10 Important HVAC Organizations & Associations

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Particularly in regions with temperature extremes, large industrial plants, or cities with high rates of construction, there’s a strong demand for heating, ventilation, air conditioning, and refrigeration (HVAC/R) professionals. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS May 2019) projected that openings for HVAC/R mechanics and installers nationwide would swell 4 percent between 2019 and 2029, which is as fast as the average growth anticipated across all US occupations during that time (4 percent).

Furthermore, the 342,040 skilled workers in this field command an average annual salary of $51,420, substantially more than other fields requiring a similar level of postsecondary education.

Despite the favorable projections, it’s difficult to be a truly great HVAC/R contractor without the support of others. To provide the best design, heating, and cooling installation, and mechanical know-how, it is vital to connect with other professionals and be involved at the forefront of HVAC/R technology. These organizations are the most influential in the business today, providing independent contractors opportunities for certification, national recognition, and international collaboration.

Not only does membership in one of these organizations make a person a better-informed HVAC/R contractor, but it also pushes the air conditioning and heating science to ever-new levels of sustainability, safety, and comfort for those benefiting from the services.

Here are 10 must-know HVAC/R professional associations.

The AMCA is designed to provide education, legislative protection, and standards for businesses and individuals who work in the air control industry. They are a huge influencer of national standards for the design and installation of air conditioning units, having created documentation that covers benchmarks from duct-sizing to air conditioning sound levels. Members must sell AMCA scope products, so this is an organization perfect for HVAC/R professionals who also sell full units.

To be eligible for membership as an AMCA member, applicants must be involved in the designing, fabricating, assembling, and selling of product(s) which fall under the AMCA product scope as a regular public offering. They should submit a completed application which will then be reviewed by AMCA staff. The staff member will also visit the applicant’s location for verifying whether the applicant manufactures AMCA scoped products. The application is then finally reviewed by the AMCA Board of Directors for approval.

The AMCA publishes more than 60 standards and publications, including application guides, testing methods, safety guides, educational texts, and a Certified Rating Program (CRP). The CRP assures that ‘a product line has been tested and rated in conformance with AMCA International’s test standards and rating requirements’.

  • Who Should Join: Membership is open to all companies that manufacture or hold the design of a product falling under the scope of AMCA. Members are mostly manufacturers, but this organization also welcomes resellers as affiliates and suppliers as associates.
  • Benefits of Membership: Members enjoy a host of benefits such as member discounts, membership meetings discussing issues of interest concerning the industry, maintaining industry relations with other organizations, attending periodic engineering conferences, AMCA testing laboratory access, and more.

Founded in 1894, the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers is an American society that seeks to advance HVAC/R systems construction and design. Having over 54k members from more than 130 nations, this organization is focused on indoor air quality, energy efficiency, building systems, and refrigeration within this industry. ASHRAE shapes tomorrow’s environment through research, publishing, continuing education, and standards writing.

Members of the ASHRAE include some of the most influential technicians, educators, and HVAC/R legislators in the US. As the largest and most influential HVAC/R organization, it gives members unparalleled access to education, certification, and collaboration across every subset of the industry. Members can find research on topics like green energy systems and sound pollution. They also hold an annual meeting that allows members from around the country to share insight and best practices for every area of HVAC/R.

  • Who Should Join: Its members include building servicing engineers, mechanical contractors, architects, building owners, and many others who are concerned with the designing and construction of HVAC/R systems.
  • Benefits of Membership: Members have access to endless technical resources such as monthly ASHRAE Journal, quarterly HPB Magazine, and discounts in the Bookstore. They can build connections with a global community of professionals. Also, ASHRAE members have various insurance products available to them.

Since 1933, RSES has been the authority when it comes to refrigeration training in the US. That focus has resulted in an incredible depth of knowledge for the organization, which is exhibited by the monthly RSES Journal. The organization also encourages cutting-edge research in addition to promoting training on well-understood methodologies. The RSES conference is one of the major industry events and draws thousands of HVAC/R professionals annually.

Apart from delivering educational programs, RSES also publishes several industry training materials for benefiting HVAC/R professionals throughout their careers. The training provided by RSES covers all aspects of this HVAC/R industry.

It also provides several certifications such as NATE, EPA Section 608, R-410A certification, and many more. These certifications signify that HVAC professionals have the technical knowledge and skills and other requirements for installing and servicing today’s complex HVAC/R systems effectively.

