The HVAC industry is booming. Right now is the perfect time to get into a career field that is both growing and lucrative. If you have thought about working on HVAC systems or learning a valuable trade, the right HVAC school can get you started on the right foot.
This article will cover all aspects of starting your HVAC career, from the required certifications to choosing the ideal school for your needs. Read on to find out what it takes for you to get going in the world of HVAC.
Ohio doesn’t have any HVAC technician requirements. With the exception of the EPA 608 certification required nationwide, anyone can enter the HVAC field with little to no experience.
However, for those techs looking to take the next step to become a licensed contractor, Ohio has pretty strict rules you need to follow. Whether you are studying in Cincinnati, Cleveland, or Columbus, the rules are the same.
First, you must have a minimum of 5 years of technician experience. Once this is accomplished and you have obtained a minimum of $500,000 worth of contractor liability insurance coverage, you are qualified to sit for the license exam. Other qualifications, such as age, education, etc. can be found on the Ohio Construction Industry Licensing Board site page.
The exam is a tough, rigid, and lengthy test covering all aspects of HVAC/R. Passing with a score of 70% or higher will grant you a contractor’s license. There are plenty of testing sites across the state, from Dayton to Akron. Finding one won’t be hard. Passing the exam, though, might be.
How To Become An HVAC Technician
Becoming an HVAC technician in Ohio isn’t that difficult. Getting hired, though, has more challenges. Employers are looking for experienced technicians that are well qualified. To accomplish this, adding an education and possibly an apprenticeship is an ideal path plan.
First, you will need to have your high school diploma or GED. From there, you should enter a trade school or an HVAC degree course through a college or university.
During your education portion, you should strive to gain your EPA 608 certification. Some schools will offer this exam as part of their program and tuition. Others will only prep you for the exam. Make sure you know which your chosen school offers.
After graduation, you are free to enter the job market. However, if you find that your preferred employer needs experience, it may be wise to enter into an apprenticeship. You can find apprenticeships through job search boards online or make use of your school’s post-graduate programs for placement assistance.
Finally, if you have not obtained the required EPA 608 certification, you need to do that now. Once all of this is accomplished, you will find yourself highly employable and sought after.
Quick Guide in Choosing Your HVAC School
When choosing the best HVAC school in Ohio, you may find a lot of possibilities. To help you determine which school is ideal for your situation and circumstances, I offer this brief list of considerations.
The location of the school is going to be important. However, you need to think about when the classes are scheduled and where you usually are at that time. For example, if you have a current job in a neighboring city and decide to take night classes, it may be more fitting to find a school closer to work.
Likewise, just because a school is close to you, doesn’t mean it is a great school. Sometimes a little deeper research and finding a school a few extra miles away will greatly increase your education and ability to get hired.
School accreditation is important, as well. A non-accredited school diploma or degree is basically meaningless. Most employers will turn away applicants because they didn’t attend an accredited school.
This isn’t a chance you want to take, so take the time to look up your chosen school to ensure it has accreditation status.
Offers Quality Education
Quality education comes in many forms. You can look at the HVAC books and even the HVAC software the school uses. However, the best way to determine if the school has a high-quality education system is to visit the campus.
Take the time to learn the campus, talk to current students and faculty to find out how the entire atmosphere feels to you.
Offers Hands-on Training
Hands-on training in the HVAC education system is one of the most important. You can get by on some book learning and listening to lectures. However, when it comes to performing your duties as an HVAC technician, you need to know what you are doing.
The only way to become proficient with the systems, equipment, and tools is to use them. Lab hours are crucial to your future, and you need to find a school that focuses more efforts in the lab versus in the classroom.
Connects you to an Apprenticeship/Internship Program
Next, you will want to check on the post-graduate programs. Many schools will offer job placement as an option, but you should also check if they offer apprenticeship and internship programs.
Most of these placement opportunities are for the life of the graduate and are invaluable over time for your career and advancement opportunities.
Offers Customer Service Skills Training
Finally, you should check the class curriculum. You should check to find out if there is a customer service section. Customer service is a large portion of your duties as a technician, and if you don’t have prior training in customer service skills, you need to get them now.
11 Best HVAC Schools in Ohio
Below, you will find the best HVAC schools in Ohio. Scroll through the reviews and overviews to find the best school for your HVAC career goals.
1. Columbus State Community College
Address: 550 East Spring St. Columbus, OH 43215
Best Choice For: All-inclusive AAS degree program
Columbus State Community College has one of the most advanced and thorough HVAC degree programs available.
This associate’s degree program takes you through every aspect of HVAC, from pipe fitting to 3-D computer drawing and systems design. You will get a lot of classroom work here, but there is plenty of hands-on as well.
Through this program, you will not only get to work on some of the most modern systems available, but you will also learn all of the crucial factors generally only found in the field (such as airflow, design concepts, heat transfer diagnosis, and much more).
With the degree, you can begin your new career or continue on to a bachelor’s degree program.
