Working in the HVAC industry in North Carolina is a straightforward yet rewarding career choice. While you aren’t required to attend an HVAC school to become a technician, finding a tech job without it can be quite difficult.
This article will cover the best HVAC schools in North Carolina and give you a brief guide on how to pick the perfect school for you and your future career.
HVAC Certification Requirements in North Carolina
Aside from the federally mandated EPA 608 certification (required in all 50 states), North Carolina doesn’t have any special certification requirements. This means that anyone with an interest in HVAC can enter the industry as a technician.
If you want to run your own HVAC company or be a contractor, though, you will need to meet the requirements for the North Carolina HVAC Contractor.
How To Become An HVAC Technician
The path to becoming a certified HVAC technician in North Carolina is fairly straightforward.
Your first step is to obtain your high school diploma or GED. From there, you have a couple of path options.
The best path is to attend an accredited HVAC school, pass the certification exams, and seek your EPA 608 certification.
Next, you can optionally attend an apprenticeship or internship.
This will give you real-world, hands-on experience, allow you to deal with real customers, and help you understand everything you learned in the classroom or lab.
Once these steps are completed, you are well on your way to forging a new career as a fully certified HVAC technician in North Carolina.
Quick Guide in Choosing Your HVAC School
Below, you will find a brief overview of the various aspects to consider when choosing a school. HVAC trade schools, colleges, and universities will all offer slightly different educational experiences. You should choose the one that best suits your goals and abilities.
Close proximity to the campus is important if you live in an area that has high traffic or congestion during school times. You want to be close enough so you can make it to class on time.
Just because the school is close to you, though, doesn’t mean it is the best one for you. After following the other considerations below, you may find that a school slightly further away is a better fit.
School accreditation is simply the school’s process, proving to the government and approval bodies that they have a thorough and purposeful education system in place. There are rules and regulations that a school must adhere to, to become accredited.
While this doesn’t much affect you, it does show that the school at least meets the minimum standards for education, a clear indicator that the school is worthy. Likewise, having a degree or certification from a non-accredited school is pretty worthless in the working world.
Offers Quality Education
The quality of education is determined mostly by those that experience it. For this reason, the best method of determining if a school is right for you is to visit the campus and start asking around.
Talking to current students, instructors and staff will give you a good idea of what you can expect when you attend the school. If something doesn’t feel right, then you can cross that school off your list.
Offers Hands-on Training
One of the most significant factors for the trade discipline is hands-on training. HVAC has a lot of various equipment and vendors, tools, and diagnostic materials. You need to be comfortable working on any system with any tool.
Hands-on lab work should be the bulk of the education you receive. Check that the school offers at least as many lab hours as they do classroom hours. More lab hours are even better.
Connects you to an Apprenticeship/Internship Program
Another aspect to consider is the post-graduate programs that a school may or may not offer. Job placement is a common one for most colleges and universities.
However, for trade schools, you will also want to see if there are apprenticeship or internship programs available. These will help you find work after you have some real-world experience and can seriously boost your career.
Offers Customer Service Skills Training
Customer service is another skill that is crucial to your career. If you don’t have any prior customer service training, then you will want to find a school that offers this as part of the course.
8 Best HVAC Schools in North Carolina
Below you will find the 8 best HVAC schools in the various regions of North Carolina. Scroll through the choices and see what the schools offer and how to contact them for more information.
High Point, NC
1. Guilford Technical Community College
901 S Main St, High Point, NC 27260
Best Choice For: Multiple HVAC degree options
Guilford Technical Community College offers three different HVAC programs across a few different campus locations. The main campus in High Point offers you a diploma, certificate, or degree opportunity.
You will get financial aid, job placement, post-graduate programs, and plenty of lab hours. The classwork covers HVAC theory, electrical concepts, equipment and tool usage, among others. The lab work gives you hands-on experience with the top HVAC equipment in use today.
The Jamestown campus offers the same courses for those that cannot make it to the High Point campus. Each campus has the same offers in regards to post-graduate programs, diplomas, degrees, and certificates.
2. Johnston Community College
245 College Rd, Smithfield, NC 27577
Best Choice For: Fast-tracking to an HVAC degree
Johnston Community College offers an AAS HVAC degree program that can have you prepped and ready for your new career or will transfer to a 4-year university to continue your education. If you are looking for a bachelor’s degree in HVAC, this is the best place to start.
