HVAC Training in New York State

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The Empire State has a long history in heating, air conditioning, ventilation, and refrigeration (HVAC/R or HVAC). In fact, American Weathermakers (2016) reported that in 1903, the New York Stock Exchange building was one of the first structures in the world to use an air conditioning system. With frigid winters and hot, humid summers, it’s no surprise that the people of New York State have become dependent on HVAC systems. The New York Times (July 2016) reported that the Brooklyn Museum was forced to close for a few days following a malfunctioning transformer which compromised the air conditioner. Furthermore, NYC’s residential tenants enjoy a Warranty of Habitability, a law which makes landlords or property owners responsible for making the building “safe and livable” at all times. This can apply to heating or cooling systems, and this law is one of many factors contributing to a thriving employment climate for HVAC workers in NYC across the great state of New York.

Not only is there evidence of a high demand for these skilled professionals, but there are also a number of professional associations which support these workers in their jobs with legal advocacy, ongoing training, and networking opportunities. For example, the Metropolitan Air Conditioning Contractors (MACC) of New York offers abundant technical information; promotes sound business practices; and provides targeted influence for public policy. Also, the Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA) has a regional branch in Rochester which provides support for those in the HVACR industry located between Buffalo and Syracuse. And these are only a few of the organizations available to support these skilled professionals.

So what exactly do HVAC technicians in New York (NY) do? The Bureau of Labor Statistics (Dec. 2015) reports that these trained workers install and repair HVAC systems and components (e.g., refrigerant controls, hermetic compressors, filters, belts, split systems, ductless splits, electric motors, heat pumps, unit heaters, electrical wiring, humidifiers, etc.); solder and braze system parts; interpret blueprints & mechanical drawings; calculate heat loads & losses; offer customers advice on maximizing efficiency; and maintain compliance with regional and federal legislation.

Read on to discover the bright employment outlook for HVAC workers in New York, as well as to learn in-depth about the salary prospects (statewide and regionally), accredited HVAC programs, and credentialing in this industry.

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HVAC Occupational Demand in NY

Luckily for HVAC technicians nationwide and particularly in New York, there’s expected to be a growing demand for qualified professionals in this field in the coming decade. By illustration, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS Dec. 2015) projected a 14 percent increase in openings for HVAC workers around the country between 2014 and 2024, double the average growth expected across all occupations during that time period (7 percent). The outlook is even brighter for residents of the Empire State. As proof of point, CareerOneStop (2016)—an organization partnered with the US Department of Labor—found that among residents with “some college,” HVAC technology is expected to be the fourth fastest growing occupation in the state. More granularly, CareerOneStop predicts a 27 percent increase in job openings for NY HVAC workers between 2014 and 2024; with the addition of 3,840 fresh positions in this industry, there are expected to be excellent opportunities in the years to come.

As mentioned in the introduction, nearly all residential structures in New York are dependent on climate control systems due to seasonally inclement weather. HVAC workers in NY are employed in residences, factories, schools, hospitals, retail areas, restaurants, and more. While some of these workers service specific job sites daily—especially in larger buildings with more complex systems—others may be called upon to travel to different locations to fulfill service contracts. Also, some HVAC techs in NY work normal business hours, although they may be called upon to work evenings, holidays, or weekends during the winter and summer months when services are most in-demand.

The BLS (Dec. 2015) notes that people in this profession incur a higher than average rate of injury and illness compared to other occupations. This is likely due to the relatively physical nature of the work, as well as the type of equipment and chemicals to which workers may be exposed. These factors can result in muscle strains, burns, electrical shock, and other maladies. Therefore it’s essential for HVAC workers to receive the proper training to ensure proper safety.

The good news is that there’s no shortage of opportunities for qualified HVAC technicians, mechanics, and installers across the Empire State. In fact, Indeed (Oct. 2016) had 824 job postings for HVAC workers in NY, including openings at Columbia University, Turning Stone Resort Casino, Soundview Heating and Air Conditioning, Falso, Town Mechanical Inc., A. Borrelli Mechanical, Captive-Aire Systems Inc., and T. Webber Plumbing, Heating & Air Conditioning. In sum, this is expected to be a high-growth career for New Yorkers in the years to come.

