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In 2019, AIRAH conducted a comprehensive analysis of salaries in the Australian HVAC&R industry. It is the first of its kind and has been conducted for HVAC&R professionals and practitioners across the sector.

Survey highlights:

  • In total, 491 industry professionals from every state and territory completed the survey
  • Half of those surveyed have a gross annual base salary of $100,000 or more
  • Over 10% of survey participants earn $150,000 or more
  • The state with the highest proportion of respondents with a gross annual base salary of $100,000 or more is Western Australia (58.34%) ahead of Victoria (51.31%) and Queensland (50.95%)
  • Just over 60% of those surveyed say there will be an increase in their pay and benefits over next year
  • Western Australia is the state that is most negative about the possibility of increase in pay and benefits over the next year – 50% say it will “decrease” or “no change”
  • Victoria is the state least likely to be negative on pay and benefits over next 12 months – just 30% say it will “decrease” or “no change”
  • Just over half (56%) of survey participants describe their own economic prospects over the next 12 months as “excellent” or “good”
  • Just 9% say their economic prospects are “poor” or “very poor”.
Find the results of the survey below, exclusive to AIRAH members. The initial findings were released as a six-page spread in Ecolibrium, November 2019. 

This survey will be released to the public in January 2020.

For more information on the salary survey, listen to the December 2019 episode of our AIRAH on Air podcast, featuring further insights into the findings with survey analysists Dr David Iacuone and Leigh Funston, as well as AIRAH’s CEO Tony Gleeson, M.AIRAH. 

Listen on Apple Podcasts | Listen on Spotify


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The 2019 AIRAH HVAC&R Salary Survey

This year AIRAH conducted a comprehensive analysis of salaries in the Australian HVAC&R industry.

In total, 491 industry professionals from every state and territory completed the survey.

Most responses were received from NSW (151 responses), Victoria (113) and Queensland (104).

“The data in this report provides a comparative analysis of the survey responses provided by all participants,” says Dr David Iacuone, who conducted the analysis on behalf of AIRAH.

“The data analysis also includes, where relevant, state-versus-state ‘weighted average’ figures to allow effective comparison of the survey findings.”

Please note that where the number of survey participants in a state or territory is less than 50, we have not included the weighted average data because the survey sample size in those states/ territories is insufficient to provide an effective comparison.

 

 Which of the following best describes your working arrangement?

Response categories

Count

Per cent

I have a permanent role within the organisation I work for (whether full-time or part-time)

437

89.00%

I am self-employed and NOT working within an organisation

32

6.52%

I am an apprentice

6

1.22%

I am a contractor (i.e., I have a fixed-term contract with the organisation I work for)

5

1.02%

I am retired

4

0.81%

I am a student in full-time study

3

0.61%

I am a student working part-time or on placement year

2

0.41%

Other (please specify) I am a part time undergraduate student, full-time permanent employee

1

0.20%

Other (please specify) Semi Retired

1

0.20%

Total

491

100.00%


Almost 90% of the survey respondents have a permanent role within their organisation, whether it is full-time or part-time.

 

 Where in Australia do you mainly work?

Response categories

Count

Per cent

New South Wales

151

30.75%

Victoria

113

23.01%

Queensland

104

21.18%

Western Australia

60

12.22%

South Australia

23

4.68%

Australian Capital Territory

11

2.24%

Northern Territory

11

2.24%

Tasmania

11

2.24%

Outside Australia

4

0.81%

Not Applicable

3

0.61%

Total

491

100.00%


Most survey respondents (77%) are located on the eastern seaboard.

 

 Do you mainly work in a capital city of a regional area?

Response Categories

Count

Per cent

Capital city

347

70.67%

A combination of capital city and regional area

89

18.13%

Regional area

55

11.20%

Total

491

100.00%


Not surprisingly, most of the survey respondents (71%) work mainly in the capital cities of Australia.

 

 Which of the following qualifications do you have?

Response categories

Count

Per cent

Vocational Certificate III Air conditioning and Refrigeration

136

27.70%

Bachelor of Engineering (Mechanical)

123

25.05%

Bachelor of Engineering (Other)

18

3.67%

Master of Engineering (Mechanical)

18

3.67%

Other

196

29.91%

Total

491

100.00%


More than half of the respondents (53%) hold a Vocational Certificate III Air conditioning and Refrigeration or a Bachelor of Engineering (Mechanical). 

