HVAC Training Programs in Maryland

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There is a wealth of opportunities at HVAC schools in Maryland, a state which is known for its groundbreaking technologies in this field. In fact, the University of Maryland (UMD Dec. 2014) received more than $5 million in funding from the energy division of the Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA-E)—a government organization which supports innovative research—to develop personal heating and cooling devices, a new frontier in HVAC technologies. Named the Meta-Cooling Textile project, this work aims to create a thermo-responsive fabric to expand an individual’s range of comfort in an environment, thus lowering energy bills. In reflecting on this ongoing study, Senator Barbara Mikulski stated, “Maryland leads the nation in energy research and innovation.”

Not only does the Old Line State boast some of the most exciting developments in HVAC technologies, it also has strong professional associations in the industry. By illustration, the Heating & Air Conditioning Contractors of Maryland (HACC 2016) is based in Baltimore and advocates for the interests of people in this field, hosts a competitive apprenticeship program, and offers several trainings annually. It’s important to become integrated in trade networking since MD has some unique laws regulating these workers. According to the Maryland Board of Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning and Refrigeration Contractors, HVAC technicians and mechanics must be licensed in order to perform work in this state, a process which typically involves completing an apprenticeship. One of the benefits of completing an apprenticeship as opposed to a formal educational program is that apprentices generally get paid as they accumulate their on-the-job skills. Maryland is one of the few states which requires its HVAC workers to have at least an apprentice-level license with the Board to provide services.

So what to HVAC technicians in MD do? The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS Dec. 2015) reports that these professionals diagnose and repair issues with heating, cooling, ventilation, and refrigeration equipment; inspect HVAC systems regularly; offer preventative maintenance on system components; keep on top of legislation and licensure requirements; and educate consumers on latest technologies, including how to make machines more energy-efficient. Finally, this field is rapidly growing and is expected to provide ample job opportunities in MD and beyond in years to come. As proof of point, the BLS (Dec. 2015) anticipates that openings for HVAC mechanics and installers will increase 14 percent nationwide between 2014 and 2024, much faster than the average growth projected for all occupations in that time period (7 percent). With the addition of 39,600 fresh HVAC positions across the country, attending an HVAC training program is an investment that may pay handsome dividends on into the future.

Read on to discover the bright career outlook in this field, as well as to learn about the salary prospects, accredited HVAC apprenticeships and training in MD, and unique licensing procedures in the state.

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Demand for HVAC Technicians in MD

Fortunately for aspiring HVAC installers and mechanics in MD, the salary prospects are relatively bright, particularly for an occupation which does not generally require a four-year college degree. In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS May 2015) found that the 274,680 HVAC workers in the country had an annual average salary of $47,380. In more detailed terms, the BLS (May 2015) reported the following salary percentiles:

As mentioned above, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS Dec. 2015) projected a 14 percent increase in job openings for HVAC mechanics and installers across the nation between 2014 and 2024, a figure much more robust than the average growth anticipated for all jobs during that time (7 percent). There were 274,680 of these professionals around the US (BLS May 2015), and in 2014, approximately one in ten was self-employed.

In Maryland, HVAC technicians work in a range of environments, including offices, homes, schools, factories, stores, hospitals, and other types of buildings. While some work traditional hours, others may be called upon to work evenings, weekends, holidays, or overtime in order to satisfy customer demands, particularly during the summer and winter months when temperatures hit extremes.

It’s important to note that while all precautions are taken to protect the safety of people in this industry, it still has one of the highest rates of injury and illness among occupations (BLS Dec. 2015). That said, it’s a field which offers relatively stable employment opportunities since an increasing number of HVAC employers offer annual service contracts to customers, thereby keeping a steady flow of work for their technicians, installers, and maintenance employees.

In Maryland, there’s an abundance of organizations which offer employment opportunities in this industry. Maryland HVAC Jobs (June 2016) posted job openings at companies such as Tradesmen International, Inc., Jacobs, Bendix, Kelly Services, Jubilant Cadista Inc., USM (An EMCOR Company), Shapiro & Duncan, United Technologies Corporation, Peter Kazella & Associates, Inc., the University of Maryland (UMD), and Johns Hopkins Medicine. Indeed (June 2016) posted additional offerings through Quality Heating & Air, Ductless America, US Heating & Air, Belfor, Emcor, Vito Services, HVAC Dynamic, Inc., Futures Consulting LLC, and Adventist Healthcare. In sum, there’s no shortage of openings in MD for HVAC workers.

