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Finding the Right Trade: HVAC vs. Electric
Mastering trade skills makes your career in construction more lucrative.
In our “Finding the Right Trade” series, we’ll be pitting two popular trade skills against each other and weighing the pros and cons of each so you can make an informed decision about which suits you better.
Our next match-up is between HVAC and electric. Both specialties are typically client-facing, meaning that good interpersonal skills are a must. However, there are more differences than similarities in these two roles. Read on to find out if either is right for you.
HVAC technicians work with heating, ventilation, air-conditioning systems, and sometimes refrigerators. There is little formal education required in this trade, so apprenticeships are customary. This path offers a fair amount of repeat and year-round work, as well as the option to own a business. While many techs are self-employed or work for contractors, some are employed in-house by various businesses. Some professionals even hold government jobs.
Electricians work with electrical systems in all types of buildings. Many specialize in maintenance or construction, so it’s advised to select which track you want to pursue early.. Formal secondary education is more common in this field, with many professionals attending trade colleges or completing training programs. Either way, electricians must complete a 4-year apprenticeship with 2,000 hours of training and 144 hours of coursework.
Salary, Opportunities, and Growth
Both HVAC technicians and electricians earn similar compensation, though the average annual salary for electricians is about $5,000 higher than that of HVAC techs. Both have a large disparity in pay between the highest and lowest-earning ten percent of professionals.
Growth rates are also similarly high. Both HVAC techs and electricians have seen around a 20% rise in employment in the last decade. This trend is expected to continue through 2022.
Both trades are experiencing a surge in demand because of the talent gap in construction. Basically, there are not enough talented professionals to fill the available positions in the market. This means that whichever trade you pursue, you will be able to find work if your skills are up to par. In order to ensure this, make sure you are upskilling and learning about new technologies and strategies along the way. That way, even when the market shifts, your skills will be in demand.
For example, HVAC professionals can become licensed to handle refrigerants by the Environmental Protection Agency. This is a great way to stand out from the competition and land higher-paying jobs.
Both HVAC and electric professionals experience little risk of injury compared to some other trades.
However, depending on the venue, electricians can experience rick of falls, shocks, or cuts. The work of an electrician can also be physically strenuous, so staying in shape is helpful. Unfortunately, most electrical wires are color-coded, which means that all electricians must be able to distinguish color with minimal effort.
HVAC techs have similar risks on the job. They can experience, burns, shocks, and muscle strains. They also face the potential of working under high-stress conditions depending on the issue at hand.
If you’re not sure if either of these trades suit you, keep an eye out for the rest of our series in our Michael Page advice section. We may be covering your ideal trade next. To find out more about your options, please reach out to our expert consultants or submit your resume today. You can also browse our job listings here.