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HVAC is a perfect fit

Jobs for a post-military career

Already doing HVAC in the military? Consider the same on the outside. Photo courtesy Pacific Air Systems

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There are a growing number of training opportunities in the heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) field, and servicemembers just happen to be a perfect fit for HVAC companies like Pacific Air Systems in Lakewood.

"The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that the HVAC field will experience growth of twenty-one percent during the years 2012 to 2022," said Pacific Air Systems marketing manager Danielle Kavanaugh.  "This means HVAC technicians will be in high demand, which will grant more job security and an ever-growing salary."

The ability to take a learned trade nationwide in a high-demand industry helps provide some stability in an ever-changing workforce, no matter where one decides to relocate after a military career.

"HVAC services will always be needed; homes and businesses will continue to heat and cool their properties," Kavanaugh said. "A plus is knowing there is not a danger of HVAC jobs becoming outsourced overseas or to machines, as this is a hands-on field."

If a lack of experience is a concern, companies like Pacific Air Systems are here to comfort those thoughts.

"While we do actively recruit for experienced HVAC technicians, we encourage all entry-level, non-experienced people to apply," Kavanaugh said. "Pacific Air Systems has a training program that brings you up to speed along with your team members, both on the job and in classroom training."

All HVAC technicians undergo a thorough background check and must pass a five-week training session.

"We partner with a HVAC Business and Technical Institute to offer continuous training for our employees," she said.

Remaining competitive in the HVAC field, similar to remaining competitive in one's military career, means staying on top of training and industry-specific certifications.

"The North American Technician Excellence (NATE) certification is the gold standard for technicians," Kavanaugh explained. "This is a nationally recognized and respected certification that, while not legally required, is highly recommended for any technician working in the heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration (HVAC/R) industry."

Companies like Pacific Air Systems maintain an involved presence with all of their "family members" to encourage and assist them in obtaining additional certifications.

"A technician must pass a knowledge-based exam developed and administered by industry experts that illustrates they are better prepared for the workforce and more adept at handling difficult scenarios," Kavanaugh said.  "Technicians with NATE certifications earn more money, typically stay in the industry longer and have a greater rapport with clients."

Working as an HVAC/R technician will mean having to work with equipment that uses refrigerant, a hazardous compound that requires sensitive handling.

"The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requires any technician or contractor that'll be accessing systems or containers that store refrigerant to obtain special EPA 608 certifications," Kavanaugh added. "There are four different types or levels of the EPA 608, each of which pertains to different types of equipment and refrigerant exposure."

An extensive benefits package is almost becoming a mandatory requirement for many servicemembers transitioning out, especially those who provide for a family.

HVAC companies, such as Pacific Air Systems, typically provide myriad benefits, including 100 percent paid premiums for medical, dental and vision; paid holiday and sick days; a 401K retirement plan; a company-provided vehicle; a company-provided cell phone/GPS; a clean company-supplied uniform available daily; paid training; a monthly breakfast; and quarterly events and parties.

"A typical work day begins with a morning huddle with their service manager, their first job assignment for 8:30 a.m. and on the road by 8 a.m. in a company-provided vehicle," Kavanaugh said.  "On average, an HVAC technician will complete four calls a day within our service area, Pierce, South King and Thurston County, and while on a call, the technician will perform the six steps to success: prepare, greet, explore, present, execute and wrap-up."

Having company-provided training, a company-provided uniform, a provided daily work vehicle and the ability to get home by a decent time is desired by many former servicemembers.

Why are military members perfect for this career field?

"We find that if you are technical minded, have a positive attitude, (are) a natural communicator and are coachable, you will always be successful," Kavanaugh said.

To learn more about a HVAC career with Pacific Air Systems, visit

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