The demand for HVAC technicians in NJ and across the country is at an all-time high! And so is HVAC worker salary. This is a great time to attend one of the accredited HVAC schools to get a degree and start your high-paying career.
Most people have the basic idea of what an HVAC technician does, but you may not realize all of the unique, important details of the job. We often don’t realize that HVAC technicians play a key role in keeping us healthy and conserving energy.
There are HVAC job opportunities across New Jersey in major cities like Trenton and in smaller cities like Cape May. A degree from an accredited HVAC school in New Jersey will give you the training that you need to be a part of this important, rewarding career.
If you are looking for a quick way to find accredited HVAC schools in New Jersey, scroll down to the NJ HVAC School finder search tool and type in your zip code. It will generate the options of HVAC schools in NJ.
- The HVAC/R Overview
- Becoming an HVAC/R Technician in NJ
- Accredited HVAC Schools in New Jersey
- Licenses and Certifications
The HVAC/R Overview
It is easy for us to rattle off “HVAC” without even thinking about what it stands for. Each letter in the acronym represents an important part of the job. Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning. Refrigeration is also an important part and is assumed to be included when people reference HVAC work. You’ll see both acronyms HVAC and HVAC/R in this article, they mean the same thing.
The HVAC/R Career
The HVAC field encompasses a broad range of work. The well-known aspects of the job are the heating and cooling work. The lesser known aspects include humidity control, air filtration, air quality, ventilation and refrigeration. Technicians who address refrigeration often work in large buildings such as food storage or sales facilities.
Just as the work possibilities are broad, so are the different settings than an HVAC technician can work in. HVAC technicians can work for companies that serve commercial customers in places like factories, offices, etc. or in residential areas such as apartment buildings and homes. Some companies even hire their own HVAC technician who works exclusively in their buildings. Accredited HVAC schools in NJ can prepare you for a successful HVAC career in any of these settings.
Generalists vs Specialists: Depending on the type of setting you choose to work in, you may end up doing a variety of different types of jobs, like a generalist. You could also find yourself being really good at one type of work and doing it over and over, that would make you a specialist. Some HVAC technicians enjoy the variety of new challenges with every job. Others are very good at installations or troubleshooting and repair and enjoy the predictability that comes with specializing. The basic training is the same no matter which path you choose.
Becoming an HVAC/R Technician in NJ
Here’s a quick rundown of the things you’ll need in order to get a great HVAC training in New Jersey. Keep in mind that more training can lead to better job opportunities and better salaries.
- Level 1: You’ll need a basic high school level education like a diploma or GED. HVAC techs rely heavily on high school level skills such as math and reading.
- Level 2: Some accredited HVAC schools in NJ have shorter programs where the graduates earn a certificate. These courses typically take up to a year to complete.
- Level 3: The first level of accredited degree available in the HVAC field is an Associates degree. This is a two year program.
- Level 4: In four years of training, you could graduate with a Bachelor’s degree in HVAC/R and have all of the training you would need to be successful in any setting or job type. Most of the top HVAC technicians have received this training beyond their Associates degree.
- Level 5: After you get a degree, you’ll need HVAC certification and licensing in order to work as an HVAC technician in New Jersey. These require passing tests and proving your experience. More on this later.
Read on for more information about HVAC training in New Jersey. You’ll learn about all of the different factors that go into choosing a training program. We’ll also help you find an HVAC school in your area using our Search Tool below!
HVAC/R Techs in High Demand in NJ
There just doesn’t seem to be enough HVAC technicians to go around, and the demand for HVAC technicians remains high. The HVAC shortage is present in New Jersey and across the nation. This means that there is a great career outlook for graduates of an accredited HVAC school in NJ!
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the demand for HVAC workers is expected to increase by 11.2% through 2029.
If you’re looking for a reason to join the HVAC field, this career outlook is very promising!
HVAC/R Technician Salary in New Jersey
This seems to be the question on everyone’s mind. How much money can I make as an HVAC technician? If the high demand wasn’t enough to help you make up your mind, check out these numbers on HVAC salary in New Jersey.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that HVAC technicians in New Jersey typically earn somewhere between $33k and $93k.The average yearly salary is $56,860 or more than $28 per hour. You could earn even more depending on what qualifications you have. A journeyman certification, which takes 4 to 5 years to earn, will boost your income even higher.
Because there’s a national shortage, HVAC technicians in NJ have the opportunity to take multiple jobs or work overtime. That could give an extra boost to your income if you ever need it. Novice HVAC technicians in New Jersey typically earn around $33K, mid-level technicians earn around $57K and experienced HVAC professionals earn around $93K. As you can see, there are many opportunities to advance in your skills and your income!
To look into average HVAC salaries in different NJ cities, check out this ONet link.
Do I Really Need a Degree?
