Becoming an HVAC technician is one of the most rewarding and in-demand jobs across the country right now. It is expected to stay this way for the next decade, too. If you have thought about working in the HVAC industry, now is the time.
This article will examine the best HVAC schools in Colorado to help get you started off on the right foot towards your full HVAC certification. I will also cover things to look for when deciding on a school and how to become a fully certified HVAC tech in the great state of Colorado.
On a state level, Colorado does not have any special technician requirements. However, you must be aware that the EPA regulates who can work on refrigerated systems. All HVAC technicians are required, by law, to obtain the EPA 608 certification (Type I, II, III, or Universal).
If you are looking to gain experience and start your own HVAC company, you will need to hold a Colorado contractor’s license. This is also a different beast as the state itself does not have or hold specific requirements. Instead, these are handled on a municipality level. What grants you a contractor’s license in Denver or Colorado Springs may differ in Centennial, Lakewood, or Westminster.
In general, though, you will need to pass an ICC exam (generally the F13 – Class C). These exams are the first step for a contractor’s license. From there, each city will have it’s own rules, regulations, and exams.
Also, important to note, Colorado is one of the few states that doesn’t designate HVAC as it’s own profession. Instead, you will need to contract as a Master Plumber or Master (or Journeyman) Electrician with HVAC capabilities.
How To Become An HVAC Technician
The process of becoming an HVAC technician in Colorado is relatively simple. While the hours may be long and exams difficult, the timeline is straightforward.
First, you need to obtain your high school diploma or GED. This will be the first step in every state, but it needs to be mentioned. From there, you have a few options. The best method, though, is outlined below.
- Attend an accredited HVAC school or course through a trade school, college, or university.
- Gain acceptance into an apprenticeship program or internship in HVAC.
- Obtain your EPA 608 certification and take any certification exams deemed needed (NATE, for example).
- As a fully certified HVAC tech with experience, begin looking for that ideal, full-time job.
Quick Guide in Choosing Your HVAC School
Below you will find a brief overview of several factors worthy of consideration. Each school you are thinking about should fit your specific needs based on the following parameters.
Where the school is, physically, in proximity to your home or work is essential. You want to be able to make it to the classes on time and on a regular basis. Keeping in mind things like schedules, traffic and unexpected accidents, the closer the school is to you, the better it can be.
However, don’t let this be the only factor for determining the school you attend. You may find a better match for your specific needs a little further away.
School accreditation is important, as well. This is the process the school goes through to prove to the governing bodies they offer a full, robust, and regulated education system. While accreditation only means they meet the minimum standards set by these governing bodies, it is a clear indicator they are a quality school.
Offers Quality Education
The overall quality of the education is the most important aspect. The only way to know for sure is to either attend the school and hope for the best, or, better yet, visit the school.
When you visit the campus, you can talk to current students and instructors to find out their thoughts and feelings. You will also get a better feel for the campus and atmosphere. Figuring out what books the school uses, or what HVAC software they have for use is also an important factor in deciding the quality of their system.
Offers Hands-on Training
Hands-on training is crucial to becoming an HVAC technician. Without the lab work, you can only see how a tool works or check diagrams of operational systems. Getting your hands on the tools and understanding the equipment is the only way to learn how everything works together.
Many certifications require a minimum amount of lab hours. Ensure your school offers a healthy dose of lab work, which should equal or exceed the number of classroom hours.
Connects you to an Apprenticeship/Internship Program
Many schools also offer post-graduate programs, and it is highly recommended that you find such a school. Not only will these programs help you apply for posted jobs, but they can also help you get into a quality apprenticeship program.
Many of the steps required to gain acceptance in these programs are challenging to obtain or meet on your own. The assistance of the school and personnel that know how these systems work is only advantageous for you.
Offers Customer Service Skills Training
Customer service skills training is also something you want to look for. A lot of your time as a technician in the field will be spent with customers. Knowing how to communicate with them effectively is a big part of your job, and the training should also be a good portion of the school’s curriculum.
9 Best HVAC Schools in Colorado
Below you will find the best HVAC schools in Colorado. Each is separated by region or city and gives you an overview of what to expect from each institution. Scroll through and find your next Colorado HVAC school.
1. Leonardi HVAC Training Center
Address: 7230 Gilpin Way Suite 100, Denver, CO 80229
Best Choice For: Fast tracking to a new career
Small class sizes, one on one interaction, and plenty of lab work with today’s modern tools and systems. This is the dedication that Leonardi HVAC training center offers you.
Unlike many other schools on the list, the Leonardi training center is focused around the ideals of the owner, Don Leonardi, the certified instructor and spearhead creator of the Denver Institute of Technology’s associate degree program.
This course brings you face to face with the equipment, technology, and tools that you use today and will see in the future. When the session is complete, you are ready for the EPA 608 exam, NATE certification, and apprenticeship applications.
