HVAC Training Programs in Bridgeport, CT – Schools & Certification

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Bridgeport, Connecticut (CT) is the state’s largest city, and the metropolitan area that includes Bridgeport is also considered part of the New York Megacity. As a seaport, rail, and highway transportation hub, Bridgeport has a long history as a manufacturing center.

As times have changed, the economy has evolved, and the city is now “one of the largest financial centers in New England.” Education, healthcare, hospitality, and retail trade all make significant contributions to the economy. The city has also become known as “an innovation hub for biotech companies.” Ongoing redevelopment projects continue to transform the aging infrastructure.

The climate of Bridgeport is generally classified as temperate, although the winters can be quite cold. Every month receives precipitation, with March and April being the wettest months at more than four inches each of rain. All other months receive more than three inches of rain each, for an annual total of just over 42 inches. January and February each receive eight inches of snowfall. Lesser amounts of snow falls during the remaining winter months, totaling slightly less than three feet for the year. July and August are the hottest months, with highs in the low 80s, flanked by temperatures in the 70s during June and September. The summer lows average 15 degrees cooler. Wintertime highs stay above freezing, but the lows are consistently in the 20s.

Although the summer temperatures are generally pleasant, the high humidity keeps many Bridgeport residents indoors. Many also prefer to remain indoors during the winter cold, so they rely on heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) for year-round comfort in their homes and workplaces. The hospitality venues and manufacturing facilities frequently require refrigeration (HVAC/R) to meet their climate-control requirements. The biotech industry, as well as the educational and healthcare institutions, especially those conducting research, typically require specialized equipment and systems to keep the electronics operating correctly.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS May 2019) reports that 1,160 HVAC and HVAC/R technicians were employed in the Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk area. The technicians and their employers received support and resources from industry associations that include the following:

  • American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE)
  • Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC)
  • Mechanical Contractors Association of America (MCAA)
  • New England Mechanical Contractors Association (NEMCA)
  • Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors Association (PHCCA)
  • Refrigeration Service Engineers Society (RSES)
  • Sheet Metal and Air Conditioning Contractors’ National Association (SMACNA)
  • UA Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 777

These organizations work with others in the industry and regulatory agencies to establish educational, licensing, and performance standards for the safety of technicians, the public, and the environment. They serve all aspects of the HVAC industry.

Occupational Demand for HVAC and HVAC/R Technicians in Bridgeport, CT

Employment opportunities for HVAC and HVAC/R technicians continue to increase, according to the BLS (May 2019). Their workforce data shows a 13 percent increase in new positions for technicians nationwide between 2018 and 2028. The predicted growth for all US occupations during the same years is less than half that, at only 5 percent. The outlook for Connecticut technicians is favorable as Projections Central (2020) anticipates a 10.8 percent increase in opportunities statewide for the decade ending in 2028.

The renovation and modernization of existing structures in cities such as Bridgeport contribute substantially to the growth of the HVAC industry. Aging climate-control systems and equipment must be replaced, retrofitted, or updated to meet current environmental standards.

Another primary growth factor is the construction of new home and commercial buildings. A third significant factor driving the growth of the HVAC industry is the contemporary emphasis on energy efficiency and pollution reduction. On occasion, equipment in newer structures must be replaced to meet changing environmental standards or technological advances.

New structures, as well as modernized older buildings, are frequently expected to be “smart.” The sophisticated climate-control systems incorporated in smart buildings require trained technicians to install, maintain, and service. The best job opportunities are available to technicians who are expert troubleshooters, understand electronics, and are skilled in using computers.

Those who specialize in new installations may occasionally experience unemployment if construction declines. As Bridgeport is continuing to expand the service and hospitality sectors of its economy, a decline in construction is not expected in the foreseeable future. Technicians who maintain, service, and repair equipment are typically employed full-time, as businesses and homeowners depend on year-round climate control regardless of the economy.

HVAC and HVAC/R Salaries in Bridgeport, CT

According to the BLS (May 2019), HVAC mechanics and installers nationally received a median salary of $48,730. Technicians in the Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk area received an annual median salary of $69,930. Although this appears to be a significant difference, it should be kept in mind that Connecticut has a high cost of living compared to other American states.