New York HVAC Technician Salary Data

Not only are HVAC occupations among the fastest growing in New York, but the state also employs the fourth most workers in this field relative to other US states. In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS May 2015) reported that there were 13,300 HVAC mechanics and installers in the state with a high concentration in NYC. The Big Apple employs 10,340 HVAC workers, more than any other metropolitan region in the country.

Furthermore, the state boasts higher-than-average wages for HVAC workers. As proof of point, the United States employs 274,680 HVAC workers with an average annual salary of $47,380. In NY, the average salary in this field is $54,410. In more detailed terms, here is a breakdown of the salary percentiles among all HVAC workers in the country (BLS May 2015):

United States (274,680 HVAC workers): $47,380 annual average salary

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

And in hourly wages, this figures 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.

By comparison, the BLS (May 2015) found the following salary percentiles among the HVAC workers of New York:

New York (13,330 HVAC workers): $54,410 average annual salary

  • 10th percentile: $31,570
  • 25th percentile: $39,280
  • 50th percentile (median): $50,040
  • 75th percentile: $69,160
  • 90th percentile: $82,480

And in hourly terms:

NY: $26.16/hr. avg.

  • 10th percentile: $15.18/hr.
  • 25th percentile: $18.88/hr.
  • 50th percentile (median): $24.06/hr.
  • 75th percentile: $33.25/hr.
  • 90th percentile: $39.65/hr.

It’s important to note that while the wages in New York are higher than national wages, so too is the cost of living. By illustration, the Missouri Economic Research and Information Center (MERIC 2016) reported that NY is the fourth most expensive state in the country, particularly for housing. It’s important to keep that in mind while evaluating the state’s salary data.

Not surprisingly, the wages for HVAC workers tended to vary by region within the state of New York as well with the Nassau County-Suffolk County, NY Metropolitan Division paying the highest average salary of $60,970. Here is a complete breakdown of the number of HVAC workers employed, the average salaries, and the wage percentiles among the 19 BLS-designated regions of NY (BLS May 2015):

Albany-Schenectady-Troy, NY (750 HVAC workers): $47,360 average annual salary

  • 10th percentile: $27,870
  • 25th percentile: $34,320
  • 50th percentile (median): $45,320
  • 75th percentile: $60,450
  • 90th percentile: $73,370

Binghamton, NY (280 employed): $48,360 avg.

  • 10th percentile: $28,400
  • 25th percentile: $33,850
  • 50th percentile (median): $42,290
  • 75th percentile: $65,110
  • 90th percentile: $75,850

Buffalo-Cheektowaga-Niagara Falls, NY (650 employed): $46,690 avg.

  • 10th percentile: $27,120
  • 25th percentile: $30,450
  • 50th percentile (median): $40,440
  • 75th percentile: $57,640
  • 90th percentile: $84,870

Dutchess County-Putnam County, NY Metropolitan Division (430 employed): $53,860 avg.

  • 10th percentile: $39,040
  • 25th percentile: $43,720
  • 50th percentile (median): $50,270
  • 75th percentile: $59,580
  • 90th percentile: $83,830

Elmira, NY (60 employed): $36,550 avg.

  • 10th percentile: $25,770
  • 25th percentile: $28,090
  • 50th percentile (median): $33,680
  • 75th percentile: $42,570
  • 90th percentile: $55,890

Glens Falls, NY (110 employed): $38,760 avg.

  • 10th percentile: $30,960
  • 25th percentile: $34,190
  • 50th percentile (median): $39,040
  • 75th percentile: $44,500
  • 90th percentile: $48,000

Ithaca, NY (50 employed): $53,020 avg.

  • 10th percentile: $28,750
  • 25th percentile: $42,320
  • 50th percentile (median): $52,170
  • 75th percentile: $68,250
  • 90th percentile: $76,360

Kingston, NY (120 employed): $42,680 avg.

