HVAC Schools in Massachusetts

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Working as an HVAC technician in Massachusetts can be a rewarding career with the possibility for great longevity. HVAC technicians in the Bay State are currently in demand, with huge growth expected in specialty trade sectors as well as hospitals and educational settings. According to CareerOneStop data, the demand for HVAC technicians is expected to increase in the U.S. by 14% through 2024. Looking at data for Massachusetts specifically, that rate jumps to 19% for the same time span (2014 to 2024), which equates to 350 new job openings for qualified technicians (CareerInfoNet.org, 2014).

It is also worth noting that the majority of work an HVAC technician does in Massachusetts does not require a specialized license; it is only working with industrial refrigeration units, over 10 tons in capacity, that requires licensing. A more flexible licensing system means that after completing training, new HVAC technicians in Massachusetts can start working and earning sooner.

Becoming an HVAC technician is an ideal career path for people who like to work with their hands, who are creative problem solvers, and who want to have a great deal of autonomy in their work. 

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How to Become an HVAC Technician in Massachusetts

Becoming a successful HVAC technician in Massachusetts involves a strong educational foundation followed by hands on experience in the field. While not every HVAC professional follows the same professional path, the following steps are quite common.

  • Step 1: Complete High School (4 years) – Earning a high school diploma or GED is an important first step towards work as an HVAC technician. High school students who know they want to pursue the career should be sure to excel in courses like math and physics since those will be directly applicable to their future career.

  • Step 2: Enroll in an Approved HVAC School (1 – 2 years) – Training in the fundamentals of HVAC installation, maintenance, and repair is an important step when pursuing it as a career. A school that combines hands on training with classroom sessions is generally the best choice. The Massachusetts Bureau of Pipefitters, Refrigeration Technicians, and Sprinklerfitters maintains a list of programs that they have approved. For technicians that want to later be certified as refrigeration technicians, it is essential to choose from one of these approved schools. These programs can take 1 to 2 years to complete. Some programs may result in an associate’s degree, but many do not. Students should also ensure that the program they choose offers CFC certification (also known as EPA certification), since that is a requirement for working with the hazardous materials involved in HVAC repair.

  • Step 3: Find an Apprenticeship or Trainee Position (duration varies) – Because most HVAC jobs do not require licensing or certification in Massachusetts, anyone can start work as a technician as soon as they finish their training program. However, many new technicians find entry level work as an apprentice or trainee with an experienced technician or company. Proof of a certain number of hours of work is required for future certification. The number of hours varies depending on the type of education the technician has completed prior to his or her work experience.

  • Step 4: Apply for Refrigeration Technician License – HVAC technicians in Massachusetts who want to work with industrial refrigeration units, over 10 tons in capacity must apply for a Refrigeration Technician Licsense with the state. Applicants for licensure must have a minimum of 2000 hours of work as a refrigeration apprentice or trainee, which must be accompanied by 1000 hours of refrigeration training. The more hours of hands on work an applicant has, the fewer hours of classroom training are required. The full explanation of requirements is available from the Massachusetts Office of Public Safety and Security.

Outlook for HVAC Jobs in Massachusetts

The demand for HVAC technicians in Massachusetts is quite good and salary expectations are aligned with those demand numbers, ranking the state fifth in salary for HVAC jobs.

As mentioned above, BLS estimates that there will be a 19% increase in job openings for HVAC technicians in Massachusetts from 2014 to 2024. This rate is much faster than 11% expected growth rate for all jobs around the U.S. over the same time frame. High demand means there is no better time to start studying to become an HVAC technician in the Old Colony State.

In 2014, there were 8,340 HVAC jobs in Massachusetts, who made a mean annual salary of $57,470. This is considerably higher than the mean national average salary of $47,380. Following is a closer look at the kinds of salaries an HVAC technician can expect in Massachusetts:

  • 10th percentile: $35,700
  • 50th percentile (median): $56,520
  • 90th percentile: $80,530

Even at the lowest tier, a Massachusetts HVAC technician can expect to make almost $8000 per year more than the average across the U.S.

As with any job, the specific location where someone works can have a significant impact on salaries. The top paying areas, along with their median annual salaries for HVAC technicians in Massachusetts are:

  • Lowell-Billerica-Chelmsford, MA-NH NECTA Division: $60,220
  • Boston-Cambridge-Newton, MA NECTA Division: $59,380
  • Lynn-Saugus-Marblehead, MA NECTA Division: $59,150
  • Peabody-Salem-Beverly, MA NECTA Division: $58,960
  • Boston-Cambridge-Nashua, MA-NH: $57,260

One of the reasons Massachusetts has above average salaries for HVAC technicians is that there are simply a number of jobs to fill so competition for well trained technicians is fierce. The following regions of the state have the highest number of employed technicians:

  • Boston-Cambridge-Nashua, MA-NH: 6,320
  • Boston-Cambridge-Newton, MA NECTA Division: 4,080
  • Worcester, MA-CT: 860
  • Springfield, MA-CT: 550
  • Lowell-Billerica-Chelmsford, MA-NH NECTA Division: 340

Clearly the Boston area is the focal point for HVAC technician employment in the state.

Finding Accredited HVAC Training in Massachusetts

As mentioned, the Massachusetts Bureau of Pipefitters, Refrigeration Technicians, and Sprinklerfitters maintains a list of approved HVAC schools in Massachusetts where prospective HVAC technicians can prepare for the refrigeration licensing exam. There are approved schools for HVAC training in Massachusetts in most parts of the state, including Boston, Upton, and Springfield. Some of the programs are offered at technical schools while others are at community colleges and result in Associate’s Degrees. These HVAC schools in MA prepare students for the refrigeration licensing exam, but do not offer the exam themselves. The following programs help students prepare for eventual licensing:

The Peterson School, with locations in Worcester, Westwood, and Woburn, offers a range of specialized programs in HVACR. Those who are pursuing a well rounded education can take one of the school’s combo programs that includes training in HVAC, refrigeration, oil and/or gas heat, and basic electricity. The program at the Peterson School is approved by the state for preparation for refrigeration licensing.

Bay State School of Technology offers another state-approved program. Students can choose from Commercial or Domestic Refrigeration and Air Conditioning courses. Graduates of the program, which can take just one year, are prepared for both EPA certification and the National Service Certification test, offered by the Professional Service Association.The campus for this program is located in Canton, MA.

Located in Lowell, MA the New England Institute of HVAC offers both day and evening classes for its HVAC program. The 13 week course covers both residential and commercial systems in addition to basic electrical knowledge and EPA certification preparation. This program has also been approved by Massachusetts.

Additionally, some schools undergo third party institutional accreditation processes that are not specific to HVAC programs. For instance, the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC) offers evaluation and accreditation to many continuing education and technical schools. ACCSC evaluates schools based on rates of student achievement, student graduation, and graduate employment. While this type of accreditation is not endorsed by the state of Massachusetts, it can be helpful when comparing HVAC schools in MA.