2. University of Northwestern Ohio
Address: 1441 N. Cable Rd. Lima, Ohio 45805
Best Choice For: Complete technician training
If you are looking for more options, UNOH offers an associate’s degree HVAC program as well as an HVAC technician diploma program.
Both take you through both residential and commercial HVAC system repair, installation, and diagnosis.
The degree program is geared towards continuing education for those looking to become contractors or reach a bachelor’s degree. The technician diploma program aims to get you through the education portion and move you through certification so you can begin work soon.
3. Fortis College
Address: 11499 Chester Rd #200, Cincinnati, OH 45246
Best Choice For: Fast track to entry-level employment
Fortis College has an HVAC program that teaches you the HVAC fundamentals and gets you ready for an entry-level position virtually anywhere in the state.
There are 4 campuses around Ohio for your convenience. You can study HVAC in Cincinnati, Cuyahoga Falls, Columbus, or Centerville.
The course is designed to teach you the tools needed to diagnose and repair residential HVAC systems, customer service, HVAC theory, and certification preparations. For a quick learning experience and great post-grad programs to get you working faster, there isn’t much better than Fortis College.
4. Miami Valley Career Technology Center
Address: 6801 Hoke Rd, Clayton, OH 45315
Best Choice For: Complete HVAC training programs
Miami Valley Career Tech has an intensive, 720 hour HVAC program that will take you through three levels of HVAC tech training. You also learn OSHA standards, as well as pipe fitting, airflow, and HVAC theory.
This 54-week course is taught 3 days a week in the evening from 5:30 to 10 pm. The course is long, but thorough and will have you ready for any HVAC career choice you want to pursue.
The school has a degree program connection with Sinclair Community College, where most of the credit-hours will transfer for those wishing to continue towards an associate’s degree.
5. New Castle School of Trades – East Liverpool Campus
Address: 129 E 5th St, East Liverpool, OH 43920
Best Choice For: New technicians with no knowledge or experience with HVAC
New Castle has an HVAC program similar to Miami Valley listed above. This course is a month shorter (50 weeks instead of 54) but covers much of the same concepts.
Besides HVAC theory, you get plenty of hands-on training in the lab portion as well as taking you through the three levels of HVAC tech training.
With this course, you don’t get the college connection, but you will be more than prepared for entry-level positions, commercial or residential HVAC employment or pursuing your own contracting business.
6. Remington College
Address: 14445 Broadway Ave, Cleveland, OH 44125
Best Choice For: Hybrid learning online and in the lab
Remington College offers a diploma program that takes only 12 months to complete. The course has a great lab, though admittedly, it isn’t the largest or most up to date, and you will get plenty of hands-on experience.
The draw here, though, is that the course is a hybrid course, with much of the classroom and book learning done online. The lab work is hands-on and takes place on campus, but you can make a more flexible schedule to work around your current needs.
7. Pike County Career Tech Center
Address: 175 Beaver Creek Rd Piketon, OH 45661
Best Choice For: Hands-on training with in-depth instruction
Pike County Career Tech offers a 2-year program that is both intense and thorough. With this course, you will get more hands-on training that you can handle.
By the end of the course, you will have a vast knowledge and understanding of current, modern, and future HVAC systems.
While there isn’t much detail spent on solar and green technology, you will perform installs, maintenance, repairs, and diagnostics on some of the industry’s top brands and systems.
The course also preps you for the EPA exam as well as the HVAC HEAT exam.
8. Southern Ohio Technical Institute
Address: 671 Ohio Pike suite i, Cincinnati, OH 45245
Best Choice For: Fast track to employment
If you want to start your career right now, then Southern Ohio Technical Institute is where you want to go. You will get a fast-paced instruction from some of the state’s leading instructors in a course that takes you from zero to employable in just 200 hours.
The course is intense, and there isn’t much room for mistakes. However, by the end of this extreme course, you will have the confidence to handle any situation, diagnose any HVAC system, and understand how all of the tools work. SOTI also has a great relationship with local businesses and a better job placement program than most.
9. Apollo Career Center
Address: 3325 Shawnee Rd, Lima, OH 45806
Best Choice For: EPA certification courses
The Apollo Career Center isn’t your average trade school. Built inside their extensive Industrial Maintenance Technician course, you will find over a dozen modules. One of those modules is HVAC training.
You can take this course as a part of the IMT course, or as a stand-alone part-time class. It is a brief class, consisting of 18 weeks, but it does include the EPA 608 exam, and the cost of the test is included in the tuition.
10. Great Oaks Institute of Technology
Address: Cincinnati and Milford, Ohio
Best Choice For: Adult education or continuing credit transfer courses
Great Oaks Institute of Technology offers an adult training course designed to get you going in a new career. Even if you have been out of school for years, it is a great time to come back and learn a new skill. GOIT has your answer.
This HVAC readiness course takes you through all the phases of HVAC certification and includes prep for EPA 608, NATE, and HVAC Excellence exams.
If you are looking to start a new career, HVAC is a wise choice. No other school has you graduate with more certifications or the ability to transfer up to 23 credits to most Ohio colleges.
