HVAC Training Programs That Pay Students to Learn

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For many, training to become an HVAC technician can create an overwhelming financial hardship. Taking time off work to change careers or learn a skill is something that can feel completely out of reach. Because becoming an HVAC technician is a skilled trade, some HVAC training programs and apprenticeships offer students the ability to earn wages as they learn.

Like all HVAC training programs, graduates of programs like these are not guaranteed employment once they have completed the program, but students enrolled in these programs are guaranteed sliding scale wages while enrolled, so long as they fulfill all required program requirements. Like all HVAC training programs, securing employment after graduation is dependent upon how the person completed their training, interpersonal skills, and passing relevant certification exams.

The following list is a sampling of apprenticeship programs across the United States that enable students to earn money while they learn to become an HVAC technician.

Chemeketa Community College

At Chemeketa Community College in Salem, Oregon, aspiring HVAC workers can complete a paid registered apprenticeship program under the supervision of the Mid-Valley HVAC/R JAT Committee. The apprenticeship lasts four years and includes 576 classroom hours at the college, as well as 8,000 on-the-job training hours with approved training agents.

Apprentices begin earning a minimum salary of $11.92 per hour and have the potential to earn $26.49 per hour once they reach journey-level status. Eligible apprentices earn two pay raises per year. Upon completion of the program, apprentices are referred to take the LE/B exam and receive their journey card from the Bureau of Labor and Industries (BOLI). Notably, brazing certification is also a part of this program.

  • Location: Salem, Oregon
  • Duration: Four years

Iowa Workforce Development

Iowa Workforce Development offers a registered apprenticeship program where program participants can receive 2,000 hours of on-the-job-training and a minimum of 144 hours of related classroom instruction per year.

Affiliated with the state’s “Earn and Learn” initiatives, the Central Iowa Sheet Metal Workers Union offers a five-year apprenticeship program that graduates students with a certificate from the Department Labor and Journeyman status. Also, CMS Mechanical Services, LLC offers a five-year program where apprentices ride along with full-time technicians 40 hours per week, and then complete ten hours per week of classroom learning. Finally, Meskwaki Nation also offers an apprenticeship program where you can earn and learn at the same time.

  • Location: Des Moines and Tama, Iowa
  • Duration: Four to five years

California Apprenticeship Coordinators Association

Aspiring HVAC workers in Northern, Central, or Southern California may consider an apprenticeship program through the California Apprenticeship Coordinators Association.

Located in Los Angeles, Modesto, Concord, Burlingame, San Francisco, and San Jose, this organization offers a five-year apprenticeship program during which the apprentice must complete 8,000 hours of on-the-job training, as well as 216 hours per year of related instruction. The apprentice earns hourly pay based on a percentage of the salary of the journeyman, steadily receiving pay increases until they reach the same rate. Participants in this program may be eligible to receive medical, dental, and optical coverage, as well as pension and supplemental pension plan benefits.

  • Location: Los Angeles, Modesto, Concord, Burlingame, San Francisco, and San Jose, California
  • Duration: Four years

Lord Fairfax Community College Workforce Solutions

Through Lord Fairfax Community College Workforce Solutions, prospective HVAC professionals in Virginia can complete an apprenticeship to develop their skills. The apprentice must complete 8,000 hours of on-the-job training, as well as 576 hours of classroom training, covering subjects such as heating and cooling system design, system balancing, indoor air quality, alternative heating and cooling systems, and construction drawings and specifications, among others.

Upon completion, the apprentice is eligible to sit for their journeyman license. Notably, all work is compensated throughout the duration of the program.

  • Location: Middletown, Virginia
  • Duration: Four years

Service Legends

Service Legends, located in Des Moines, Iowa, provides aspiring HVAC professionals the opportunity to complete an apprenticeship program approved at both the federal and state level. The apprenticeship lasts four years, during which the apprentice receives significant boosts in compensation at regular intervals; specifically, the starting pay is $13.20 per hour, and after completing 7,000 of the 8,000 required hours of training, the apprentice has the chance to earn an hourly wage of $26.40.

During the first 90 days of the program, the apprentice also can earn an EPA 608 certification. Additionally, the training hours are split into certain categories, including those dedicated to safety, the installation and service of equipment, piping systems, duct work, electrical systems, and tools knowledge.

  • Location: Des Moines, Iowa
  • Duration: Four years

State of Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development

Aspiring HVAC professionals who live in various locations throughout Wisconsin can find a centralized hub for apprenticeship opportunities at the State of Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development. The five-year training programs available through various sheet metal joint apprenticeship and training committees (JACs) require apprentices to complete 8,440 hours of on-the-job training, as well as 560 hours of paid related instruction. Apprentices who complete these programs will earn a valid credential from the Wisconsin Department of Safety and Professional Services, a first aid and CPR certification, and OSHA safety certifications.

  • Location: East Central, Fox Valley, Madison, Milwaukee, Southeastern (and other regions), Wisconsin
  • Duration: Five years

Pipe Fitters’ Training Center Local Union 597

Residents of Will County, Chicago and the surrounding areas who are interested in a new career in the HVAC industry may complete an HVAC mechanical service pipe fitter apprenticeship program through the Pipe Fitters’ Training Center Local Union 597.

The first four years of this five-year training program requires students to work full-time for a union contract four days per week, and attend school for one full day per week for a total of 1,100 classroom hours. In their fifth year, the apprentice works for a union contractor for the full year and all training happens on the job. Students are eligible for coverage in health, dental, and vision—as well as a pension—and can enter into a voluntary 401(K) plan. Applications are available every first Wednesday of each month between 8:00 am and 12:00 pm.

  • Location: Mokena, Illinois
  • Duration: Five years

Apprenticeship Training: Earning a Wage While Creating a Stable Future

While entering into an apprenticeship program extends the length of training to years beyond diploma or certificate programs, the benefits of being able to make money as you learn are considerable. HVAC apprentices can connect to local HVAC professional networks, become prepared for state and national certifications, and begin one’s solo HVAC contractor career at the journeyman level upon graduation.

While the examples above are an excellent sampling of what is available in earn-as-you-learn style HVAC programs, there are many more apprenticeship programs available across the United States. Aspiring HVAC workers can find apprenticeship opportunities nearby to them by researching local trade unions, nearby community colleges and trade schools, state workforce development websites, and local HVAC businesses.

Becca Brewer

Becca Brewer is building a better future on a thriving earth by healing herself into wholeness, divesting from separation, and walking the path of the loving heart. Previously to her journey as an adventurer for a just, meaningful, and regenerative world, Becca was a formally trained sexuality educator with a master of education.

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