  • 10th percentile: $25,320
  • 25th percentile: $34,020
  • 50th percentile (median): $43,980
  • 75th percentile: $49,660
  • 90th percentile: $58,930

Nassau County-Suffolk County, NY Metropolitan Division (2,180 employed): $60,970 avg.

  • 10th percentile: $39,150
  • 25th percentile: $45,240
  • 50th percentile (median): $58,520
  • 75th percentile: $73,810
  • 90th percentile: $89,240

New York-Jersey City-White Plains, NY-NJ Metropolitan Division (10,340 employed): $58,250 avg.

  • 10th percentile: $33,640
  • 25th percentile: $42,760
  • 50th percentile (median): $57,500
  • 75th percentile: $73,440
  • 90th percentile: $87,080

New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA (16,140* employed): $58,610 avg.

  • 10th percentile: $34,210
  • 25th percentile: $42,940
  • 50th percentile (median): $57,310
  • 75th percentile: $73,570
  • 90th percentile: $88,140

Rochester, NY (930 employed): $46,600 avg.

  • 10th percentile: $28,900
  • 25th percentile: $34,780
  • 50th percentile (median): $44,490
  • 75th percentile: $56,030
  • 90th percentile: $68,110

Syracuse, NY (660 employed): $50,870 avg.

  • 10th percentile: $32,640
  • 25th percentile: $38,220
  • 50th percentile (median): $47,480
  • 75th percentile: $60,350
  • 90th percentile: $74,030

Utica-Rome, NY (170 employed): $39,500 avg.

  • 10th percentile: $31,130
  • 25th percentile: $34,120
  • 50th percentile (median): $38,520
  • 75th percentile: $45,820
  • 90th percentile: $52,290

Watertown-Fort Drum, NY (60 employed): $44,210 avg.

  • 10th percentile: $33,660
  • 25th percentile: $39,100
  • 50th percentile (median): $44,210
  • 75th percentile: $49,050
  • 90th percentile: $57,070

Capital/Northern New York Nonmetropolitan Area (170 employed): $43,230 avg.

  • 10th percentile: $33,330
  • 25th percentile: $37,910
  • 50th percentile (median): $43,290
  • 75th percentile: $48,190
  • 90th percentile: $54,150

East Central New York Nonmetropolitan Area (160 employed): $40,580 avg.

  • 10th percentile: $32,450
  • 25th percentile: $35,160
  • 50th percentile (median): $39,620
  • 75th percentile: $45,580
  • 90th percentile: $49,360

Central New York Nonmetropolitan Area (240 employed): $40,190 avg.

  • 10th percentile: $32,520
  • 25th percentile: $35,070
  • 50th percentile (median): $39,310
  • 75th percentile: $45,600
  • 90th percentile: $49,750

Southwest New York Nonmetropolitan Area (150 employed): $42,230 avg.

  • 10th percentile: $31,080
  • 25th percentile: $36,770
  • 50th percentile (median): $42,920
  • 75th percentile: $48,000
  • 90th percentile: $54,070

*Please note that this figure may be a BLS error since it’s higher than the data organization’s estimates for the top-employing metropolitan area for HVAC workers in the country: the New York-Jersey City-White Plains, NY-NJ Metropolitan Division.

Accredited HVAC Schools in NY State

In order to prepare for employment in heating, ventilation, air conditioning, and refrigeration, it’s crucial to receive the proper training. Some workers receive their training on the job through apprenticeships, which last from three-to-five years and comprise 2,000 hours of on-the-job learning; others choose to attend a diploma, certificate, or degree program. Luckily there are several accredited schools throughout New York to prepare people for this high-growth career. The two main accreditation organizations for HVAC training schools are HVAC Excellence and the Partnership for Air-Conditioning, Heating, Refrigeration Accreditation (PAHRA).