HVAC Technician Salary in MD

Fortunately for aspiring HVAC installers and mechanics in MD, the salary prospects are relatively bright, particularly for an occupation which does not generally require a four-year college degree. In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS May 2015) found that the 274,680 HVAC workers in the country had an annual average salary of $47,380. In more detailed terms, the BLS (May 2015) reported the following salary percentiles:

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

Translated into hourly figures, these salaries equated to (BLS May 2015):

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.

Interestingly, these salaries varied by source of data. Payscale (June 2016)—an aggregator of people’s self-reported wage data—found the following annual salary percentiles among its 486 HVAC technician respondents:

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

Notably, more people chose to report their salaries in hourly terms. Among its 2,566 HVAC respondents across the country, Payscale (June 2016) found an average of $18.62/hr. and the following hourly 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.

There’s excellent news for HVAC workers in Maryland: they tend to make more money than national averages in this occupation. Before examining the figures, it’s important to note that the cost of living in MD may also be steeper than most states. The Missouri Economic Research & Information Center (MERIC 2016) found that MD was the ninth most expensive state in the US, although it did boast some savings in healthcare costs relative to the rest of country. Please keep this in mind while evaluating the following salary data.

The BLS (May 2015) reported that there were 5,750 HVAC mechanics and installers across MD with an average annual salary of $54,050. They had these salary percentiles:

  • 10th percentile: $32,770
  • 25th percentile: $42,750
  • 50th percentile (median): $54,120
  • 75th percentile: $64,660
  • 90th percentile: $76,870

 In hourly terms, these figures amounted to an average of $25.99/hr. and these percentile ranges:

Maryland (5,750 HVAC professionals): $25.99/hr. average

  • 10th percentile: $15.75/hr.
  • 25th percentile: $20.55/hr.
  • 50th percentile (median): $26.02/hr.
  • 75th percentile: $31.09/hr.
  • 90th percentile: $39.96/hr.

 Indeed (June 2016) actually found a slightly lower average salary for HVAC technicians in MD at $42,000. These differences may be due to the nature of the data collection, and the BLS figures are generally considered more thorough and reliable.

Not surprisingly, the salaries for HVAC workers in MD also varied by region of the state. In alphabetical order, here were the salary percentiles, averages, and numbers of HVAC workers in each of the seven BLS-designated regions of the state (BLS May 2015):

Baltimore-Columbia-Towson, MD (2,280 HVAC workers employed): $53,790 annual average salary

  • 10th percentile: $36,250
  • 25th percentile: $44,210
  • 50th percentile (median): $53,470
  • 75th percentile: $62,400
  • 90th percentile: $74,520

 California-Lexington Park, MD (130 employed): $48,460 avg.

  • 10th percentile: $28,940
  • 25th percentile: $39,080
  • 50th percentile (median): $48,090
  • 75th percentile: $59,160
  • 90th percentile: $70,350

Cumberland, MD-WV (unknown number employed): $41,870 avg.

  • 10th percentile: $23,320
  • 25th percentile: $28,400
  • 50th percentile (median): $37,350
  • 75th percentile: $53,550
  • 90th percentile: $70,240

Hagerstown-Martinsburg, MD-WV (140 employed): $43,050 avg.

  • 10th percentile: $26,990
  • 25th percentile: $33,980
  • 50th percentile (median): $43,190
  • 75th percentile: $52,210
  • 90th percentile: $60,000

Salisbury, MD-DE (850 employed): $45,610 avg.

  • 10th percentile: $32,230
  • 25th percentile: $37,770
  • 50th percentile (median): $45,000
  • 75th percentile: $53,320
  • 90th percentile: $61,670

Silver Spring-Frederick-Rockville, MD Metropolitan Division (1,020 employed): $53,900 avg.

  • 10th percentile: $25,290
  • 25th percentile: $40,800
  • 50th percentile (median): $55,900
  • 75th percentile: $66,330
  • 90th percentile: $76,460

Upper Eastern Shore of Maryland Nonmetropolitan Area (150 employed): $47,120 avg.

  • 10th percentile: $28,190
  • 25th percentile: $39,870
  • 50th percentile (median): $47,240
  • 75th percentile: $57,160
  • 90th percentile: $64,070

HVAC Apprenticeships & Training in MD

In Maryland, the preparation to become a licensed HVAC professional is distinct from most of the country. While most states recommend completing an HVAC training program accredited by an established entity such as HVAC Excellence or Partnership for Air-Conditioning, Heating, Refrigeration Accreditation (PAHRA), MD typically requires that its HVAC workers complete an apprenticeship program instead. In fact, there are no programs in MD accredited by either of these established entities, but pursuing an apprenticeship has some advantages. First, it’s a very hands-on, empirical education to learn the tricks of the trade. Second, it can be a way to earn money while getting valuable on-the-job skills under the guidance of a mentor.

