HVAC Technical Schools in Aurora, CO

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Aurora has been called the most diverse city in the state due to its economy and population. Many statisticians and commentators lump Aurora in with Denver due of its proximity to the capital, but those in the know recognize that the young and affluent population in Aurora has created a booming city that stands on its own.

The Aurora Economic Council reported a record-breaking 11 development deals in 2017, which brought thousands of jobs to the city. UPS has a new hub facility, and other industries (e.g., aerospace, bioscience, and manufacturing) are growing in the area. The city’s award-winning golf courses, historic sites, wildlife habitats, and outdoor attractions all support a thriving tourist industry.

Residents of Aurora, Colorado (CO) enjoy four seasons and minimal rain throughout the year. Although winters can be cloudy, the weather is mostly cold and dry with temperature lows dropping below freezing, especially in December. Summertime is warm but not too hot, with July and August surging to nearly 90 degrees Fahrenheit.

The hot summers and cold winters mean that residents of Aurora rely on heating, venting, and air conditioning (HVAC) for comfort at home and in the office. The growing economy has created an expanding need for climate-controlled facilities. Businesses, as well as tourist and entertainment venues, often need the addition of commercial-scale refrigeration (HVAC/R) to operate efficiently. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), more than 3,500 HVAC mechanics and installers were employed in the Denver-Aurora-Lakewood area.

Technicians can find many benefits such as training and support from industry organizations. These groups coordinate with others in the industry and with government organizations to establish educational and licensing standards and are involved in all aspects of the HVAC and HVAC/R industries, including safety, performance, and promotion.

HVAC technicians in Aurora can consult the following state and local chapters of industry organizations.

  • Associated General Contractors of Colorado (AGC)
  • Colorado Association of Mechanical and Plumbing Contractors (CAMPC)
  • Colorado Contractors Association (CCA)
  • Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors Association of Colorado (PHCC)
  • American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE)
  • Sheet Metal Workers Local 9
  • UA Pipefitters Local 208

Additional support and resources for workers and their employers are available from national industry associations, including:

  • Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA)
  • American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME)
  • Mechanical Contractors Association of America (MCAA)
  • Refrigeration Service Engineers Society (RSES)
  • Sheet Metal and Air Conditioning Contractors’ National Association (SMACNA)

Explore the accredited HVAC training programs in Aurora, CO, including information about coursework, apprenticeships, and credentialing.

Occupational Demand for HVAC Technicians in Aurora, CO

Demand for HVAC and HVAC/R technicians is growing nationwide. Statistics from the BLS show that demand for technicians is expected to increase 15 percent between 2016 and 2026—more than twice the average 7 percent increase projected for all occupations. The demand for technicians in Colorado is growing at an even faster rate—38.3 percent in the same decade, according to Projections Central.

The HVAC/R industry is growing rapidly for several reasons. For example, the complexity of modern climate control systems means that older equipment and systems must be replaced, retrofitted, or upgraded to meet industry standards. The hospitality industry and businesses that rely on technology, such as those in Aurora, frequently require specialized climate control equipment and systems. The contemporary emphasis on energy efficiency and reducing pollution is another factor leading to the installation of new equipment and systems.

Adverse weather conditions can create the need for extensive rebuilding, repairing, and replacing equipment and systems. Maintenance and repair work is usually stable, as businesses and homeowners depend on their climate control systems year round. They need to keep their equipment in good working order regardless of economic conditions.

HVAC Salaries in Aurora, CO

The BLS reports that HVAC and HVAC/R mechanics and installers in the U.S. receive a median annual salary of $47,080, while those in the Denver-Aurora-Lakewood area have a median yearly salary of $57,940. Here are the detailed local, state, and national comparisons:

United States Colorado Denver – Aurora – Lakewood
Number of HVAC workers 307,060 5,430 3,540
Average annual salary $49,530 $57,070 $60,000
10th percentile $29,120 $33,810 $35,000
25th percentile $36,150 $42,740 $44,420
50th percentile (median) $47,080 $55,790 $57,940
75th percentile $60,270 $67,690 $71,580
90th percentile $75,330 $81,950 $87,080

HVAC Apprenticeships in Aurora, CO

Most HVAC technicians attend classes or participate in an apprenticeship program before joining the workforce. Apprenticeships typically include 2,000 hours of on-the-job training and 144 hours of classroom work every year for three to five years.

