If you are looking to enter the field of HVAC repair and servicing, you will want to choose the best HVAC school near you. There are a lot of technical schools, colleges, and even universities that offer HVAC programs.
This article will cover the various programs, what you can expect, and when you do your search for the “best HVAC school near me,” you will know what to look for to make an informed decision.
HVAC training is a comprehensive course-style instruction that will take you through everything related to HVAC work. During the training, you will learn about the equipment and how to use it, how to diagnose HVAC problems, and find alternative solutions.
By the end of the training, you will receive a certificate or degree and be ready to take the EPA certification exam. As long as you meet the minimum requirements for enrollment, anyone can join the best HVAC training near me schools. In general, the requirements are a high school diploma, tuition fees, and a schedule that lets you attend a minimum number of class sessions.
Steps to Becoming an HVAC Technician
There are many paths to becoming a certified HVAC technician. Many technicians started right after high school, while others worked in related fields and got hands-on training first. There isn’t a right way or a wrong way to becoming certified, as long as you get the certification and proper licenses in the end.
One of the most popular methods follow this path:
- Earn your high school diploma. Almost without fail, every HVAC job in the industry will require a high school diploma as a minimum requirement for the position. Of course, the more training you have, the better your chances are going to be, but a diploma or GED will be on the list.
- Attend an accredited HVAC training school and graduate. There are a lot of schools to choose from, and you should make sure the one you are thinking about attending is accredited (more on this below). Getting the training degree isn’t always required, but you should check with your preferred employer. If you don’t have a specific company you want to work for, attending, and completing an HVAC training school program will be your best bet.
- Receive on-the-job-training (OJT) or an apprenticeship program to learn the duties and responsibilities. This step can be interchangeable with the one above. Having both can help your future job prospects, though. However, many employers want workers now and are willing to train the new guy themselves. Getting hired first and then being trained may carry some restrictions, signing contracts or NDA’s, but can be well worth it.
- Become EPA certified. Before you can legally work on any refrigeration system, including vehicles, home, and commercial HVAC equipment or small appliances, you must have the proper certification from the EPA. This is in addition to your school.
Most schools have a certification exam that will be offered upon graduation. You can also attend a stand-alone exam center on your own time. At a minimum, you will want to become Universal certified EPA 608 (residential and commercial). EPA 609 is for working on vehicles. There are also smaller certifications to achieve if you want to specialize in specific areas.
Technical HVAC School Vs. Apprenticeship
There are different ideas about which is better, attending a tech school or going through an apprenticeship? Each one has its own set of pros and cons, and to be honest, it will depend a lot on your current career, workload, budget, and opportunity.
Attending an HVAC technical school will have the most benefit for more scenarios. The schools are designed to teach you about the equipment as well as when and how to use them. You will be able to test yourself in various situations that may not come up during an apprenticeship.
Apprenticeships, on the other hand, offer you real-world situations and live testing that requires you to do your best. You will get field-time and be able to troubleshoot live systems that aren’t in a lab setting. One of the most significant downsides to an apprenticeship, it that most won’t pay you while you work (some do, though).
Looking at all of the variables will help you determine which choice is right for you. The end result is to become proficient with the equipment, tools, and repairs while being able to complete the testing for your certifications. Both an apprenticeship and an HVAC technical school will get you to the end.
HVAC Technical School Programs
When you attend an HVAC technical school, there are certain programs that you will go through. There will be classroom work, lectures, and a lot of slide shows and videos. You will also get lab time where you get to use tools and work on HVAC equipment. This hands-on training will teach you everything you need to know to work on all types of HVAC systems.
The classroom items will cover all of the HVAC basics, including how to use the tools, common problems and their solutions as well as going over all of the environmental, disposal, and maintenance items.
In the lab, you will learn about diagnostics for heating and cooling systems, as well as the basics of refrigeration identification, leak detection, and how to read gauges. One of the most beneficial aspects, of course, will be the installation, maintenance, and troubleshooting of HVAC systems.
Considerations When Looking for an HVAC School
When you are doing your research on the best HVAC school, there are a lot of things to consider. Perhaps you have already thought of some of these items, but I bet there are a few you haven’t thought of yet. Have a look.
Where is the school physically located? Is it close to home or work so that you can make it to class on time without rushing? There are also online programs to think about if you don’t have a tech school nearby.
If you are not currently working, distance my matter less to you, since you have the time to travel. However, the costs of tuition, keeping your car running, and being able to get to the school are major factors to weigh in on during your decision-making process.
What does the school you are looking at offer that others don’t? Perhaps the school you have your eye on is lacking in certain areas? It is always a good idea to take a look at the coursework the school offers and compare it to the competition.
Longer courses will have the opportunity to teach you more, but how valuable will that extra work be? Learning to weigh the course work versus the real-world knowledge and use of that training can have you graduating quicker or getting your money’s worth.
