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HVAC Apprentice Salary Guide: What to Expect in Your Early Career

Foolproof careers don’t exist, but we’d argue that people will always need to beat the weather with heating and cooling. So while we can’t promise you’ll be gainfully employed in HVAC forever, we’d say as long as you’re keen to learn and work for a standup company, it’s a pretty good bet.

But before you get too comfortable in your steel-toe boots, you need to understand what kind of dough you’ll be bringing home by asking yourself how much do HVAC apprentices make. In this guide, we’ll give you an HVAC apprentice salary sum up and give you the heads up on how to climb the ladder to bigger bucks.

HVAC Apprenticeship Salaries Overview

First things first, let’s talk dollars and cents. When you start off wondering how much do HVAC apprentices make, just know that you’re not going to jump straight into the high life, but that’s ok. You’re learning on the job. Apprentice and trainee pay rates vary depending on factors like your age, the type of apprenticeship, and the region you're working in. If you’re an adult apprentice or still hitting the books while on the tools, your pay will definitely differ.

The good news? Your pay won’t stagnate. There are two ways you can level up your earnings: time-based and competency-based. Time-based means you move up the pay ladder after putting in a certain amount of hours, while competency-based depends on when you've ticked off specific skills. Each route has its perks, so it’s worth checking which one applies to you.

Comparing HVAC Apprenticeship Salaries by Region

Now, let’s drill down into the nitty-gritty of location-based earnings because where you sling your wrench can have a big impact on your bank account.

New South Wales

In cities like Sydney and Newcastle, an HVAC apprentice salary leans towards the higher end, averaging $15 to $25 per hour. However, in regional spots like Wagga Wagga or Tamworth, where living costs are lower, pay could hover around $14 to $22 per hour.


Melbourne and urban centres in Victoria tend to offer higher apprentice salaries, ranging from $16 to $26 per hour. Regional areas like Bendigo or Ballarat may offer slightly lower pay, around $14 to $23 per hour.


In Brisbane, apprentice salaries may span $15 to $25 per hour, while regional areas like Cairns or Townsville might offer slightly less, averaging $14 to $22 per hour.

Western Australia

Perth boasts higher apprentice salaries, with rates varying from $16 to $26 per hour. Regional areas like Bunbury or Albany may offer $15 to $23 per hour, reflecting a lower cost of living.

South Australia

In Adelaide, apprentice salaries could range from $15 to $25 per hour, while regional areas like Mount Gambier or Port Lincoln may offer slightly less, around $14 to $22 per hour.


Cities like Hobart might offer apprentice salaries between $15 to $24 per hour. Regional areas like Devonport or Burnie may offer $14 to $22 per hour.

Northern Territory

In Darwin, apprentice salaries may range from $16 to $26 per hour. Remote areas like Alice Springs or Katherine might offer slightly higher pay, ranging from $17 to $27 per hour due to the challenges of remote work.

Australian Capital Territory

In Canberra, apprentice salaries could range from $16 to $26 per hour, reflecting the city's higher cost of living.

Note: These figures are average estimates and may vary based on individual circumstances and employer agreements. Always do your own research on job opportunities and negotiate your salary based on factors like skills, experience, and local living costs.

HVAC Apprenticeship Structures and Their Impact on Salaries

Let's dive deeper into the various structures of HVAC apprenticeships and their impact on salaries.

Union vs. Non-Union Apprenticeships

In union HVAC gigs, your pay and perks are sorted through group talks between the union and employers. These talks set up standard pay rates, giving you a steady deal. Union jobs often offer better wages and extras, but keep in mind, you'll chip in for union fees.

On the flip side, non-union HVAC apprenticeships are a bit looser. Your boss sets the rules, so there's more room for negotiation. Some non-union gigs might start you off with a higher pay packet, but they might not have the same set pay scales or benefits as union gigs.

