Entering the HVAC industry in Minnesota is a fairly straightforward process. All you need is a thirst for knowledge, a love of working outdoors, and to pass a few exams.
The best way to get through the exams is to become fully certified as an HVAC technician, and with the help of this article, you can do just that. I will show you the best HVAC schools in Minnesota, along with a brief guide to help you narrow down your choices.
Minnesota doesn’t have any state-level requirements for tech certification. You are required by federal law to hold an EPA 608 certification, though.
You can study on your own and find a proctored exam site to take, pass, and become EPA certified. However, it is easier and better for your future career if you attend an accredited HVAC course and get that certification, along with the EPA requirements.
Because there are no certification requirements, you can study from practically anywhere. However, across the state, from Fergus Falls to Minneapolis, there are great schools. You can find some of the best HVAC schools in Rosemount, Brooklyn Park, or even in North Mankato or Hibbing.
How To Become An HVAC Technician
There are two primary paths to becoming an HVAC technician in Minnesota. The first path is to study for the EPA 608 exam, find a proctor, and take the exam. Once you pass the test, you can begin looking for work as an HVAC tech.
While this is a speedy method, it has a lot of drawbacks. First, you won’t have any experience with HVAC systems, tools, or diagnostics. Without these crucial elements, it will be extremely difficult to find gainful employment in the field.
The other method is a little longer, but it is better suited for those looking to make a career out of HVAC/R.
After you have your high school diploma or GED, you need to attend an accredited HVAC training school. This can be a trade school, college, or university. Most will offer certification programs or degrees. Others will only have HVAC training and a completion certificate once you finish the course.
During the course you can take your EPA exams, if offered. Otherwise, it is best to use school resources to find an apprenticeship or internship program. Here you will get the hands-on hours needed to become efficient with the tools and equipment of the trade in real-world situations.
Finally, you can become fully certified along with the EPA certification (if not already obtained). Plus, you will have the skills, knowledge, experience, and certifications that employers look for.
Quick Guide in Choosing Your HVAC School
Below you will find several consideration factors that you should think about. These will help you narrow down your search and identify the school best suited for your specific needs.
Where the school is located is important. You don’t want to find a school that is too far from your home or current job. This will make it difficult to get to class regularly or on time.
Close proximity is important for many factors, but it shouldn’t be the only factor you consider. Just because a school is close by doesn’t mean it is going to be an ideal fit. You may find that a school a little further down the road is a better match for your expectations.
The school needs to be accredited. This is a process of proving they provide a quality education that meets or exceeds specific standards and guidelines set forth by the government and accreditation bodies.
If you attend a school that is not accredited, you may find that the certificate or degree is not worth the paper it is printed on.
Offers Quality Education
Accreditation is important, but that means they meet government minimums. This doesn’t mean they are right for you.
You should visit the potential campus, have a look around and talk to current students and staff to find out if it is right for you. The atmosphere, labs, classrooms, and instructors all need to feel right to you, and any red flags shouldn’t be ignored. This includes the books and software used by the school.
Offers Hands-on Training
HVAC is a trade industry, and hands-on training is crucial. It is this reason that online certification isn’t possible. You must have a specific number of hands-on hours to become officially certified. Don’t be confused by the difference between HVAC certification and a certificate of completion.
Make sure your school has enough lab hours to teach you everything you need to know and offers the right tools and equipment to keep your education relevant in today’s changing industry.
Connects you to an Apprenticeship/Internship Program
Many schools offer post-graduate programs. These can include job placement and apprenticeship placement programs.
Each one should be used, and many offer assistance for all graduates for life. Any time you need help getting a new position, the school post-grad program office should be your first stop.
Offers Customer Service Skills Training
Another factor that goes mostly unrecognized is customer service. HVAC is a customer service driven industry. While you are working on machines and with electronics, you must talk to and deal with customers at their homes or places of business.
Knowing how to handle delicate situations or customers that are mad should be at the top of your list. Not every school offers a customer service portion of the program. If you don’t have prior customer service training, make sure it is offered at your chosen school.
8 Best HVAC Schools in Minnesota
In this section, you will find the best HVAC schools reviewed and compared. This list is based on region or location. Scroll through and find the best school near you.
