Starting an HVAC career sounds tedious and expensive. If you go about it the wrong way, it can be. However, the HVAC trade schools in Washington State help you get where you want to go.
The path to a lucrative and rewarding HVAC technician career in Washington State is easier than you think. Read on to find out everything you need to know to get started in the HVAC industry right now.
Washington state does not require any special HVAC license requirements. You are required to hold the EPA 608 certification to work with refrigerant, however.
There is an added step that most other states don’t have. In Washington, you are required to hold either a trainee or journeyman level electrical license. The best option is to obtain the 06a or 06b license.
A trainee license must be renewed every 2 years until the 06a or 06b journeyman license is obtained. The 2000-hour 06a is for HVAC and refrigeration work. The 06b is a 4000-hour journeyman license with extra hours and continuing education courses.
Additionally, if you work in Seattle, you will also be required to hold the gas piping and refrigeration license.
How To Become An HVAC Technician in Washington
The path to HVAC technician can have many routes. There are two that are the most accepted and easiest. The first is to join an apprenticeship. A full apprenticeship will have you learning hands-on with a licensed professional until you reach the required hours for testing.
The other method is for those that want to more of their own thing and perhaps have more control over the timeline to licensing.
First, you must obtain your high school diploma or GED. From here, you have two choices. You can attend a trade school and get certified or attend a college or university for an HVAC degree.
During your classes, regardless of which route, you will need to take and pass the EPA 608 exam. In Washington state, you also need to obtain your trainee license to begin work. Some schools help you with this; others will not.
Once you graduate, you can take advantage of post-graduate programs to enter a partial apprenticeship or internship to finish your hours for the journeyman 06a/b license and begin work as an HVAC technician.
From this point, your only responsibility is to stay current on HVAC industry changes and keeping your licenses current as well (most expire every 2 years).
Quick Guide in Choosing Your HVAC School
Now that you know what it takes to become an HVAC technician, let’s take a look at the consideration factors for choosing the right school.
Not counting colleges and universities, Washington State has only 14 schools that offer certification (as of 2019) through the course. Because of this, location is important. You want to choose a school that is close to you without being a burden.
You also need to factor in travel time, traffic, and your current work schedule (if applicable). Some find it easier to choose a trade school closer to their current job to make it easier to get to or from school and work on time.
School accreditation is important as it lets you know the school is doing its part. The school must adhere to specific educational guidelines, prove their system, and show they have the students’ education on the right track.
The governing bodies that give accreditation grade the schools on a pass/fail system. If the school fails, they lose accreditation. If you attend a non-accredited school, it is highly likely that your diploma/degree/certificate will be invalid in the working world, and any credits accumulated will not transfer to other schools.
Offers Quality Education
To see the quality of the education for yourself, it is wise to visit the campus in person before enrolling. Talk to current students and staff to get a feel for the education there. Do they offer the best HVAC software to learn on? Are there plenty of lab hours in a high-quality lab?
Speaking to people there and taking any tours or attending events may give you the best understanding of the school and know if it is right for you.
Offers Hands-on Training
One of the most important aspects of trade schools and HVAC college courses is the lab hours. Hands-on training is a must for learning various systems, components, tools, and refrigeration needs. Most schools will offer plenty of lab hours and one-on-one lab time.
However, it is essential to note that classroom time is also needed, so make sure your chosen school offers both with an emphasis on lab time over classroom time.
Connects you to an Apprenticeship/Internship Program
Post-graduate programs are designed to help you find work or join various programs after you graduate. Many schools work together with local employers or apprenticeship programs to offer you opportunities beyond the classroom.
Finding an internship or apprenticeship to achieve supervised work hours for your licenses can be done on your own. However, your school’s free programs can assist you in the application and get you in touch with the perfect candidates. Make sure your school has these programs.
Offers Customer Service Skills Training
Often overlooked, customer service is a large portion of the HVAC technician’s job. Interacting with home and business owners about their systems and dealing with upset people is something you need to learn how to handle.
If you have never had customer service training, ensure that your school offers a class or two on customer service so you are prepared for everything.
7 Best HVAC Schools in Washington State
Below are the 7 best HVAC schools in Washington, reviewed, rated and sorted by location. Read through and find the best option for you and your specific needs.
