HVAC Training & Certification in Ohio

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In the Buckeye State, there’s a wealth of heating, ventilation, air conditioning, and refrigeration (HVAC/R) professionals, as well as a thriving tradition of energy conservation among citizens. By illustration, HVAC News (Sept. 2016) reported that an Ohio resident won Lennox’s “Energy Savings Superstar” contest, which awarded the family $10,000 in air conditioning products. Penny Furda’s household decided to implement tech-free Thursdays in her home not only to work on saving energy but also to bring her family closer together in this tech-saturated world as well.

In addition to energy-conscious citizens, Ohio boasts a number of professional trade associations to support workers in the HVAC industry. For example, the Air Conditioning Contractors of Ohio (ACCO) represents firms throughout the state who install, repair, and perform maintenance on HVAC systems. Boasting over 200 members, this not-for-profit organization hosts conferences, provides worker advocacy, and assists people in the industry with networking. Furthermore, the Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors (PHCC) of Ohio is another exemplary organization which has been in operation for more than 125 years. It has a political action committee (PAC) to protect HVAC professionals against unnecessary regulation, overbearing legislation, and more. In sum, there’s no shortage of resources available for HVAC workers in the state.

Professionals in this industry take on a number of varied tasks. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (Dec. 2015) offered a breakdown of some common job responsibilities in the HVAC industry, which include installing and maintaining HVAC systems; troubleshooting and repairing machine components (e.g., wiring, piping, motors, ducts, drains, intake valves, fans, humidifiers, unit controls, hot water boilers, hermetic compressors, economizers); providing recommendations on improving system performance or energy efficiency; calculating heat loads & losses; and keeping up-to-date with certifications or licensure. While permits are not required for general HVAC technicians, commercial HVAC contractors in the state must seek licensure from the Ohio Construction Industry Licensing Board (OCILB).

This guide serves to give Ohio residents a snapshot of what to expect from entering a career in HVAC. Read on to discover the bright occupational outlook, salary prospects, training schools, and contractor licensing for HVAC workers in OH.

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Demand for HVAC Workers in OH

For aspiring HVAC technicians, mechanics, and installers in Ohio and beyond, the employment prospects look bright. In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS Dec. 2015) expects that there will be a 14 percent increase in job openings in this field between 2014 and 2024, significantly more robust than the average growth expected across all occupations during that time period. And the prospects may be even brighter in Ohio. As proof of point, CareerOneStop (2016)—a data organization partnered with the US Department of Labor—reported that among Ohio residents with “some college,” HVAC technology will be the eleventh fastest growing occupation in the state with an anticipated 15 percent increase in openings between 2014 and 2024, slightly higher than the national projection. With the expected addition of 1,470 fresh positions in coming years, the HVAC industry is expected to thrive on into the future.

One of the main benefits of pursuing a career in HVAC is the relatively high wages for a career typically requiring only one-to-two years of postsecondary education. It’s important to note that receiving the proper training is essential, especially since HVAC workers incur a relatively high rate of injury compared with other occupations. This is due to the relatively physical nature of the work, which can expose these professionals to electrical shock, muscle strains, burns, and other problems. That said, with the proper training and safety equipment, these maladies can generally be kept to a minimum.

The BLS (Dec. 2015) notes that approximately one-in-ten HVAC workers nationwide are self-employed and have the ability to make their own schedules. It adds that while some HVAC technicians work normal business hours, others may be called upon to work evenings, weekends, or holidays, particularly during the busier summer and winter seasons.

As stated above, there’s no shortage of opportunities in this industry, particularly in Ohio. In fact, Indeed (Oct. 2016) posted an astonishing 2,222 openings in HVAC work in the Buckeye State, including positions at Kent State University, JW Services, A to Z Plumbing & Drain Service LLC, Arco Comfort Air, Logan Services Inc., Airborne Global Solutions, KMA Electric, CARE Heating & Cooling, and Crossroads Group, among others.

HVAC Salaries in OH

Nationwide and in Ohio, HVAC workers earn relatively generous salaries compared to occupations with similar educational attainment. By illustration, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS May 2015) reported that there were 274,680 HVAC workers around the country with an average annual salary of $47,380. In more detailed terms, here are the national wage percentiles for HVAC mechanics and installers:

US (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

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.

Before examining the Ohio HVAC workers salaries, it’s important to note that the cost of living in Ohio is cheaper than many states. The Missouri Economic Research and Information Center (MERIC 2016) found that Ohio was the eighteenth most affordable state nationwide, boasting savings in housing and utilities. Please keep this in mind while examining the following salaries for OH HVAC workers.