 

 How many years in total have you worked in roles that involve HVAC&R-specific activities?

Response categories

Count

Per cent

2 years or less

40

8.15%

3 years

34

6.92%

4 years

12

2.44%

5 years

24

4.89%

6 to 10 years

75

15.27%

11 to 15 years

88

17.92%

16 to 20 years

47

9.57%

21 to 30 years

79

16.09%

More than 30 years

91

18.53%

Don’t know/can’t recall

1

0.20%

Total

491

100.00%


A significant majority (62%) have worked for more than 10 years in roles that involve HVAC&R- specific activities. A third of these respondents have worked in such roles for more than 20 years. 

The survey data shows that the state most likely to have long-term participants in HVAC&R is WA where 40% of respondents have worked in the sector for more than 20 years. The state with the lowest percentage of such workers is Vic, where just 24% have worked in the sector for more than 20 years.

 

 Which job titles best describes your role?

Response categories

Count

Per cent

Refrigeration & Air Conditioning Mechanic

60

12.22%

Project Engineer

52

10.59%

Senior Engineer

52

10.59%

Project Manager

41

8.35%

Service Manager

41

8.35%

Proprietor or Owner

40

8.15%

Engineering manager

31

6.31%

Graduate engineer

22

4.48%

Application engineer

17

3.46%

Principal engineer

15

3.05%

Other

120

24.45%

Total

491

100.00%


The top three responses are Refrigeration & Air Conditioning Mechanic (12%), Project Engineer (11%) and Senior Engineer (11%).

Almost a third (32.17%) of respondents describe themselves as engineers (project engineer, senior engineer, graduate engineer, application engineer or principal engineer).  A further six percent describe themselves as ‘engineering managers’.

 

 What is your gross annual base salary (excluding bonuses and other benefits)?

Response categories

Count

Per cent

Less than $20,000

4

0.81%

$20,000 to $29,999

1

0.20%

$30,000 to $39,999

5

1.02%

$40,000 to $49,999

2

0.41%

$50,000 to $59,999

22

4.48%

$60,000 to $69,999

44

8.96%

$70,000 to $79,999

60

12.22%

$80,000 to $89,999

47

9.57%

$90,000 to $99,999

50

10.18%

$100,000 to $109,999

58

11.81%

$110,000 to $119,999

45

9.16%

$120,000 to $129,999

45

9.16%

$130,000 to $139,999

26

5.30%

$140,000 to $149,999

16

3.26%

$150,000 to $159,999

24

4.89%

$160,000 to $169,999

7

1.43%

$170,000 to $179,999

3

0.61%

$180,000 to $189,999

6

1.22%

$190,000 to $199,999

3

0.61%

$200,000 or more

17

3.46%

Prefer not to say

6

1.22%

Total

491

100.00%


More than half (50.91%) of respondents have a gross annual base salary of $100,000 or more. Over 10 per cent (12.22%) of respondents earn $150,000 or more.

The state with the highest proportion of respondents with a gross annual base salary of $100,000 or more is WA (58.34%) ahead of Vic (51.31%) and Qld (50.95%). When evaluating the state with the highest proportion of respondents with a gross annual base salary of $150,000 or more, NSW ranked first (14.56%) followed by WA (13.33%) and Qld (11.52%).

 

 To what extent to you expect your pay and benefits package in decrease or increase in the next 12 months?

Response categories

Count

Per cent

Decrease significantly

5

1.02%

Decrease slightly

6

1.22%

Increase slightly

257

52.34%

Increase significantly

47

9.57%

Don't know

16

3.26%

No change

160

32.59%

Total

491

100.00%


Over half of the respondent cohort believe that there will be a slight increase in their pay over the next 12 months. Of significance, is that almost a third (32.59%) say there will be “no change” in the level of their pay and benefits package.

The state where respondents are most negative about the possibility of an increase in their pay and benefits package over the next 12 months is WA, where 50% percent say it will “decrease” or there will be “no change”. The state where respondents are least likely to be negative is Vic where just 30% say it will “decrease” or “no change”.

 

 To what extent, if at all, are you satisfied with your current role?