Build Colorado provides information on trade apprenticeships through a Workforce Development Program sponsored by the Associated General Contractors of America and the Colorado Contractors Association. The site lists available apprenticeships, training sponsors, and schools offering the required classroom work.

Pre-apprenticeship opportunities are available through the Colorado Skilled Trades Education Program (STEP). The program is union-based and covers several trades, including HVAC. Students learn basic skills such as CPR, first aid, financial responsibility, construction math, blueprint reading, and industry awareness. They also receive hands-on training in their chosen trade. The classes are free and available during the day and evenings.

Plumbers Local 3, Pipefitters Local 208, and Sheet Metal Workers Local 9 all participate in STEP. They also offer full-length apprenticeship programs through their joint apprentice training committee (JATC) centers in the Aurora area.

Additionally, workers seeking HVAC and HVAC/R apprenticeship programs can find several available through the previously mentioned organizations, such as the ACCA, the MCAA, the PHCC, and the RSES, as well as the Sheet Metal Workers International Association (SMWIA)

HVAC Accreditation

Accreditation involves an evaluation of the quality of an educational institution’s program by an independent agency. The evaluation typically includes both the curriculum and the instructors. When choosing a school, it is essential to determine if it is accredited and by whom.

Two industry organizations evaluate and certify HVAC programs. The Partnership for Air-Conditioning, Heating, Refrigeration Accreditation (PAHRA) has awarded accreditation to Front Range Community College in Fort Collins, and HVAC Excellence has accredited Pikes Peak Community College in Colorado Springs.

Please note that all programs below are accredited by one of the two above entities or another reputable regional organization recognized by the U.S. Department of Education.

HVAC Schools in Aurora, CO

Pickens Technical College

The college offers a certificate in HVAC/R technology that prepares students for entry-level positions as residential technicians. Coursework is taught using state-of-the-art computer simulation programs, hands-on training in the lab, and classroom lectures. The curriculum covers basic electricity, HVAC and HVAC/R troubleshooting, service, and repair, gas heating, basic refrigeration, forced air systems, and OSHA compliance, as well as an independent study project.

Students complete 35 credit-hours to earn their certificate and are qualified to sit for industry exams, including the Industry Competency Exams (ICE).

  • Location: Aurora, CO
  • Accreditation: Council on Occupational Education (COE)
  • Tuition: $5,262 for the full program
  • Program length: One year

Front Range Community College

Front Range offers an HVAC/R degree program and four certificate programs. The HVAC/R fundamentals certificate is 15 credits and includes three classes: an introduction to HVAC, basic refrigeration, and basic electricity and electrical components.

The residential HVAC certificate builds on the fundamentals program with 20 additional credits in advanced HVAC, international residential mechanical and fuel gas codes, hot water heating systems, troubleshooting, customer service, and communication skills. The light commercial HVAC program consists of 37 credits and the commercial refrigeration consists of 28.

The HVAC/R degree program includes all of the coursework required for the certificate programs. In addition, students must complete an internship or capstone project; and general education coursework in English, mathematics, science, and an elective. They complete 60 credit-hours to earn their degree.

  • Location: Fort Collins, CO
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission, PAHRA
  • Tuition: $181.56 per credit
  • Program length: Certificates vary from weeks to years; two years for the degree

Emily Griffith Technical College

Emily Griffith Tech is a vocational college that offers an HVAC/R undergraduate certificate program. Students attend classroom lectures and follow up with hands-on training in an innovative lab. The school is one of the local institutions providing the classroom instruction required by various apprenticeship programs.

Coursework is scheduled during the day as well as during the evenings. The 58.5-credit curriculum covers safety training, electricity and electrical components, basic and advanced refrigeration, the fundamentals of gas heating, hot water heating systems, troubleshooting, service and repair, piping, building automation, and more.

  • Location: Denver, CO
  • Accreditation: Council on Occupational Education (COE)
  • Tuition: $9,132 for the full program
  • Program length: 13 months

Lincoln College of Technology

Lincoln Tech offers an HVAC/R certificate program with day and evening classes. The program includes coursework on green technology and energy auditing that is designed to improve the marketability of technicians. Students learn through hands-on training in fully-equipped labs and classroom lectures. The curriculum features instruction in climate control systems, electricity, HVAC and HVAC/R basics, system design, and layout, warm air heating, and energy efficiency.

Graduates are qualified to take industry exams, such as EPA Section 608 certification, and seek entry-level positions as technicians.

