Demand for HVAC technicians in Michigan is growing steadily, and so is the HVAC worker salary. When you get an education from one of the accredited HVAC schools in the list on this page, you’ll be on your way to a great career. This will be especially true when your HVAC training is enhanced with HVAC certification and licensing achievement.
HVAC schools in Michigan is the focus of this article. If you already know you want to go to HVAC school near you, scroll down to the School Search Tool, type in your zip code, and you’ll see the top schools around.
Across the country, the field of HVAC is constantly growing and Michigan is no exception. The Michigan Department of Technology, Management, and Budget predicts that the number of HVAC technicians will grow by over 15% between 2014 and 2024. The growth is due, in part, to the increase in the building construction industry in both commercial and residential properties.
- HVAC/R Education
- Demand for HVAC Technicians Michigan is Strong
- HVAC Training Schools in Michigan
- Cost of HVAC Training School in Michigan
- HVAC Degrees Available
- What is an HVAC Engineer?
- Is an HVAC Degree Necessary or Helpful?
- Advantages of Earning an HVAC Degree
- Choosing the Best HVAC Training School
- Choose an Accredited HVAC Training School
- HVAC Training School Curriculum
- HVAC Classes
- After Graduation
- Michigan HVAC Certification and Licensing
The abbreviation HVAC/R stands for heating, ventilation, air conditioning, and refrigeration. HVAC techs work on heating and cooling systems in all kinds of buildings from residential housing to large and small commercial buildings.
There are a number of good reasons why you might want to enter the HVAC industry including the fact that you will be out in the field working in a variety of situations, encountering new challenges and constant learning experiences. You will always have a job because HVAC workers are always in demand, and not least of all, the industry offers high-paying employment in terms of HVAC worker salary and benefits.
When you have decided to enter the field, there are a number of things you will need to consider before you begin your search for training. This article will provide information, answers to your questions, and put you on the right path to finding the best HVAC training schools in Michigan.
Demand for HVAC Technicians Michigan is Strong
As mentioned above, the demand for HVAC techs in Michigan will grow by 15% between 2014 and 2024, exceeding the national average. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the job outlook is very good and the industry is expected to grow at about 4% annually. Commercial and residential building construction is expected to drive the growth, along with the need to retrofit older HVAC/R systems, and the demand to keep up with evolving government environmental regulations.
Michigan HVAC Technicians Salary in Michigan
The average annual salary for HVAC technicians in Michigan is about $48K with a range of $30K for entry level techs to over $80K for experienced workers. This does not include any overtime wages which can considerably increase salaries. Some cities in Michigan, due to higher or lower demand, provide higher or lower salaries. Here is a link providing average HVAC salaries in a variety of Michigan cities.
Becoming an HVAC Technician in Michigan
First you will need to earn a high school degree or an equivalent, such as a GED. Then you can choose and apply to one of the accredited HVAC schools in MI, maintain a good grade point average, and earn an Associate’s Degree in HVAC. You will then need to apply for a 3 to 5 year paid apprenticeship where you will acquire on-the-job training and preparation for your Michigan HVAC license. We will go into detail about licensure later in the article.
You can find HVAC training school programs at community colleges, vocational or trade schools, universities, and through on-line programs. An Associate’s Degree typically takes 2 years, although some schools may offer accelerated programs allowing you to graduate sooner.
HVAC Training Schools in Michigan
It is recommended to select an accredited training program because accredited HVAC schools are the most qualified to teach you what you need to know.
The Pick HVAC School Search tool is the fastest way to find an accredited school near you in MI – or any state. If the list isn’t already populated, enter your zip code, and the top HVAC schools near you will be shown.
Further in the article we will discuss school accreditation plus some things to consider which will help you select the HVAC training school that will work best for you.
Cost of HVAC Training School in Michigan
The average cost of tuition to earn a 2-year Associate’s Degree in HVAC ranges from about $6,000 per year at a community college to about $15,000 per year at a university.
