Demand for HVAC technicians is as strong as it has ever been, and HVAC worker salary is rising to all-time highs. This is a great time to attend one of the accredited HVAC schools near you to begin a rewarding career.
This page shows you how to do that – and it discusses getting HVAC certification and licensing that will take your career to the next level.
- The Best HVAC School Near You
- Demand for HVAC Technicians
- What is HVAC/R? What is the Career About?
- How to Become an HVAC Technician
- Choosing the Best Accredited HVAC Training School
- HVAC Certification and Licensing
- HVAC/R Professional Organizations
The Best HVAC School Near You
In addition, our Pick HVAC exclusive HVAC schools search tool allows you to find the best HVAC school in your area. In fact, you’ll have several to look into. Use the accredited HVAC schools search tool to get going today!
Demand for HVAC Technicians
If you’re considering a career in HVAC, you’re making a great choice. This expanding industry offers a wide range of employment opportunities, secure jobs, and great compensation. The field is rapidly growing and qualified technicians graduating with HVAC degrees are in high demand. The field of HVAC is growing at over 4% per year, higher than almost every other field. HVAC contractors are searching for HVAC technicians from accredited HVAC schools and are willing to pay top HVAC tech salary to qualified applicants.
Holding an HVAC degree from an accredited HVAC training school will provide you with a stable career, advancement opportunities, excellent compensation, and allow you to work in any city in the country.
This article will provide you with the information to find the best HVAC training school and start your journey to a well-paying, rewarding career.
What is HVAC/R? What is the Career About?
The acronym HVAC/R stands for heating, ventilation, air conditioning, and refrigeration but is usually just referred to as HVAC. HVAC techs work on heating and cooling systems in all kinds of buildings from residential housing to large and small commercial buildings.
Some HVAC techs specialize in areas like equipment installation, troubleshooting and repairing these systems, and others might focus only on refrigeration units or solar technology.
Once you’ve made the decision to enter the field and look for an HVAC trade school, there are a number of things you will need to consider. This article will provide you with the information and answers to questions and will put you on the path to finding the best HVAC training school near you.
How to Become an HVAC Technician
The first thing you will need to do is to earn a high school diploma or equivalent, like a GED. If you are still in high school, it’s beneficial to take classes that can help you in your HVAC training including computer science, math, technical drawing, and metal shop.
The next step will be to look for one of the accredited HVAC training schools near you. You can find these programs at trade or vocational schools, technician schools, community colleges, and there are even online HVAC schools. Either way, it’s recommended that you earn a two-year Associate’s Degree in HVAC and maintain a good grade point average, to provide you with the best job opportunities.
After graduation, you will need to get 2 to 5 years of on-the-job training through a paid apprenticeship or internship, or working under a licensed HVAC contractor. These requirements vary by state. You will learn about the various requirements and available licenses in your state during your training. Most HVAC schools will help you find on-the job training after you graduate.
Statistics Show High Demand for HVAC Technicians
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the need for HVAC technicians will grow by at least 13% between 2018 and 2028, faster than any other field monitored by the BLS. The high demand for HVAC technicians won’t be filled anytime soon, so this is your opportunity to get into the field when HVAC worker salary is outstanding – and it will only go higher as you gain experience along with HVAC certification and licensing.
There are plenty of factors fueling high HVAC job growth.
Commercial and residential new building construction creates part of the demand but the development of new innovations and complex technology requiring trained technicians is also a large factor. Green technology and the need to meet the U.S. Department of Energy requirements by replacing or retrofitting older systems is also increasing the need for highly trained HVAC technicians.
HVAC Technician Annual Salary
How much does an HVAC technician make? You might be pleasantly surprised!
The average annual salary in the U.S. for an HVAC tech is about $50K with a range of about $28K for entry level workers up to about $80K for workers with experience. Some states show a slightly lower range and other states are above $90K annually in HVAC worker salary for those with a few years of experience. Due to the demand for trained technicians, you can expect some overtime wages which will increase your salary.
Here is a link providing typical HVAC wages in all of the states in the U.S., as well as, some of the cities within each state:
HVAC School Cost
How much does HVAC school cost?
