Corporate profits are back, the financial markets are on the upswing,  yet job growth continues to lag behind. There are, however, an array of hiring hotspots in the economy that might surprise job seekers. Among the hottest with great long-term prospects? HVAC technicians, according to an intriguing new report (and accompanying infographic) from Mindflash.  Employers will be bringing aboard nearly 90,000 new HVAC techs between now and 2018, according to the Bureau of Labor projections used in the report. (See below.)

That’s not all: Henry Unger at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution has also picked up on the HVAC-as-opportunity thread, citing the industry’s long-term job prospects, ability to weather economic downturns and competitive pay. According to one industry veteran that Unger interviewed, the average starting salary of an HVAC tech is $35,000, with the potential to jump to nearly $70,000 after just a few years (and a few skills) in the pocket.

Mindflash and BLS project more conservative starting salary projections, but either way, there’s strong evidence of a labor shortage that will last several years.

The HVAC Hiring Outlook [via Mindflash]

HVAC Job Growth Forecast (Courtesy Mindflash)

What factors are driving the hiring binge in HVAC? To sum it up, green energy trends and an aging workforce equate to immediate and stable prospects in the field. Unger, of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, interviewed Frank Mutz, who owns a HVAC vendor in Atlanta that’s been in business for 38 years. Mutz had this advice for recent graduates who may not have considered a job in the trades, especially after a hefty time and money commitment to their college education. Says Mutz, “You never have to worry about a job again. There’s a demand for people. … The overseas people can do service calls. … It’s great for minorities and women because there are not many in it.”

Read more about HVAC issues and topics on The SmartVan.