  • Location: Denver, CO
  • Accreditation: Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC)
  • Tuition: $22,703
  • Program length: 40 weeks

Red Rocks Community College

The Red Rocks Community College offers many different degree and certificate programs for aspiring HVAC technicians. Programs include air conditioning, building efficiency, an introduction to construction management, refrigeration (level I and II), HVAC fundamentals, HVAC energy efficiency, air conditioning, heating, and more. Each program varies in the number of required credits and not all are available at all times.

The curriculum for each certificate varies, but all are designed to teach the basics relevant to the particular skills in the program title. For example, the refrigeration level II certificate requires prior completion of the refrigeration level I program.

The degree programs include air conditioning, heating, and refrigeration, refrigeration, air conditioning, hydronic heating, and heating. The curriculum for these programs includes about 60 credits of coursework in the related certificate programs, with the addition of advanced studies as well as general education courses. The HVAC/R and hydronic heating degrees require completion of the relevant certificate programs prior to enrollment.

Curriculum for both certificate and degree programs are updated as needed to incorporate evolving energy efficiency requirements. All programs prepare graduates for employment.

  • Location: Lakewood, CO
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
  • Tuition: $144.55 per credit
  • Program length: Varies from weeks to two years depending on the selected program

Spartan College (Formerly Redstone College)

Redstone College is now part of Spartan College of Aeronautics and Technology. Spartan is a for-profit institution that offers HVAC diploma and degree programs.

Coursework is presented in classroom lectures and in a fully-equipped lab for hands-on training. The 50-credit diploma curriculum includes the following: HVAC/R fundamentals, air duct fabrication, mechanical codes, electricity and controls, forced air systems, system design, heat load calculations, and pneumatic controls. Graduates are qualified to work on both older and newer HVAC systems.

Enrollees in the 92-credit degree program complete the same technical curriculum as required for the diploma with additional coursework in supermarket refrigeration and ice machines, building automation systems, hot water and solar heat systems, chilled water systems, computer applications, business writing, mathematics, and customer relations. Degree classes are available in evening sessions only. Graduates are qualified for entry-level employment as HVAC technicians.

  • Location: Broomfield, CO
  • Accreditation: Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC)
  • Tuition: $387 per credit for the diploma; $365 per credit for the degree
  • Program length: Ten months for the diploma; 17 months for the degree

HVAC Certification & Licensing in Aurora, CO

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requires technicians who work with refrigerants to obtain EPA Section 608 Certification. Certification requires passing an exam on the safe handling of refrigerants—practice exams are available on the website. The four certifications are:

  • Type I: small appliances
  • Type II: high-pressure refrigerants
  • Type III: low-pressure refrigerants
  • Technicians who will be working on all types of equipment are required to obtain Universal (Type IV) certification

Technicians may obtain additional training and HVAC certifications from industry organizations. These include but aren’t limited to the Refrigeration Service Engineers Society (RSES), the North American Technician Excellence (NATE), and HVAC Excellence.

As a final note, the Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies (DORA) does not require licensing of HVAC technicians or contractors, but municipal and country rules apply.

The City of Aurora includes parts of Adams County and Arapahoe County, which means that technicians need to comply with both counties’ regulations. Adams County requires all contractors and subcontractors, including those in HVAC, to register. Registration includes submitting a current license from a Colorado municipality or an International Code Council (ICC) contractors license and a certificate of $100,000 minimum liability insurance. There is no fee to register.

Arapahoe County requires companies and individuals doing work in unincorporated areas that require a building permit to obtain a contractors license. There are two classes of licensing for HVAC: Class AM is for residential and non-residential work, and Class BM is residential work only and specifically excludes refrigeration work. Applicants must submit a completed application, a contractor license from other Colorado jurisdictions or ICC certification, workers’ comp insurance, general liability insurance, and a fee of $180. The license must be renewed annually.

The City of Aurora also requires HVAC contractors to obtain a mechanical systems contractor license. Applicants must submit proof that they are in the country legally, ICC mechanical B contractor certification, three job references, a completed application, and a $128 fee. Licenses must be renewed annually.

Barry Franklin

Before co-founding Sechel Ventures Partners LLC, Barry Franklin was a VP at a Silicon Valley software company. He is an investor and advisor for DataSimply and Impellia. Barry believes that education and lifelong learning are paramount. Barry met his wife at Carnegie Mellon University and they have two beautiful daughters. He also volunteers for various committees at his kids’ high school.