What 2018 Holds for Techs
We don’t work in a trade of dreamers and unrealistic New Years resolutions.
We are doers who know that nothing worthwhile comes easy and 2018 is no different.
We have some “threats” entering the residential segment of the trade with Amazon and Google looking to make a bigger entry into the home services trades, standardizing pricing and driving prices and profits down for the trade if they have their way.
We have an ever growing skills gap with more experienced techs retiring and many in the next generation that don’tsee work and work ethic the same way.
Even with all of this, there are far more opportunities than challenges, here is some of the good news.
Pay will continue to increase
Technician pay keeps going up as those with the skills to do the work become more and more rare. But you need to understand something…
As tech pay goes up, the price of service will also go up
Techs that want to be payed big money can’t be ashamed to bill out big money, that’s just how it works.
No matter how you bill out, what segment of the industry you work in or how you are compensated, for you to stay employed making good money your employer also need to make a profit. Get used to a world where your skill and knowledge is worth more, don’t be apologetic about it.
As the EPA and international regulations continue to be change the industry is looking for stability and refrigerants that can be relied on for longer than a few years. The answer are natural refrigerants that are inexpensive and compliant with global warming regulations.
For grocery store refrigeration this means CO2, and for small appliances R290 (Propane). I predict we will also see a resurgence of Ammonia in applications it hasn’t been utilized in for years.
These systems do and will require special training and safety precautions do to flammability and toxicity in some cases.
Comfort trumps efficiency
As the payoff of energy efficiency decreases due to diminishing returns and consumer demand for comfort and Building health increases we will see a growing emphasis on building science as part of an HVAC contractors scope.
Blower door testing, zonal pressure testing, fresh air, IAQ testing and remediation and humidity control are all going to become a more common part of the HVAC process.
Commercial buildings of all types are getting more technologically advanced and there are very few in the HVAC industry who are well versed in controls and data systems. Techs with these skills will be in high demand and paid well.
Variable refrigerant flow (VRF) systems are becoming more and more common in commercial buildings with few techs prepared to install and service them.
Like any new technology it is only as good as the people who work on it making those with skills and knowledge in VRF a hot commodity. It may be a good idea to read up and take some classes on VRF in 2018.
Techs who keep learning, especially gaining specialized and rare skills when the opportunity arises will be well compensated in 2018 so long as they they are willing to dig in and get it done.
Don’t be ashamed to charge what needs to be charged. Just like a doctor or lawyer, we have a valuable skill. Be honest, work hard, develop new skills and knowledge and don’t shy away from sending bills and collecting checks.
Bryan Orr is a lifelong learner, proud technician and advocate for the HVAC/R Trade