While working in the classroom and hands-on in the lab, you can work at your pace, taking a lighter course load, if needed. For those that want a faster track through, you can increase your semester workload or transfer existing credits.
3. Wake Technical Community College
9101 Fayetteville Rd, Raleigh, NC 27603
Best Choice For: HVAC certification meeting future demands
Wake Tech has an HVAC certification program that will see to it that you are prepared and fully certified as an HVAC technician ready to enter the workforce. This certification program does not offer the EPA 608 exam but will teach you everything you need to know to pass the tests.
The lab work is some of the best in the state. You will work with modern HVAC equipment and the newest technology, tools, and repair processes. The class teaches refrigeration theory, customer service and will also touch on future technologies like solar and green equipment. With this certification process, you will be well prepared for current and future industry standards.
4. Technical Training Institute
5540 Centerview Dr, Raleigh, NC 27606
Best Choice For: Heating technologies and HVAC design theory
If you are interested in designing HVAC systems more than you want to repair or diagnose them, TTI is the school for you. With a full certification course in HVAC system design, you will learn everything from weight requirements to installation theory.
There is also a heating course that you can take. This 2-day course will have you ready to become certified in heating theory for HVAC systems. On top of the design course, you can head out into the industry as a system designer, where you can work for some of the biggest names in air conditioning, such as Goodman, Lennox or Trane.
5. Alamance Community College
1247 Jimmie Kerr Rd, Graham, NC 27253
Best Choice For: Expedited course work for faster certification.
Like most community colleges in North Carolina, Alamance CC offers you three programs depending on your needs. There is an associate’s degree program for those that want to pursue more of the industry than just installation and repairs. Future business owners and contractors will appreciate the hands-on training offered here.
For those that want to become technicians and enter the workforce as soon as possible, the diploma and certification programs are streamlined to last only a year. In this year, you will get more hands-on lab work and book work than most other expedited courses and will be ready for any exam or certification test that comes your way.
6. Central Piedmont Community College
2800 Campus Ridge Rd, Matthews, NC 28105
Best Choice For: Continuing education towards a bachelor’s degree in HVAC
Central Piedmont Community College has a degree course that will easily transfer to any major university for those looking to push their HVAC degree to the fullest. If you have existing credits, they will count (in most situations), which can shorten your course load and reduce the amount you need to pay.
The course has an extensive lab that offers hands-on learning with the current and popular systems of the day. The instructors are all certified technicians that have years of fieldwork experience to pass on—a true education from those that have been where you are and know what it takes to succeed.
7. Wilson Community College
902 Herring Avenue, Wilson, NC 27893
Best Choice For: Continuing education for advanced HVAC systems
Wilson Community College is one of the largest HVAC courses offering schools in the state. There are a total of 6 courses you can choose from. The AAS degree offers you a chance to get into the HVAC world if you plan to start your own business.
The diploma program helps you get a leg up over other applicants to land the HVAC technician job you really want. Meanwhile, the four certification programs each offer you a chance to continue your HVAC education no matter how long you have been in the business. Each course is designed to give you the best education possible for the money.
8. Pitt Community College
1986 Pitt Tech Rd, Winterville, NC 28590
Best Choice For: Understanding future technologies in HVAC
The associate’s degree program at Pitt Community College is geared towards teaching you everything you need to know for technician work, installation, theory, and future technologies. With solar and green technologies making headway in the industry, new technicians are expected to know what is coming.
For those already in the industry, learning these future technologies can be difficult. This course is designed to work with your current schedule while giving you everything you need to know before you become redundant. Learning at Pitt is more hands-on and intensive than other community colleges, and you certainly get your money’s worth.
HVAC Training School Costs in North Carolina
Trade schools, colleges, and universities all have tuition fees that need to be paid. While you can use grants, scholarships, or apply for financial aid, the cost of the school will vary greatly.
Currently, the average cost for HVAC technician training ranges between $3,000 and $35,000. The wide gap is due to the cheaper trade schools versus the 4-year university degree programs.
If you are only looking to get certified and begin your career, then you can expect to pay $3,000 to $8,000 for schooling. Trade schools will either train you for the exams or offer the exams as part of the tuition costs.
