HVAC Training Schools in Delaware

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Although Delaware (DE) enjoys relatively mild winters compared to some neighboring states, the Small Wonder has an impressive track record in developing cutting-edge heating, ventilation, air conditioning, and refrigeration (HVAC-R or HVAC) technologies. In fact, ACHR News (April 2016) reported that tech start-up Xergy of Seaford partnered with the University of Delaware to invent an innovative, new method of refrigeration. In research funded by the US Department of Energy, this team replaced the usual mechanical vapor compressor with an electrochemical system, an advancement which has made these units more energy-efficient and environmentally friendly. UD’s Dr. Ajay Prasad—the Director of the school’s Center for Fuel Cell Research—was instrumental in this breakthrough and the team hopes to bring these developments to commercial and residential systems in coming years.

In addition to a thriving research community, Delaware also boasts a wealth of HVAC companies, contractors, and professionals. So what do these skilled workers in DE do? HVAC Classes conducted an analysis of common responsibilities across three sets of Delaware’s HVAC job postings (Monster, Indeed, and CareerBuilder), and found that these workers typically do the following: install, inspect, & maintain HVAC systems; troubleshoot & repair various components in commercial and/or residential HVAC equipment (e.g., heat pumps, electric motors, hermetic compressors, intake & exhaust fans, humidifiers, controls, boilers, furnaces, ducts, ductless splits, economizers, etc.); interpret & implement instructions from blueprints; calculate heat loads & losses; maintain active permits, certifications, and licenses; engage in continued learning through events, conferences & classes; make recommendations to clients to increase energy efficiency; keep detailed service records; and calibrate systems to manufacturers’ recommendations.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS 2017) adds that nearly one in ten HVAC workers nationwide was self-employed in 2016 while a majority (64 percent) were employed by plumbing, heating, and air-conditioning contractors. Some of these skilled professionals work normal business hours, but others may be asked to work evenings, weekends, or holidays according to client needs, particularly during the busy winter season. Also, since HVAC systems increasingly come with servicing contracts and need to be replaced every 10 to 15 years, employment is relatively stable in this industry. And there is even evidence that this field may be growing more rapidly in Delaware than in other US states.

Read on to discover the bright employment prospects for HVAC workers in DE, as well as to learn about the expected salaries, accredited training programs, and licensing information in the state.

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Occupational Demand for HVAC Technicians in Delaware

As noted above, not only is the nationwide employment outlook in HVAC bright, but there is some evidence that there will be even greater opportunities in Delaware. By illustration, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (2017) estimated a 15 percent increase in HVAC openings across the country between 2016 and 2026, a figure which is double the average percentage growth projected across all occupations during that time period (7 percent). And the 48,800 fresh HVAC opportunities in the US are only part of the story. CareerOneStop (2017)—a partner of the US Department of Labor—anticipated that HVAC would have the eighth most job openings in Delaware for workers with “some college” with 230 annual job openings expected between 2016 and 2026. With the expected addition of 360 new jobs in the state, the future looks bright for Delaware’s HVAC workers.

In October 2018, HVAC Classes surveyed common job posting websites, and found that there were many openings available for these professionals. Monster (Oct. 2018) had 42 relevant postings in the state, advertising HVAC opportunities at places such as Johnson Controls, Christina School District, Boulden Brothers, Sears Holding Corporation, and others. Additionally, Indeed (Oct. 2018) provided 106 openings in HVAC in DE including positions at Calvert’s One Hour Heating & Burns & McBride Home Comfort, Horizon Services, Stanley Steemer, and the State of Delaware. In sum, there is expected to be no shortage of work in this field in the years to come.

While these prospects are promising, it is important to note that HVAC workers in DE and nationwide incur a higher-than-average rate of injury on the job compared to other US occupations. These workers are more likely to suffer burns, muscle tears, electrical shock, and other problems. This is due to the nature of the work, which involves working with heavy equipment, sensitive chemicals, and electrical systems. However, with the proper training and use of safety equipment, these issues can generally be kept to a minimum.

Delaware HVAC Technician Salaries

For a profession which typically requires only one-to-two years of postsecondary training, HVAC workers are relatively well-compensated, especially in Delaware. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (2017) reported that there were 307,060 HVAC workers across the country with an annual average salary of $49,530; in DE, the 1,530 HVAC workers enjoyed an average salary of $51,440, a bit higher than the national average. In more granular terms, here were the wage percentiles among the HVAC workers nationwide:

United States (307,060 HVAC workers)

  • 10th percentile: $29,120
  • 25th percentile: $36,150
  • 50th percentile (median): $47,080
  • 75th percentile: $60,270
  • 90th percentile: $75,330

Put into hourly figures, these national salary figures became:

United States: $23.81/hr. average

  • 10th percentile: $14.00/hr.
  • 25th percentile: $17.38/hr.
  • 50th percentile (median): $22.64/hr.
  • 75th percentile: $28.98/hr.
  • 90th percentile: $36.22/hr.