Like we mentioned above, some training programs are shorter and provide just a certificate. An Associates or Bachelor’s degree will allow your career to take off faster! HVAC worker salary is higher for those with a degree, not just a certificate.
Like many careers, the HVAC field is relying more and more on technology. It is becoming more automated, efficient and precise. It’s likely to keep changing as technology constantly advances. A two or four year degree will give you the knowledge and skills that you need to be able to understand the underlying systems so that you can keep adjusting and adapting to the changes in technology.
In order to get training in the field, such as an apprenticeship, you have to prove your commitment and ability. Employers are more likely to choose a candidate with a degree over a candidate who only has a certificate. The degree shows that you are willing to do hard work and conquer challenges. It also certifies that you have learned all of the important foundational skills to be more successful and independent on the field.
HVAC Certification and Licensing
After you get HVAC training and a degree, the next step to becoming an independent technician is to get your HVAC license and additional certifications. You’ll get an HVAC license by proving your education and years of experience. The more education you have, the fewer years of field experience you have to have. Licenses are issued by the state you live and work in.
You can also prove your skill by earning certifications. Certifications are specific to different areas of the field. One common certification is the EPA 608, which you need in order to legally handle any refrigerant materials. There are many other HVAC certification and licensing opportunities. We’ll cover more specific certifications later on.
Accredited HVAC Schools in New Jersey
There are many different opportunities to get an HVAC degree from an accredited HVAC school in NJ.
To help you find the right school in NJ, Pick HVAC has created a unique search tool.
Enter your zip code into the box and you can request more information from the schools that you’re interested in.
Cost of HVAC School
The cost of a good HVAC training program can vary depending on which type of program you choose. An Associates degree at a community college, for example, can cost around $5,000. If you choose a specialized HVAC training school, a vocational school or University, the cost may be closer to $15,000.
Though the cost can vary depending on the setting, it is an investment in a rewarding and good-paying career once you get to the other side.
Does it Matter if it’s Accredited?
Yes, that little distinction can make a big difference! Accreditation means that the program fulfills a long list of requirements to prove that it provides a high quality HVAC education. Schools can only earn accreditation after a third party organization reviews and approves all of their content. Finding an accredited school ensures that you will have been given all of the knowledge and learning opportunities that you need to be a successful HVAC technician.
Two of the major accrediting organizations are HVAC Excellence and Partners for Air-Conditioning, Heating, Refrigeration Accreditation (PAHRA). You can look for their names when you request more information using the search tool above.
The process of accreditation ensures that you will get your money’s worth and be well prepared for the challenges of an HVAC career in NJ. This article from the Air Conditioning, Hearing, Refrigeration News gives more information about the value of attending an accredited training program:
How Do I Find the Right School?
You might not find one school that fulfills your whole wish list, but it helps to find all of the pros and cons. Consider these factors:
- The Campus - Visit the school, see the class size, ask questions about the curriculum and experience the dorms or the commute. You could also set up an appointment with the admissions counselor or financial aid advisor while you’re there!
- Reputation - Find out what other HVAC technicians or students think about the school. Check online reviews or ask techs in your area!
- Course Work - What type of unique courses are offered? Does each school specialize in any specific area?
- Job Placement - Some schools help their students get jobs after they graduate. Check out what each school does to help connect their students with jobs in the field.
- In-Person or Distance Learning - Some schools offer online classes. This might be convenient, but we recommend getting at least some hands-on training for practical skills.
- Student Aid - You may be eligible for financial aid to help fund your learning. Ask each school what kind of aid they offer.
Is It Worth It? The Benefits of an HVAC Degree
Well trained HVAC technicians are in high demand. They get their career started off quickly at a high salary bracket! rAn Associates degree also sets the stage for more training down the road.
After you graduate from an accredited HVAC school in NJ, you’ll be more prepared to get your license and certification. When you gain more certifications you will be more marketable and command a good salary.
The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) describes that the HVAC field is becoming more and more complex. This means that employers are willing to pay more to an employee who has an official degree. They’re more able to handle the complexities of the job than someone who just received training on the field. The BLS website has more information.
What Type of HVAC/R Degree Should I get?
Like we described above, there are two options: an Associates or Bachelor’s degree. Many companies are willing to cover the cost of continued education for their employees. If you start with basic training and do great work, you might earn a wage plus money towards your education!
Associates Degree in HVAC
This degree takes two years. It can stand alone or it can be the first step on your way to a Bachelor’s degree.
A Bachelor’s degree is a great choice if you want to start your own contracting company or be in a management position some day.
This four year program includes additional topics like HVAC ethics, theory and practices, contracting issues, energy audit and analysis, environmental impacts, and system configurations. 5% of HVAC technicians have a Bachelor’s degree. You’ll be one of the top HVAC technicians in New Jersey if you choose to go this route!
