HVAC Trade Schools & Certifications in Hartford, Connecticut (CT)

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Hartford, Connecticut (CT) is one of America’s oldest cities and boasts numerous examples of historical sites. The inventor of Colt revolvers was an early entrepreneur, and Colt Firearms still contributes to the city’s economy. Numerous other manufacturers, such as Pratt & Whitney, Otis Elevators, and Stanley tools, have found homes in Hartford.

However, the city is best known as the “Insurance Capital of the World” due to the many insurance companies in the area. Hartford has continued to diversify its economic base with industries that include aerospace, biomedical pharmaceuticals, data processing, healthcare, retail trade, and telecommunications. Hartford’s growing reputation as “one of the nation’s most wired cities” continues to attract new companies.

Hartford residents typically enjoy four seasons. Mild temperatures in the spring and autumn provide relief from hot and humid summers and cold winters. High temperatures during July and August are in the low 80s F, cooling to the 60s in the evenings. Those months receive close to four inches of precipitation. The remaining months of the year, with the exception of February, each average more than three inches of rainfall. January and February are the coldest months, with highs barely above freezing and lows in the teens. The most snowfall occurs during those months, with close to six inches and five inches, respectively.

The summer heat combined with the high humidity and the frigid winters keeps many Hartford residents indoors. They rely on heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) all year for comfort in their homes and workplaces. The manufacturing and biotech facilities often require refrigeration (HVAC/R) to meet their climate-control needs. Businesses that rely on advanced technology, including the educational and healthcare institutions conducting research, need specialized equipment and systems to keep the electronics functioning correctly.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS 2020), 1,960 HVAC and HVAC/R technicians were employed in the Hartford-West Hartford-East Hartford area as of May 2019. The technicians and their employers received support and resources from industry associations such as the following:

  • American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE)
  • Associated Builders and Contractors of Connecticut, Inc. (CTABC)
  • Connecticut Association of Plumbing, Heating & Cooling Contractors (CT- PHCC)
  • Connecticut Geothermal Association (CTGEO)
  • Connecticut Heating and Cooling Contractors Association
  • New England Mechanical Contractors Association (NEMCA)
  • Refrigeration Service Engineers Society (RSES)
  • Sheet Metal Workers Local 40
  • UA Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 777

These organizations work with other industry groups and governmental 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 Hartford, CT

The demand for trained HVAC and HVAC/R technicians continues to increase. Workforce data from the BLS (2020) indicates a 4 percent increase in new employment opportunities for technicians nationwide between 2019 and 2029. However, Projections Central (2020) anticipated 10.8 percent growth in HVAC openings in Connecticut, which is 560 new positions, from 2018 to 2028.

Construction of new commercial structures and residences drives the growth of the HVAC industry. The renovation of older buildings in historic cities like Hartford also contributes substantially to growth, as aging climate-control systems and equipment must be replaced, retrofitted, or updated to meet current environmental standards.

The third factor in the growth of the HVAC industry is the contemporary emphasis on pollution reduction and energy efficiency. Occasionally, equipment in newer structures is replaced to meet changing environmental standards or technological advances.

Because Hartford continues to attract high-tech industries, new and modernized older buildings are frequently expected to be “smart.” Smart buildings incorporate sophisticated climate-control systems that require trained technicians to install, maintain, and service. Technicians who are expert troubleshooters, understand electronics, and are skilled in using computers will have the best job opportunities.

Those who specialize in new installations may occasionally experience unemployment if construction declines. The economy of Hartford is diverse and is expected to continue growing. A decline in construction is not anticipated 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 Hartford, CT

HVAC mechanics and installers nationally received a median salary of $48,730, as per the BLS (May 2019). BLS data shows that technicians in the Hartford-West Hartford-East Hartford area received an annual median salary of $62,280. The difference may appear significant, but it should be kept in mind that Connecticut has a high cost of living when compared to other American states.

According to the BLS (May 2019), national, state, and regional salaries of HVAC professionals are as follows:

United States Connecticut Hartford-West Hartford-East Hartford, CT
Number of HVAC professionals employed 342,040 4,780 1,960
Average annual salary $51,420 $64,900 $63,440
10th percentile $30,610 $39,740 $39,350
25th percentile $37,660 $51,960 $51,220
50th percentile (median) $48,730 $62,690 $62,280
75th percentile $62,070 $77,130 $76,280
90th percentile $77,920 $92,610 $91,490

HVAC Apprenticeships in Hartford, CT

It is possible for untrained workers to find employment as helpers and learn their skills through on-the-job training. Opportunities for doing so have declined over the years. Workers 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. Job seekers and employers willing to sponsor apprentices will find information and resources at the Connecticut Department of Labor Office of Apprenticeship Training and Build Connecticut.

The Connecticut Technical Education And Career System offers an HVAC apprenticeship program at campuses throughout the state, including the A.I. Prince campus in Hartford.

Five-year apprenticeships for heating and cooling mechanics are available from UA Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 777 at its training center in Meriden, CT. Trade apprenticeships, including HVAC, are available from the Construction Education Center in Plainville. Their curriculum is supplemented by online coursework from NCCER.

Trainees may also find additional HVAC and HVAC/R apprenticeship programs from 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)

The programs available, schedules, and fees are on the websites of the associations.

Accredited HVAC Schools in Hartford, CT

When selecting a school, students should ensure that they choose one that is accredited. Schools receive accreditation through a process by which an independent agency evaluates its curriculum and instructors. 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 September 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.

Industrial Management & Training Institute

Students at IMTI can attend the HVAC technician program during the day or the evening. The curriculum is presented via classroom lectures and hands-on training and includes technical and non-technical subjects.

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 are also qualified to 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 East Windsor and New Britain campuses offer 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, but there are differences in the curriculum between the campuses. Both prepare students to seek entry-level employment.

The East Windsor curriculum includes basic and trade math, the fundamentals of refrigeration, heating systems fundamentals, electricity, controls, domestic, commercial, and special refrigeration, air conditioning, heat pumps, oil burners, reading blueprints, system design and layout, heating and cooling systems, brazing, soldering, pipe cutting, hydronics and steam heating, energy efficiency and green technology, mechanical codes and standards, sheet metal theory, and OSHA 30 exam preparation.

The New Britain 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: East Windsor, New Britain, CT
  • Accreditation: Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC)
  • Tuition: East Windsor $28,028; New Britain $26,928
  • Program Length: East Windsor day and evening programs, 52 weeks; New Britain 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 within an easy commute from Hartford. 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 $27,570; mid-day $25,078; evening $28,630
  • Program Length: Early day and mid-day programs, 12 months; evening program, 18 months

Hartford workers 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 Hartford, CT

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. Four levels of certification are available, 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

Additional information and details are available on the EPA website.

Technicians wishing to improve their employability may seek additional certifications. Industry organizations that include the following offer 608 testing as well other certifications:

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

Details of training and certifications available, schedules, and fees are available on each organization’s website. Further information is also available on the HVAC certifications page.

HVAC and HVAC/R professionals are required to obtain licensing by the Connecticut State Department of Consumer Protection. Journey-level licensing requires technicians to complete a registered apprenticeship program or have the equivalent experience and training. Two years of licensed journey-level experience is required to obtain a contractor’s license. Journey-level and contractor applicants must pass an examination and pay a fee. Licenses are renewed annually.

The type of license is determined 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 Hartford does not require all businesses to obtain a city license. Professionals must contact the City to determine if they need a license to operate.

Licensing guidelines are subject to change; therefore, HVAC professionals are encouraged to confirm that they comply 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.