With skilled employees retiring from HVAC (heating, ventilation, air conditioning) and more projected to retire over the next 10 years, demand for HVAC skills is growing. That’s in part because positions are going unfilled due to fewer people entering the trades but also because of the retirement tsunami. Welding has similar difficulties drawing women. Right now, just 2% of HVAC employees are female, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, while in welding, women fill 5% of the jobs.
But that doesn’t mean HVAC or welding aren’t for women. It may be challenging to enter a male-dominated industry, but women can succeed and even go on to lead. The US has a deep history of women in the trades with 37% of the workforce made up of women during WWII. Besides trades people retiring and creating a skills gap, our aging infrastructure is fueling a need for experienced welders. Now is a great time to embark on a career in welding.
Not surprisingly, women are drawn to careers in the skilled trades because of the wages and job stability, according to a 2021 report by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR). But women struggle to learn about their options because guidance counselors and others don’t typically steer them towards these careers, and many find out about HVAC and welding after years of working in other lower-paying jobs. It’s true that when women do enter the field, some face obstacles on the job. It’s not easy, but if you can cut through the stereotypes, HVAC and welding can be meaningful careers.
To find a skilled workforce, HVAC is recruiting and training women to meet that need. HVAC companies are attending job fairs, and creating recruitment drives and scholarships for women. Be on the look-out for these opportunities.
States are also recognizing the need to recruit into the trades and have created initiatives to attract young people. I Pennsylvania has something called PAsmart, designed to prepare residents for high-growth industries, primarily in STEM and trades. In Florida, it’s called Get There: Florida’s Workforce Education Initiative, designed to raise awareness of career and technical training available to residents. Arkansas has a campaign to educate people about skilled workforce career options. Find out what your state offers. There may be scholarships available for career training.
You can also explore professional organizations geared just for women. They offer professional support to women working in different trades. Women in HVACR provides mentorship and lists scholarships for students pursuing HVAC training through a technical college or trade school. Women-only welding organizations tend to be regional but check them out for inspiration: Latinas Welding Guild, Women Who Weld, and Chicago Women in Trades.
Learn more about All-State Career’s HVAC or welding programs and call (855) 834-4580 to speak with one of our career advisors.