Topics of Training in HVAC/R School
What in the world could you learn in 2 or 4 years of HVAC school? Here is a small list of some of the important topics. Use the Search Tool above and request more information to find out what each specific program has to offer.
Main topics of HVAC programs include:
- Basic HVAC systems including Heating, Air Conditioning, Ventilation, Refrigeration, and Humidity Control
- Refrigerants as a specialty (some schools)
- Introduction to Green Systems
- System Installation and set up
- System Repair
They’ll cover these topics for a variety of settings including commercial and residential. Discover more when you use the search tool above and request more information.
Next we will take a look at some more specific curriculum information.
HVAC School Coursework
To have a thorough HVAC training, you need a good balance of both in-class learning as well as hands-on lab work.
Lab work is where the rubber meets the road and you get to practice your skills. You’ll practice things like assembly, installation, repair and troubleshooting on real equipment.
The classroom is where you will pack in the knowledge from lectures and reading. Topics in this setting might include HVAC theory, electric circuitry and control, alternative energy sources, necessary tools, thermostats, and the types of units you might encounter.
Here are some specific subjects that you might learn in HVAC schools.
- Hand and power tools associated with the trade
- Electric motors, wiring, circuits, controls
- Basic electricity of HVAC
- Ductwork sizing and load calculations
- Heat Pumps, boilers, zone systems
- Refrigerant piping and connections
- Codes, ordinances, safety practices, EPA, OSHA regulations
- Natural gas, propane and petroleum systems
- Modern refrigeration and air conditioning
Licenses and Certifications
For a thriving HVAC career, you’ll need a state license and extra certifications. Like we described above, these are different but you need them both to be a successful and flexible HVAC tech.
License: After you graduate from an accredited HVAC program in NJ, you’ll apply for your NJ state license. This is a government issued document that allows you to legally work as an HVAC tech. You can also get specific licenses such as the EPA 608 license which we describe in more detail below.
Certifications: To prove your expert status in a specific part of the job, you can pass a test and get a certification. This will make you eligible for pay increases and a wider scope of practice. Certifications serve to make you more specialized, marketable and diverse in your field.
Some HVAC jobs require specific certifications due to the nature of the work. Sometimes when employers list job opportunities, they require the applicant to have a specific certification in order to be considered for the job. Having more certifications will allow you the flexibility to become one of the top paid HVAC technicians in New Jersey!
Below we list some common certifications for HVAC workers in New Jersey and other states.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issues a variety of certifications for different types of HVAC work.
EPA Type I Certification - For small appliances, air conditioners, domestic refrigeration, and vending machines
EPA Type II Certification – For high pressure systems, residential air conditioning and refrigeration units, and heat pumps
EPA Type III Certification – For low pressure systems and chillers
Universal EPA Certification – Covers Type I, II, and III listed above. This would be best if you are a generalist or don’t know yet which type of work you want to do.
EPA 608 Certification (Refrigerants) - Required in order to work with any type of refrigerants. This includes maintenance, service, repair of a system that contains refrigerants and disposal of refrigerant material.
NATE (North American Technical Excellence) is the largest organization for HVAC/R technicians. It is a non-profit certification organization that is made up of HVAC workers. They offer certifications of different levels. NATE certifications are highly sought after. They show your level of expertise in the field.
- 1) Ready to Work Certification
- 2) HVAC Support Technician
- 3) NATE Certification: Core and Specialty Tests
- 4) Senior Level Efficiency Analyst Certification
- Certified HVAC Professional (CHP-5) covers everything achieved in 1-4.
The NATE website has more information about certifications.
Other Professional Organizations
Like many other careers, the HVAC field has professional organizations that technicians can join for education, collaboration, job opportunities, and networking. They can give guidance as you advance your career. Getting involved in a few of these organizations is a great support for any HVAC technician.
Most of the organizations listed below have chapters in New Jersey:
- Air Conditioning Contractors of America.
- American Society of Heating, refrigeration, and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE).
- Air Movement and Control Association (AMCA).
- HVAC Excellence.
- Refrigeration Engineers Society (RSES).
- Women in HVACR.
- Consortium for Energy Efficiency (CEE1).
- United Association (UA).
- Radiant Professional Alliance.
- International Institute of Refrigeration.
- Sheet Metal and Air Conditioning Contractors’ National Association (SMACNA).
- Plumbing Heating Cooling Contractors Association (PHCC).
- Refrigeration Engineers and Technicians Association (RETA).
One more helpful resource that you should know about is the Occupational Information Network. Their website has a wealth of information and resources regarding HVAC/R careers in New Jersey. It provides information about HVAC salary by state, job openings, knowledge and skills needed for the job and other information. ONet covers the whole United States!
Here’s a link to a summary report that gives a good overview of the HVAC career.