HVAC Training Programs in CT

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Not only are there abundant opportunities for qualified heating, ventilation, air conditioning, and refrigeration (HVAC-R or HVAC) professionals, but Connecticut (CT) is also renowned for its focus on energy efficiency in these systems. In fact, the CT Post (Aug. 2016) reported that since people spend 90 percent of their time indoors, there’s been a newfound focus on New England’s climate-control systems according to the “WELL Building Standard.” The International WELL Building Institute measures how healthy an indoor environment is through seven metrics, including air quality. This organization is hoping that its building certification focused on human health, sustainability, and energy usage will catch on the same way the US Green Building Council’s LEED standards have.

 

Furthermore, the Connecticut Geothermal Association is committed to educating the public about ground source heat pump technologies (i.e., geothermal energy), a heating method which is relatively environmentally friendly. By illustration, geothermal heating and cooling systems use 40-60 percent less energy than traditional HVAC equipment.

For HVAC installers and mechanics in CT interested in more traditional methods of the trade, there’s still a wealth of professional support in the field. The non-profit Connecticut Heating & Cooling Contractors Association was established in 1972 and is open to state-licensed HVAC contractors. This group provides member advocacy, education, and events such as the Annual HVAC Golf Classic.

Regardless of a HVAC technician’s methods and equipment of choice in CT, the job responsibilities are similar. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS Dec. 2015) reported that HVAC mechanics and installers inspect HVAC systems; diagnose problems in complex electronic controls, ducts, motors, and other parts; repair a variety of system components (e.g., refrigerant controls, ductless splits, hermetic compressors, heat pumps, electric motors, intake & exhaust fans, humidifiers, etc.); keep detailed service records; provide preventative work; maintain professional certification(s) and CT state licensure; and educate clients on energy efficiency. The BLS (Dec. 2015) adds that there are currently 274,680 HVAC mechanics and installers nationwide, including 3,330 in CT. Most notably, the CT HVAC workers make a 15.6 percent higher average salary than the national figure ($54,770 and $47,380 respectively, BLS May 2015).

Read on to discover the bright career outlook for HVAC technicians in Connecticut, as well as to learn about accredited HVAC programs and how to seek state licensure through the CT Department of Consumer Protection.

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Connecticut HVAC Services Demand

In the Land of Steady Habits and beyond, the demand for HVAC mechanics and installers is rapidly growing. As proof of point, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS Dec. 2015) projected a 14 percent explosion in openings nationally in this field between 2014 and 2024, double the average growth expected across all occupations in that time period (7 percent). This equates to 39,600 fresh HVAC opportunities across the country, many of them in Connecticut.

There are several factors contributing to this unusually bright occupational outlook. First, HVAC systems typically need to be replaced every 10 to 15 years. Second, since a majority of HVAC workers in CT work for contracting companies, there’s a steady stream of inspections and maintenance work that occur throughout the year, not to mention the spike in demand that typically occurs during the summer and winter seasons.

In CT, HVAC mechanics and installers work across a wide range of environments such as schools, hospitals, convention centers, factories, retail shops, mobile refrigeration centers, residences, and more. It’s important to note that HVAC professionals incur one of the highest rates of injuries among all occupations due to the essentially hands-on, physical nature of the work (BLS Dec. 2015). It’s crucial to follow appropriate procedures and use proper safety equipment to avoid burns, muscle strains and tears, electrical shocks, and other maladies.

Luckily for HVAC techs in Connecticut, there are many employment opportunities. In fact, Monster (August 2016) posted openings for HVAC workers at places such as Pack-Timco Inc., Universal Services Provider LLC, Sodexo, Action Air Systems, Aiello Home Services, Lawrence Memorial Hospital, Superior Plus Energy Services, and Middlesex Hospital. Adding to the prospects, Indeed (Aug. 2016) posted 212 openings around the state, including positions at RETEC/ Mechanical Energy Corp., HARP Mechanical and Home Services, Superior Fuel, Building and Land Technology, Ingersoll Rand, Connecticut Controls Group, Precision Food Service Inc., and Gault Family Companies, among others.

