Jobs in HVAC are becoming more available than ever, and the good news is that there are quite a few accredited HVAC schools in NYC. This is an expanding field, and demand for HVAC technicians is high. HVAC work salary is excellent. An education in HVAC/R allows a technician to find top HVAC technician pay in New York City and beyond.
By the way, the terms HVAC and HVAC/R are often used interchangeably, though the “R” refrigeration part is something of a specialty. Both terms are used here and apply to the same broad field.
Also, the HVAC worker salary and information for the demand for HVAC technicians in NYC and the US are taken from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics – the most accurate statistics available.
- What is HVAC and What Do Techs Do?
- Becoming an HVAC Tech in NYC
- Accredited HVAC Schools in New York City
- HVAC Certification and Licensing
What is HVAC and What Do Techs Do?
Also referred to as HVAC/R, the abbreviation is short for heating, ventilation, air conditioning, and refrigeration. HVAC technicians can install and repair systems that control air quality and temperature inside a building. HVAC/R techs can work for residential heating and cooling companies, large or small commercial contractors, be the HVAC pro in a factory or shop, or they may prefer to go into business for themselves.
Some techs focus on one type of equipment, like air conditioning or heating systems, or some pros only install new equipment and don’t do repairs on existing equipment. These are options you can explore while you are in an HVAC/R training program in NYC.
Becoming an HVAC Tech in NYC
If you are considering a career in HVAC or HVAC/R there are a number of things you will need to know before you begin the search. For instance:
- How to determine if you are eligible
- What steps you will need to take
- What are accredited HVAC schools in NYC
- What New York HVAC training programs are available
Your educational options include trade and vocational schools, community colleges, on-line schools, and universities that all offer HVAC/R programs.
This article will cover all of the necessary steps and provide you with information to help you make the best decision for your situation.
First, let’s get the two of the biggest questions out of the way. What is the demand for HVAC/R Technicians and what is the average salary for an HVAC Technician in NYC?
Demand for HVAC Technicians in NYC
The country is experiencing a great shortage of skilled technicians in the HVAC and Refrigeration industry, which has been ongoing for several years and is expected to continue in the future.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the demand for HVAC technicians in NYC will grow 13% from 2018 to 2028. Right now they report a shortage of 70,000 HVAC tech and service works and that number will increase to 115,000 by 2028.
There has never been a better time to enroll in an HVAC/R training school.
HVAC Technician Salary in New York City
The current average annual salary for an HVAC tech in NYC is $48,730.00 with the overall salary ranging from $30,000 to $93,000 annually. If you intend to get a journeyman certification, which usually takes 4 to 5 years, you can expect to earn more. Due to the shortage of skilled techs, you can also expect some overtime earnings which will increase your annual income. Entry level works can expect to earn about $50k, mid-range workers about $73k, and master level workers about $93k.
So you can see that HVAC is a high demand, rewarding field, in need of additional technicians, and an excellent career choice.
How to become an HVAC/R Technician
Basic Education: You must earn a high school diploma or GED first, and after that there are a few different paths you can follow.
More Education is Better: While a GED or high school diploma is enough, the most recommended path and most certain to land you a stable, well-paying job, is to attend one of the accredited HVAC schools and an Associates degree. You can select and apply to a training school right out of high school. You can find these programs at vocational or trade schools, community colleges, and universities. You can even find on-line HVAC/R training schools.
Other paths you could follow include applying for an entry level job with the hope of working your way up, or applying for an apprenticeship.
Do I really need an Associates or Bachelors Degree?
HVAC/R is a trade that incorporates technology, from the high-efficiency building automation systems standard in all new residential and commercial construction, to the diagnostic tools used to troubleshoot them. You must also have the technical training to understand the future of HVAC technology to be competitive in this changing field.
Key Point – Competition for apprenticeships is so great that even unions are beginning to look for candidates with degrees. They want high caliber recruits who understand the fundamentals and have shown an ability to study, learn, and apply that knowledge. It also allows journeymen mentors to introduce more advanced topics sooner.
Get a step ahead: Degree programs will also teach students about how to apply technical skills in the real world, how to build and maintain good customer service, and even some of the basics about self-employment.
It is also common for states to allow HVAC/R training school to count toward the total experience hours required for a journeyman certification.
Better Pay: A degree has also shown to increase median earnings by at least 27%.
Degrees Available from Accredited HVAC Schools
There are two HVAC/R degrees available.
Associates Degree: You can earn a 2 year Associates degree, and then you may choose to continue your education and earn a 4 year bachelor’s degree. The Associates degree is usually a two year program but some HVAC/R training schools offer an accelerated program, which can be intense, but will get you through sooner. The curriculum for the Associates Degree is detailed below in the section headed “HVAC/R School Coursework”.