The BLS (May 2019) data shows that national, state, and regional salaries of HVAC professionals are as follows:

United States Connecticut Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk, CT
Number of HVAC professionals employed 342,040 4,780 1,160
Average annual salary $51,420 $64,900 $72,630
10th percentile $30,610 $39,740 $45,240
25th percentile $37,660 $51,960 $56,290
50th percentile $48,730 $62,690 $69,930
75th percentile $62,070 $77,130 $85,090
90th percentile $77,920 $92,610 $98,310

HVAC Apprenticeships in Bridgeport, CT

In the past, untrained workers found employment as helpers and learned their skills through on-the-job training. Few opportunities for unskilled workers exist today. Job seekers are now expected to obtain training either by participating in an apprenticeship program or by attending classes. Their training opens up more job opportunities, and trained technicians potentially start at higher wages and earn more throughout their career.

Apprenticeships typically include specified hours of on-the-job training, usually 2,000, combined with classroom work, usually 144 hours, annually for three to five years.

The Connecticut Department of Labor Office of Apprenticeship Training and Build Connecticut provide information and resources for workers and companies willing to sponsor apprentices. The Connecticut Technical Education and Career System offers an HVAC apprenticeship program at campuses throughout the state, including the Bullard-Havens campus in Bridgeport. UA Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 777 offers five-year apprenticeships for heating and cooling mechanics at its training center in Meriden, CT. The Construction Education Center in Plainville offers trade apprenticeships, including HVAC.

Additional HVAC and HVAC/R apprenticeship programs are available from national industry associations that include the following:

  • Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA)
  • Mechanical Contractors Association of America (MCAA)
  • Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors Association (PHCC)
  • Refrigeration Service Engineers Society (RSES)
  • Sheet Metal Workers International Association (SMWIA)

Each association provides details of programs available, schedules, and fees on its website.

Accredited HVAC Schools in Bridgeport, CT

Accreditation is the process by which an independent agency evaluates the curriculum and instructors of an institution. When selecting a school, students should ensure that they choose one that is accredited. HVAC programs are accredited by two industry organizations: HVAC Excellence and the Partnership for Air-Conditioning, Heating, Refrigeration Accreditation (PAHRA). To date, neither has accredited a Connecticut program. The schools profiled below are accredited by other reputable agencies.

Note: The information in this article was compiled in August 2020 during the “shelter-in-place” and “social distancing” restrictions. The schools profiled below have temporarily suspended classes or are transitioning to online options to comply with the restrictions. Questions as to timing and format should be directed to the school administration.

Bristol Technical Education Center

Bristol TEC offers an HVAC/R diploma program as part of its Adult Education services. As well as classroom studies, students have the opportunity to participate in the Work-Based Learning program. The program allows companies to hire students for on-the-job training for credit toward meeting state apprenticeship requirements.

The curriculum includes instruction in construction safety, measuring, blueprint reading, ductwork, heat loss and gain calculations, domestic and commercial refrigeration, gas and oil heating systems, central air systems, window air conditioners, piping, mechanical and electrical controls, and energy efficiency and conservation. Students also learn about refrigeration safety to prepare them for the EPA Section 608 exam. They are also prepared for other industry exams, such as OSHA 10 and the Industry Competency Exam (ICE). Graduates are qualified to seek entry-level employment in a variety of HVAC-related positions.

  • Location: Bristol, CT
  • Accreditation: Council on Occupational Education
  • Tuition: $2,000 per semester (two semesters per year)
  • Program Length: Two years

Industrial Management & Training Institute

IMTI offers an HVAC technician program available during day and evening schedules. Students learn via classroom lectures and hands-on training. The technical curriculum includes HVAC introductory coursework; construction and trade math; tools; drawings; rigging; material handling; electricity; air distribution; piping; soldering and brazing; compressors; refrigerants; metering devices; heat pumps; maintenance; chimneys, vents, and flues; duct systems; hydronics; wiring; controls and motors; troubleshooting; steam systems; retail, commercial, and industrial refrigeration; water treatment; air quality; energy conservation; system management; system design; system startup and shutdown; solar thermal; alternative HVAC equipment; and mechanical codes.

Non-technical coursework includes communication skills, employment skills, customer relations, and crew leadership. Graduates are qualified to seek employment as HVAC/R apprentices. They may also seek employment in other HVAC industry positions, such as troubleshooters, or they may become self-employed as contractors.

  • Location: Waterbury, CT
  • Accreditation: Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC)
  • Tuition: $19,635
  • Program Length: Day program 39 weeks; evening program 78 weeks

Lincoln Technical Institute

Lincoln Tech has three campuses in Connecticut. The New Britain campus offers an HVAC/R technology diploma program. Green technology is emphasized in the coursework. Students learn via classroom lectures and hands-on practice in the lab.

The curriculum includes an introduction to climate control systems; electricity; controls; HVAC/R systems; system performance verification; air conditioning design and layout; commercial refrigeration; testing, adjusting, and balance verification; energy efficiency; and green technology systems.

Students will also have out-of-class assignments to complete. Graduates are prepared to take several industry exams, including OSHA 30, EPA 608, 410A universal, heat load analyst, energy auditor, and green awareness.

  • Location: New Britain, CT
  • Accreditation: Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC)
  • Tuition: $26,928
  • Program Length: Day program 52 weeks; evening program 80 weeks

Porter and Chester Institute

PCI offers an HVAC/R program with early day, mid-day, and evening schedules at four campuses close to Bridgeport. Students learn through classroom lectures, practice in the lab on residential and commercial equipment, and the use of analytical equipment.

The curriculum includes electrical and mechanical for oil and gas, trade skills, hydronics, control systems, refrigeration, piping, HVAC, and design principles. Graduates are qualified for entry-level positions in the HVAC/R industry.

  • Location: Hamden, Rocky Hill, Stratford, Waterbury, CT
  • Accreditation: Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC)
  • Tuition: Early day $24,920; mid-day $22,428; evening $25,980
  • Program Length: Early day and mid-day programs 12 months; evening program 18 months

Workers in Bridgeport who are unable to attend on-campus or local schools may find that online institutions can better meet their needs. More information on accredited programs is available at online HVAC training.

HVAC and HVAC/R Certification and Licensing in Bridgeport, CT

The refrigerants used in HVAC systems can be hazardous to the environment. Accordingly, all technicians who work with refrigerants are required by federal law to pass an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Section 608 certification exam on the safe handling of refrigerants. Exams encompass four levels of certification based on the size and type of equipment on which the technician works, as follows:

  • Type I – for servicing small appliances
  • Type II – for servicing or disposing of high-pressure appliances, except small appliances and automotive air conditioning
  • Type III – for servicing or disposing of low-pressure appliances
  • Universal – for servicing all types of equipment

The EPA provides details and additional information on its website.

Various industry organizations such as the following offer Section 608 certification and other certifications that increase a technician’s employability:

  • HVAC Excellence
  • North American Technician Excellence (NATE)
  • Refrigeration Service Engineers Society (RSES)

Each organization’s website has details of certifications available, schedules, and fees. Further information is available on the HVAC certifications page.

The Connecticut State Department of Consumer Protection requires HVAC and HVAC/R professionals to obtain licensing. Technicians seeking journey-level licenses must have completed a registered apprenticeship program or have the equivalent experience and training. Contractors must have two years of licensed journey-level experience. Both must pass an examination and pay a fee. Licenses are renewed annually.

The type of license is defined by the type and scope of the work, as follows:

  • B – 1 Limited gas and oil burner contractor
  • B – 2 Limited gas and oil burner journeyperson
  • B – 3 Limited gas and oil burner contractor
  • B – 4 Limited gas and oil burner journeyperson
  • D – 1 Limited warm air, air conditioning, and refrigeration contractor
  • D – 2 Limited warm air, air conditioning, and refrigeration journeyperson
  • D – 3 Limited cooling contractor license
  • D – 4 Limited cooling journeyperson license
  • G – 1 Limited heating, piping, and cooling contractor
  • G – 2 Limited heating, piping, and cooling journeyperson
  • S – 1 Unlimited heating, piping, and cooling contractor
  • S – 2 Unlimited heating, piping, and cooling journeyperson
  • S – 3 Limited heating, cooling, and piping contractor
  • S – 4 Limited heating, cooling, and piping journeyperson
  • S – 5 Limited heating, hot water, and steam contractor
  • S – 6 Limited heating, hot water, and steam journeyperson
  • S – 7 Limited contractor
  • S – 8 Limited journeyperson
  • S – 9 Limited heating cooling contractor
  • S – 10 Limited heating cooling journeyperson

The work that may be performed under each type of license is clearly defined.

The City of Bridgeport does not require additional licensing.

As licensing guidelines are always subject to change, HVAC professionals are encouraged to confirm that they are in compliance with current requirements before starting a project.

Sandra Smith

Sandra Smith was introduced to the HVAC industry when she worked as a bookkeeper and secretary for a small air-conditioning contractor. She eventually became a CPA and started her own practice specializing in small business taxes and accounting. After retiring from business, she began writing articles for newspapers, magazines, and websites. She also authored four books. Sandra makes her home in the mountains with a rescue dog that naps on her lap as she writes.