Connecticut HVAC Technician Salary Report

For HVAC techs in CT and across the US, salaries can be very lucrative, especially for a career that typically requires only six months to two years of postsecondary education. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS May 2015) found that the 274,680 HVAC workers nationwide had an annual average salary $47,380. In more detailed terms, these professionals had the following salary percentiles:

United States (274,680 HVAC workers)

  • 10th percentile: $27,790
  • 25th percentile: $34,920
  • 50th percentile (median): $45,110
  • 75th percentile: $58,070
  • 90th percentile: $71,690

In hourly figures, these equated to:

US: $22.78/hr. average

  • 10th percentile: $13.36/hr.
  • 25th percentile: $16.79/hr.
  • 50th percentile (median): $21.69/hr.
  • 75th percentile: $27.92/hr.
  • 90th percentile: $34.47/hr.

Not surprisingly, the national salaries in this field varied by source of data. Payscale (August 2016)—a collector of self-reported salaries in common professions—had 486 HVAC technicians who responded with their annual salary estimates. Among those, here were the annual percentiles:

  • 10th percentile: $29,000
  • 25th percentile: $35,000
  • 50th percentile (median): $43,266
  • 75th percentile: $53,000
  • 90th percentile: $67,000

Another 2,566 HVAC workers reported their hourly wage estimates to Payscale (August 2016). There was an average of $18.62/hr. and the following percentiles:

  • 10th percentile: $12.00/hr.
  • 25th percentile: $15.00/hr.
  • 50th percentile (median): $18.00/hr.
  • 75th percentile: $23.00/hr.
  • 90th percentile: $28.00/hr.

Fortunately for the 3,330 HVAC mechanics and installers in CT, the salaries were higher than both the Payscale and BLS nationwide estimates. In fact, the BLS (May 2015) found an average annual salary of $54,770 among CT HVAC workers and these percentiles:

Connecticut (3,330 HVAC workers)

  • 10th percentile: $35,340
  • 25th percentile: $43,810
  • 50th percentile (median): $54,660
  • 75th percentile: $63,410
  • 90th percentile: $76,490

In hourly terms, these CT HVAC worker salary percentiles equated to:

Connecticut: $26.33/hr. average

  • 10th percentile: $16.99/hr.
  • 25th percentile: $21.07/hr.
  • 50th percentile (median): $26.28/hr.
  • 75th percentile: $30.49/hr.
  • 90th percentile: $36.77/hr.

Interestingly, Indeed (Aug. 2016) found an average annual salary of $47,000 among CT HVAC techs, although the BLS figures are assumed to be more accurate due to their larger sample size and more sophisticated data gathering methods.

It’s important to note that while CT salaries in this field were higher than national averages, so to is the cost of living in the Nutmeg State. In fact, the Missouri Economic Research & Information Center (MERIC 2016) found that CT was the seventh most expensive state in the US, especially in the realm of housing.

Not surprisingly, the wages in this field tended to vary by region within CT as well. The Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk area enjoyed the highest salaries, although all regions of CT boasted higher average wages than the national mean in this occupation. Here are the numbers of HVAC workers employed, salary averages, and percentiles among the seven BLS-designated regions of CT (BLS May 2015):

Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk, CT (690 HVAC workers): $58,860 annual average salary

  • 10th percentile: $36,630
  • 25th percentile: $46,460
  • 50th percentile (median): $57,770
  • 75th percentile: $70,200
  • 90th percentile: $85,540

Danbury, CT (300 workers): $50,660 avg.

  • 10th percentile: $31,380
  • 25th percentile: $41,520
  • 50th percentile (median): $48,580
  • 75th percentile: $60,570
  • 90th percentile: $73,150

Hartford-West Hartford-East Hartford, CT (1,190 workers): $54,410 avg.

