To become certified in HVAC, you will need to attend a credible school. You aren’t required to become certified in Florida unless you plan to start your own contracting business. However, proper education will ensure you are valuable and able to be hired without worry.
This article will examine the best HVAC schools in Florida to help you determine what level of education you need, who provides the best opportunities, and what to look for when choosing the perfect HVAC school.
HVAC Certification Requirements in Florida
The state of Florida does not require technicians to become HVAC certified. However, most employers do. If an employer doesn’t require their techs to be certified, you may want to reconsider working for them.
If you plan to be a contractor, though, the rules are different. Florida requires that HVAC contractors gain certification in Class A or Class B HVAC/R. If you only want to be a technician, though, you will need a few things.
First, you need to have the EPA 608 certification. Type II is recommended as a minimum, but you should strive for Universal certification.
Other than that, you aren’t required anything. However, it is in your best interest to become certified to show potential employers you know what you are doing and worth hiring.
How To Become An HVAC Technician
The process of HVAC certification can take a few different routes. The first step is and always will be to obtain your high school diploma or GED. Once you have this, you are technically ready to enter the workforce.
You should next attend an HVAC trade school or college to gain your HVAC certification. Which one will be determined on your end goals. If you want to fast track to getting to work as quickly as possible, a trade school can have you prepped in just a few months.
However, if you plan to make HVAC a career, you may be interested in an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in the field. For these, you will need to attend classes at a college or university.
Next is to qualify for an apprenticeship or internship. While this step is optional, you will get a lot more hands-on training and understand what tools and equipment are best suited for any situation. It also makes you that much more viable for potential employers.
Finally, you will need to obtain your EPA 608 certification. Sometimes this is done while in school. Other times it is up to you to do on your own. After this step, you are fully certified and ready to begin your new career.
Quick Guide in Choosing Your HVAC School
Choosing the right school can seem like a daunting task. There are so many types to look at and varying certification levels to choose from. Below is a quick guide to help you find the important factors that will help narrow your choices.
The proximity of the school to your home or place of current work is crucial to your success. If the school is close, you are more likely to attend every class, not be late and finish the course.
Finding a local school may seem like the best idea. However, this doesn’t mean that the closest school to your home is the best school for your career. Location is only one consideration that goes into the final decision.
Accreditation is a process of the school, proving to the government that its curriculum meets minimum standards of quality. While it isn’t the gold standard of a high-quality school, it does set better schools apart from lower-quality ones.
You can run a search to find out if the school you are looking at is accredited or not. If it is not, it is highly advised you search for another school to attend.
Offers Quality Education
As stated above, accreditation is only one aspect of a high-quality education factor. You will need to research to find out how high quality that education is. Certain things you can do to check on the quality of education include online and in-person research.
You can look online at independent reviews. You will want to try to avoid looking at the actual school site, which may filter or only show positive reviews. The other options are to visit the campus in person.
When you do this, you can speak to the administrative staff, other students, and instructors. You will get a better feel of the overall atmosphere and be able to decide, for yourself, if the campus is one you will enjoy.
Offers Hands-on Training
Some schools rush to get you through the required learning, and that means less lab time. For this particular trade, hands-on learning is essential. The more lab and hands-on hours included in the course, the better off you will be.
HVAC has a lot of various equipment, tools, and features. You can learn about all of them through a book or lecture. However, using them, seeing them, handling them, and learning how they all work together is a different story.
Connects you to an Apprenticeship/Internship Program
While apprenticeships and internships are an optional step, they are an important one. If you plan to join these programs during or after your schooling, finding a school that helps you place in them is important.
It is possible to find and apply for the apprenticeship programs on your own, but the school will have a standing arrangement with some of the better options and a good report with them. This makes the acceptance process easier for you.
Offers Customer Service Skills Training
Another thing to take note of is if the chosen school has a class on customer service skills. Interacting with the customer is a cornerstone aspect of the technician’s world. Obviously, most of the customers aren’t going to be in the best of moods when you arrive.
Knowing how to handle customers, interact professionally, and maintain your own comfort level is crucial to the job. A lot of schools overlook this aspect. You should not.
10 Best HVAC Schools in Florida
1. DMAC HVAC School Training
15224 E Colonial Dr #5101, Orlando, FL 32826
Best Choice For: Fast tracking to HVAC employment
DMAC is an online training course that is designed to get you in and out.
An average of 4 weeks is all most students need to complete the course and head out for their new career. This is beneficial in Florida because you don’t need the HVAC certification to get a job.
With DMAC, you get a certificate of completion, but it is not the HVAC tech certification. You will still need to take and pass those exams before you are fully certified.
You also need to take the EPA 608 exam before you can work on refrigeration systems. For a leg up and a fast track towards the certifications, DMAC is the best option.
