Skyrocketing temperatures and an urgent need for energy efficiency to control global warming require skilled HVAC technicians. With the increasing demand for technicians to handle the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems, there has been high pressure on the industry in recent years.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the HVAC-R industry in the US will require around 20,200 professionals from 2020 to 2030.
A career as an HVAC technician is a rewarding one with high demand in diverse industries. However, selecting the right HVAC school according to your career objectives, the cost of the HVAC course, and the courses offered are some of the important considerations before committing to the field entirely.This article discusses how to get HVAC certified, the roles and responsibilities, the job outlook for HVAC-R technicians in the US, and the best HVAC schools across the US.
Best HVAC Schools
One of the most stable and sought-after professions is HVAC, which stands for Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning.
People are increasingly reliant on heating and cooling units, both in businesses and in their homes. As a result, there will always be a need for qualified HVAC technicians who understand the intricacies of complex machinery and can repair it.
But how does one obtain that training? There are numerous options, but attending one of the best HVAC training schools, like the ones outlined below, is the most efficient.
The New England Institute of Technology (NEIT), based in Rhode Island, offers various associate and bachelor’s degrees of 18 months to 3-year duration. Its lab-based learning environment prepares you with real-world skills. Students learn from industry experts with deep experience and skills to help them navigate their careers with greater clarity.
After graduating, you will qualify for the role of technician in the refrigeration, air conditioning, and heating industries. Graduates of this program are also eligible to pursue a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Management.
The financial aid office at NEIT assists students in various federal, state, and private programs, including the FAFSA.
Miami Dade College has a diverse community with students from 167 nations speaking 63 languages. This makes it one of the most culturally diverse colleges in the US. The campus offers 300 associate and baccalaureate degrees, certificates, and apprenticeship programs.
The college provides a 4-year technical certificate in HVAC technologies. It is a mix of classroom training programs and on-the-job training that prepare students for journeyman positions in the industry.
Houston Community College is an open-admission public institution that prepares students for work in diverse industries, including HVAC.
The Associate of Applied Science certificate in the HVAC program at Houston community college teaches the fundamentals and innovations in climate control systems.
With 80,000 students and 3,400 faculty members, Northern Virginia Community College is one of the largest community colleges in the US. It offers more than 100 associate’s degrees and certificate programs.
HVAC programs prepare students for full-time jobs in the service, maintenance, repair, and installation industry. Students can go for a two-year associate’s degree or a one-year certificate program in HVAC technologies.
College of Southern Nevada hosts students from over 60 countries and offers 150-degree programs and 70 certificates. The college has the lowest tuition in Southern Nevada and offers classes during the day, at night, at weekends, and online.
The college offers programs for entry-level air conditioning technicians with 18.5 credits and an associate degree in air conditioning technology and critical systems with 60 credits.
Riverside City College offers more than 100 degree and certificate programs at affordable prices. The college holds accreditation from the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC).
RCC provides associate and certificate programs in HVAC technology that range in length from one to two years.
HVAC Schools That Offer Refrigeration Programs (HVAC-R)
HVAC-R Technicians work on the mechanical systems in your home or any other indoor environment that circulates air. HVAC-R stands for heating, ventilation, air conditioning, and refrigeration. Your responsibilities as a technician in this field will include installing new systems and maintaining air conditioning and heating.
Here’s a look at some of the top HVAC schools that offer HVAC-R technology training.
NEIT is among the best HVAC schools and offers an associate degree in air conditioning and refrigeration programs, where you collaborate with students from architecture, construction, and welding trade programs.
The curriculum combines two distinct but linked areas: refrigeration/air conditioning and heating in residential, commercial, and industrial structures. You will have the opportunity to share classes and collaborate with your peers in architecture, construction management, welding engineering, and other allied professional trades program as part of the Associate in Science degree in Refrigeration/Air Conditioning/Heating (RACH) program.
After completing the program, students can work in entry-level positions as HVAC technicians, HVACR technicians, air conditioning engineers, and refrigeration technicians.
The Ferris State University in Michigan offers a range of courses from associate to doctoral degrees and certificate courses. Students can consider various arts, science, business, engineering, healthcare, and more programs.