The Maryland Division of Labor and Industry (DLLR) provides an apprenticeship and training page to connect aspiring HVAC professionals with sponsoring organizations. While completing one of these programs in MD, HVAC apprentices typically get a percentage of a journey-person’s salary while they gain mastery in the field. In MD, HVAC techs are one of 230 registered occupations with these types of training programs. In order to be considered an “apprenticeable occupation,” it must take at least 2,000 hours of training to gain entry-level proficiency. It also generally involves the completion of at least 144 hours of didactic instruction. Please note that HVAC apprenticeship programs in MD typically take four years to complete. The DLLR serves as the main training-approval entity for apprenticeship programs within MD. To qualify for these programs, a candidate must fulfill the following criteria:

  • Be a high school graduate (or have a GED)
  • Be at least 18 years old
  • Have the physical ability to perform the job
  • Possess the required tools of the trade
  • Get a Maryland Apprentice License from the State Board of HVACR Contractors after completing the first semester

The Heating & Air Conditioning Contractors of Maryland (HACC) is a trade association in this field and one of the renowned sponsoring organization for apprenticeships. Established in 1996, this program trains technicians to work in the HVAC industry and features courses such as basic electricity; trade math; fundamentals of brazing & soldering; AC/DC circuits, electric motors & starters; HVAC controls; wiring & testing; advanced refrigeration & pipe-fitting; boilers & hydronics; and air distribution systems. Another approved program is available at Anne Arundel Community College (AACC) of Arnold. This four-year apprenticeship focuses on comprehensive theory and empirical applications of both commercial and residential HVAC systems. AANC’s program is offered in partnership with the Independent Electrical Contractors or the Associated Builders and Contractors. It involves 160 hours of classroom training—courses such as commercial refrigeration, heating systems, and mechanical controls & motors—and at least 2,000 hours on-the-job learning the fundamentals of HVAC systems. Additionally, AANC provides valuable shorter classes such as a HVACR journeyman & master exam review and online HVAC training to prepare students for the North American Technician Excellence (NATE) certification exams. For those interested in a more traditional college degree program, the Community College of Baltimore County (CCBC) established an associate of applied science (AAS) in HVAC & energy technology. The 41 credits of coursework include training in EPA refrigeration certification; HVACR safety, tools & methods; comfort cooling systems; construction safety & health; and residential load calculations & air distribution. Notably, this program also involves several elective courses to help students deepen their knowledge in areas of their choice such as commercial control systems; engineering technology; and project management. Finally, the CCBC also offers three certificates: advanced HVAC & technology, alternative energy, and basic HVAC & energy technology.

HVAC Licensure in MD

There is a range of established national certifications available in HVAC from organizations such as North American Technician Excellence (NATE), HVAC Excellence, and Refrigeration Service Engineers Society (RSES). The one federally mandated credential for HVAC workers—particularly ones who deal with refrigeration—is the EPA Section 608 certification. This certification is typically acquired during an apprenticeship program in MD. To learn more about these national credentials, please visit the HVAC certifications page.

In Maryland, the State Board of Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning and Refrigeration Contractors regulates HVAC licenses and requires these workers to have a contractor credential prior to working independently. In addition to an HVAC Apprenticeship license—which must be obtained following the completion of the first semester of a four-year apprenticeship—there are currently four types of HVAC worker licenses available in MD:

Journeyman license

Prerequisites: hold an Apprentice license for at least three years, have at least 1,875 hours of experience in the year prior to the application, pass the Journeyman exam with a score of at least 70 percent, fulfill insurance requirements

Limited Contractor license

Prerequisites: hold a Journeyman license (or higher) with at least two years of experience under an HVACR master, have at least 1,000 hours of experience in the year prior to the application, pass the Limited Contractor exam with a score of at least 70 percent, fulfill insurance requirements

Master Restricted license

Prerequisites: hold a Journeyman license (or higher) with at least three years of experience under an HVACR master, have at least 1,875 hours of experience in the year prior to the application, pass the Master Restricted exam with a score of at least 70 percent, fulfill insurance requirements

Master license

Prerequisites: hold a Journeyman license (or higher) with at least three years of experience under an HVACR master, have at least 1,875 hours of experience in the year prior to the application, pass the Master exam with a score of at least 70 percent, fulfill insurance requirements

Please note that only those with the Master license are authorized to perform all HVAC systems and components. Some journeymen licensees have “restricted status,” which means that they are authorized to do work on a particular aspect of HVAC systems (e.g., hydronic heating, forced air heating, air-conditioning, refrigeration, ventilation).

To connect with a local apprenticeship sponsor and learn more about how to get started in an HVAC career in MD, please visit the Maryland Apprenticeship and Training Program (MATP) page.