ARLINGTON, Va. - The place to live for top-dollar pay and benefits if you're an HVAC technician is the Northeast or Mid-Atlantic states, according to a recent survey by the Air Conditioning Contractors of America.

The group released some of the findings from its technician compensation survey. More than 350 contractors nationwide were polled.

According to the results, most contractors (93 percent) provide health insurance, paid holidays and vacation benefits to their workers. Eight out of 10 contractors provide some form of retirement plan.

About 45 percent of respondents offer sick leave, 34 percent offer short-term disability benefits and 25 percent provide long-term disability. Half of those surveyed require technicians to contribute toward the cost of health and dental benefits.

Across the United States, base technician compensation fell in the $35,000-$45,000 range. Some 20 percent of the respondents offered base pay in the $45,000-$55,000 range. However, compensation differed significantly by region, with contractors in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic offering the highest average compensation.

It was also calculated that more than 50 percent out of participating ACCA companies contribute up to 10 percent of base pay to their technicians' 401(k) retirement plans, while 13 percent do not contribute at all.

Full results were sent via e-mail to all ACCA members who participated in the survey. Members who did not participate in the survey may purchase it for $45 online at www.acca.org/store. The analysis is not available to nonmembers.