HVAC Training Programs in New Jersey

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While training as an HVAC technician in New Jersey can be a terrific way to start a lifelong career, there are a few new developments in the space of which students considering the career should be aware. The most notable change in HVAC training and education in New Jersey is the creation of the Master HVACR Contractor license. As of the fall of 2014, examinations and proof of experience and education are required in order to obtain the Master HVACR Contractor license. While this does add another step to the process, it helps validate technician competency.

According to Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data, New Jersey is not only among the highest paying states for HVAC technicians, but it is also one of the biggest employers of these professionals. The combination of a high availability of jobs and salaries that can sustain a comfortable lifestyle in the state makes New Jersey an ideal place to begin an HVAC technician career. Further, there are a number of HVAC technician schools in New Jersey that can prepare students to begin their new career in a matter of months.

Keep reading to learn more about how to become an HVAC technician in New Jersey.

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How to Become an HVAC Technician IN NJ

There is no one set path that HVAC technicians must take in order to manifest a successful career, but there are some common steps that will help aspiring professionals to build a solid foundation from which to work.

Step 1: Obtain a High School Diploma or GED

Ultimately, New Jersey does not require that HVAC technicians have a high school diploma or General Equivalency Degree. However, completing a high school education is not only indicative of a technician’s ability to complete a project as well as his or her academic acumen, it can also open many more professional doors down the line. With HVAC in mind, students should try to take as many math, physics, and mechanical classes (such as wood shop) as possible.

Step 2, Option 1: Attend Accredited HVAC Program

After high school, prospective HVAC professionals may choose to attend an undergraduate program at a local college. Generally, these programs are offered at community colleges and trade schools, with many culminating in an Associate of Arts degree.  HVAC programs can last anywhere from 6 months to 2 years, depending on the school, and will teach students the basics of working in HVAC. Applicants should look for programs that are accredited by an organization such as HVAC Excellence in order to ensure the curriculum meets state standards. Some programs also include national level certification (but not state licensure) as part of their standard courses.

Step 2, Option 2: Begin Apprenticeship with Certified HVAC Professional

For those individuals who would like to start work as soon as possible, New Jersey does allow HVAC certification to those that work under the supervision of a certified HVAC professional for at least 5 years. However, it should be noted that these types of apprenticeships can be difficult to obtain without personal connections.

Step 3: Apply for EPA Certification

Most students will complete their EPA certification during the course of their HVAC education. For those that do not, the certification is available upon completion of the exam and is necessary to work as an HVAC technician.

Step 4: Obtain New Jersey HVACR License

Upon completing either an undergraduate HVAC program or an apprenticeship, students are eligible to apply for a New Jersey Master HVACR Contractor license. It should be noted that graduating students applying for this credential who have not completed an apprenticeship must have at minimum a Bachelor’s degree. And to obtain an HVAC license in New Jersey, technicians must secure a $3,000 surety bond that is termed to expire with the license itself. As of last check (February, 2016), the bond cost $50.

Outlook for HVAC Jobs in NJ

The New Jersey region has a strong demand for HVAC professionals, making it one of the best places for new HVAC techs to train and work. From 2014 to 2024, national demand for HVAC technicians is expected to increase 14%, which is noted to be “much faster than average” as compared to overall job growth rate (BLS, 2015).

In 2014, New Jersey employed 10,500 HVAC technicians at a mean wage of $56,390 per year, making it the third best area for salaries in the HVAC profession, after Alaska at $63,300 per year and the District of Columbia at $62,520. The mean wage across the country for HVAC technicians is just $46,880, so the salary difference in New Jersey is significant.

The New Jersey area also has the highest employment level for HVAC technicians of any place in the country, although it is important to note that this region includes New York as well. The New York-White Plains-Wayne, NY-NJ Metropolitan Division employs 7,410 HVAC technicians, which equates to 1.37 HVAC technicians per 1000 jobs.

An HVAC education does very little good when the graduating student cannot obtain a job. High employment rates and comfortable salaries in New Jersey make it one of the best places to study to become an HVAC technician and quickly start earning a good living.

For younger students who are interested in pursuing higher education along with a career as an HVAC technician, HVAC training in NJ is available in the form of a program called NJ PLACE, which stands for New Jersey Pathways Leading Apprentices to a College Education. This program allows high school graduates to train as an HVAC apprentice while also earning college credits that can transfer to a four-year university at the completion of the training program.

Finding Accredited HVAC Training in New Jersey

Accreditation is a process that allows for a thorough assessment of a school’s curriculum and facilities. Finding an HVAC program that has earned accreditation means choosing a program that is committed to providing consistent and relevant education to its students.

HVAC Excellence is the only national accrediting body specific to HVAC programs.

Schools may also earn accreditation for their educational facilities as a whole. The state generally recognizes institutions of higher learning, including community colleges and universities, that have been accredited through the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE). Colleges join the organization on a voluntary basis and are assessed and reviewed by peer evaluators from similar institutions. While HVAC training NJ from an MSCHE accreditation does not guarantee post-education employment as an HVAC technician, it can help to ensure that the facilities and staff meet a certain standard threshold. HVAC programs that are not colleges or university may earn accreditation from  Accrediting Council for Continuing Education and Training (ACCET), which is focused on technical education.

In order to be eligible to apply for an HVAC-R license from New Jersey without apprenticeship experiences, students must graduate from an institution that is accredited by a body recognized by the U.S. Department of Education.

Lincoln Technical Institute

With two locations in New Jersey — one in Union and one in Mahwah — Lincoln Technical Institute is the only school with HVAC Excellence accreditation. The LTI program allows students to learn using modern techniques and technology, and earn their EPA certification. A full-time student can expect to complete the program in 48 weeks while students who opt for evening classes will be enrolled for approximately 72 weeks. Completion of the program does not result in a degree.  

Mercer County Community College

Students at Mercer County Community College can earn an Associate of Applied Science (AAS) degree in HVAC-R. The school, which has campuses in both West Windsor and Trenton, is accredited by the MSCHE.

Eastwick College

The Nutley, New Jersey campus of Eastwick College offers a diploma program in HVAC-R. The program is accredited by Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS). Although it has not earned its accreditation from HVAC Excellence, Eastwick College is an authorized HVAC Excellence training and testing center