HVAC Schools in Connecticut – Degrees & Certification

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Not only are there abundant opportunities for qualified heating, ventilation, air conditioning, and refrigeration (HVAC-R or HVAC) professionals, but Connecticut (CT) is renowned for its focus on energy efficiency in these systems. In fact, the CT Post reported that since people spend 90 percent of their time indoors, there has been a newfound focus on New England’s climate-control systems according to the “WELL Building Standard.” The International WELL Building Institute measures how healthy an indoor environment is through seven metrics, including air quality and comfort.

Furthermore, the Connecticut Geothermal Association is committed to educating the public about ground source heat pump technologies (i.e., geothermal energy), a heating method which is relatively environmentally friendly with geothermal heating and cooling systems using 40 to 60 percent less energy than traditional HVAC equipment.

For HVAC installers and mechanics in CT interested in more traditional methods of the trade, there is still a wealth of professional support in the field. The non-profit Connecticut Heating & Cooling Contractors Association was established in 1972 and is open to state-licensed HVAC contractors. This group provides member advocacy, education, and events such as the Annual HVAC Golf Classic.

Regardless of an HVAC technician’s methods and equipment of choice in CT, the job responsibilities are similar. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS May 2019) explains that HVAC mechanics and installers inspect HVAC systems; diagnose problems in complex electronic controls, ducts, motors, and other parts; repair a variety of system components (e.g., refrigerant controls, ductless splits, hermetic compressors, heat pumps, electric motors, intake and exhaust fans, humidifiers, etc.); keep detailed service records; provide preventative work; maintain professional certification(s) and CT state licensure; and educate clients on energy efficiency.

BLS (2019) data shows that there are currently 342,040 HVAC mechanics and installers nationwide, including 4,780 in CT. Most notably, the CT HVAC workers receive much higher average salaries than the national figure ($64,900 and $51,420 respectively, BLS May 2019).

Read on to discover the bright career outlook for HVAC technicians in Connecticut, as well as to learn about accredited HVAC programs and how to seek state licensure through the CT Department of Consumer Protection.

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Connecticut HVAC Services Demand

In the Land of Steady Habits and beyond, the demand for HVAC mechanics and installers is rapidly growing. As proof of point, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS May 2019) projected a 4 percent explosion in openings nationally in this field between 2019 and 2029, which is as fast as the average growth expected across all occupations in that time period (4 percent).

There are several factors contributing to this unusually bright occupational outlook. First, HVAC systems typically need to be replaced every 10 to 15 years. Second, since a majority of HVAC workers in CT work for contracting companies, there is a steady stream of inspections and maintenance work that occur throughout the year, not to mention the spike in demand that typically occurs during the summer and winter seasons.

In CT, HVAC mechanics and installers work across a wide range of environments such as schools, hospitals, convention centers, factories, retail shops, mobile refrigeration centers, residences, and more. It is important to note that HVAC professionals incur one of the highest rates of injuries among all occupations due to the essentially hands-on, physical nature of the work (BLS 2019). It is crucial for technicians to follow appropriate procedures and use proper safety equipment to avoid burns, muscle strains and tears, electrical shocks, and other maladies.

Luckily for HVAC techs in Connecticut, there are many employment opportunities. In fact, Monster (Nov. 2020) posted openings for HVAC workers at places such as Apex Systems, Jobot, Aramark and Staffing Now. Adding to the prospects, Indeed (Nov. 2020) posted 193 openings around the state, including positions at Trane Technologies, Sippin Energy Products, Stafford Mechanical Services, and SolvIt Home Services, among others.

Connecticut HVAC Technician Salary Report

For HVAC techs in CT and across the US, salaries can be very lucrative, especially for a career that typically requires only six months to two years of postsecondary education. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (May 2019) found that the 342,040 HVAC workers nationwide had an annual average salary (annual mean wage) of $51,420, while the 4,780 HVAC workers in Connecticut had an annual average salary (annual mean wage) of $64,900.

In more detail, here were the salary percentiles of HVAC professionals across the US and in Connecticut specifically:

United States Connecticut
Number of HVAC professionals employed 342,040 4,780
Annual mean wage $51,420 $64,900
10th percentile $30,610 $39,740
25th percentile $37,660 $51,960
50th percentile (median) $48,730 $62,690
75th percentile $62,070 $77,130
90th percentile $77,920 $92,610

The national figures were slightly different according to another source of data, Payscale (Nov. 2020), which relies on self-reported salaries. Among the HVAC workers reporting their annual salaries, Payscale found these percentiles:

  • 10th percentile: $31,000
  • 50th percentile (median): $47,775
  • 90th percentile: $75,000

As noted above, the average salary for HVAC workers in Connecticut is significantly higher than that of the rest of the nation. As with any salary projections, taking into account the cost of living is also important. As such, the Missouri Economic Research and Information Center (MERIC 2020) found that CT was the ninth most expensive state. For HVAC technicians, this means relatively high salaries may still not go as far as lower salaries in other states, so that is something to keep in mind.

Accredited HVAC Schools in CT

In order to qualify for state HVAC contractor or journeyperson licensure (and employment) in Connecticut, it is essential that a person receive the proper training and preparation. There are two main accreditation organizations for HVAC training in the US: HVAC Excellence and Partnership for Air-Conditioning, Heating, Refrigeration Accreditation (PAHRA). Although there are no programs in CT accredited by either of these entities, there are still training opportunities available.

Historically, HVAC professionals enrolled in apprenticeship programs under the guidance of experienced mentors to learn the skills of the trade. Today, these programs still exist and typically comprise at least 144 hours of formal instruction and 2,000 supervised experiential hours on-the-job. Apprenticeship programs last three to five years and are offered by local governments, professional trade associations, or unions such as the State of Connecticut Plumbers & Pipefitters Local 777.

Other aspiring HVAC professionals in CT may choose to enroll in an educational program through a community college, an educational company, trade school, or vocational college.

For example, Entech offers six months of rigorous instruction in subjects such as refrigeration, electrical systems, heating warm air, air conditioning, heating hydronics, metal trade, and comfort systems design. From there, students move seamlessly into the Connecticut Department of Labor Apprenticeship program, providing an incredible 8,000 hours (four years) of on-the-job training.

Lincoln Technical Institute

With campuses in both East Windsor and New Britain, Lincoln Technical Institute offers a diploma program in air conditioning, refrigeration, and heating technology. The program, with its strong focus on efficient use of energy, prepares students in the operation, designing, installation, troubleshooting and repairing of HVAC/R equipment. Students are introduced to green technology concepts and also provided training to obtain the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) certification.

The diploma offered at East Windsor is made up of 55 credit-hours. It includes courses such as HVAC/R basic and trade math, fundamentals of refrigeration, basic electricity and control circuits, air conditioning and heat pump systems, heating systems fundamentals, sheet metal theory, and heating hydronic and steam, among others.

The diploma program offered in New Britain consists of 55.5 credit-hours. The curriculum includes topics such as introduction to climate control systems, electricity, heating systems (controls and mechanical), basic refrigeration systems, air conditioning systems, air conditioning design and layout, commercial refrigeration control, and adjusting and balancing verification, among others.

Upon successful completion, graduates of the program will be qualified to take up entry-level HVAC technician roles. With additional experience, they may pursue opportunities allowing them to work independently, without supervision, start their own business, or supervise teams or crews of other technicians.

  • Location: East Windsor, CT; New Britain, CT
  • Accreditation: Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC)
  • Expected Time to Completion: East Windsor (57 weeks); New Britain (day, 52 weeks; evening, 80 weeks)
  • Estimated Tuition: East Windsor Campus ($28,028); New Britain Campus ($26,928)

Bristol Technical Education Center

The Bristol Technical Education Center offers a two-year HVAC-R program at its Bristol, CT campus with training in environmental systems control, safety procedures, residential & commercial applications, central air systems, boilers, burners, ventilation systems, and more. Along with technical know-how, students receive special training in ensuring safety and proper use of equipment. Students study refrigeration, air conditioning, sheet metal, and heating and ventilation.

Students in the refrigeration area learn about the typical commercial and residential uses of refrigeration systems. The air conditioning area instructs students on window air conditioning units and central air systems. Students in the heating and ventilation area will gain knowledge of burners, ventilation systems, boilers, and environmental control applications.

Through the program, students will be able to assemble various types of ductwork, troubleshoot the various devices, learn about the uses of refrigerants and fuel heating oils, and familiarize themselves with electrical and mechanical components. They will also learn EPA rules and regulations related to refrigeration containment.

The program prepares students with the theoretical skills and knowledge required for entry-level employment in the residential, industrial, and commercial construction areas.

  • Location: Bristol, CT
  • Accreditation: The Commission of the Council on Occupational Education
  • Expected Time to Completion: Two years
  • Estimated Tuition: $4,000 for a year

Porter and Chester Institute

The Porter and Chester Institute has campuses across CT in Hamden, Rocky Hill, Stratford, and Waterbury. The Porter and Chester HVAC-R training program takes one year and boasts concrete skills learning, extensive hands-on experience for students, qualified instructors, and education in essential soft skills such as customer service.

The program prepares students to become skilled HVAC workers and helps them in acquiring the skills needed for installing, maintaining and troubleshooting HVAC/R units in commercial, industrial, and residential settings.

Graduates of the program will have sufficient knowledge and skills for employment as an apprentice HVAC. The classrooms are equipped with the same kinds of gas and oil heating, cooling and refrigeration units currently in use in residential and commercial buildings.

  • Location: Hamden, CT; Rocky Hill, CT; Stratford, CT; Waterbury, CT
  • Accreditation: Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC)
  • Expected Time to Completion: One year
  • Estimated Tuition: $25,980

Finally, for residents of more rural regions of CT, attending an on-campus program may be difficult. Luckily there are also several high-quality distance-based HVAC training programs. Applicants should reach out to program coordinators prior to enrollment to ensure eligibility since state laws governing online education vary.

To discover the variety of distance-based HVAC training schools, check out the online HVAC schools page.

Connecticut HVAC Licensing & Certification

There are various types of certification and licensure open to Connecticut’s HVAC technicians, mechanics and installers. Several organizations provide credentialing to HVAC workers based on various competencies or general preparedness for the field. In most cases, to qualify for these types of certifications, applicants must be at least 18 years old, show proof of qualifying education and experience in the field, and pass an exam.

The entities which provide these national certifications include North American Technician Excellence (NATE), HVAC Excellence, and the Refrigeration Service Engineers Society (RSES). Additionally, the aforementioned EPA Section 608 certification is mandatory for anyone who works with refrigerants.

To learn more about these skills-based certifications, review the main HVAC certifications page.

In order to perform any heating, piping, or cooling work in CT, HVAC professionals must pursue a state license through the Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection. Generally, HVAC workers begin as licensed journeypersons employed by licensed contractors and after two years, they may seek contractor-level licensure. There are several types of licenses available depending on a person’s training, experience, and specialty:

  • D-1: Limited Warm Air, Air Conditioning and Refrigeration Contractor (excludes oil burning; open to people with two years of experience as a licensed journeyperson or equivalent training)
  • D-2: Limited Warm Air, Air Conditioning and Refrigeration Journeyperson (excludes oil burning; open to people who completed a registered apprenticeship program or equivalent training)
  • D-3: Limited Cooling Contractor (applicable to all refrigeration systems; open to people with two years of experience as a licensed journeyperson or equivalent training)
  • D-4: Limited Cooling Journeyperson (applicable to all refrigeration systems; open to people who completed a registered apprenticeship program or equivalent training)
  • S-1: Unlimited Heating, Piping, and Cooling Contractor (open to people with two years of experience as a licensed journeyperson or equivalent training)
  • S-2: Unlimited Heating, Piping, and Cooling Journeyperson (open to people who completed a registered apprenticeship program or equivalent training)
  • S-3: Limited Heating, Piping, and Cooling Contractor (excludes sheet metal work, A/C, and refrigeration systems; open to people with two years of experience as a licensed journeyperson or equivalent training)
  • S-4: Limited Heating, Piping, and Cooling Journeyperson (excludes sheet metal work, A/C, and refrigeration systems; open to people who completed a registered apprenticeship program or equivalent training)
  • S-5: Limited Heating, Hot Water and Steam Contractor (excludes oil burners; applicable to hot water or steam systems for buildings less than four stories with a total heat load <500,000 BTUs and steam pressure <15 lbs)
  • S-6: Limited Heating, Hot Water and Steam Journeyperson (excludes oil burners; applicable to hot water or steam systems for buildings less than four stories with a total heat load <500,000 BTUs and steam pressure <15 lbs; allows work only under a licensed contractor)
  • S-7: Limited Contractor (applicable to hot water or steam systems for buildings less than four stories with a total heat load <500,000 BTUs and steam pressure <15 lbs; open to people with two years of experience as a licensed journeyperson or equivalent training)
  • S-8: Limited Journeyperson (applicable to hot water or steam systems for buildings less than four stories with a total heat load <500,000 BTUs and steam pressure <15 lbs; open to people who completed a registered apprenticeship program or equivalent training; allows work only under a licensed contractor)
  • S-9: Limited Heating and Cooling Contractor (applicable to hot water or steam systems for buildings less than four stories with a total heat load <500,000 BTUs, steam pressure <15 lbs, and cooling installations up to 35 tons; open to people with two years of experience as a licensed journeyperson or equivalent training)
  • S-10: Limited Heating and Cooling Journeyperson (applicable to hot water or steam systems for buildings less than four stories with a total heat load <500,000 BTUs, steam pressure <15 lbs, and cooling installations up to 35 tons; open to people who completed a registered apprenticeship program or equivalent training)

Applications for journeyperson licenses cost $120, while for contractors the cost is $150. For details about the prerequisites, testing (i.e., relevant business, law, and trade examinations), and renewal procedures surrounding each of these state licenses, please check out the Department of Consumer Protection HVAC License Handbook.

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).