Bachelors Degree aka Bachelor’s Degree: The Bachelor’s degree is the currently the highest degree available in HVAC/R. Coursework will build upon associate level classes you have already taken, as well as, covering more advanced topics like energy audit and analysis, contracting issues, system configurations, environmental impacts, and in-depth theory and practices. You can also earn an Associates Degree, work in the industry, and go back later for your bachelor’s degree.
Did you know? Only 5% of HVAC technicians earn a bachelor’s degree, so if you do, it will be an impressive indicator of your ability on your resume – and will lead to higher HVAC technician salary and probably promotion.
Earning HVAC Certification and Licensing
Certifications and licensing are different than getting your basic HVAC training. They come after you get basic education – Diploma, GED, associates or bachelors.
You will need to earn certain certifications to do specialty work. You can also earn some certifications without earning a degree, but in the eyes of a potential employer, certifications do not replace the importance of earning a degree.
Many certifications only cover limited aspects of HVAC knowledge. For instance, the EPA 608 certification only covers refrigerants.
Look carefully at schools offering certification programs because they will only teach you what you need for certain certificates, limiting what you are qualified to do, rather than providing the overall knowledge you will need to understand and work in the HVAC/R industry. Again, get a diploma and a degree, and then think about certification.
Did you know? Many HVAC employers in NYC and elsewhere pay for their technicians to take classes to get certifications.
Later in the article some of the certifications you can earn will be explained.
Accredited HVAC Schools in New York City
There are a number of accredited HVAC/R training schools in and around New York City. Do an on-line search and you will find at least a few that are worth consideration. Before you select, review the topics below to assist you in finding the school that will best meet your needs.
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Cost of HVAC Training School
The costs will vary depending on the kind of school you attend and the program you enroll in. The tuition for a 2-year Associates degree can range from $5,000 at a community college to $15,000 at a university, vocational or HVAC training school.
The Importance of Considering Accredited HVAC Schools
Make sure that the HVAC/R school you choose is accredited. This means that an independent, third party organization has reviewed and approved the program, measuring it against established standards of educational excellence and industry competence. Having accreditation will ensure that the school is meeting or exceeding the skill set necessary to uphold government regulations surrounding climate control and that graduates will provide quality service to customers. If the school or program is accredited, you will know that it is legitimate and has international credibility.
Organizations like HVAC Excellence and Partners for Air-Conditioning, Heating, Refrigeration Accreditation (PAHRA) are two of the groups that accredit HVAC/R programs and their goal is to assure the students will get the training they need to become successful in their careers. 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 training program: https://www.achrnews.com/articles/120090-hvac-accreditations--certifications-provide-credibility--status
Selecting an Accredited HVAC School
Following are a number of things to consider when selecting an HVAC/R school.
Is the school accredited? Don’t waste your time on one that isn’t, even if it offers cheap HVAC training. You’ll be less marketable.
Where is the school? Consider the location of the school. Is the school nearby or convenient and easy for you to get to? If you will also be working, the school should be easy to get to from both home and work.
If you plan on working while attending school, look for a school with a flexible schedule or one that offers evening or weekend classes.
What about online schools? If you are considering an on-line program, find out if, and how, they incorporate hands-on learning and where that takes place.
Compare the coursework for each of the schools you are looking at. Does one school seem to offer more or less than another?
Key point – The more you learn, the better prepared you will be for your certification exams, and the better qualified you will be for the job.
HVAC school cost / Financial aid: Is the school tuition something you can afford? Perhaps there are financial aid or student loan programs that can help you pay the tuition. Also find out how and when the school requires payment. Is payment required by class, or semester, or can you make installment payments?
Experienced instructors: Consider the class instructors and find out whether they are teaching from a book or if they actually have, or have had, a career in the industry themselves. It should be clear that your instructors are qualified and can teach you the tools that you’ll need, as well as, understand the equipment and units you’ll be working with.
Class size: What is the student to teacher ratio at the school? Ask an admissions counselor. Smaller class sizes mean that you will get more individual time with the teacher and more hands-on learning experience.
Starting your Search
There are many excellent, accredited HVAC/R training schools in New York City and the surrounding area. Finding out what makes a school unique and sets them apart from the others will give you some idea of their values, objectives, and expectations.
What do others say? You should also look into the reputation of the school. You can get information by looking at on-line rankings, asking HVAC school graduates, if you know any, and even calling HVAC companies and asking for their recommendations.