HVAC Degrees Available
An Associate’s Degree in HVAC or applied science with an HVAC focus is the most common way to go. This typically takes about 2 years to complete unless your school offers an accelerated program allowing you to complete the coursework in less time. But keep in mind, you will still be doing the same amount of work in a shortened time frame, so it can be rather intense and probably not the best choice if you plan to work during your education.
Later in the article we will also cover some of the course work and subject matter you can expect to learn during your HVAC education.
If you’re ambitious you may want to further your education and earn a Bachelor’s Degree in HVAC or Engineering with a concentration in HVAC. A Bachelor’s Degree usually takes an additional 2 years after you complete your Associate’s Degree. Bachelor Degree classes will expand on previous classes and will cover advanced topics like management and leadership, systems and controls design, evaluation of system efficiencies, and environmental impacts of HVAC systems. According to CareerOneStop.org, a website sponsored by the U.S. Department of Labor, only 5% of HVAC workers earn a Bachelor’s Degree, giving them a major competitive edge in landing a well-paying job.
What is an HVAC Engineer?
An HVAC engineer has earned a Master’s Degree in engineering, usually with a focus on HVAC systems. It will take another 2 years to complete a Master’s Degree. This degree will allow you to find employment in management or to oversee creation, design, and installation of new HVAC systems.
These degrees do not have to be completed consecutively, you can finish one, work in the field, then return to school to complete another. You may also be able to work while attending school to earn a higher degree. Also, some employers will pay all, or part of the tuition, for you to earn advanced degrees.
Is an HVAC Degree Necessary or Helpful?
More and more, a degree is becoming necessary to land a good job. A degree will increase your earning potential and job prospects. The HVAC/R industry is becoming high tech and more complex with new innovations regularly coming forward. Employers are looking for trained technicians who have shown their ability to study, learn, and apply their knowledge. A job candidate with a degree has proven they have the capabilities necessary to accomplish what is required.
In Michigan, you must have completed 3 years of on-the-job experience to qualify for licensure and to get that you will need to complete an apprenticeship. In today’s HVAC world, most apprenticeship programs require you to have a degree.
HVAC training school classes will also provide you with skills you may not be taught in your apprenticeship such as managing priorities, speaking to customers, using valid and reliable research strategies, and the basics of self-employment, if you choose that direction.
Advantages of Earning an HVAC Degree
The biggest advantage of earning an HVAC degree at an accredited training school is that it will increase your job opportunities. A degree will place you at the top of a prospective employer’s candidate list. A degree will make you more eligible, for more and better jobs, and it will help you earn a higher salary.
Earning an HVAC degree will allow you the opportunity to work in major cities across the country. Also earning an EPA certificate, certifying you to work with refrigerants, will further increase your job prospects.
You will also be taught subjects that you might not learn on the job, such as, good communication skills so you can explain complex technology and procedures, managing priorities, and handling employer expectations.
Choosing the Best HVAC Training School
Below are a number of things you should consider which will help you choose, and apply to, the best HVAC training school for your situation.
First, find out which degrees they offer. Earning an Associate’s Degree in HVAC is recommended. Be careful of schools that only offer training for specific certificates as that will only teach you what is needed for those certificates, rather than provide a well-rounded HVAC education.
- Make sure that the school is HVAC accredited. We will outline accreditation and why it’s important later in the article.
- If you select an on-line school, ask where they hold the hands-on training labs.
- If you plan to work while you attend school, it might be helpful if they offer classes on the weekend or during the evenings.
- Find out what you can about the instructors in the program. Do they currently, or have they previously, worked in the industry? Having instructors that actually work, or have worked, in the field will generally provide a better learning experience. Ask how they keep up with the latest trends and innovations in the HVAC field?
- Inquire about the classroom size and the student-to-teacher ratio, especially in the hands-on labs. A smaller class size is more beneficial, allowing you more time with your instructors.
- Ask to look at the curriculum. Does it look interesting and thorough? Does it prepare you for certifications, including the EPA 608 refrigerant certification exam?
- Make sure to ask about the cost of tuition. Is it something you can afford? If needed, ask if the school will help you find financial assistance including a student loan or a grant.
