Electrician vs. HVAC Technician, Which Career Is the Right Choice for You?

Two highly sought-after skills trade careers today are electrician and HVAC technician.

In this post, we’ll discuss these two careers so you can decide whether to become an electrician or an HVAC technician.

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Duties and Responsibilities

Electrician

Electricians install and maintain electrical equipment that brings electricity to the industrial, commercial, and residential sectors.

Different electricians perform different, specialized tasks:

  • Inside wiremen
  • Outside linemen
  • Residential wiremen
  • Telecommunication electricians

Despite their specialties, they all have common duties and responsibilities, such as:

  • Reading blueprints
  • Maintaining and installing wiring
  • Testing electrical systems
  • Overseeing the team’s work and project progress
  • Adhering to the local, state, national, and international electrical codes

HVAC Technician

HVAC technicians handle the installation and maintenance of climate control systems in residential and commercial buildings.

They are responsible for the following tasks:

  • Installing, maintaining, and repairing HVAC systems
  • Inspecting and testing the systems and their components
  • Troubleshooting issues in the systems
  • Providing technical support
  • Following the local, state, and federal building codes

Career Training

Electrician

Electricians receive career training in two ways:

  • 4– to 5–year paid apprenticeship programs sponsored by unions and private companies (most preferable)
  • 2– to 3–year diploma or certificate electrician programs from trade schools

These programs will teach them fundamental skills and knowledge, such as:

  • Electrical theory
  • Blueprint reading
  • Mathematics
  • Electrical code requirements
  • Safety practices

HVAC Technician

While electricians can apply for apprenticeships straight from high school, HVAC technicians need to enroll in a post-secondary program first.

And so, they receive career training in the following order:

  • 6–month to 2–year certificate or degree HVAC programs
  • 3– to 5–year apprenticeship programs

During these programs, they’ll receive extensive training in courses such as:

  • Servicing HVAC systems and components
  • Identifying refrigeration materials
  • Proper usage of tools
  • Blueprint reading
  • Safety practices

Potential Salary

Electrician

As of May 2021, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported the following salary information for electricians:

Average Salary

PercentileHourly PayAnnual Pay
10%$17.80$37,020
25%$22.55$46,900
50%$28.87$60,040
75%$37.19$77,350
90%$47.98$99,800

 

Top Paying States

StateHourly Mean WageAnnual Mean Wage
Illinois$39.97$83,140
New York$39.28$81,700
Oregon$39.04$81,200
Alaska$38.45$79,980
New Jersey$38.43$79,940

 

Top Paying Industries

IndustriesHourly Mean WageAnnual Mean Wage
Natural gas distribution$50.44$104,920
Promoters of performing arts, sports, and similar events$48.91$101,740
Professional and commercial equipment and supplies merchant wholesalers$45.80$95,260
Monetary authorities – Central bank$45.53$94,710
Scheduled air transportation$44.50$92,550

 

HVAC Technician

As of May 2021, BLS reported the following salary information for HVAC technicians:

Average Salary

PercentileHourly PayAnnual Pay
10%$16.50$34,320
25%$18.49$38,450
50%$23.38$48,630
75%$29.81$62,000
90%$37.60$78,210

 

Top Paying States

StateHourly Mean WageAnnual Mean Wage
District of Columbia$33.72$70,130
Alaska$33.70$70,100
Hawaii$33.22$69,100
New Jersey$32.91$68,460
New York$31.82$66,180

 

Top Paying Industries

IndustriesHourly Mean WageAnnual Mean Wage
Scheduled air transportation$42.87$89,180
Natural gas distribution$41.69$86,710
Electric power generation, transmission, and distribution$41.33$85,970
Aerospace product and parts manufacturing$41.19$85,680
Deep sea, coastal, and great lakes water transportation$38.96$81,050

 

Job Outlook

Electrician

The BLS projected a 7% employment growth for the electrician career from 2021 to 2031.

This means that there will be about 79,900 average job openings each year throughout the decade.

The reason for this growth lies in the popularity of alternative power generation (e.g., solar and wind) in new building projects.

Employment, 2021711,200
Projected employment, 2031761,400
Percentage of change7%

 

HVAC Technician

The BLS projected a 5% employment growth for the HVAC technician career from 2021 to 2031.

This means that there will be about 40,100 average job openings each year throughout the decade.

The reason for this growth lies in the increasing emphasis on energy efficiency and pollution reduction in new climate control systems.

Employment, 2021394,100
Projected employment, 2031414,400
Percentage of change5%

 

Which Career Is Right for You?

Both trades are great choices where you’ll have a reliable, steady income and long-term career.

Plus, these can never be automated by AI nor can be outsourced.

But the question remains: will you become an electrician or an HVAC technician?

If you like to dabble with electrical wiring, go for an electrical career.

If you prefer to work with heating and cooling systems, then go for an HVAC career.

Search Electrician Programs

Get information on Electrician programs by entering your zip code and request enrollment information.

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