  • 10th percentile: $38,680
  • 25th percentile: $46,030
  • 50th percentile (median): $54,670
  • 75th percentile: $62,040
  • 90th percentile: $73,210

New Haven, CT (540 workers): $55,860 avg.

  • 10th percentile: $34,190
  • 25th percentile: $39,400
  • 50th percentile (median): $56,500
  • 75th percentile: $67,380
  • 90th percentile: $80,310

Norwich-New London-Westerly, CT-RI (250 workers): $47,840 avg.

  • 10th percentile: $31,120
  • 25th percentile: $38,240
  • 50th percentile (median): $48,250
  • 75th percentile: $57,800
  • 90th percentile: $63,880

Waterbury, CT (150 workers): $55,320 avg.

  • 10th percentile: $31,370
  • 25th percentile: $43,510
  • 50th percentile (median): $55,760
  • 75th percentile: $63,430
  • 90th percentile: $79,460

Connecticut Nonmetropolitan Area (100 workers): $50,440 avg.

  • 10th percentile: $33,320
  • 25th percentile: $38,400
  • 50th percentile (median): $49,290
  • 75th percentile: $62,130
  • 90th percentile: $73,430

Accredited HVAC Schools in CT

In order to qualify for state HVAC contractor or journeyperson licensure (and employment) in Connecticut, it’s important that a person receive the proper training and preparation. There are two main accreditation organizations for HVAC training in the US: HVAC Excellence and Partnership for Air-Conditioning, Heating, Refrigeration Accreditation (PAHRA). Although there are no programs in CT accredited by either of these entities, there are other opportunities available.

Historically, HVAC professionals enrolled in apprenticeship programs under the guidance of experienced mentors to learn the skills of the trade. Today, these programs still exist and typically comprise at least 144 hours of formal instruction and 2,000 supervised experiential hours on-the-job. Apprenticeship programs last three to five years, and are offered by local governments, professional trade associations, or unions such as the State of Connecticut Plumbers & Pipefitters Local 777.

Other aspiring HVAC professionals in CT choose to enroll in an educational program through a community college, educational company, trade school, or vocational college. For example, Entech offers six months of rigorous instruction in subjects such as refrigeration, electrical systems, heating warm air, air conditioning, heating hydronics, metal trade, and comfort systems design. From there, students move seamlessly into the Connecticut Department of Labor Apprenticeship program, providing an incredible 8,000 hours (four years) of on-the-job training.

Another option available is the diploma program through the Lincoln Technical Institute. With campuses in both East Windsor and New Britain, this programs includes coursework in the fundamentals of electricity; refrigeration, A/C & heating controls; motors & controls; air conditioning reclamation, recycling & recovery; heat pumps & ice machines; oil furnaces & boilers; and gas heating. Lincoln also offers extensive training to prepare its program graduates for the OSHA 30 standards exam and the nationally mandated EPA Section 608 certification.

The Bristol Technical Education Center offers a two-year HVAC-R program with training in environmental systems control, safety procedures, residential & commercial applications, central air systems, boilers, burners, ventilation systems, and more. With training for the EPA Section 608 certification and 900 hours of on-the-job experience as part of the program, Bristol emphasizes the versatility of HVAC skills and its graduates have gone into related careers such as laboratory technology, drafting, estimating, and sales.

The Porter and Chester Institute has campuses across CT in Branford, Enfield, Rocky Hill, Stratford, and Waterbury. Their HVAC-R training program takes as little as one year and boasts concrete skills learning, extensive hands-on experience for students, qualified instructors, and even education in essential “soft skills” such as customer service. For Porter and Chester’s day program, an impressive 76 percent of graduates secured employment following graduation.

Finally, for residents of more rural regions of CT, attending an on-campus program may be difficult. Luckily there are also several quality distance-based HVAC training programs. It’s essential to reach out to program coordinators prior to enrollment to ensure eligibility as state laws governing online education vary. To discover the variety of distance-based HVAC training schools, check out the online HVAC schools page.