There is one HVAC Excellence-accredited program in NY available at the WSWHE BOCES / Meyers Education Center of Saratoga Springs. This two-year school provides competence-based certification training in the installation, service & repair, and routine maintenance of HVAC equipment. With a unique emphasis on shop operations, customer service, and business ethics, coursework covers wide-ranging topics such as blueprint reading; planning & estimating jobs; refrigeration principles & practices; electrical motors; and trade-related carpentry. Various skill-based credentials can be earned through this school, including the multiple HVAC Excellence certifications, Fork Truck Licensure, and OSHA 10 & 30-hour certificates. The available HVAC specializations include:

  • Electricity
  • Oil Heat
  • Gas Heat
  • Hydronics I & II
  • Air Conditioning
  • Commercial Air Conditioning
  • R-410A
  • Mobile AC
  • Fork Truck (OSHA Standard)
  • Duct Work
  • EPA 608 (type I-IV)

There are also various PAHRA-accredited schools in New York such as the Isaac Heating and Air Conditioning Inc. of Rochester. Hosted in a state-of-the-art 1,800 sq. ft. lab, aspiring HVAC technicians receive hands-on training in various NATE certification specialties. The program comprises two years of HVAC education and an additional two years of specialized training. Notably, this is the sole contractor-run training program with PAHRA certification, and the faculty includes 90 NATE-certified technicians with 460 specialities, more than any other program in the country! Furthermore, Isaac received the 2003 Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA) “Excellence in Training” Award.

The Electrical Training Center Inc. of Long Island offers  an HVAC certificate program with coursework in trade electricity; basic refrigeration theory; commercial air conditioning systems; system installation air distribution & balance; commercial refrigeration systems; system diagnostics & troubleshooting; EPA 608 certification exam training; and career development. This program costs $10,000 total ($9,000 in tuition & fees and $1,000 in supplies).

Additionally, Suffolk Community College provides an associate of applied science (AAS) degree in HVAC/R. This competitive program includes internships, laboratory sessions, and didactic coursework in refrigeration & air conditioning systems; electricity for HVAC/R; technical writing; HVAC/R control systems; and interpersonal communication. Please note that tuition varies by several factors and can be determined by using SCC’s tuition calculator.

Monroe Community College of Rochester also offers a certificate and an AAS degree in HVAC technology. In addition to general education coursework, aspiring HVAC techs take courses such as electric & motor controls; technical mathematics; heating systems; and HVAC workplace training. This costs $2,050 per semester for residents of New York. To learn more about training available specifically in New York City, check out the NYC HVAC programs page.

Lastly, It’s important to note that on-campus programs may not be convenient for everyone, particularly those with unbreakable time commitments or those who live in more rural regions of the state. Luckily there are some high-quality, accredited online HVAC programs as well. Please visit the online HVAC programs page to learn more about these options.

HVAC Certification & Licensing in NY

There is one mandatory certification for all HVAC professionals who work with refrigerants in NY and nationwide: the EPA Section 608 certification. Due to the difficulty and environmentally sensitive nature of handling refrigerants, these workers must be specially trained and nationally credentialed. There are four categories of this certification: type I (small appliances), type II (high-pressure refrigerants), type III (low-pressure refrigerants), and type IV (universal).

In addition to the North American Technician Excellence (NATE) and HVAC Excellence certification programs discussed above, the Refrigeration Service Engineers Society (RSES) also provides professional credentialing. To learn in-depth about these options, check out the main HVAC certifications page.

Finally, prior to seeking work as an HVAC technician in NY, it’s crucial to receive the proper local license or permit. Although there is currently no requisite state license for HVAC professionals in NY, cities may require people to have a municipal license. For example, in NYC, HVAC contractors are required to get a Home Improvement Contractor (HIC) license through the NY Department of Consumer Affairs to work on residential or commercial properties. Also, NYC Buildings offers a mechanical/HVAC (MH) work permit for HVAC work within the city. Please visit the Department of Consumer Affairs to learn more about the local laws and necessary credentials in NYC.

Other cities have differing legislation and license-granting bodies. Here is a list of a few municipal organizations which issue HVAC credentialing and permits: