Published on April 8th, 2014 | by Todd Smekens0
Women in HVAC? Why Not?
MUNCIE, Indiana – The HVAC field is growing faster than the average career sector, reports the Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), which tracks careers and job growth for the nation. The BLS reports the HVAC industry will grow by more than 20 percent by 2021. One reason is older heat and air conditioning units are rapidly being replaced by more energy-efficient units, according to Navigant Research, a company that studies clean technology.
It’s a profession that will not go away while we live in a world with polar vortexes and record-setting summer temperatures. You can’t go without heat when it’s 20 below, or without air conditioning when it hits 115 outside. (Ask anyone who lives in Phoenix; this happens every year.)
HVAC is Ready for Some Pink
Women aren’t exactly dominating the field. BLS data notes women make up just 4.8 percent of HVACR (the R stands for Refrigeration) contractors. The numbers are even lower for women in commercial HVACR and HVAC and plumbing.
Why are so few women in HVAC? For the same reason they aren’t in science and tech fields (and make no mistake, this is a tech field): they haven’t exactly been encouraged to check it out. Women are still steered into pink-collar jobs that pay less and don’t offer many opportunities to advance. But you can train and work in a job that’s male-dominated when you have the right skills, education, and real-world training to handle it. And yes, you can still wear makeup (although you might want to swap platform heels for sturdy pink Filas.)
Women Have the Skills To Be Good HVAC Techs
ONetOnline is a website that gives more details about specific professions than BLS. Looking at the skill sets that help make good HVAC workers, it seems women have a lot of those innate, inborn capabilities. Here are a few examples:
- Problem sensitivity, the ability to just know when something will go wrong
- Active listening
- Updating and using relevant knowledge
Bet you know a few single moms who do this all the time!
The Rest of the Skills Come From Formal Training
If you’re the gal who attacks home projects yourself, consider training for a HVAC career. You probably don’t hesitate to take on an IKEA project. It turns out that a lot of HVAC work involves putting together pipes and tubes and assembling equipment after repairs. And you’ll have much cooler equipment to use than an Allen wrench.
It can take less than six months to complete HVAC training at a career-focused school like Penn Foster, which offers an online technical diploma along traditional, hands-on training. It helps students prepare for the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) certification, required for working on energy-efficient systems (and a huge bonus to have as you look for a job). Penn Foster even provides student discounts for Snap-On Tools.
Ivy Tech Community College in Muncie has a program to get you certified in eight (8) months.
A major benefit of online study is that you can set your own schedule since the Internet is always open. This is particularly important if you are a parent and/or have a job that you don’t want to give up.