HVAC Training Programs That Pay Students to Learn

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Heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) professionals are responsible for installing, maintaining, and repairing HVAC systems, which many Americans rely upon daily as a means of climate-control. And because these workers are so important, a wide array of organizations exist on a local, statewide, and national level that provide support, education, and a host of other benefits to members of this profession. For example, HVAC workers may join the Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors Association, a national organization that has been in existence for over 130 years. This association claims to serve as a “single, national voice representing more than 3,500 contractor members,” and offers benefits such as free online training resources, marketing toolkits, scholarship assistance, workforce development, and safety and risk management information, among other perks. Alternatively, HVAC professionals may join the Air Conditioning Contractors of America. An annual membership costs only $39, providing access to a wide range of resources, including videos and webcasts, an awards program, government relations information, and networking opportunities.

In addition to the large number of organizations providing professional support, HVAC workers are also fortunate to work in an industry that is constantly growing, and is expected to develop rapidly into the future. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (May 2016) projected that positions for HVAC mechanics and installers would increase 14 percent between 2014 and 2024, adding 39,600 fresh positions around the country. This is much faster than the expected average growth of all occupations nationwide during that same decade (6.5 percent).

Ultimately, HVAC can prove an enriching career with a promising future. To join this high-growth field, a person must complete a training program. While some aspiring HVAC professionals choose to enroll in a vocational or trade school, others are looking toward programs which pay students to learn, including apprenticeships.

Here is an in-depth look at some of the HVAC training schools which offer compensation to students as they achieve employment-ready skills.

HVAC Training Programs

For many, the following programs may sound like a dream come true, as they provide quality hands-on training while allowing the students to receive a paycheck. However, aspiring students should understand that a job upon completion is not guaranteed; it depends on the graduate’s performance in the program, among other factors. Regardless, these programs still provide students with comprehensive training and pay on a sliding scale, in addition to the possibility of a secure job thereafter.

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 is four years and includes 576 related-training hours at the college and 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). Brazing certification is part of the program.

Bell Brothers Plumbing, Heating and Air

Through Bell Brothers Plumbing, Heating and Air located in Sacramento, California, aspiring professionals can receive on-the-job training and compensation as HVAC installers. Specifically, trainees receive hourly pay with bonus potential on every job along with health benefits, paid time off, paid holidays, and a take-home company vehicle after a period of time. This program includes provides a thorough on-the-job experience in a three-person team, and offers training on refrigerant characteristics and charging methods; gas and water line plumbing; sheet metal fabrication; brazing; city and county codes; EPA certification preparation; and other subjects.

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.

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.

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 $10 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 $28.05. During the first 90 days of the program, the apprentice also can earn an EPA 608 certification. Finally, 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.

State of Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development

Aspiring HVAC professionals who live in various locations throughout Wisconsin should consider applying for the apprenticeship program through the State of Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development. This five-year training program requires the apprentice to complete 9,000 hours of on-the-job training, as well as 560 hours of paid related instruction. The apprentice also completes a Red Cross First Aid training course.

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 the apprenticeship program through the Pipe Fitters’ Training Center Local Union 597, located in Mokena. This five-year training program includes 1,176 hours of related training, as well as significant on-the-job training. The program is split into five distinct yearlong periods, and the apprentice has the opportunity to receive pay raises throughout. Applications for this apprenticeship are available on the first Wednesday of every month.

Earning a Wage While Creating a Stable Future

For many aspiring HVAC workers, the prospect of earning a wage while completing relevant on-the-job and classroom training may sound too good to be true; however, there are apprenticeship and paid training programs all over the country, exemplified by those discussed above. Anyone looking for a way to earn a wage while learning valuable skills can look to these programs and others nationwide to help develop their knowledge and start working toward a new career in their future.

Barry Franklin

Barry is the Editor in Chief of HVACClasses.org, operated by educational web publisher Sechel Ventures, which he joined as partner in 2013 after almost 20 years in the financial software industry.

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