1. Minneapolis Community and Technical College
1501 Hennepin Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55403
Best Choice For: Top rated HVAC school in Minnesota
Minneapolis Community and Technical College offers three courses designed to get you from the sidelines into the HVAC industry. You can choose the 18, 45, or 72 credit programs. These grant you a diploma, certificate or AAS degree (respectively). The top rated HVAC school in the state doesn’t disappoint.
With a state-of-the-art lab, enough classwork to teach you theory and customer service, and more lab hours than almost anyone else, the school has its benefits. If you are looking to start your career on the right foot or want to take a path leading to starting your own business, this is the place to start.
2. Dunwoody College of Technology
818 Dunwoody Blvd, Minneapolis, MN 55403
Best Choice For: Runner up for best rated MN school
If you cannot make it to MCTC for any reason, the Dunwoody College of Technology is the second best option there is. Boasting extensive labs, small class sizes, and high job placement, you can’t go wrong.
If you are looking to become fully certified, this school is for you. With over 90% of the course taking place in the lab, you get more hands-on training than you can handle. Not to mention the excellent job placement program that sees graduates picking from an average of 15 job offers each. Your future starts right here.
Brooklyn Park, MN
3. Hennepin Technical College
9000 Brooklyn Blvd, Brooklyn Park, MN 55445
Best Choice For: Financial aid and post-grad programs
Hennepin isn’t far behind the leaders on this list. Their programs allow you to work on some of the most advanced and modern systems. Their claim to fame, though, is getting you into school. With great financial aid programs and enough post-grad programs to keep you employed, there isn’t much else to do but pass the class and get hired.
You will work one on one with some of the state’s leading instructors and in a lab with the latest technologies. The degree program, as well as the diploma semester, each teach customer service as well as HVAC theory, getting you prepared for the real-world of HVAC.
Fergus Falls, MN
4. Minnesota State Community and Technical College
1414 College Way, Fergus Falls, MN 56537
Best Choice For: Continuing education options
Minnesota state has multiple campuses, and the Moorhead and Wadena campuses offer the HVAC diploma program. This course is designed to get you familiar with the tools, theory, and equipment of the HVAC trade. You will miss out on some of the more advanced classroom items, like customer service skills training, but if you already have that, you won’t miss out.
When you finish the course, you will have an HVAC diploma, but no certifications. You will need to find an EPA 608 exam testing facility, which the school will help with. The school also uses the Workforce Development Scholarship program, which can help you pay for this course.
North Mankato, MN
5. South Central College-North Mankato Campus
1920 Lee Blvd, North Mankato, MN 56003
Best Choice For: Entry-level to no experience with HVAC
Regardless of your current level of experience, South Central College will have you ready to work in the HVAC industry in no time at all. The school offers five different courses making it one of the most advanced offerings around. You can go for the certification program and become fully certified, or the AAS degree program for continuing on to a bachelor’s degree.
The other three diploma-granting courses are made for learning from scratch or adding to your current level of experience if you are looking to move up in your company. For those wishing to start their career as a contractor, the courses here will also prep you for the state licensing requirements.
6. Hibbing Community College
1515 E 25th St, Hibbing, MN 55746
Best Choice For: Fast-track into HVAC career
Hibbing Community College’s HVAC program is made for those wanting to get into the industry as soon as possible. While it isn’t a trade school 2-month course, it is a 32 credit-hour class that will give you plenty of hands-on training while teaching you theory, electrical diagnostics, and tool familiarization.
The hands-on lab work is some of the most intensive in the state, and when you are done, there won’t be a residential AC system you can’t handle. The school also offers financial aid for those that qualify and post-graduate programs to help you find the right place to start your new career.
7. Midway Vo-Tech
1355 Geneva Ave N #102, Oakdale, MN 55128
Best Choice For: Contractor exam preparation
While not technically HVAC technician related, Midway Vo-Tech offers a contractor’s prep course. If you want to start your own business that deals with plumbing, HVAC, and electrical, you will need to be licensed by the state. These exams are thorough and quite difficult.
Midway offers test prep courses for those that need to pass these exams. The HVAC portion covers heating, gas, and fuels as used in HVAC, and there are 5 test prep classes you can attend. You can also purchase the courses individually or as a bundle, whatever makes it easiest for you.
8. Dakota County Technical College
1300 145th St E, Rosemount, MN 55068
Best Choice For: EPA 608 exam prep and testing
Dakota County Technical College offers a diploma granting course covering everything you need to begin your new HVAC career. With the course, you will get a lot of hands-on training as well as a good mix of book and classwork.
