When you think about the HVAC industry, what’s the first thing that comes to mind (besides the obvious)? It might be a picture of a man repairing or installing a new HVAC system. Men are known to dominate many skilled trades – especially the HVAC industry. But what about women?
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, less than 2% of women made up HVAC technicians in 2017. Six years later, in 2023, women now make up over 2% of HVAC technicians. Although it’s not a significant jump, more women are starting to join the HVAC field. But the question remains, how do we retain more women as HVAC specialists? Let’s discuss this below.
Women in the Workforce
Women have always had to jump through hurdles in the workforce, dating back to the mid-1900s. For years they were relegated to housework, while men handled the “tough” jobs that were physically demanding. After the 1970s, married women were able to enter the workforce. And since then, society has changed for the better.
As mentioned above, there have been few women in the HVAC industry. When women started working, most did admin or receptionist jobs since society couldn’t accept the changing status quo. However, as time progressed, we saw a shift with women becoming teachers, dentists, doctors, and even HVAC technicians. Still, they are needed now more than ever since there’s a shortage.
How Can Women Enter the HVAC Industry?
Entering the HVAC industry for women is the same as it would be for anyone else. First, you’ll need a high school diploma or GED; a college degree isn’t necessary. Next is completing a certification course that takes six months to a year. Then you’ll have to do an apprenticeship to gain more practical experience. After that, you’ll be a fully qualified HVAC tech.
Once you have your license, you can upskill in a particular area, like handling refrigerants, to gain even more job opportunities. But what if you like the HVAC industry but want to do something other than hands-on work? There are other career opportunities like:
- Becoming a marketing coordinator for an HVAC company
- Managing HVAC operations
- Owning an HVAC business
While these are great career paths, doing them with relevant experience might be more manageable. So, gaining valuable experience is essential to make that switch when necessary.
Is There Support for Women in the HVAC Industry?
The HVAC industry can be daunting for women since only a few are in the field. However, Women in HVACR is a fantastic organization with over 800 members. It offers plenty of support, such as:
- Mentorship programs
- Networking opportunities
If you’re looking for a way to get your foot in the door, look no further than this group. It’s not a social club but a pathway to help women enter an industry that desperately needs their input.
Influential Women in the HVAC Industry
There’s always slight anxiety when entering a new industry, especially when you don’t know someone already doing it. But there are women in the HVAC industry that you can look towards for inspiration, like:
- Telese Williams: She started working in HVAC after losing her job as a brick mason. Telese feared heights, but her willingness to compete for other jobs made her male colleagues recognize her efforts.
- Karen Lamy DeSousa: Karen had an idea of the HVAC industry because her father owned an HVAC company. She took over from her father after he retired and is now a reliable source for women looking to enter the field.
- Gerri Domenikos: Gerri is the CEO of an HVAC company in New York. When female candidates are applying for positions, she connects with them to let them know there are women in the industry and there will be support.
The HVAC Industry is for Women Too
Whether you’re doing hands-on work or want to run things behind the scenes, there’s plenty of room for women in the HVAC industry. Plenty of support is available, so you won’t ever feel alone. All you need to do is take that leap of faith and watch your career blossom.