Full-Time vs. Part-Time Apprenticeships

Full-time HVAC apprenticeships mean putting in a solid 38 hours a week, just like regular full-timers. You get your regular pay and perks, plus overtime if you clock in extra hours. Part-time apprenticeships, though, give you some wiggle room if you're juggling school or another job. Hours are fewer, pay adjusts accordingly. They're good for flexibility, but they’ll stretch out your training time and mean you're balancing more on your plate for longer.

Impact on Salaries

The structure of the apprenticeship program can have a significant impact on apprentice salaries:

Union apprenticeships often come with set pay rates and benefits agreed upon through collective bargaining. This can mean better wages and perks for apprentices.

Non-union apprenticeships might be more flexible but could mean negotiating your own deal with the boss, leading to varying pay.

Full-time apprenticeships usually mean regular pay, benefits, and chances for overtime, while part-time ones might pay based on hours worked.

Understanding how the apprenticeship is set up and what it means for your paycheck is crucial. By weighing the pros and cons of different setups, you can pick the path that fits your goals in the HVAC world.

HVAC Apprentice Salary to Technician Wages

Let’s take a look into the journey from an HVAC apprentice salary to technician wages and how it impacts your paycheck.

Progression from Apprentice to Technician

Apprentice Stage: Starting on an HVAC apprentice salary puts you right at the beginning of your career journey. You're getting hands-on, learning the trade inside out, and diving deep into heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems. It's all about soaking up knowledge, sharpening your skills, and proving yourself on the job.

Journeyman Stage: Once you've wrapped up your apprenticeship and racked up enough experience, you level up to become a journeyman HVAC technician. You're not the newbie anymore; you're a seasoned pro who can handle a wide range of HVAC tasks solo. You might tackle bigger projects, oversee apprentices, and even snag extra certifications to boost your skills.

Technician Stage: Now you're at the top of your HVAC game (for now, at least). You're a veteran in the field, with years of experience to back you up. You've mastered every aspect of HVAC systems and might specialise in installation, maintenance, or repair. You could also take on leadership roles within your company, guiding the next generation of HVAC pros.

How to Maximise Your Earnings as an HVAC Apprentice

Here are some tips to turbocharge your earnings as an HVAC apprentice:

Negotiate your starting salary

Don’t be afraid to flex those negotiation muscles. If you bring skills and enthusiasm to the table, you might just score a sweeter deal.

Pursue additional certifications

Knowledge is power, and certifications are your ticket to higher pay and more job opportunities. Invest in yourself, mate!

Network in the industry

It’s not just what you know; it’s who you know. Building relationships with fellow tradies and industry insiders can open doors to new gigs and higher-paying jobs.

Continuous Learning

To boost your cash flow in the HVAC game, you gotta keep learning. Stay on top of the latest trends, tech, and tricks of the trade by reading HVAC blogs. Get extra certifications and advanced training to beef up your skills, and make yourself more valuable to your boss by learning about HVAC software to boost their business.


Think about honing in on specialised areas of HVAC that are in high demand, like energy efficiency or smart HVAC systems. By becoming an expert in a niche field, you can score higher pay and set yourself apart from the crowd.

Career Advancement

Check out ways to move up the ladder in your company or the industry as a whole. Whether you’re snagging a management gig, starting an HVAC business, or branching out into areas like building automation or renewable energy, climbing the career ladder can mean more money in your pocket and more satisfaction on the job.

Laying the Groundwork for a Prosperous HVAC Career

Success doesn’t happen overnight. It’s a marathon, not a sprint. But by arming yourself with the right knowledge when you first start to question how much do HVAC apprentices make, you can pave the way for a rewarding and prosperous career in the trades.

So, there you have it, a comprehensive guide to HVAC apprentice salaries and how to make the most of your early career. With hard work, dedication, and a bit of Aussie grit, the sky’s the limit. Now go out there and show the world what you’re made of!

Note: The information provided in this blog article is based on secondary research and industry averages. It is intended to offer a general overview and should not be considered as definitive guidance.

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