- If possible, visit the school and sit in on a class. Talk with the students and ask if they are happy with the program and if the instructors clearly convey the classroom material.
- Do an on-line search to see what you can find about the school’s reputation. You can find information such as school ranking and ratings. You can check with the HVAC school accrediting organization, Partnership for Air-Conditioning, Heating, Refrigeration Accreditation (PAHRA) for their recommendations. Contact them at this link.
And don’t forget to ask if the school will assist you in finding a paid apprenticeship after graduation. Some schools help you find employment and even have job guarantees for their graduates.
Choose an Accredited HVAC Training School
Our School Search Tool makes it easy to find the best accredited schools in MI!
If a school has received accreditation, it means that the school has gone through a process and been reviewed by an independent, third party, non-governmental, accrediting organization. Accreditation means that the school has proven to meet established standards of educational excellence and competence and that the school will provide you with the knowledge and skills necessary for employment in the HVAC/R industry. It also means that the school will teach you the latest government regulations regarding climate control and how to provide and maintain good customer service. If the school is accredited, you can be positive that the school is legitimate and has international credibility.
Partners for Air-Conditioning, Heating, Refrigeration Accreditation (PAHRA) is the most common accrediting organization in the HVAC industry. HVAC Excellence is another accrediting organization. The responsibility of these organizations is to assure that students will get the needed training to become successful in their careers.
Following is a link to a page on the ESCO Group website detailing some of the benefits of attending an HVAC training school that has received accreditation.
HVAC Training School Curriculum
You can expect the HVAC training school curriculum to cover all aspects of heating and air conditioning systems, how they work, how to install, maintain, diagnose problems, and repair them. You will cover the electronics and technology involved, various types of units and fuel sources, and how to size and install ductwork.
You will also learn about the innovations and trends in HVAC/R, understanding energy efficiency, and all about government regulations and requirements.
This section covers some of the typical classes and subject matter you will encounter in HVAC training school. Your educational time will be spent both in the classroom and in hands-on learning labs.
- Air conditioning applications
- Various types of heating units
- Tools used in the HVAC trade
- Basics of electricity, electric functions in HVAC systems
- 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 costs
- Energy fundamentals and energy conservation
After graduation, you will need to work in the industry for 3 to 5 years before you can apply for your license. You can apply for and complete an apprenticeship or find a job working under the supervision of a licensed HVAC tech or contractor. If you choose an apprenticeship you will be paid for your work. Many schools will assist you in finding the apprenticeship through relationships they have with various organizations and companies.
Michigan HVAC Certification and Licensing
The first license you will apply for is the HVAC Apprentice license which allows you to work under the supervision of a licensed HVAC contractor. You will be able to apply for this license after you finish your 3 years for work experience. Acquiring this license will allow you to work in situations requiring more experience and command higher wages.
The next step is to acquire a Mechanical Contractors license which will allow you to work independently or to become self-employed. The requirements for a contractor’s license state that you must have 3 or more years working experience in a number of areas including hydronic heating and cooling, HVAC equipment, duct work, refrigeration, and air conditioning.
Also note that some counties and cities have their own licensing requirements that you will need before you can work in those areas.
These licenses are available through the Department of Licensing & Regulatory Affairs (LARA). You can visit their website to find more information.
HVAC Certifications Options
Licenses and certifications are different and have different purposes. You always get your license through the governments and it states that you have passed an exam and are qualified to practice a profession.
Earning certifications is voluntary but you still need to pass a test to verify your knowledge and ability about specific aspects for the industry. Acquiring certificates is usually optional, although some employers will require to hold certain certificates for employment. Certifications also act as your professional credentials and make you more valuable to employers.
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. 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
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. Below is a list of some of these organizations, including Michigan chapters, where available:
- Michigan Air Conditioning Contractors Association
- Sheet Metal and Air Conditioning Contractors’ National Association (SMACNA) Michigan chapter
- American Society of Heating, Refrigeration, and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) Detroit chapter
- Women in HVACR
- International Institute of Refrigeration
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 the state, on-line job openings, and other information sources. Here is the link to the ONet HVAC page.