1. Spokane Community College
1810 N Greene Street, Spokane, WA 99217-5399
Best Choice For: HVAC associate’s degree programs
If you are looking for the top HVAC school in Washington State, look no further than Spokane Community college. This school has one of the most intensive and thorough associate’s degree programs in the state.
Not only do credits count for transfer to a 4-year college, but the course itself is truly all you need. With exam prep, extensive lab hours and certified, real-world experienced instructors, you will be more than prepared to leave the doors and enter the workforce as a degree-holding HVAC technician.
2. Northwest HVAC/R Association Training Center
204 E Nora Ave, Spokane, WA 99207
Best Choice For: Student specific tailored training programs
Northwest HVAC is a private and fully accredited training center that focuses on the students and their needs. When you attend this school, you get mostly lab hours, with enough electrical and refrigeration theory in the classroom.
Your schedule is important, and Northwest takes the time to understand your needs and requirements.
When you attend the school, you get the hands-on training and exam preparation to work right away upon graduation. They also have job placement programs to help you get hired fast.
3. Perry Technical Institute
2011 W Washington Ave, Yakima, WA 98903
Best Choice For: Certification and state license preparation
Perry Technical Institute gives you everything you need to succeed in the HVAC industry. Each student is given the chance to become fully certified during this 2-year course.
Upon graduation, you will be certified EPA 608, Universal R-410a, OSHA Safety, and others.
The best part is that the school counts as 2,000 hours towards the state-required 4,000 hours for 06a electrical licensing.
With financial aid, post-graduate placement programs, and full certification, you will be two steps ahead entering the job force then you get from most other schools.
4. Clover Park Technical College
4500 Steilacoom Blvd SW, Lakewood, WA 98499
Best Choice For: HVAC certificate, degree or diploma options
Cover Park is one of the few schools that offers you various options for certification or degrees. You can attend the degree program to earn your associate’s degree (AAT) or opt for a shorter, and more specialized program.
They offer a lot of lab work and one-on-one training for service repair technicians or the fast-track refrigeration specialist course.
Each option will get you ready for your new career without taking up all your time. If you want options, this is the school for you.
5. Bates Technical College
1101 S. Yakima, Tacoma WA 98405
Best Choice For: Career advancement opportunities
Bates Technical College has an HVAC AAS program that requires 106 total credit-hours. In the course, you will learn theory, customer service, and hands-on lab work. You will understand all aspects of HVAC, including diagnostics, installation, and repair.
With the associate’s degree, you are well on your way to the Washington state 06a electrical license. The post-grad programs include job placement and apprenticeship options. With trained staff to help you with applications, you will have the next step of your career mapped out long before you graduate.
6. HVAC School
23024 Brier Rd, Brier, WA 98036
Best Choice For: Continuing education opportunities and certification testing
Just like their name, HVAC Training School gets right to the point. They offer several courses throughout the year to get you certified and working in the HVAC industry.
The 8-week HVAC course is intense but thorough, and they invite you to visit the campus before enrolling.
You can also choose continuing education courses to stay up to date in your field or get ahead for that next big promotion. They offer financial aid assistance and exam prep and testing on-site, so you don’t need to go anywhere else.
7. Charter College
7587, 17200 SE Mill Plain Blvd #100, Vancouver, WA 98683
Best Choice For: Entry-level training
Charter college is among the leaders for getting students graduated and employed in as little time as possible. Their hands-on lab time is some of the best in the country and focuses on installation, repair, and diagnostics.
In the class, you will learn everything from electrical theory to customer service. The certification course will have you prepped, tested and certified in HVAC so you can start work upon graduation.
They also help you find jobs when needed, to help get you to work and keep you working.
HVAC Training School Costs in Washington State
Tuition costs in Washington fall about the national average in most cases. However, there are a lot of schools that are higher than the national average as well. Depending on if you plan to go to a trade school or a college, your tuition fees will vary greatly.
Trade schools are often the least expensive as they only run from a few months to about a year. The cost may or may not include the testing and license fees, which also widens the tuition range. However, you can expect to pay between $2,000 and $6,000 for trade schools in Washington.
For colleges and universities, you will be subject to the fee per-credit-hour and the requirements of the course you select. Resident and out-of-state costs change drastically too. However, for the associate’s degree programs, you can expect to pay out between $18,000 and $25,000. This will double for the bachelor’s degree programs.