Response categories

Count

Per cent

Not at all satisfied

14

2.85%

Not very satisfied

62

12.63%

Fairly satisfied

246

50.10%

Very satisfied

169

34.42%

Total

491

100.00%


Overall, the majority of the survey respondents expressed a strong satisfaction level with their current role, with 85% saying they are “fairly satisfied” or “very satisfied”.

The state where survey participants are most satisfied with their current role is Victoria, where 87% say they are “fairly satisfied” or “very satisfied”.

 

 How likely, if at all, are you to change your employer in the next 12 months?

Response categories

Count

Per cent

Not very likely

346

70.47%

Fairly likely

58

11.81%

Very likely

41

8.35%

Don't know

46

9.37%

Total

491

100.00%


As a further reinforcement of the survey cohort’s satisfaction with their current employer, about 70% indicate they are “not very likely” to change their jobs in the coming 12 months.

Qld is the state where the greatest percentage of respondents say they are “not very likely” (71.67%) to change their jobs over the next 12 months. Victoria has the lowest level of responders saying they are “not very likely” to switch jobs over the next year (66.37%). Victoria is the state where uncertainty is highest on this question, with 13% saying “don’t know”.

 

 Which one of the following best describes the sector within which you/your organisation operates?

Response categories

Count

Per cent

Building services

143

29.12%

Consulting services

74

15.07%

Operations and maintenance

58

11.81%

Installation and commissioning

58

11.81%

Manufacturing

48

9.78%

Refrigeration

45

9.16%

Wholesale

16

3.26%

Education

9

1.83%

State or federal government

6

1.22%

Retail

6

1.22%

Other (please specify)

28

5.72%

Total

491

100.00%


The sector most nominated by survey respondents is “Building services” (29.12%) ahead of “Consulting services” (15.07%) and “Operations and maintenance” (11.81%).

 

 Approximately how long have you been with your current employer?

Response categories

Count

Per cent

Less than a year

56

11.41%

1 year

41

8.35%

2 years

66

13.44%

3 years

51

10.39%

4 years

30

6.11%

5 years

36

7.33%

More than 5 years

211

42.97%

Total

491

100.00%


Just over half of the survey cohort have been with the same employer for five or more years.

The state with the highest proportion of respondents who have been with their current employer for five years or more is WA (66.67%). NSW is the state where survey participants are least likely to have worked with their current employer for five years or more (42.39%).

 

 What is your gender?

Response Categories

Count

Per cent

Male

450

92.02%

Female

33

6.75%

Prefer not to say

5

1.02%

Other

1

0.20%

Total

489

100.00%

 

 What age group are you in?

Response categories

Count

Per cent

18–24

19

3.88%

25–34

173

35.31%

35–44

128

26.12%

45–54

91

18.57%

55+

79

16.12%

Total

490

100.00%


Well over half of the survey respondents (61%) were aged between 25 to 44 years of age.

 

 How do you view the economic prospects for the economy over the next 12 months for yourself?

Response categories

Count

Per cent

Excellent

38

7.74%

Good

236

48.07%

Neutral

172

35.03%

Poor

39

7.94%

Very Poor

6

1.22%

Total

491

100.00%


Over half (56%) of the cohort consider the economic prospects for the economy as they will impact on the individual to be either “excellent” or “good”.

Survey participants in WA are the most pessimistic about the prospects for the economy as they will impact on the individual, with just 37% rating them “excellent” or “good”. This contrasts with Queensland, where 65% say the economic prospects are “excellent”’ or “good”.

 

 How do you view the economic prospects for the economy over the next 12 months for your organisation?

Response categories

Count

Per cent

Excellent

63

12.83%

Good

228

46.44%

Neutral

156

31.77%

Poor

42

8.55%

Very poor

2

0.41%

Total

491

100.00%


Encouragingly, 59% of respondents describe the economic prospects for their organisation as “excellent” or “good”.

The state where respondents are most upbeat about the economic prospects of their organisation is NSW, where 67% say the prospects are “excellent” or “good”. Survey participants in WA are the most negative on this question, with just 37% saying their organisation’s economic prospects are “good” or “excellent”.

 

 Economy as a whole

Response categories

Count

Per cent

Excellent

11

2.24%

Good

147

29.94%

Neutral

201

40.94%

Poor

119

24.24%

Very poor

13

2.65%

Total

491

100.00%



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In order to provide comparative data, AIRAH aims to conduct this salary survey every second year. Please stay tuned to our emails and Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter accounts for more information.