2. Southern Technical College Orlando
1485 Florida Mall Ave, Orlando, FL 32809
Best Choice For: Hands-on training with all HVAC equipment.
Southern Tech in Orlando is one of the best hands-on full course HVAC training centers in the state. With this 10-month course, you will get more hands-on training with tools, equipment, and live situations than anywhere else.
The course covers all aspects of HVAC training, including your classroom and lab learning. Books and materials are also provided with the cost of tuition.
When the course is completed, you will have a diploma in HVAC and be prepped for your EPA 608 exam. After passing that test you can enter the workforce or apply for an apprenticeship.
3. Florida Technical College – Lakeland Campus
4715 Florida Ave S #4, Lakeland, FL 33813
Best Choice For: Bi-lingual training for complete certification
Florida Tech offers the HVAC/R program with a diploma upon graduation.
You will get all the prep needed for HVAC tech and EPA 608 certification. There is also a Spanish course if English isn’t your first language.
The core of this 15-month course is customer service, safety, and tool training.
Complete with 420 hours of lab work for hands-on training, there isn’t anything about the equipment and tools that isn’t covered. 500 hours of classroom work ensure you know how and when to apply your skills along the way.
4. Locklin Technical College
5330 Berryhill Rd, Milton, FL 32570
Best Choice For: Multiple certifications and job opportunities
Locklin wants you to succeed and gives you every tool to do just that.
With over 1000 hours of training (350 specialized), you can earn all the certificates you need to become a full-time HVAC technician.
They offer two courses, an adult continuing education course and a course worth 7 high school credits for students.
By the end, you are expected to complete your NATE and EPA 608 certifications.
You will also be in line for the ICE and AHRI exams. Job placement is offered to adult students for life.
5. 1ST CONTRACTORS SCHOOL
7911 NW 72nd Ave Suite #217, Medley, FL 33166
Best Choice For: Contractor licensing and exam prep
If you plan to start your own business in the HVAC world (1 in 5 HVAC trained techs in Florida do), then you need the trade school that helps you out.
1st Contractors School has contractor courses designed to help you pass the required exams for contractor licensing.
You will be expected to know the HVAC systems and diagnosis already. If you are not an HVAC technician, you need to complete that process first. However, once you have, you can then file to take the contractor’s exams and begin an HVAC career working for yourself.
6. Tulsa Welding School
3500 Southside Boulevard, Jacksonville, FL 32216
Best Choice For: Full certification courses with flexible classes
Tulsa Welding School (TWS) has an HVAC/R program that generally flies under the radar. In what may arguably be the best course available, it isn’t one you should overlook.
The TWS program not only gives you instructions and hands-on training but also gets you certified along the way. The 7-month program has financial aid, job placement programs, and certification exam proctors on site.
Once you graduate, you won’t have anything left to do except apply for full-time employment. You will also have a head start on solar and green HVAC systems, making you more valuable to potential employers.
Fort Myers, FL
7. Florida Academy HVAC
4387 Colonial Blvd Suite 105, Fort Myers, FL 33966
Best Choice For: True hands-on, live learning
If you are not a book learner and need something in your hands, doing the job to get how things work, you just found your school.
While there is a classroom and book learning involved, Florida Academy focuses on hands-on training on all aspects of HVAC.
You will cut pipe, weld, wire, and diagnose live systems in their state of the art labs. Each instructor is there every step of the way to ensure you know what you are doing and helping you out when you don’t.
HVAC certification available during the course, and you can enter the workforce upon graduation.
West Palm Beach, FL
8. Florida Air Conditioning Apprenticeship
4420 Georgia Ave, West Palm Beach, FL 33405
Best Choice For: Apprenticeship learning programs
Florida Air Conditioning Apprenticeship gives you all of the knowledge and tools needed to create a self-sustaining HVAC career.
If you aren’t worried about all the optional certifications and just want to get on with your career, this is your choice.
You will still need to complete the EPA 608 exam, of course, but through this apprenticeship program, you will get all the training and knowledge you need to pass the exams.
While certification is expected, it isn’t required, and you can choose to start work or continue on for certification. The choice is yours.
Fort Lauderdale, FL
9. SOUTH FLORIDA ACADEMY OF AC
3343 W Commercial Blvd, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33309
Best Choice For: All-inclusive learning
The South Florida Academy of AC has it all. That isn’t just a saying. You get the classwork, the lab work, along with hands-on training. But there is more.
You also get the tools, a diploma, the EPA 608 certification exam, and job placement.
They also accept financial aid, grants, and have specialized opportunities for those that qualify. If you want a course that gives you everything, teaches you the trade and gets you a job when you graduate, this all-inclusive learning experience will pay for itself.
Winter Haven, FL
10. Ridge Technical College
7700 FL-544, Winter Haven, FL 33881
Best Choice For: Specialized HVAC mechanic training
With two levels of courses to choose from, the Ridge Technical College gives you the basics and the advanced.