Paid Apprenticeship Programs/OJT
Does the school help you get on the job training, or perhaps they have paid apprentice opportunities you can qualify for? The more benefits you can get as a student, the better the experience will be. It is also worth pointing out that any assistance offered by the school should be applied for. It will only work to help you and your future career start off on the right foot.
Job Placement Assistance After Graduation
Most technical schools will offer a job placement guarantee. This means that they have a department dedicated to helping you find a job. You still have to do some leg work and do interviews, but the school can help you find local and nationwide businesses looking to hire graduates.
You also need to consider if you can afford the time to be a full-time student or not. Some school offer programs in the evening or on weekends to accommodate part-time students who have day jobs.
Other schools only operate for a specific time and require their students to be full-time. You need to find out which programs your preferred school offers and if your schedule accommodates theirs.
Would You Like Your Program to Lead You Directly Into Licensing?
Smaller schools and those that are less expensive teach you the basics and get you ready for OJT or an apprenticeship. Other programs offer you the full experience up to and including certification and licensing.
If you don’t need to be licensed or certified (those that want the hands-on knowledge but not the HVAC career, for example), you can save time and money by going for a program that doesn’t offer licensing. However, the rest of you need to ensure your school had direct links to the certifications and licenses an HVAC career requires.
Or Are You Already Licensed And Looking To Add To Your Skillset?
Another group that may be able to save a bit of time and money are the technicians already employed in the HVAC services but want more diversity. Because you are already certified and licensed, you can attend specialty classes for specific refrigerants, or systems. Those looking to specialize will want to take this route as well.
Accredited HVAC Schools Near Me
When it comes to schooling options, you have your pick. There are tech schools, HVAC schools, and colleges with HVAC programs all across the country. There is probably one close to you right now. If there is not, you always have online courses to choose from as well.
While it is near impossible (and outside the scope of this article) to list and evaluate every one of them, there are a few in each category that stands out for their excellence. If you are not close by to the listed schools, at least take a look at the program details so you can compare them with your local options.
HVAC Schools By State
If you are interested in attending a physical school, these three are among the best in the country. Of course, you need to live nearby to attend. If you do not, check out their qualifications, standards, and programs. There are going to be colleges in your area that offer a similar curriculum.
Miami Dade College
Miami Dade College (MDC) offers a 2-year associate’s degree in HVAC technician training. Not only will you get the full experience, learn every aspect of HVAC equipment, tools, and repairs, but you will get a degree, not just a certificate.
The course is a full-load course, meaning you must also take liberal arts classes (Ethics, for example) and other managerial-level classes. If you are looking to make HVAC your life-long career, this is the course for you.
Benjamin Franklin Institute of Technology
The BFIT course in HVAC&R will prepare you for the exams that are needed for certification. This is a full load day or evening course (not a part-time basis) with 800 total hours over 9-months. You will get job placement assistance, as well as 2000 hours towards the Refrigeration Technician certification exam.
They will train you on all HVAC basics, including leak detection, repairs, and tool usage. The program is certification-geared, meaning they will teach you what is on the test to ensure you pass. Their program also covers Refrigeration Techs (the “&R” portion of the course title), so you can specialize, or take the R-410a and OSHA Safety certification exams.
Northern Michigan University
At NMU, you will learn everything you need to know about HVAC&R and be fully prepped for the certification exams. This is a 44-credit, 2-year degree program like the MDC course above. At NMU, you will focus more on refrigeration, safety, and environmental impact aspects. This course is also geared for non-techs who want to start a business in food handling and safety.
While the core courses are HVAC, the extra requirements are less geared towards HVAC management like MDC, and instead, focus on a more broad range of post-graduate expertise fields. While this course will have you ready for journeyman HVAC tech, once you finish, this degree will allow you to branch out further.
For those that don’t have a school nearby, or prefer to work at their own pace, online programs are available for you. When doing an online course, you will miss out on lab work and hands-on experience, but they are focused more on getting you EPA certified than trained as an HVAC technician. For that, you will need to seek out an apprenticeship after certification.
Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA)
The ACCA is highly compliance-driven. They want to ensure everyone has the proper education, materials, and needed advice to succeed. Instead of formal classes, they offer all the training materials, testing guide books, and exams to get you certified.
You can download the material, teach yourself, and use their instructors, proctors, and teams to get the full experience. If you want to further your career by becoming an instructor or an exam proctor, you can do so through the ACCA. This truly is the one-stop-shop for all HVAC certifications.
The online program from Ashworth college will have you geared and certified in as little as 4 months. If you want to take more time, you have a full year to finish the course. And, they are accredited by ESCO, who also provides your certification tests. ESCO is an industry leader in HVACR certification, training, and excellence (ESCO is who issued my licenses, in case that matters to you).