  • Who Should Join: All individuals actively engaged in the HVACR industry. This includes contractors, engineers, instructors, sales, students, service technicians or installers, and operations or maintenance personnel.
  • Benefits of Membership: Apart from training, certification preparation, timely information, and education, RSES members enjoy reduced rates on a variety of goods and services for themselves and their family members as well.

The ACCA’s claim to fame is that it is not just an organization for HVAC/R companies, independent contractors, or customers; it represents the interests of all three. As a member of the ACCA, HVAC/R techs gain access to thousands of potential clients through the “Find-A-Contractor” service on the website. They also run conferences for service managers and office managers in addition to their national combined meetings.

Including more than 60k professionals and 3k company members, this association provides its members with education, advocacy services, and networking opportunities that support their interests while also championing the national health of the HVAC/R industry. Finally, the ACCA offers nationally-recognized accreditation and certification for HVAC/R professionals.

  • Who Should Join: Everyone associated with the HVAC industry. This includes contractors, manufacturers, wholesalers, suppliers, school members, utility companies, facilities operators, and those doing business with HVAC contractors.
  • Benefits of Membership: ACCA members have access to exclusive online resources, downloadable templates, customizable marketing materials, and articles, networking events, educational opportunities for growing their business and their career, and several hours of online on-demand learning. They will also have the opportunity to connect with the other contractors.

For those focusing on energy-efficient systems and designs, this is the gold standard in professional associations. The CEE was developed by a group of Canadian and US energy efficiency managers to create energy-effective products, services, and buildings. Their main goal is to change policies relating to energy efficiency and is a great place to grow for those seeking to participate in sustainable HVAC/R practices.

The CEE not only develops or implements the programs that are delivered at the local level, but it also influences national players such as manufacturers, government agencies, and stakeholders for maximizing the impact of efficiency programs. The association also supports cross-cutting tendencies in behavioral programs and evaluations.

Members of the CEE work together to advance the market availability of efficient services and products.

  • Who Should Join: CEE members include municipal or investor-owned utilities, provincial or state energy offices, nonutility program administrators, and government agencies. Apart from program administrators, non-profit organizations focusing on energy efficiency may also join.
  • Benefits of Membership: Through Consortium for Energy Efficiency (CEE), program administrators regularly get the attention of manufacturers for moving markets forward. CEE also has the process and relationships for delivering market access.

The UA represents contractors in the plumbing, pipefitting, and mechanical servicing industries. HVAC/R is one of the main areas that they serve. Through an agreement with the Mechanical Service Contractors of America (MSCA), the UA offers a wide range of training and nationally recognized certification in areas like brazing, backflow prevention, CFC, and Arc Flash. UA also is very involved in legislation and protecting the rights of its members by seeking provisions for pay, benefits, and working conditions.

Representing approximately 355,000 pipefitters, plumbers, sprinkler fitters, welders, and service technicians in local unions across North America, the United Association provides the most premier training programs, including extensive journeyman training, 5-year apprenticeship programs, numerous certification programs, and a comprehensive, 5-year instructor training program.

Applicants to the United Association must be at least 18 years of age, undergo an interview, have a high school diploma or equivalent, and be physically capable of performing work.

  • Who Should Join: Anyone in this industry who is looking for a career that will provide them with good wages and retirement security can join UA. Members of the UA work in a variety of industries, including commercial buildings, residential markets, small and large industrial projects, shipyards, and pipelines pursuing different career paths, which includes roles such as project manager, contractor owner, and more.
  • Benefits of Membership: Members of the United Association are provided with great medical insurance, a future of high pay, and one of the best pension plans in the nation. They get top-quality education learning about the latest technologies. Members of UA will always be able to improve and expand their skill set, which makes them more desirable to employers across the nation.

This nonprofit organization is dedicated to advancing the science of mechanical engineering to improve the quality of life. Many of ASME’s key leaders are influential builders and researchers on HVAC/R systems, which makes this an excellent organization for getting the most cutting-edge information. ASME is also the leader in developing codes for safety in mechanical engineering and provides training opportunities and awards for HVAC/R technicians that develop new processes and procedures that enhance science.

Established in 1880, the American Society of Mechanical Engineers consists of more than 100k individual ASME members, over 28k student members, and has more than 140 countries with ASME members. This association trains around 5,000 individuals annually.

Members of ASME always stay updated with the latest trends in this field through the ME Magazine, and other weekly and daily newsletters. They can also take advantage of other resources for enhancing their professional development through journals, discounted courses, AccessEngineering – an online technical reference tool, papers, and more.