HVAC school costs can vary by state and the type of school you attend. Community College training programs will typically cost between $5,000 and $8,000 per year, trade and vocational schools can cost around $15,000 per year. HVAC programs online will average around $10,000 per year, but with some online school there may be additional costs for the hand-on training labs.
Cost vary so, it will be worth your time to review a number of schools and compared costs.
Important - Some schools offering certificate programs may cost less but are only teaching you what you need for a specific certificate, rather than the well-rounded HVAC education you will receive by earning an accredited Associate’s Degree in HVAC. A certificate program is an option for students not sure if they want to make HVAC a career. However, if you’re sure you want to be an HVAC/R technician, then skip the short-term certificate programs and look at accredited HVAC schools near you that offer 2-year degrees at least; those that allow you to transition to a 4-year HVAC program might be even better if you think you might want a Bachelor’s degree.
Later in the article we cover the importance of attending an accredited HVAC training school.
Accredited HVAC Schools Near Me
There are options for accredited HVAC training schools nearby.
In fact, we bring them to you!
Just type in your zip code and you’ll instantly see the schools and be given the chance to request more information about the ones that interest you. Give it a try.
Do I Need an HVAC Degree?
The HVAC/R industry is rapidly becoming very high-tech and complex. Employers are looking for skilled technicians with the proven ability to study, learn about, and apply their knowledge in the workforce.
Even companies and unions offering apprenticeships prefer to hire someone with a degree, knowing that those candidates already have a solid foundation in HVAC.
HVAC training school will also you teach you skills you won’t necessarily learn on the job, like quality customer service, managing priorities, and the business aspects of self-employment.
Here is great news: A degree in HVAC will pay for itself. An HVAC degree has shown to increase your earnings by 27%, so with higher HVAC worker salary, the cost of your degree will be paid off even more quickly.
HVAC Degrees from Accredited HVAC Schools
There are two HVAC degrees available.
Associates Degree in HVAC
An Associate’s Degree is typically a 2 year program but some schools offer an accelerated program that will get you to graduation sooner. You’ll be doing the same amount of work, just over a shorter time frame. If you’re not currently working and want to get into the HVAC/R or HVACR field as soon as possible, consider an accelerated program.
An Associate’s Degree program will give you the training you need to get started in the field and it will also lay the foundation if you decide to continue your education and earn a Bachelor’s Degree in HVAC.
See HVAC Coursework below to find out what you’ll learn in an accredited HVAC training school.
Bachelors Degree in HVAC
Do I need a Bachelor’s degree? That’s a common question. No, you don’t – but it might have it’s advantages depending on your career goals.
Earning a Bachelor’s Degree is a good idea if you want to go into management or eventually own an HVAC contracting company. A Bachelors Degree will take an additional two years of coursework beyond your Associates Degree. Classes will expand on what you’ve already learned, plus cover advanced topics like energy efficiency, design of HVAC systems, environmental impacts, and management.
Did you know? Only 5% of HVAC technicians earn a Bachelor’s Degree giving them a huge competitive edge in quickly landing a great-paying job.
Keep in mind that many companies will cover the cost of further education for their top employees. You might be able to earn and advanced degree while your employer covers the tuition.
If you like the idea of researching, creating, and designing new HVAC systems, you might consider becoming an HVAC engineer. You can accomplish this through earning a Master’s Degree in Engineering with a class concentration in HVAC. A Master’s Degree will take about 2 additional years of education after receiving your Bachelor’s Degree, or a total of 6 years after high school. An engineer with a Master’s Degree can earn over $100K annually and have the opportunity to manage major projects, both residential and commercial.
Benefits of an HVAC Degree
There are many benefits to getting a degree in HVAC including the fact that you’ll be in high demand and will have higher than average earning potential. Another big benefit is that a degree from an accredited HVAC training school will provide you with an active and diverse career where you’ll encounter a wide variety of situations and opportunities to learn new skills.
An HVAC degree will give to access to a wide range of choices including working on various aspects of residential and commercial heating, cooling, air handling, and humidity control systems. Did you know that you can even choose to work on heating and cooling systems in cars, planes, and boats?