Colleges and universities will charge by the credit-hour, and depending on your program choice, this can range between $1,200 and $3,000 per semester.
Is HVAC a Good Career Choice in North Carolina?
The trend for HVAC employment is at an all-time high. Currently sitting with a 13% growth rate over the next decade, HVAC is a great career choice.
In North Carolina, the growth rate is slightly lower than the national average, hovering at about 9%. However, it is still one of the top five career choices with positive growth in the state.
North Carolina Entry Level HVAC Salary
Starting wages for those newly certified or less than 2 years experience in North Carolina ranges between $13 and $20 per hour. This can increase based on the employer and the current demand for technicians in your area, but won’t stray too far from this wage range.
North Carolina HVAC Tech Salary
With time on the job and growing experience, your wage as an HVAC technician in North Carolina will rise. On average, you can expect an average wage of $28 per hour.
However, after 5 years, and with the right company, North Carolina annual salaries for HVAC technicians often reach or exceed $75,000.
Return of Investment
Going to school in North Carolina and working in the state, offers a decent return on investment (ROI). Accounting for tuition aid reimbursement, tools, and other fees or costs associated with the job (furthering education, equipment, certification exams, etc.), it takes about 10 to 12 years to become debt-free.
This is while living on your own and supporting yourself with no other income. The 10-year benchmark is below average for the career field, making the ROI quite reasonable.
Demand for HVAC Jobs in North Carolina
Currently, according to Indeed, there are over 820 HVAC tech jobs available across the state. The demand is high enough to warrant new techs to enter the industry and experienced technicians to find better opportunities within the field.
The job outlook for HVAC technicians in North Carolina is expected to rise over the next several years. Starting your education now and entering the field within the next 5 years will put you in a prime position for a lasting and rewarding career.
People Also Ask (FAQ)
How do I get an HVAC job in North Carolina?
Gaining employment as an HVAC technician in North Carolina only requires the EPA 608 certification. While it is highly recommended you attend a certification school or, at a minimum, an apprenticeship, it isn’t required. A full certification and some experience in the industry, though, will make you more favorable to potential employees.
Can I get an HVAC certification license online?
It is not possible to get an HVAC certification online. You can achieve a certificate of completion for passing online classes. However, the EPA 608 and HVAC tech certification exams must be taken in person. You will also need lab and hands-on experience that you cannot get through a computer.
Are there HVAC apprenticeships in North Carolina?
You can find plenty of HVAC apprenticeships in North Carolina. Many of the job search engines, such as Indeed, will list any available positions. You can search the government database for other opportunities as well.
Can I get into HVAC with no experience?
You can get into HVAC without experience. Many entry-level jobs don’t expect you to know everything, and many positions hiring have HVAC as a side. You can enter multi-family housing maintenance, for example, where HVAC maintenance and repair is only a portion of your job. This will count towards HVAC experience for future employment needs.
How long does it take to get a degree in HVAC?
The HVAC degree is granted by most (but not all) community colleges and universities. Some colleges will offer HVAC courses but only for certifications, not degrees. Of the ones that do offer a degree, it will be a 2-year associate’s degree or a 4-year bachelor’s degree. Depending on any college credit-hours you currently have or can transfer, the HVAC degrees can be obtained within 18 to 48 months.
When are online HVAC programs advisable?
Online HVAC programs are worthwhile when you cannot get to a campus to attend class. Online courses allow you to make and keep your own schedule while working another job or otherwise unable to attend classes in person. While you cannot complete the full certification without lab hours and passing exams in person, the bulk of study and book work can be completed online.
What is the highest HVAC degree?
The highest degree one can obtain for HVAC is a bachelor’s of science degree, granted from an accredited 4-year university. The bachelor’s degree is the highest degree you can get as there isn’t a doctorate in air conditioning available.
Becoming a certified HVAC technician in North Carolina isn’t a complicated process. Once you are certified with the EPA, you can begin hunting for a job.
To do that, you need to attend an accredited HVAC trade school, college, or university. This article offered the 8 best HVAC schools in North Carolina. Hopefully, it has helped you narrow the final choice and make a decision you will be happy following through.
Last Updated on July 16, 2021