A lot of people begin training to become heating and air technicians are unsure of how involved to get in the industry or even whether they should get involved beyond schooling. Many, especially younger people, feel that they don’t need to understand HVAC industry trends, instead deferring to their instructors or apprenticeship supervisors and letting them offer instruction.

This is a common mistake, and it is one you should not make.

Whether you’re a seasoned veteran or just starting out, it is vital to your success that you remain atop the latest trends, issues, and innovations of the heating, cooling and ventilation industry. It will not only make your professional life easier, it will establish you as an authority to future co-workers, superiors, and clients.

But what exactly are these trends, and how do you stay in the know about them? Let’s answer those questions in order. Industry trends can be broken down into categories for easier digestion. Many people have a specific type of trend they key in on and become more knowledgeable about. It is certainly important to at least be familiar with all of them, but if there is one or two you are particularly passionate about, becoming a subject matter expert on that trend can be good.

Here are a few trends you should be keeping an eye out for:

Regulations: The regulations governing the HVAC industry change frequently. Are you up to date on last year’s refrigerant rules? Be sure you are on the cutting edge of regulations, and even be listening for the rumors as to where regulations are heading in the future. Keep up with the politics of the changing regulations as well, so that you can anticipate the changes and be ready for them as they happen.

Technology advances and innovations: Everything these days are “smart,” from our cars to our thermostats. If you are helping a client and notice that they have an older thermostat, you can recommend this latest smart thermostat that will automatically adjust the temperatures in their home depending on when people are in the house. They can save quite a bit of money on their monthly heating and cooling bill that way. Guess what? You saved the customer money, which means you now likely have a repeat customer. Oh, and they’re going to call you to install their new piece of technology, so you just made another sale. Or are you not aware of this new technology?

Seasonal patterns: As a professional, it’s vital for you to know what may come about in the future. Is it shaping up to be a particularly harsh winter? Has the region suffered recent water shortages or droughts? This is important to you both in the context of the industry’s health, and on your personal expectations.

And now for the second question: how do you learn about these trends? Quite simply, read up. Read trade publications and industry blogs and websites. They do exist…you just have to find them. Find a few that you enjoy and that seem authoritative, and visit them a few times a week.

Also, keep your eyes and ears open. Talk shop with your contemporaries. If you are in a union, attend union meetings and speak with colleagues and find out what they know about the latest gadgets, trends, and regulations. You’ll find they’ve heard some things you have not, and you can get confirmation on some of the other rumors you were unsure about.

It’s not especially difficult to keep up on HVAC industry trends, but it does take a little work. But putting in that effort, you’ll find, is easily worth the benefits you will receive. You may soon see the level of respect and admiration within the industry rising.