Choosing the Best Accredited HVAC Training School
Here are some things to consider as you look for the best HVAC training school:
- Accredited HVAC Schools: Look for a school that has earned accreditation. An accredited school has a proven track record in providing a quality education in HVAC.
- Degrees: Make sure the HVAC school offers a degree program rather than only certifications. Education for certificates will teach you just what you need to earn specific certificates rather than providing you with a well-rounded HVAC foundation.
- Near You: Choose a school that is conveniently located and easy to get to, both from home and work. If you choose an on-line school, find out where they hold their hands-on learning labs. Reminder: Use our HVAC School Search Tool to find accredited schools near you.
- Flexible Schedule: Look for the convenience of evening and weekend classes, especially if you will work during HVAC training school.
- Class Size: Look for a small student-to-teacher ratio which will give you more time with your instructors.
- Experienced Instructors: The best HVAC schools will offer classes taught by instructors with experience in the HVAC field. You’ll want experienced instructor that keep up with the latest innovations in the HVAC industry.
- Financial Assistance: Will the school help you find financial aid, either through student loans or grants? Find out by requesting information from the accredited schools in the results given you through our exclusive HVAC School Search Tool above.
- What do Others Say? What is the reputation of the school? What do students say about the school in online reviews? How does the school rank?
- Get to Know the School: If possible, visit a few HVAC school campuses and get a feel for the instructors, class size, and curriculum. If the school interests you, set an appointment with a school counselor.
- Apprenticeships: Find out if the school will help you find a job or an apprenticeship after you graduate. The best HVAC schools will offer job guarantees for their graduates.
HVAC Schools Online
You are no longer limited to on-campus HVAC training programs. Online HVAC training schools can provide everything you need to learn the trade though streamed lectures and digital simulation tools allowing you to use HVAC testing instruments, service HVAC equipment, and much more.
HVAC online training is great for students that would have to travel long distances to an accredited HVAC school, or for those who are working and transitioning to an HVAC career. Coursework is done at your own pace so online training school is best suited for those who are self-motivated.
The best online HVAC schools require that you also complete some hands-on-training at an approved site. Online schools have relationships with local HVAC companies to provide on-site training.
Choosing an Accredited HVAC Training School is Important
The best HVAC training schools have received accreditation. This means that the school has been reviewed by an independent accrediting organization and has met the established standards of excellence and industry competence in providing a quality HVAC education. Accreditation means that the school is credible and will do a great job of preparing you for a career in HVAC/R.
Accrediting organizations include Partners for Air Conditioning, Heating, Refrigeration Accreditation (PAHRA) and HVAC Excellence.
Accreditation by one of these organizations will ensure an excellent HVAC training education that will prepare you to successfully handle the challenges of a career in the HVAC industry. Here’s a link to an article from the Air Conditioning, Heating, Refrigeration News that provides further detail and insight regarding the value of attending an accredited HVAC training program.
What You Will Learn in HVAC Training School
You will learn all aspects of indoor climate control and ventilation systems, for both commercial and residential applications, how they work, how to install, diagnose problems, and how to repair them.
You will also learn about the latest trends and innovations in the HVAC/R industry, about energy efficiency, green practices, and the latest Department of Energy regulations.
You will also be taught the necessary knowledge to pass your EPA 608 certificate exam giving you the ability to handle refrigerants.
HVAC Training School Coursework
Your HVAC classes will consist of both classroom work and hands-on labs. Classroom work will include instructor lectures and reading on subjects like HVAC theory and practices, safety procedures, the tools you will use, and the units you will work on.
In the hands-on labs you’ll practice on real HVAC equipment learning how to install, maintain, and repair the units.
Following is a list of typical subject covered in HVAC classes:
- Basics of electricity, electric functions in HVAC systems
- Air conditioning applications
- Motors, wiring, thermostats, circuitry
- Duct work techniques and installation
- Proper safety procedures, codes, ordinances, EPA standards, and OSHA regulations
- The refrigerant cycle and refrigerant recovery
- Professional conduct and ethics
- Various fuels including natural gas, petroleum, steam, hot water
- Heat Pumps, boilers, zone systems
- Reading blueprints and schematics
- Estimating installation and repair costs
Emerging Technologies in HVAC
The field of HVAC is constantly evolving so you’ll learn about the latest innovations and emerging technologies. The last few years have seen more changes in the HVAC industry than at any time since the first electric furnace was developed in 1861.