2. Lincoln College of Technology
Address: 11194 E. 45th Avenue, Denver, CO 80239
Best Choice For: A complete and thorough HVAC education
You will see Lincoln College of Technology on a lot of lists spanning many cities around the country. That is because their system just works.
With a vast, 200,000 square foot lab, the Denver branch offers one of the most robust and thorough lab environments in the state.
Here, you learn in the classroom to prepare you for emerging technology, theory, and electrical system understanding. In the lab, you get to put hands-on tools, diagnose, repair, and install equipment to learn first-hand how things are handled in the field.
3. Emily Griffith Technical College Trades Campus
Address: 1205 Osage St, Denver, CO 80203
Best Choice For: Flexible schedule learning
The Emily Griffith College of Trades is an excellent source of modern teachings with future implications.
Using state of the art equipment in their new campus location labs, you not only get to work on live systems that techs encounter every day, but you also get to see the emerging technologies of tomorrow.
In the classroom, your instructors will cover theory, technologies, and diagnostics. You get a full education that has you ready for all the required (and optional) certification exams.
The course is full-time or part-time, with a total of 59 credit hours. They also offer a lab/online hybrid learning course.
Colorado Springs, CO
4. Pikes Peak Community College
Address: 5675 S Academy Blvd, Colorado Springs, CO 80906
Best Choice For: Multiple certifications or degree programs
If you are looking for entry-level skills or continuing education to advance your skillset and gain a promotion, Pikes Peak is for you.
These two certification courses are aimed at new students that wish to learn about HVAC or experienced technicians wishing to stay current in their field.
PPCC also offers a 2-year associate’s degree program that will prepare you to start your career as an HVAC contractor.
They also have the bridge program that allows you to take your AAS and credit-hours and apply them to a fellow 4-year university for those that wish to pursue a bachelor’s degree in HVAC.
Grand Junction, CO
5. IntelliTec College in Grand Junction
Address: 772 Horizon Dr, Grand Junction, CO 81506
Best Choice For: Multi-campus degree programs
IntelliTec College has two campuses to serve you better. The main campus in Colorado Springs and the secondary campus in Grand Junction offers the same lab and classroom learning experience.
You only need to pick the one that is easiest for you to attend.
Both campuses offer the Associate’s of Occupational Studies (AOS) degree in the HVAC field, with theory, customer service, diagnostics, installation, and repair all covered.
You will receive plenty of hands-on training in large lab environments that help you understand the technologies and tools used in the field today.
6. NTT Training
Address: 6675 S Kenton St #100, Centennial, CO 80111
Best Choice For: Full certification on campus
If you want a robust education that not only prepares you for certification but also offers the exams on-site, NTT is the choice for you.
Their extensive program teaches you everything you need to know to become a fully certified HVAC technician.
You will learn about refrigeration, theory, and repairs in a state of the art lab where instructors give you a lot of hands-on training.
The course also preps you for EPA 608, EPA R-410a, NATE, and HVAC Excellence certifications. All of the exams, with the exception of the NATE exam, are offered on campus when you are ready to take them.
7. Front Range Community College
Address: 3645 W 112th Ave, Westminster, CO 80031
Best Choice For: Various choices for HVAC industry employment
Front Range is another community college with several campuses state-wide. The Westminster and Fort Collins campuses give you the best of the HVAC industry learning.
At the Fort Collins (Larimer campus), you can attend the HVAC AAS degree program. This 2-year program gives you a head start in your contractor or self-employed career.
The Westminster campus is designed for those that want a career as an HVAC technician without all the hassle.
Offering three certification programs, you can choose between repair and installation, residential or all-inclusive HVAC certifications. Each campus has a great lab and classroom settings to get the most out of your education.
8. Red Rocks Community College
Address: 13300 W 6th Ave Frontage Rd, Lakewood, CO 80228
Best Choice For: Future technology learning
For those that want to future-proof their education, Red Rocks Community College offers a certification and degree program that not only teaches you about the technologies of today but further explores the technologies of tomorrow.
With full working labs that cover standard HVAC, you will also find plenty of hands-on with hydronic heating, solar, and green technology systems that are becoming prominent in the HVAC field.
Being fully trained in these systems will ensure you are in demand once you graduate.
9. Pickens Technical College
Address: 500 Airport Blvd Aurora, CO 80011
Best Choice For: Hands-on training with internship opportunities
Flexible schedule for classes and intense lab-work learning are the focus of the Pickens Technical College. If you want hands-on training, there are few better options.
At Pickens, you get lab work that focuses on the tools and equipment, like the rest, but there is a lot more. You also focus on repairs, troubleshooting, and performance after repairs.
Not only that, but the school works directly with both Aurora Public Schools Maintenance Department and with Cherry Creek School District to offer you internship programs.
These real-world positions give you the insight knowledge and training used in the field on a daily basis.