Most schools offer financial aid, scholarships, and grants for those students that qualify. Be sure to check out these programs before you enroll to see if you can save money or use a loan to cover the cost.
Is HVAC a Good Career Choice in Washington?
Washington state has some of the highest-paid HVAC technicians in the country. Depending on your education level, license status and experience, you can expect to earn a livable wage in Washington.
Washington Entry Level HVAC Salary
According to indeed.com, entry-level technicians can expect to earn between $20 and $30 per hour, with the average in the state, falling around $27.67 per hour. This is up to $10 more per hour than other states.
Washington HVAC Tech Salary
Experienced technicians with 5 or more years on the job can easily earn over $40 per hour. With annual salaries falling around $51,000, the highest paying jobs and companies see their well-experienced technicians earning into the $80,000 range with overtime, bonuses, and benefits.
Return of Investment
Because tuition is a little higher and the payout well above average, the return on investment (ROI) with tuition, tools, and other expenses over your career, is quite high. Most technicians find themselves debt-free with student loans and payoffs within 10 to 14 years.
This time frame is below the national average, making Washington a bigger ROI state for HVAC technicians than most other regions.
Demand for HVAC Jobs in Washington State
HVAC jobs are projected to be one of the largest, fastest-growing industries over the next 10 years. While most occupations fall in the 9% growth rate (or lower), HVAC is projected to grow at least 13%.
In Washington state, there are a lot of entry-level positions open for educated technicians. You also have many opportunities for apprenticeships or continuing education. Larger HVAC contracting companies are also hiring seasoned technicians at incredible rates (some topping $40 per hour).
If you have completed school and hold the required certifications and licenses, Washington state has an HVAC job for you.
People Also Ask (FAQ)
How do I get an HVAC job in Washington?
To get a job as an HVAC tech in Washington, you first need to obtain your high school diploma or GED. From there, you can enter an apprenticeship and complete the requirements to become a journeyman. You also can take classes at a trade school or college, get the Washington state electric 06a/b license, and the EPA 608 certification on your own. With all certificates and licenses ready, you can begin applying for work.
Can I get an HVAC certification license online?
In the state of Washington, online classes will cover the book work learning portion and get you prepared for certification exams. However, you are still required a certain number of lab work, hands-on or supervised hours on the job. Because of these license requirements, full certification online is not possible. Hybrid learning, though, helps cut down on the number of classroom visits needed.
Are there HVAC apprenticeships in Washington State?
There are plenty of apprenticeship programs available in Washington. You can check with your school’s post-grad programs or do an L&I website search, browse job boards, or talk to industry professionals to find apprenticeship programs near you.
Can I get into HVAC with no experience?
You can begin your career in the HVAC industry without experience. However, the only path for this in Washington state is through an apprenticeship that accepts entry-level workers. If you don’t want to put in the 2,000 to 4,000 hours for an apprenticeship, your only other option is to attend school to get the education needed as well as certifications and licenses so that you can begin work without any real on-the-job experience.
How long does it take to get a degree in HVAC?
The associate’s degree program requires between 18 and 24 months of schooling, depending on revolving or transferable credits. For a bachelor’s degree, the time frame is 36 to 48 months, also depending on previously obtained credit-hours.
When is online HVAC programs advisable?
Online programs will help you get the classroom work portion of your training done, and are ideal for those already working full time but looking for a new opportunity. You will need to make time to do in-person lab work or on-the-job training, though, so online programs are only advisable for those that need to complete classwork during off-hour times.
What is the highest HVAC degree?
You can obtain a bachelor’s degree in HVAC. If you want a Master’s degree, you will need to pursue engineering with extra HVAC classes. However, the master’s degree isn’t in HVAC though you can specialize.
What makes Washington a great place to start an HVAC career?
Washington is among the highest paying states for HVAC technicians, both entry-level as well as experienced technicians. With a booming market and high growth rate, Washington is among the best places to start your new career.
Choosing an HVAC school to work your way to a new career as an HVAC technician can be daunting. You have a lot to consider when choosing the perfect school, and it can easily become overwhelming.
This article was designed to help you understand those considerations and to showcase the 7 best HVAC schools in Washington state. Hopefully, it has helped you narrow your decision, so you can begin your new career today.