Some of these new HVAC frontiers include sustainable, environmental friendly technology, such as geo-thermal heat pumps, ice powered air conditioning, and solar power. Automation and smart technology are becoming more important and common, as are data analysis software programs which provide information on energy efficiencies, recommended system size, and system maintenance.
Working as an HVAC tech today not only puts you in high demand with a well paying job, it also provides you with an active, diverse, and exciting career.
What Happens After Graduation
Your first goal after graduation will be to get out in the field, gain experience, and earn some money. Depending on which state you will work in, you will either need an apprenticeship or you will need to find a job working under a licensed HVAC technician or contractor.
Some states require licenses to begin working as an HVAC tech, but many don’t. Some states require you work a specified number of hours under the supervision of a licensed technician or contractor. And other states require you to complete an apprenticeship or paid internship.
The HVAC training school you attend will make you aware of and provide assistance with the requirements in your state.
You will be advised to earn certifications in a variety of HVAC subjects, which will act as your professional credentials, making your more attractive to employers. Below we detail some of these certificates.
HVAC Certification and Licensing
HVAC licenses and certificates are different and have different purposes.
You apply for a license from a government organization and it states that you have passed an exam and are qualified to work in your profession. Some states do require a license to work as an HVAC tech, but most states only require a license if you wish to become a self-employed HVAC contractor.
Certifications are generally voluntary and state that you have knowledge and skills in specific areas of the HVAC field. While they are voluntary, some employers require you to hold specific certificates, depending on the work you will be doing. Certificates act as your professional credentials, they show your industry competence, making prospective employers aware of your capabilities. You’ll have to pass a test for each certificate you earn, but each one will make you more marketable and increase your earnings potential.
Following are the available EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) HVAC certifications:
EPA Type I Certification - For servicing small appliances, air conditioners, domestic refrigeration, vending machines
EPA Type II Certification – For servicing high pressure systems, residential air conditioning and refrigeration units, heat pumps
EPA Type III Certification – For servicing low pressure systems, chillers
Universal EPA Certification – Covers all of the above
EPA 608 Certification (Refrigerants)
The EPA 608 Certification is required for any technician who maintains, services, repairs, or disposes of appliances that contain regulated refrigerants. In fact, it is illegal in most states to handle refrigerant without this certification.
Passing the exam will provide assurance that you understand the refrigerants and the refrigerant cycle and are qualified to work in that capacity.
Some additional certifications are provided through industry organizations like NATE, North American Technician Excellence, which is the nation’s largest non-profit certification organization for HVAC. NATE is owned, operated and supported by the entire HVAC/R industry and participation is voluntary. Following are some of the certificates that they offer:
- #1) Ready to Work Certification
- #2) HVAC Support Technician
- #3) NATE Certification: Core and Specialty Tests
- #4) Senior Level Efficiency Analyst Certification
- #5) Certified HVAC Professional (CHP-5)
Get more information on the NATE website.
HVAC/R Professional Organizations
Networking with other HVAC professionals is a great way to find the best job for your talents.
There are many professional organizations in the HVAC industry. On their websites you can find a lot of information including educational resources, training information, testing assistance, employment opportunities, and networking opportunities. Some of these organizations also offer certifications and many have local chapters. Below is a list of some of these organizations. Many of these have local chapters:
- Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA).
- Sheet Metal and Air Conditioning Contractors’ National Association (SMACNA).
- American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE).
- Air Movement and Control Association (AMCA).
- Women in HVACR.
- International Institute of Refrigeration.
- The Refrigerating Engineers and Technicians Association (RETA).
ONet stands for the Occupational Information Network and is a free on-line site containing occupational definitions, tasks, necessary technical skills and knowledge, and expected work activities for each industry.
The site also includes wages by state, wages for some cities in each state, online job openings, and other information sources. Here is the link to the ONet HVAC page.