Take a visit: Ask if the school will allow you to visit and sit in on a class. This will help you get a feeling for the school dynamics. Talk to the other students and ask if the school is meeting their expectations.
Hands-on Learning: Ask about extra benefits the school provides to their students such as helping students get on-the-job training or assisting their students with finding paid apprentice opportunities. Some schools partner with trade organizations offering paid apprentice opportunities that you can qualify for.
The more benefits you can take advantage of, the better your experience will be. You should apply for any assistance the school offers as it will help you with your future career prospects.
Speed learning: You may also want to find out if the school offers an accelerated program which allows students to earn their degree quicker.
Many schools will assist in helping you find a job after graduation, some even offer a job placement guarantee. These schools will have a department dedicated to helping you find local and nationwide businesses looking to hire graduates.
What benefits Can I Expect from Earning an HVAC degree?
After you earn your degree, the first thing you can expect is to be in high demand. Having a degree will put you at the top of the job pool. Having a degree in HVAC/R will provide you with more job opportunities and allow you to command a higher HVAC worker salary from your employer. It will teach you how to handle refrigerants which will also put you in high demand.
Earning a degree in HVAC-R will provide you with a well-paying career in a stable industry and reassure your employers and clients of your knowledge and ability.
It used to be that you could get an entry level position in a shop or an apprenticeship and learn the trade that way. But according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, HVAC-R systems are becoming more complex and high tech, employers prefer job applicants with a post-secondary degree (high school diploma) in HVAC/R over those who have completed an apprenticeship. For more information visit the BLS site.
What you Can Expect to Learn in HVAC Training School
You will learn the ins and outs of HVAC/R systems, their components, how to install, maintain, inspect, troubleshoot, and repair these systems. You will also learn how to recommend upgrades to increase energy efficiency, learn the latest technical innovations, and government regulations for these systems.
Some technicians choose to further specialize in HVAC-R areas such as solar, green technologies, commercial refrigeration, or radiant heat.
HVAC/R School Coursework
Following are some of the types of classes you will take in HVAC/R training school. You should expect classroom and coursework along with hands-on training labs.
Coursework will include HVAC theory and practices, electronic controls and circuitry, the tools you will use, the units you will work on, thermostats, gas, oil , and electric systems. You’ll learn about energy management and green technology.
Labs will allow you to work on actual furnace and air conditioning equipment where you’ll get experience in assembling, installing, diagnosing problems, and repairing the systems.
Here is a list of some typical subjects covered at HVAC/R training schools:
- Basic electricity of HVAC
- Modern refrigeration and air conditioning
- Hand and power tools associated with the trade
- Ductwork sizing and load calculations
- Refrigerant piping and connections
- Electric motors, wiring, circuits, controls
- Natural gas and petroleum
- Heat Pumps, boilers, zone systems
- Codes, ordinances, safety practices, EPA, OSHA regulations
HVAC Certification and Licensing
New York State does not require those working in the general HVAC/R industry to be licensed, there are however, local requirements and regulations that you will need to be aware of before you begin work.
There are a variety of certifications that may be required by an employer. These certifications also serve as your professional credentials, increase your earning potential, and make you more valuable to a prospective employer. Following is a list of some of the certifications you can earn:
- 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
NATE stands for North American Technical Excellence and it’s the nation’s largest non-profit certification organization for heating, air conditioning, and refrigeration technicians. NATE is owned, operated, and supported by the entire HVAC/R industry. They offer certifications at various levels including those below:
- #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 – NATEX
EPA 608 Certification (Refrigerants)
The EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) 608 Certification is required for any technician who maintains, services, repairs, or disposes of appliances that contain regulated refrigerants.
Having in-depth knowledge about refrigerants and the refrigerant cycle as an HVAC/R technician can advance your career, as refrigeration is one of the backbones of the industry.
HVAC/R Professional Organizations
Following is a list of important professional organizations in the HVAC field that you should be aware of. Their websites can provide valuable information and may help you with educational resources, networking, determining your career path within the industry, and may also be able to assist you in selecting an HVAC/R training school. Many of these organizations have New York chapters.
- Air Conditioning Contractors of America.
- American Society of Heating, refrigeration, and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE).
- Air Movement and Control Association (AMCA).
- 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).
- HVAC Excellence.
- Plumbing Heating Cooling Contractors Association (PHCC).
- Refrigeration Engineers and Technicians Association (RETA).
Another helpful site is ONet, the Occupational Information Network. It is a free on-line database that contains occupational definitions and the associated tasks, technical skills, required knowledge and abilities, work activities, wages by state, job openings on the web, and sources of additional information. Visit the ONet HVAC/R page at ONetOnline.