The BLS (May 2015) reported that there were 10,740 HVAC mechanics and installers in the state who earned an average annual salary of $45,190, only slightly below the national average in the profession. In more granular terms, here were the salary percentiles for the Ohio HVAC workers:

Ohio (10,740 HVAC workers): $45,190 average annual salary

  • 10th percentile: $27,690
  • 25th percentile: $35,020
  • 50th percentile (median): $44,150
  • 75th percentile: $54,560
  • 90th percentile: $63,360

And in hourly terms these figures equated to:

Ohio: $21.72/hr. avg.

  • 10th percentile: $13.31/hr.
  • 25th percentile: $16.83/hr.
  • 50th percentile (median): $/21.23hr.
  • 75th percentile: $26.23/hr.
  • 90th percentile: $30.46/hr.

Not surprisingly, these figures tended to differ by region within Ohio as well with Cincinnati boasting the highest average salary in this occupation at $49,750, a figure above the national average. Here is a detailed look at the number of HVAC workers employed, the average salaries, and the wage percentiles among the 15 BLS-designated regions of Ohio (BLS May 2015):

Akron, OH (790 HVAC workers): $40,530 average annual salary

  • 10th percentile: $19,890
  • 25th percentile: $31,990
  • 50th percentile (median): $42,010
  • 75th percentile: $49,020
  • 90th percentile: $58,040

Canton-Massillon, OH (150 employed): $45,840 avg.

  • 10th percentile: $31,930
  • 25th percentile: $37,740
  • 50th percentile (median): $45,640
  • 75th percentile: $54,770
  • 90th percentile: $61,700

Cincinnati, OH-KY-IN (2,000 employed): $49,750 avg.

  • 10th percentile: $32,080
  • 25th percentile: $39,510
  • 50th percentile (median): $50,470
  • 75th percentile: $59,680
  • 90th percentile: $67,540

Cleveland-Elyria, OH (2,350 employed): $48,220 avg.

  • 10th percentile: $30,550
  • 25th percentile: $36,940
  • 50th percentile (median): $46,070
  • 75th percentile: $57,890
  • 90th percentile: $70,920

Columbus, OH (1,670 employed): $46,370 avg.

  • 10th percentile: $28,910
  • 25th percentile: $36,000
  • 50th percentile (median): $45,220
  • 75th percentile: $56,330
  • 90th percentile: $66,480

Dayton, OH (940 employed): $42,370 avg.

  • 10th percentile: $22,430
  • 25th percentile: $33,360
  • 50th percentile (median): $43,730
  • 75th percentile: $49,680
  • 90th percentile: $60,370

Lima, OH (230 employed): $39,900 avg.

  • 10th percentile: $27,910
  • 25th percentile: $33,330
  • 50th percentile (median): $39,020
  • 75th percentile: $46,740
  • 90th percentile: $52,020

Mansfield, OH (120 employed): $41,410 avg.

  • 10th percentile: $31,490
  • 25th percentile: $34,220
  • 50th percentile (median): $38,350
  • 75th percentile: $47,230
  • 90th percentile: $59,050

Springfield, OH (70 employed): $44,040 avg.

  • 10th percentile: $34,060
  • 25th percentile: $37,620
  • 50th percentile (median): $43,010
  • 75th percentile: $48,420
  • 90th percentile: $58,500

Toledo, OH (460 employed): $44,240 avg.

  • 10th percentile: $22,880
  • 25th percentile: $32,040
  • 50th percentile (median): $40,850
  • 75th percentile: $56,540
  • 90th percentile: $68,570

Youngstown-Warren-Boardman, OH-PA (260 employed): $45,990 avg.

  • 10th percentile: $31,960
  • 25th percentile: $35,470
  • 50th percentile (median): $42,830
  • 75th percentile: $56,470
  • 90th percentile: $68,280

West Northwestern Ohio Nonmetropolitan Area (640 employed): $47,060 avg.

  • 10th percentile: $32,700
  • 25th percentile: $39,450
  • 50th percentile (median): $45,890
  • 75th percentile: $53,440
  • 90th percentile: $61,630

North Northeastern Ohio Nonmetropolitan Area (640 employed): $39,500 avg.