Ferris State University offers associate and bachelor’s degrees in heating, ventilation and air conditioning, and refrigeration (HVACR) in a mix of face-to-face and online formats. The program takes students through a solid theoretical foundation with extensive laboratory experience.
Students develop skills in fabrication and joining techniques, basic refrigeration mechanics, heating, commercial refrigeration, air conditioning, electrical fundamentals, and control and design of HVACR systems.
Northern Michigan University is a four-year public university with award-winning leadership programs, nationally recognized programs, and cutting-edge technology initiatives. It offers over 170 degree programs, including 25 graduate programs. The 300+ faculty members hold the highest degrees in their fields.
The HVACR-certified technician programs at Northern Michigan University prepare students for residential and light commercial applications. This includes heating, ventilation, air conditioning, ducting, and refrigeration.
The programs at NMU include a two-year associate of applied science with 60 credits, a two-year certificate with 44 credits, and an HVACR minor with 20-credits.
The Porter and Chester Institute has been among the top HVAC schools in Connecticut since 1946. The institute holds accreditation from the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC). The Porter and Chester Institute also has approvals from these government agencies to train sponsored students:
- Bureau of rehabilitation services
- Massachusetts rehabilitation commission
- Worker’s rehabilitation services
- CT state approving agency for veterans’ benefits
- MA state approving agency for veterans’ benefits
The Porter and Chester Institute HVAC program prepares you for the job in less than a year. It is a hybrid program with online lectures, labs, and on-campus classes.
Milwaukee Area Technical College (MATC) offers over 170 degree, diploma, and certificate programs through industry leaders as the faculty. Earn a high-quality and affordable degree with a high-paying job.
Pathways at MATC include business & management, community & human services, general education, creative arts, design & media, healthcare, manufacturing, construction & transportation, and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics).
The college offers a diploma in air conditioning, heating, ventilation, and refrigeration program for the service technician and a degree in air conditioning and refrigeration systems.
The duration of the associate degree is 2 years, and it provides career training for air conditioning technicians, refrigeration technicians, system design technicians, sales representatives, system supervisors, and system designers.
Career Outlook for HVAC Certified Technicians
HVAC professionals have a bright future ahead of them. After all, it doesn’t take years of education to earn your credential and start working in the profession. Scientific advancements still serve as a catalyst for innovation in the HVAC sector.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of jobs for heating, air conditioning, and refrigeration mechanics and installers was 394,100 and growing at a steady pace of 5% up to 2031. This equals approximately 40,100 new job openings each year for the next decade.
Many new openings will result from the need to replace workers who transfer to other occupations, exit the workforce, or retire.
In the US, 80% of construction firms struggle to fill positions with skilled labor. There are not enough new hires to replace the retiring construction industry workers. This is particularly true for HVAC technicians.
Job Responsibilities of HVAC Technicians
HVAC technicians are responsible for maintaining and repairing air quality systems in residential, commercial, and industrial units. They respond to emergency calls promptly and do routine maintenance of HVAC and refrigeration systems.
The job responsibilities of HVAC technicians are to:
- Inspect, repair, modify, and install HVAC systems. This includes refrigeration and air conditioning compressors, condensers, receivers, water cooling systems, pumps, forced air converter units, hand valves, capillary tubes, and expansion valves.
- Conduct preventive maintenance of refrigeration units, heating and ventilation units, including gas and electrically operated air conditioning equipment and boilers.
- Repair or replace defective parts, including thermostats, fan controls, automatic switches, log switches, relays, filters, belts, compressors, and heat exchangers.
- Operate various hand and power tools such as welder’s torch and vacuum pump safely and efficiently.
- Perform electrical maintenance and repair, installation, and alteration of HVAC equipment, components, motors, timers, and wiring systems.
- Install and calibrate HVAC systems, install copper tubing, test joints, and insulate air conditioning and refrigeration systems, air conditioning, and refrigeration system pipes. Flush boilers, rebuild pressure and temperature safety valves, de-scale tubing, and water pumps.
Why There Is a Greater Demand Than Ever for HVAC Technicians
Older HVAC systems will lose efficiency over time and require replacement, mandating the need for new installations. This new need will drive HVAC businesses long into the future.