If you are looking to further your HVAC education, this is the best option for you. Day and evening classes are available through two campuses, too, so you can make it to class in a manner that best suits your needs.
Specializing in HVAC technician mechanic training, you get the lab hours and book work to complete your education.
RTC covers the hands-on training and teaches both theory and application methods for diagnosis, repair, and installation. Everything you need, all in one place.
HVAC Training School Costs in Florida
The cost of your HVAC school will depend on two factors, the type of school you attend and if you are a Florida resident or not.
Trade schools have a set tuition fee, and the range falls between a few hundred dollars to about $3,000. These courses are enough to get you prepped for certification, but most don’t offer the certification exams during the course (some do!).
If you plan to attend a community college or university to obtain an HVAC degree, then you will need to pay for the courses from that school. The associate’s degree is an 18 to 24 month course and will cost between $4,000 and $8,000. A bachelor’s degree will add 12 to 24 more months and require an additional $2,500 to $4,000 for tuition, room and board, books, and other essentials.
The costs for college and university will be higher for non-resident students. You will need to check with your chosen school for an exact payment amount and to see if financial assistance is available.
Is HVAC a Good Career Choice in Florida?
HVAC in any state is going to be a good career choice. The industry is expected to grow by over 13% in the next ten years. In Florida, it is a little lower, about 7 to 9%, making it about average across the US.
Florida Entry Level HVAC Salary
The salary for an HVAC tech in Florida is a little lower than the national average. Entry-level positions can expect to earn about $24,000 per year. This is about 30 to 40% lower than larger regions with higher demand.
However, if you stick it out a couple of years, you can move up the ladder and earn even more.
Florida HVAC Tech Salary
Mechanical installers in Florida with 2 to 4 years experience under their belt can begin earning over $40,000 per year, while 5-year HVAC veterans can reach up to $56,000.
A lot of the wage earnings will depend on experience and the company you work for. Larger companies can afford to pay more, and they reward time on the job better. These jobs are harder to obtain, which makes smaller organizations more appealing.
Return of Investment
HVAC technicians in Florida, in a perfect world, can expect to have their school debt paid off in about 5 years. This makes the ROI about average compared to the rest of the nation. Some states, Like Texas or Arizona, have a higher ROI, but Florida is far from the worst.
Demand for HVAC Jobs in Florida
In Florida, HVAC careers fall under the heading of Mechanical Installer. This group has a national average growth of 13% over the next 10 years. This is higher than most other jobs in the country.
For Florida, specifically, a mechanical installer is the top 10 most in-demand job groups in the state. An average of 6 to 9% growth is expected in the next decade. This makes HVAC technicians one of the most sought after job fields for the next 10 years.
People Also Ask (FAQs)
How do I get an HVAC job in Florida?
Getting a job in the HVAC field in Florida can be accomplished by simply obtaining the federally required EPA 608 certification. Florida doesn’t require mechanical installers to have a certification. However, if you want to earn a better wage and be more viable to potential employers, an HVAC certification and apprenticeship will go a long way to getting you hired.
Can I get an HVAC certification license online?
You can get all the necessary preparation online for an HVAC career. However, the certification exams, EPA 608, and other certifications exams need to be taken in person with an approved proctor.
Are there HVAC apprenticeships in Florida?
Many companies offer HVAC apprenticeships in Florida. It is easier to get into these apprenticeships with the help of your certification school placement programs. You can also search online for any apprenticeship programs that are currently taking applications.
Can I get into HVAC with no experience?
In the state of Florida, there isn’t a need to have any experience in the field before starting your career. It does make it more challenging to get hired, though. A certification school, military service, and apprenticeships or internships will all count towards your experience when applying for HVAC jobs.
What is the highest HVAC degree?
The highest official HVAC degree you can obtain is a bachelor’s degree. Most colleges and universities offer some type of HVAC degree program, though the bachelor’s degree is more rare.
How long does it take to get a degree in HVAC?
There are two degrees you can obtain in the HVAC industry. The associate’s degree is a 2-year degree which can be completed in as little as 18 months in some cases. The bachelor’s degree is a 4-year degree, which will add 24 months on top of your associate’s degree program.
When is online HVAC programs advisable?
Most online HVAC training is frowned upon due to the amount of hands-on training that is required. However, there are certain instances when online learning makes the best choice. These situations include a physical inability to get to a campus, or you live too far away from campus to make it a viable, cost-effective option.
The best HVAC school in Florida will be close to your home, offer a mixture of class learning and hands-on learning, and have placement programs. While the state doesn’t require a certification to work in the industry, it is something you don’t want to skimp on.
Finding the right school can be a challenge. Hopefully, with the help of this article, you have narrowed your choices and know what to look for when making your final decision.