  • 10th percentile: $27,500
  • 25th percentile: $32,590
  • 50th percentile (median): $39,810
  • 75th percentile: $46,240
  • 90th percentile: $51,070

Eastern Ohio Nonmetropolitan Area (360 employed): $36,490 avg.

  • 10th percentile: $25,490
  • 25th percentile: $31,700
  • 50th percentile (median): $35,500
  • 75th percentile: $40,230
  • 90th percentile: $50,380

Southern Ohio Nonmetropolitan Area: no data available

Accredited HVAC Schools in Ohio

Prior to seeking employment as an HVAC technician, mechanic or installer in OH, it’s important to get training to adequately prepare for the job. Some Ohio residents choose to enroll in apprenticeship programs, which include 2,000 or more hours of on-the-job training under the guidance of an experienced professional; others choose to seek out an HVAC program at a trade school or university. When considering any training option, it’s important to verify that it has received proper accreditation. In the HVAC field, there are two main entities which accredit schools and college programs: HVAC Excellence and the Partnership for Air-Conditioning, Heating, Refrigeration Accreditation (PAHRA). Ohio has the distinction of having two schools with both types of accreditation, as well as six additional PAHRA-accredited programs.

One of the schools with both accreditations is University of Northwestern Ohio of Lima which offers an associate degree in HVAC technology. This rigorous program boasts small class sizes, various campus clubs, and a curriculum which is 70 percent hands-on training. Classes include applications of refrigeration & temperature controls; air conditioning systems & controls; service & procedures; air conditioning systems & controls; electronics; heat pump systems & controls; and more. This program is also offered as a diploma.

The Pike County Career Tech Center of Piketon also has accreditation from both HVAC Excellence and PAHRA and offers a two-year technical program with training in gas & electric heating; the refrigeration cycle; brazing & soldering; basic electricity; air conditioning & troubleshooting skills. Additionally, students are prepared to take the EPA 608 certification (discussed below) and the HVAC Excellence HEAT exam as well.

The Miami Valley Career Center of Clayton is PAHRA-accredited and provides various training courses for HVAC professions in blueprint reading; fuel systems; job safety; metal fabrication; and fuel systems. Additionally, students have the opportunity to earn the EPA 608 and Industry Competency Exams (ICE) certifications.

Finally, the Great Oaks Institute of Technology has campuses in Cincinnati and Milford which offer a 900-hour (i.e., 45-week) program with multi-pronged training in the field. This program is designed to prepare students for various competency-based certifications such as those from the National Center for Construction Education and Research, ICE (administered by NATE), and the EPA. Coursework includes training in concepts of electricity; installing & troubleshooting heating systems; servicing & repairing refrigeration equipment; indoor air quality; and more. Students from Great Oaks have gone on to qualify for the Associated Builders and Contractors Apprenticeship Program. This program costs $9,950 total to complete.

For some prospective HVAC workers residing in more rural regions or for those with time commitments which make attending an on-campus program difficult, there are various distance-based programs available. To learn about these training options, check out the online HVAC schools page.

Ohio HVAC Licensure

For Ohio residents interested in careers in HVAC, it’s important to have proper credentialing prior to seeking employment. There is one mandatory certification for all professionals who work with refrigerants: the EPA Section 608 certification. Due to the environmentally harmful nature of the chemicals used in refrigeration, it’s essential to have the proper training in their proper use and disposal. 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). There are also various national organizations which test HVAC workers and provide skill-based credentialing as well. These include the Refrigeration Service Engineers Society (RSES),

North American Technician Excellence (NATE), and HVAC Excellence. To learn in depth about the options available from these entities, please check out the HVAC certifications page.

While no state license is required for general technicians in Ohio, those seeking to become commercial contractors must seek licensure through the Ohio Construction Industry Licensing Board (OCILB). In order to qualify for an HVAC contractors license in Ohio, candidates must be at least 18 years of age and submit the following:

  • Proof of at least five years of experience as a tradesperson under a licensed contractor in the field (including a copy of at least one permit from a project), or be a registered engineer with at least three years of business experience working in HVAC
  • Passing score on the OCI Examining Board’s test
  • Background check
  • Proof of having at least $500,000 in contractor liability insurance
  • Application fee ($25)

To maintain these licenses, contractors must complete ten hours of continuing education annually. Lastly, Ohio boasts licensing reciprocity in HVAC with four states: Kentucky, Louisiana, Tennessee, and South Carolina. Therefore, people with credentials from these states will find it relatively easy to pursue HVAC work in Ohio, and vice versa for OH HVAC contractors seeking work in those states.