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women in hvac/r

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Job opportunities for HVAC/R technicians are heating up!  A lack of skilled labor, coupled with growing demand for cutting-edge technology and ecologically friendly systems, means that HVAC/R jobs are projected to grow by a staggering 20% in New York State during the current decade (O*NET Online). To cope with this unprecedented workforce shortage, the HVAC/R industry is increasingly looking to women to help fill the gap.

HVAC/R stands for heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration. Whether their interests lie in STEM disciplines, hands-on work, problem-solving, customer relations, business management, or entrepreneurship, there are numerous roles in which women can thrive in the field. And yet, just over 2 percent of the HVAC/R workforce is female.

“It’s an awareness issue,” observed retired Capital Region BOCES teacher Fred Ando. “I just think girls and women think of it as something that is not available to them, but it’s not only available, it’s a good option.”

competitive Salaries, dynamic work, job securityAdrianaHolden HVAC Nisky2 214x300 with source

Part of what makes HVAC/R careers such a good option are tangible benefits like competitive salaries – the median is nearly $65,000 per year in New York State – and excellent job security, even as other industries face looming cuts due to increasing automation and the rise of artificial intelligence. Speaking to HVAC/R students at Capital Region BOCES, Pat Allen of Executives with Pride Commercial Appliance Service noted, “This is a road to a lifelong career. You will never be without work. You can’t get a robot to climb a ladder onto a roof and change a filter.”

While HVAC/R employment is stable, the work itself is dynamic. HVAC/R technicians use skills from a wide range of trades, performing electrical, plumbing, and construction work in the course of their duties. For many women, this can add up to a tremendous sense of empowerment and independence, as summed up in comments from Alison Brownell, an HVAC instructor for WSWHE BOCES:

"This field gives you freedom. Freedom from paying others to fix all of your own home problems. It empowers you with knowledge so you don't have to trust others to make home decisions for you. I'm that girl that doesn't just go and buy new curtains when she remodels; I move sinks, showers, toilets, and bathtubs. Once you learn to use tools you can make anything you dream possible…Nothing feels better than the knowledge you have when you know a trade."

Research by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research found that, in spite of the many benefits of pursuing employment in the trades, women often aren’t aware of the opportunities available, much less the training requirements or what it takes to succeed. For more information, look into local programs near you, such as the Women in Trades Initiative at WSWHE BOCES, as well as regional or national programs such as Women in HVACR, a professional association that offers scholarships and mentoring

The CTE Technical Assistance Center is also here to help! Read on for employment statistics to inspire you, a list of New York community colleges where you can gain the skills you need, and profiles of women in HVAC/R that demonstrate what’s possible. 

 Did you know?

The diverse knowledge and skills demanded in the field can also open up a range of career paths both within and beyond HVAC/R, according to Gerri Domenikos, CEO of AirLogix in Astoria. “If you’re skilled in this business, even if you don’t stay in HVAC — move to electrical, plumbing — other things can open up to you,” she said. “That, to me, is one of the biggest selling points.” Check out the video Lennox Women of HVAC or the profiles of winners of Engineered Systems magazine’s 2024 20 to Watch: Women in HVAC contest to learn about women working in an array of HVAC/R careers that span every type and level of employment. 

 

 QUICK FACTS ABOUT HVAC/R JOBS & CAREERS

 

Programs at NYS Community Colleges

  • Projected job growth in New York State, 2020-2030: 20%

  • Projected annual job openings in New York State, 2020-2030: 2380

  • Annual median salary, New York State, 2022: $64,690

Source: O*NET Online

 

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