  • Who Should Join: ASME offers professional as well as student members. The community is composed of engineers, researchers, academics, and others interested in mechanical engineering.
  • Benefits of Membership: Several benefits come along with the membership. Some of these benefits include access to the ‘Mechanical Engineering Magazine’- an award-winning flagship publication of ASME, several discounts on merchandise, ASME branded products, and travel, and also special pricing for online learning courses, books, journals, conferences, and proceedings. Additionally, ASME has collaborated with McGraw-Hill Education for providing AccessEngineering, which is an online reference tool containing hundreds of titles embedded with interactive graphs and calculators.

The MCAA is the parent organization for the MSCA, the Plumbing Contractors of America, the Manufacturer/Supplier Council, the Mechanical Contracting Education and Research Foundation, and the National Certified Pipe Welding Bureau. The goal of this organization is to provide benchmarks for training contractors in every area of mechanical work, including HVAC/R.

Serving the unique needs of around 2,600 firms involved in HVAC/R, piping, plumbing, and mechanical service, the MCAA provides its members with the highest-quality educational programs and materials helping them attain the best level of technical and managerial expertise. MCAA has over 60 student chapters at universities and colleges across North America.

MCAA also offers many online and in-person learning opportunities for mechanical industry professionals.

  • Who Should Join: Anyone interested can join. It is ideal for corporations supplying services and products to mechanical contractors. Also, others who do not supply products or services to the industry but have a strong interest in the Mechanical Contractors Association of America (MCAA), are welcomed. This includes general contractors, electrical contractors, and more.
  • Benefits of Membership: MCAA’s members of the manufacturer or supplier council will enjoy promotional and networking opportunities through a variety of programs. Their company will also enjoy a host of discounts and resources available exclusively to MCAA members.

One of the two organizations that represent contractors for radiant heating, the RPA is focused on building the skills of its independent contractor membership. Members have access to radiant heating research, cutting edge installation and fitting techniques, and collaboration with other professionals. The association also sponsors Radiant Living Magazine, the Radiant Comfort Guide, and the Radiant Heating Report, which support those in the “radiant heating & cooling and snow-melting fields.” Please note that the RPA also offers training for the ASSE Standard 19210 Hydronics Heating and Cooling Professional Qualification examination. This comprehensive 3-day course covers all aspects of hydronic and radiant system installation.

Manufacturing members of the RPA are involved in producing the tubing, heat sources, valves, emitters, and controls that are used in walls, ceilings, and radiant floors. Architects and engineers are involved in designing efficient radiant hydronic systems for commercial and residential applications, including in-floor heating, space cooling, and snowmelt. Contractor members of the RPA install heating/cooling systems throughout Canada and the US.

  • Who Should Join: Membership categories include: Contractor and dealers, distributors, manufacturers, design professionals, non-profit or educational organizations, associates (such as independent sales representatives, utility companies, and trade associations), students, and IAPMO associates interested in the industry.
  • Benefits of Membership: RPA members will connect with other members who have several years of experience. They will learn smart business tactics from successful members who are not their competitors. The certification program provided by RPA proves that its members possess top-notch skills through which they can make a big difference.

The IIR is the only international forum for professionals in the air conditioning, cooling, and refrigeration fields of work. Members work with technologies such as cryogenics, air conditioning, refrigeration processes and equipment, refrigerants, and heat pumps. The IIR focuses on developing these technologies in an environmentally sustainable way to improve the quality of life for people across the globe. One of the key benefits of belonging to this organization is an international collaboration and yearly conferences on HVAC/R concepts.

Founded in 1908, the International Institute of Refrigeration comprises 59 member countries and consists of thousands of members and more than 400 experts. Its network covers over 2-thirds of the world’s population. IIR’s functionality is ensured by 3 statutory bodies: General conference – defining the general policies of the Institute, Executive Committee – ensuring control of the financial and administrative activity of the Institute, and Management Committee – who is responsible for monitoring the functioning of the IIR.

  • Who Should Join: The members of the IIR’s working groups include experts, engineers, technicians, and professionals in the refrigeration sector.
  • Benefits of Membership: Members of the IIR benefit from a wide range of products and services, including the International Journal of Refrigeration and its directory of expertise. Every member of the IIR benefits from reduced registration fees for IIR conferences. The amount of reduction is approximately equivalent to one year’s membership fee per conference and per member.

Farheen Gani

Farheen is a freelance writer, marketer, and researcher. She writes about technology, education, and marketing. Her work has appeared on websites such as Tech in Asia and Foundr, as well as top SaaS blogs such as Zapier and InVision. You can connect with her on LinkedIn and Twitter (@FarheenGani).

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