The cost of tuition will cover all printable materials needed, a mobile app to train on the go, and it includes the ESCO training guide book and covers the cost of the EPA 608 certification exam. You will truly be set up and ready to go with this program, and it is one of the least expensive in the market, making it ideal for those just starting or on a budget.
Ferris State University
FSU is unique in many ways. Primarily, though, is that they are currently one of two accredited institutions to offer a Bachelor’s degree in HVACR. Once you obtain the AAS in HVACR, you can enter the workforce as a journeyman and work your way up. However, if you want to do even more with your career, the BS degree will focus on the theory, design, and forward progress of HVACR.
With either degree in hand, you are well prepared to handle anything that comes your way in the world of heating and air conditioning. Depending on the course you attend, you can expect a full course load, part-time student status, or a full, four-year degree.
Tuition is a little high, but for the depth of the courses offered and the hands-on experience, there isn’t much better that you can apply yourself to.
State by State Licensing
Every state will have varying degrees of what is required for licensing. You need to check your local state laws to make sure you are following the proper paths to a state license.
For example, there are 4 levels of EPA 608 certification (more below), while universal is sought after, some states will only require a Type I or Type II for state licenses. Other states may require a Type III or Universal certification to get your state license.
Because the regions and states vary, I cannot possibly cover all aspects here. You will want to check with your local city hall or government website for further details.
EPA certification is an end goal. However, you do not need to attend a school to get EPA certified. In reality, all you need to to take an exam and pass it with a minimum score or better. The courses and schools will teach you about being an HVAC technician, which is what you need.
Once you have that knowledge, the exam will be second nature, and you won’t have any problems passing. However, there are 4 parts to the EPA 608 certification that you should be aware of.
Type I is designed for those that service small appliances. With a Type I, you can work on refrigerators, power coolers, etc. Type II certification enables the certified tech to work on and dispose of high- and very-high-pressured refrigeration equipment (except small appliances and motor vehicles).
Type III allows you the ability to work on and dispose of low-pressure appliances. Finally, the Universal certification will enable you to work on and dispose of all appliances and systems covered by the 3 types. The exception is MVAC, or motor vehicle air conditioning, which requires an EPA 609 certification.
People Also Ask (FAQs)
How much does HVAC school cost?
A lot of the cost will depend on where you live, the type of school you are attending (Tech school, community college, university, etc.), and how long the enrollment is. Generally, you can expect to pay as little as $1,000 and up to $15,000 for your education.
How long does it take to get a degree in HVAC?
The standard HVAC technician degree can be obtained from a technical school in as little as 4 months. The average technician receives an Associate’s Degree in 2-years.
Do HVAC technicians make good money?
This depends on your definition of “good money.” The average income potential for an HVAC technician for commercial and residential applications can expect to earn between $38,000 and $50,000 per year. Refrigeration specialists raise the average to $40,000 and $52,000 per year.
How do you get your HVAC certification?
The only way to get an HVAC certification is to pass the certification exam (EPA 608). You can take the exam after paying the exam fee. Certain exam institutions may require you to have a certain number of hours on the job, or have completed a course from a technical school or college before administering the exam.
Does HVAC involve math?
There is a lot of math in the HVAC field. Most of the math is basic math and algebra, but when dealing with pressure conversions, refrigerant types, and atmospheric conditions, the math can get complicated.
Is it worth going to school for HVAC?
If you want to be an HVAC technician with a reliable job, you need to be marketable. If you go to school and graduate as an HVAC technician, you will be more sought-after and hire-able than those that don’t. It is highly recommended that you attend school for HVAC.
When is online HVAC programs advisable?
If you do not live close to a training campus, or have a work and life schedule that demands your attention during the offered course hours, online programs are a good alternative. While you may not get the lab work and hands-on experience while learning online, you will still be able to take the certification exams and become employable as an HVAC tech.
What colleges offer HVAC programs?
Almost every state-level college will have an HVAC program. Universities will most likely not, though. There are also technical schools designed for HVAC training as well.
What is the highest HVAC degree?
Currently, there are two degrees you can obtain as an HVAC technician. The highest level is a Bachelor’s degree (4-year degree), which covers application and theory.
Finding the best HVAC training near me can be daunting. When you are looking for the best HVAC school, there are a lot of choices. You will want to do your research on the program and curriculum, of course, but you also want to study up on the institution itself as well.
If the school is a for-profit school, they may not have the proper accreditation needed for a proper degree. You should always s attempt to attend a fully accredited school that is a not-for-profit. This will help ensure your degree or certificate stays in good standing.
The research is up to you. Now that you are armed with what to look for, what types of classes are available, and the certifications involved, it is your turn to get out there and be the next HVAC technician in your area.
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