11. Collins Career Technical Center
Address: 11627 OH-243, Chesapeake, OH 45619
Best Choice For: Complete course through certification
In Chesapeake, you will find the Collins Career Technical Center offering adult education courses in HVAC. This course is designed to teach you the theory, mathematics, sciences, and applied physics behind HVAC as well as get you certified the ESCO’s HVAC Excellence certifications.
The course covers 900 hours in a 12-month program with an optional second year of training with another 900 hours. The intense lab time is spent one on one with some of the most experienced instructors around.
HVAC Training School Costs in Ohio
The cost of tuition, either with or without financial aid, will come down to a few factors. The major determining factor is the type of school you will attend.
Trade schools tend to last from a couple of months to a year. These courses are more specialized and give you what you need to start your career. As a result, they are generally cheaper than attending a college or university.
Trade school costs in Ohio will range in price from a few hundred per course to as much as $6,000.
For a degree in HVAC, you will need to attend a college or university. These costs will depend on the type of degree. Associate’s degrees will need between 3 and 4 semesters, while a bachelor’s degree can take up to 8 semesters.
The cost per semester will depend on the number of credit hours, if you are a state resident or not and other factors. In general, for these two degrees, you can expect a total tuition cost between $20,000 and $40,000.
Is HVAC a Good Career Choice in Ohio?
As a career, HVAC is one of the top rated and fastest growing industries in the country. The growth rate and annual profit margins of the market are expected to continue to rise over the next decade.
Because of that, starting and experienced salaries are excellent across the board. Ohio is no exception.
Ohio Entry Level HVAC Salary
For those just starting out in the industry, the lack of experience will be the hardest factor on your potential income. However, everyone goes through this, and even starting salaries in Ohio are worth it.
According to Indeed.com, HVAC techs with less than 2-years experience can expect to earn an average of $23.48 per hour. This doesn’t include overtime pay, or benefits, either, which most HVAC techs will see a lot of.
Ohio HVAC Tech Salary
For experienced technicians with 5 or more years in the industry, the wages increase a great deal. This only proves that sticking with the job will have monumental benefits down the road.
Salary.com puts the Ohio technician in the 25th to 35th percentile. The average annual salary falls between $41,000 and $58,000. Again, this doesn’t include overtime pay, holidays, and other benefits.
Well educated technicians and those that continue to learn about the changing industry (studying solar power or green HVAC solutions, for example) only go to raise your value and income potential.
The top 10% of technicians in Ohio report earnings as much as $72,000 per year.
Return on Investment
The return on investment (ROI) for HVAC technicians is also high. On average, it only takes about 10 years to repay all debts, student loans, and tools or equipment costs.
This is lower than most other industries, some of which require 25 or more years to become debt-free. With such a high ROI, a career in HVAC is not only valuable but lucrative as well.
Demand for HVAC Jobs in Ohio
The HVAC industry is ever-growing. Even when things aren’t progressing in the residential or commercial sector, there are things behind the scenes evolving. For example, solar power and green technologies are pushing in the new era of HVAC.
Because of these aspects and the growing need for HVAC systems, the demand for high-quality technicians is at an all-time high, and only getting larger.
People Also Ask (FAQ)
How long does a HVAC certification last?
A lot will depend on your location and type of certification. The EPA 608 certification, for example, never expires. HVAC degrees also never expire, but you are expected to stay up-to-date on your own. For HVAC certifications, there isn’t a required expiration in Ohio. However, other states may require you to renew your certification every few years.
Can I get an HVAC certification license online? How much does a HVAC license cost?
No. Certification has prerequisites and requirements that cannot be met online alone. You can study for the exams online, but for certification, you must be in person to take the tests. Lab work and hands-on training are also impossible to achieve working online. While many schools are switching to 3-D models that you can interact with online, the lab requirements are still not yet met by taking these types of lab courses.
Are there HVAC apprenticeships in Ohio?
There are quite a few apprenticeship opportunities across the state. You can check in with the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services website to find an apprenticeship program near you.
Can I get into HVAC with no experience?
In Ohio, it is possible to enter into an HVAC career with little to no experience. It does make it much tougher to get hired, of course, and without a formal education in the field, your chances of standing out and becoming employed are less. However, as long as you can hold the EPA 608 certification, you are eligible to work as an HVAC technician.
How long does it take to get a degree in HVAC?
There are two degrees in the HVAC industry. The 2-year associate’s degree is ideal for those that want a degree without the hassle of having to obtain every possible certification out there. If you are looking to start a career as a contractor, going for the 4-year bachelor’s degree is a great option. The bachelor’s is the highest HVAC degree available, and many universities have a fast-track course to get your degree in under 4 years.
Finding the right HVAC school in Ohio is the best bet you will have at starting your new career off on the right foot. This article gave you factors to consider when choosing the right school for you. I also provided a list of worthy candidates that meet all of the requirements for a budding HVAC technician.
Hopefully, you have a better idea of what you need to do and how you should approach finding the perfect HVAC school to meet all of your needs.