Women today are speaking up and taking center stage — in the arts, on the political front and even in the skilled trades, fields that have traditionally been dominated by men, such as the commercial HVAC industry. Having women in trades positions was common during World War II, when men joined the military and the industrial workforce was rapidly depleting. Once the men came back from war, the women returned to more traditional roles. Now that so many baby boomers employed in the skilled trades are retiring, there is once again a shortage of workers. Female HVAC technicians are needed to fill the void.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, jobs for HVAC mechanics and installers are expected to grow 15 percent through 2026. The growing need for HVAC contractors, along with a retiring workforce, means the field counts on women to thrive and fill the estimated 115,00 new positions that will be required by 2022. But do women do HVAC?
In 2018, female HVAC technicians made up only 1.4 percent of the industry’s workforce. However, there are jobs available in the heating and cooling industry that are proving to be excellent careers for women. That is for good reason. The typical HVAC customer is a woman, and when female HVAC technicians make service calls, the female customers often feel more comfortable. This can, in turn, result in more referral business for the technician’s company.
Women: Well-suited for the commercial HVAC industry
Women in HVAC may actually have advantages over men because of some basic interpersonal skills:
- They are often better communicators.
- They pay attention to detail.
- They are analytical.
- They’re good listeners.
- They may have better customer service skills.
- They are often good at solving problems.
- They can multitask.
Getting local trade school help
To help replenish the workforce shortage, local trade schools are encouraging women to train for HVAC careers. Many, including the Refrigeration School, Tulsa Welding School and Dunwoody College of Technology, offer scholarships to women considering a career in the trades.
Once they decide to enroll in an HVAC trade program at a respected school, they learn specifics of the industry and build a skillset and foundation to get started in their career and remain competitive. Participating in an HVAC apprenticeship — often required for graduation — provides the hands-on learning and the confidence to find that very important first job. Once they graduate and obtain their license, women will be qualified to install, service and repair HVAC systems.
Incentives and resources for women in trades
HVAC companies are also awarding scholarships to women, realizing they are an underutilized resource that can fill labor shortages. These companies are also holding job fairs and incentivizing women with reimbursements for education costs. In addition, Women of HVAC encourages women by fostering awareness, showcasing women in the field and giving them the necessary tools to begin a successful career in the trades.
The benefits are appealing: steady work, a great job outlook and the opportunity to work in a variety of places, from medical facilities and research labs to offices and homes. Thanks to a narrowing gender gap, women earn more in skilled trades compared to non-skilled fields.
Contact Women of HVAC to find schools that will train women for the lucrative, in-demand field of HVAC and provide resources, opportunities and support for those already in the field.