The course is a 39 credit-hour class, which also qualifies for the CPL program that grants class credits on life experience. You will also prep for, take, and pass the EPA 608 certification exam prior to graduating, giving you all the tools you need when you step off campus.
HVAC Training School Costs in Minnesota
The average tuition cost for HVAC certification will cost about $5,500 per year. For a degree program, you can expect the total cost to average about $25,000 for an associate’s degree or over $40,000 for a bachelor’s.
Trade schools tend to have cheaper costs as their courses don’t last as long. You can expect to find cost ranges between $4,000 and $9,000, depending on the length of the course and if they offer certification exams or not.
Is HVAC a Good Career Choice in Minnesota?
According to the BLS, the HVAC industry is set to experience a nationwide high of 13% growth over the next decade. In Minnesota, the increase is a little lower, about 10%, but it is still ranked in the top 10 industries in the state. This is an excellent opportunity to get into a growing and lucrative field.
Minnesota Entry Level HVAC Salary
Entry-level techs with little to no experience will find their starting wages to fall between $29,000 and $35,000 per year. With just a couple of years experience, though, this can rise to as much as $44,000.
Of course, your location, demand for technicians at the time of hire, and what company you work for will all play a role in the starting wages.
Minnesota HVAC Tech Salary
If you are a tech in Minnesota with at least 5 years of experience, you can see wages rise over $70,000 per year. The state average is just shy of $50,000, though different counties will offer more. Blue Earth and Brown counties, for example, average tech wages above $53,000.
Return of Investment
With your education and certification, you can expect to have tuition fees paid off in about 10 years. This is a little lower than the national average, making Minnesota one of the best ROI states for HVAC technicians.
You can also expand your education and become certified as a system designer, installer, or specialist. This opens up your job queries to other industries and the potential to make a lot more in annual wages.
Demand for HVAC Jobs in Minnesota
The Minnesota job market has over half a million HVAC technicians in employment as of 2018. The expected growth in the state sees an average of 40,000 new jobs over the next 8 years.
This high demand for qualified technicians puts you at the forefront of the employment line when you are fully certified, educated, and experienced.
People Also Ask (FAQ)
How do I get an HVAC job in Minnesota?
To get a job in HVAC within Minnesota, you need to be EPA 608 certified. This is the only requirement. However, the HVAC certification, exams, degrees, and other resources, such as apprenticeship programs are highly advised. It is much easier to get a job in the HVAC industry if you have the education and knowledge to go with your certifications.
Can I get an HVAC certification license online?
You can get an HVAC course certificate of completion working only online. What you cannot do, though, is pass the EPA 608 exam or the HVAC technician certification exams. These tests must be taken in person, and some require prerequisites such as lab hours or on-the-job training.
Are there HVAC apprenticeships in Minnesota?
There are a few places to check for the apprenticeships in your area. One method is to use job sites like Indeed. You can also check with your school. As a graduate, you may be entitled to specific placement programs that can help you get into an apprenticeship. Finally, checking the Minnesota government website will also point you in the right direction.
Can I get into HVAC with no experience?
While it is possible to get into HVAC with no experience in Minnesota, it isn’t a recommended path. Most employers want a balance of school and experience. The best option for meaningful employment is to attend a trade school or college, become certified, and join an apprenticeship or entry-level position.
How long does it take to get a degree in HVAC?
You can get an associate’s degree in as little as 18 months, depending on the school requirements and if you have any prior credit-hours that transfer. The full time for an associate’s degree is 24 months or 4 full semesters. For the bachelor’s degree, you can double that time, with fast-track students completing the course in as little as 36 months.
When is online HVAC programs advisable?
Online HVAC programs are advised when it isn’t feasible to attend a school in person. This may be due to your physical location, disability, or schedule that prevents attending during school hours. However, you will need to go in person to pass any certification exams as well as the EPA 608 exam, so the entire process cannot be completed online.
What is the highest HVAC degree?
A bachelor’s of science degree in HVAC is the highest degree available in the industry. There isn’t a doctorate program available, nor is there a need for one.
Finding the right HVAC school in Minnesota isn’t a difficult process. Most major cities and outlying areas have at least one reputable school. The trick is to find the right school for your needs.
Based on your availability, schedule, prior commitments, and expectations, the right school needs to be a priority. This article showcased the best HVAC schools in Minnesota, and hopefully you have found one or two worth investigating further.