HVAC Training School Costs in Colorado
The tuition costs are directly determined by the type of school you attend. In general situations, trade schools and HVAC specialty schools charge less than colleges and universities. This is mainly due to the shorter course length and fewer classes required for completion.
Most trade schools in Colorado will have tuition fees that range from $3,000 to $8,000. The longer the course, the more lab hours and higher quality of the education, the more you will pay.
Likewise, for a college or university, you will pay more. Generally, you will attend these schools when you are after an HVAC degree. Some colleges do offer diploma and certification courses, along with degree-granting courses, but the cost is about the same.
For colleges and universities, you will pay by the credit-hour. Most courses will fall between 40 and 120 credit hours, depending on the type of course (certification, associate’s, or bachelor’s degrees). You can expect to pay about $5,000 to $8,000 per year or $20,000 to $40,000 for the two degrees. Don’t forget to look into financial aid to help with these costs, too.
Is HVAC a Good Career Choice in Colorado?
HVAC is a great career choice in almost every state. In Colorado, there is an ideal opportunity for certified technicians to earn a great wage and expand their knowledge, experience, and income over the next few years.
Colorado Entry Level HVAC Salary
For entry-level techs to those with 2 years or less experience, the average starting salary is between $18 and $23 per hour. You can expect an annual wage of about $37,437 per year, according to GlassDoor.
These wages are determined by your location as well as the size and demand of the company you work for. It also represents the level of experience and knowledge you have in the industry.
Colorado HVAC Tech Salary
For well-experienced technicians with more than 5 years on the job, your wages can exceed $60,000 per year. The top 10% of HVAC technicians in the state of Colorado report earnings over $76,000.
Again, this will be determined by the company that employs you as well as your skill and experience level. The more training you have, the more you will be offered in your wages.
Return of Investment
With the average cost of tuition and the average wage pay, the ROI is also about average compared to the rest of the country. Places like Michigan and Texas will have a higher ROI, while areas such as Florida, Arizona, and California will have a lower one.
When all is said and done, the return on your education and tool investments will have you debt-free and earning pure profit in 10 to 12 years.
Demand for HVAC Jobs in Colorado
The demand for quality HVAC technicians has never been higher. With an average of 13% expected job growth over the next decade (according to the BLS), HVAC is one of the highest growth-potential markets in the country.
Emerging technologies such as green tech and solar power are pushing the industry into the next millennia while increasing demand for technicians with this technological knowledge.
People Also Ask (FAQ)
Can I get an HVAC certification license online?
Online HVAC programs are advisable when you have difficulty reaching a physical campus. This can be due to several factors or reasons, though the most common is that the campus is too far away, or your current work schedule doesn’t align with school hours. However, keep in mind that the minimum standards for working HVAC in Colorado require exams that must be taken in person, so you can study online, but must be in person to become fully certified.
Can I get into HVAC with no experience?
HVAC is one of the trade skills that can be entered with little to no experience. However, this isn’t an ideal situation. If you have no experience at all with the tools and equipment, going in blind is a bad idea. Instead, it is best to look into apprenticeship programs that will take you on and teach you what you need to get a firm grasp of the concepts and repairs needed.
How long does it take to get a degree in HVAC?
There are two degrees you can obtain in the HVAC field. The associate’s degree is a standard 2-year degree which can be completed in 18 to 24 months. The bachelor’s degree is a 4-year degree that might be able to be fast-tracked based on experience and previous credit-hours, meaning you can complete the process in 36 to 48 months.
Are contractors required to be licensed in Colorado?
All contractors in Colorado must be licensed by their municipalities. Along with the ICC exams for certification, each city will have its own regulations for the certification process. You can check online or with your local city hall to find out what applications, exams, and other requirements your local area has.
How do I get a contractor’s license in Colorado?
To begin the process, you need to take and pass the specified ICC exam (there are 3 to choose from) and send in your license application. From there, each county (and possibly city) will have separate regulations and requirements for contract license approval.
What is a Class C contractor license in Colorado?
A Class C license is achieved by taking the ICC F13 exam and following other local regulations. This grants you the ability to contract work for single and double-family homes for the purposes of alteration, addition, repair, demolition, or construction. This will include your plumbing, electrical, and HVAC work.
How do I get an HVAC job in Colorado?
To get an entry-level job in Colorado as an HVAC technician, you will need to first obtain your EPA 608 certification. Once you have this certification, you are free to begin applying for work. However, without knowledge or experience, you won’t get very far. It is recommended you attend an accredited school to learn HVAC or an apprenticeship for experience. If you can do both, your chances of being hired by top companies are even better.
Finding the right HVAC school in Colorado will set you up with a rewarding and thorough plan for your new career. However, finding the right school for you can be a daunting adventure. There are many schools and course types to consider along the way.
Hopefully, this article was able to give you the right questions to ask when looking at schools and helped you narrow down your choices based on region, accreditation, and education quality.