for an HVAC technician is $48,320. Salaries can range from $28,440 to $73,350 a year. 4
Those who design, install and maintain solar panel systems are part of subset within the HVAC industry. Solar photovoltaic panels transform sunlight into electricity. Some units, called solar thermal systems, use the solar energy to heat water. They are an environmentally friendly, renewable source of energy, and they’re becoming more affordable for home and business owners. This is potentially creating greater need for men and women with the training to install and service them. 5
Solar Panel Installer Job Duties
Solar panel installers have a range of responsibilities:
- Weather Sealing
- Performance Testing
- Continuing Education
Job growth for solar photovoltaic installers is over three times the national average at 24 percent through 2024. Employment levels are greatest in California, Florida, New York, New Jersey, and North Carolina.
Solar Panel Installer Salary
Solar panel installers can make anywhere from $27,970 to $60,570 a year. The annual mean wage is $42,500 annually. 6
Electro-Mechanical Technologies Training
The BLS indicates that trade school is a common path to becoming an HVAC technician or a solar photovoltaic installer. HVAC employers prefer to hire workers with a postsecondary education because the equipment is becoming ever more complex. 7 Many solar photovoltaic installers take a course at a technical school prior to entering the field. 8 Some trade schools offer electro-mechanical technologies training programs that can prepare students for a solid start in either career.
Sample Electro-Mechanical Technologies Program
- Fundamentals of Electricity
- Comfort Systems
- Commercial and Residential Wiring
- Principles and Applications of Solar Power Systems
- Solar and Solar Panel Installation
- Electrical Wiring
- Refrigeration System Installation, Maintenance, and Repair
- System Troubleshooting
Training and Career Benefits
Most Electro-mechanical technologies training programs can be completed in less than a year and prepare students for entry into multiple fields like HVAC or solar panel system service. While a HVAC training program can be completed in 7 months and introduces students to the fundamentals of solar energy.
Both fields are experiencing growth which means many job opportunities for those with the right training. They can also be good for those who would prefer hands-on work in different environments to positions in an office with potential career advancement, and possibly those who may want to start their own businesses in the future.
1 – https://www.bls.gov/ooh/installation-maintenance-and-repair/heating-air-conditioning-and-refrigeration-mechanics-and-installers.htm
2 – https://www.bls.gov/ooh/construction-and-extraction/solar-photovoltaic-installers.htm
3 – https://www.bls.gov/ooh/installation-maintenance-and-repair/heating-air-conditioning-and-refrigeration-mechanics-and-installers.htm#tab-2
4 – https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes499021.htm
5 – http://whatis.techtarget.com/definition/solar-panel
6 – https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes472231.htm
7 – https://www.bls.gov/ooh/installation-maintenance-and-repair/heating-air-conditioning-and-refrigeration-mechanics-and-installers.htm#tab-4
8 – https://www.bls.gov/ooh/construction-and-extraction/solar-photovoltaic-installers.htm#tab-4