These technological developments require certified HVAC personnel. The good news is that there are numerous possibilities for training to fulfill these requirements allowing HVAC professionals to expand their portfolios and advance their abilities with these qualifications.
Demand for HVAC Technicians in Rhode Island
Rhode Island employed 1,050 heating, air conditioning, and refrigeration mechanics and installers as of early 2021. The neighboring states, Connecticut and Massachusetts, employed 4,360 and 7,550 HVAC professionals, respectively.
On completing the associate or bachelor’s degrees in heating ventilation and air conditioning, you stand to benefit from the following career opportunities:
- HVAC technician
- HVAC supervisor
- HVAC-R technician
- HVAC sales representative
- HVAC installation apprentice
Here is a list of industries you can work in with the annual mean wage in the US:
- Building equipment contractors ($53,660)
- Direct sellers ($55,630)
- Commercial and industrial refrigeration and machinery repair and maintenance contractors ($58,610)
- Facilities support services ($60,560)
- Personal and household goods repair and maintenance ($43,370)
Salary of HVAC Technicians
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates, in May 2021, the median wage of HVAC technicians in the US was $48,630 per year ($23.38 per hour). The lowest 10% of the workforce earned $34,320, and the highest 10% earned more than $78,210.
The annual mean wage in the state of Rhode Island was $63,490. Its neighboring states of Connecticut and Massachusetts had annual mean wages of $64,540 and $65,460, respectively.
States that paid the highest wages to HVAC technicians in the US were the District of Columbia ($70,130), Alaska ($70,100), and Hawaii ($69,100).
What Do HVAC Systems Technicians Do?
HVAC technicians install, maintain, troubleshoot, repair, and inspect temperature control systems, ventilation and air conditioning and steam systems, and refrigeration equipment in residential, commercial, and industrial establishments.
How Do I Become an HVAC Technician?
The typical path to becoming an HVAC technician is as follows:
- Earn a high school diploma or equivalent. The course should be in either physics or math. If you don’t have a high school diploma, you can get a GED for up $150 in most states in the US.
- Start with a basic training program in an HVAC school that awards either a certificate or a college degree. The main differences are in the time commitment, cost, and subjects covered. While the certificate programs take as low as six months, an associate degree can take up to two years.
- Get an HVAC apprenticeship experience under trade professionals or an organization. This apprenticeship can last from three to five years. Apprentices earn a stipend and learn from top-of-the-line experts.
- Once you complete the apprenticeship, get the required license in your state to do the HVAC technician job. One of the industry-standard certifying agencies is the North American Technician Excellence (NATE).
- Get certification for HVAC technicians based on your state. Applications must show proof of experience and liability insurance and pass an exam. Standard HVAC certifications include Section 608 from the Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA) and the R-410A certification. Engineers who work with refrigerants must have EPA certification.
- For further career growth, continue your education and additional degree programs. You can specialize in heat pump pool heaters, unit ventilators, commercial furnaces, and residential boilers.
Where Do HVAC Technicians Work?
HVAC mechanics work in commercial, residential, and industrial environments. They work in schools, hospitals, government buildings, private business offices, homes, and shopping centers and sometimes work at multiple locations at one time.
What Will I Learn in HVAC Programs?
Some of the things you learn in HVAC programs are:
- Knowledge of HVAC systems, including evaporators, compressors, condensers, heating and humidification systems, duct systems, and refrigeration tools.
- Basic principles of electricity.
- Refrigerant handling and fundamental principles and best practices.
- Operations, testing, and wiring of motors. You learn how to fix motors and fit them into larger HVAC systems.
- Energy efficiency and conservation in HVAC systems are in line with green technology.
- Understand the safety standards applicable in your state.
- Basic problem-solving and communication skills and customer service.
An HVAC technician is a rewarding career that prepares you in the HVAC field for diverse industries across the US.
NEIT is one of the top ten HVAC schools in the country. Start an exciting career in HVAC and HVAC-R with our associate degree program, which can give you an advantage in the HVAC industry.If you’re looking for a program that will prepare you for mid or upper-level positions in the construction industry, consider our bachelor’s and master’s degrees in construction management. These programs help you become qualified construction managers by teaching you an advanced mix of relevant subjects.