Connecticut HVAC Licensure

There are various types of certification and licensure open to Connecticut’s HVAC technicians, mechanics and installers. Several organizations provide credentialing to HVAC workers based on various competencies or general preparedness for the field. To qualify, applicants must be at least 18 years old, show proof of qualifying education and experience in the field, and pass an exam. The entities which provide these national certifications include North American Technician Excellence (NATE), HVAC Excellence, and the Refrigeration Service Engineers Society (RSES). Additionally, the aforementioned EPA Section 608 certification is mandatory for anyone who works with refrigerants. To learn more in depth about these skills-based certifications, please check out the main HVAC certifications page.

In order to perform any heating, piping, or cooling work in CT, HVAC professionals must pursue a state license through the Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection. Generally, HVAC workers begin as licensed journeypersons employed by licensed contractors and after two years, they may seek contractor-level licensure. There are several types of licenses available depending on a person’s training, experience, and specialty:

  • D-1: Limited Warm Air, Air Conditioning and Refrigeration Contractor (excludes oil burning; open to people with two years of experience as a licensed journeyperson or equivalent training)
  • D-2: Limited Warm Air, Air Conditioning and Refrigeration Journeyperson (excludes oil burning; open to people who completed a registered apprenticeship program or equivalent training)
  • D-3: Limited Cooling Contractor (applicable to all refrigeration systems; open to people with two years of experience as a licensed journeyperson or equivalent training)
  • D-4: Limited Cooling Journeyperson (applicable to all refrigeration systems; open to people who completed a registered apprenticeship program or equivalent training)
  • S-1: Unlimited Heating, Piping, and Cooling Contractor (open to people with two years of experience as a licensed journeyperson or equivalent training)
  • S-2: Unlimited Heating, Piping, and Cooling Journeyperson (open to people who completed a registered apprenticeship program or equivalent training)
  • S-3: Limited Heating, Piping, and Cooling Contractor (excludes sheet metal work, A/C, and refrigeration systems; open to people with two years of experience as a licensed journeyperson or equivalent training)
  • S-4: Limited Heating, Piping, and Cooling Journeyperson (excludes sheet metal work, A/C, and refrigeration systems; open to people who completed a registered apprenticeship program or equivalent training)
  • S-5: Limited Heating, Hot Water and Steam Contractor (excludes oil burners; applicable to hot water or steam systems for buildings less than four stories with a total heat load <500,000 BTUs and steam pressure <15 lbs)
  • S-6: Limited Heating, Hot Water and Steam Journeyperson (excludes oil burners; applicable to hot water or steam systems for buildings less than four stories with a total heat load <500,000 BTUs and steam pressure <15 lbs; allows work only under employment by a licensed contractor)
  • S-7: Limited Contractor (applicable to hot water or steam systems for buildings less than four stories with a total heat load <500,000 BTUs and steam pressure <15 lbs; open to people with two years of experience as a licensed journeyperson or equivalent training)
  • S-8: Limited Journeyperson (applicable to hot water or steam systems for buildings less than four stories with a total heat load <500,000 BTUs and steam pressure <15 lbs; open to people who completed a registered apprenticeship program or equivalent training; allows work only under employment by a licensed contractor)
  • S-9: Limited Heating and Cooling Contractor (applicable to hot water or steam systems for buildings less than four stories with a total heat load <500,000 BTUs, steam pressure <15 lbs, and cooling installations up to 35 tons; open to people with two years of experience as a licensed journeyperson or equivalent training)
  • S-10: Limited Heating and Cooling Journeyperson (applicable to hot water or steam systems for buildings less than four stories with a total heat load <500,000 BTUs, steam pressure <15 lbs, and cooling installations up to 35 tons; open to people who completed a registered apprenticeship program or equivalent training)

Applications for journeyperson licenses cost $120 and for contractors, $150. For details about the prerequisites, testing (i.e., relevant business, law, and trade examinations), and renewal procedures surrounding each of these state licenses, please check out the Department of Consumer Protection HVAC Licensure Handbook.