Notably, these figures varied by source of data. In fact, Payscale (Oct. 2018)—a site which relies on self-reported wages across common occupations—had 879 HVAC respondents in the US and found the following percentiles:

United States (879 HVAC respondents)

  • 10th percentile: $29,000
  • 25th percentile: $36,000
  • 50th percentile (median): $44,402
  • 75th percentile: $56,000
  • 90th percentile: $71,000

A majority of HVAC respondents chose to report their hourly wages to Payscale. Among these 4,809 HVAC workers from around the country, Payscale (Oct. 2018) found the following percentiles:

United States (4,809 HVAC respondents)

  • 10th percentile: $13.00/hr.
  • 25th percentile: $15.00/hr.
  • 50th percentile (median): $19,26/hr.
  • 75th percentile: $24.00/hr.
  • 90th percentile: $30.00/hr.

There is excellent news for HVAC workers in DE: these professionals garnered significantly higher wages than the national figures reported by both the BLS and Payscale. As proof of point, the BLS (2017) found the following salaries among Delaware’s HVAC workers:

Delaware (1,820 HVAC workers): $51,440 annual average

  • 10th percentile: $35,410
  • 25th percentile: $43,140
  • 50th percentile (median): $50,840
  • 75th percentile: $60,110
  • 90th percentile: $68,840

Translated into hourly figures, these salaries became:

Delaware: $24.73/hour avg.

  • 10th percentile: $17.03/hr.
  • 25th percentile: $20.74/hr.
  • 50th percentile (median): $24.44/hr.
  • 75th percentile: $28.90/hr.
  • 90th percentile: $33.10/hr.

While these salaries are somewhat higher than the national figures, the cost of living is also more expensive in DE than in many US states. In fact, the Missouri Economic Research & Information Center (MERIC 2018) found that the Blue Hen State was the fifteenth most expensive in the country, although it did boast relative savings in housing and healthcare.

Finally, the DE HVAC salaries also tended to vary by region within the state. The BLS designated two metropolitan areas within DE, and they are listed here with the number of HVAC workers employed, average salaries, and wage percentiles (BLS 2017):

Dover, DE (160 HVAC workers): $47,480 annual average

  • 10th percentile: $33,310
  • 25th percentile: $41,610
  • 50th percentile (median): $48,560
  • 75th percentile: $55,910
  • 90th percentile: $61,260

Wilmington, DE-MD-NJ Metropolitan Division (1,040 HVAC workers): $51,790 avg.

  • 10th percentile: $34,990
  • 25th percentile: $42,740
  • 50th percentile (median): $50,940
  • 75th percentile: $60,780
  • 90th percentile: $70,700

Reconfigured into hourly salaries, the averages and percentiles in these two BLS regions became:

Dover, DE (160 HVAC workers): $22.83/hour average

  • 10th percentile: $16.02/hr.
  • 25th percentile: $20.00/hr.
  • 50th percentile (median): $23.35/hr.
  • 75th percentile: $26.88/hr.
  • 90th percentile: $29.45/hr.

Wilmington, DE-MD-NJ Metropolitan Division (1,040 HVAC workers): $24.90/hour avg.

  • 10th percentile: $16.82/hr.
  • 25th percentile: $20.55/hr.
  • 50th percentile (median): $24.49/hr.
  • 75th percentile: $29.22/hr.
  • 90th percentile: $33.99/hr.

Accredited HVAC Schools in Delaware

Prior to seeking employment or Delaware licensure in HVAC, it is crucial to receive the proper training. Some aspiring HVAC professionals choose to enroll in an apprenticeship – a list of which is available from the Delaware Division of Industrial Affairs – while others complete a training program. There are currently two predominant accreditation organizations for HVAC schools and programs: HVAC Excellence and Partnership for Air-Conditioning, Heating, Refrigeration Accreditation (PAHRA). To learn more about the accreditation process, visit the site for either program, or the main HVAC Classes page.

As of October 2018, there is one DE school that has earned PAHRA accreditation: the Delaware Technical Community College (DTCC). At DTCC’s Georgetown campus, students can complete either a diploma or an associate of applied science (AAS) program in HVAC-R (DTCC terms this Refrigeration Heating AC). Classes in both of these programs include the fundamentals of refrigeration; introduction to energy management; residential climate control; contemporary mathematics; industry competency exam (ICE) preparation; sustainability & society; air distribution & balancing; and building service systems. For in-state students, DTCC’s programs cost either $149.50 per credit (1-15 credit hours) or $2,242.50 per semester (15+ credits). For out-of-state students, these figures swell to $373.75 and $5,606.25, respectively.

The Delaware Skills Center of New Castle provides a 12-week HVAC program which boasts three solid weeks of on-the-job shadowing with experienced professionals. The curriculum, which is designed for those who have some HVAC experience but have not yet earned HVAC certifications, comprises units in HVAC installation; HVAC service technology; home energy auditing; weatherization; and commercial & residential building maintenance. Other topics covered in this rigorous hands-on program include reviews of safety protocols; blueprint reading; geothermal heat pumps; and AHRI Efficiency Standards. Those who complete this program may be eligible for several certifications, including:

  • NCCER (Level 1 & Core)
  • EPA Section 608 Certification
  • First Year Apprenticeship Certification
  • OSHA (10-hour)
  • Forklift operation

Notably, although applicants must pay $140 to cover the cost of a drug screening during the application process, tuition for this program  is free for Delaware residents.

Another HVAC training course in DE is available at Polytech of Woodside. Polytech hosts an abundance of evening HVAC programs which impart fundamentals of the field such as how to work with gas & oil burning furnaces; commercial & residential systems; heat pumps; motors; compressors; valves; tubing; hydronic & steam heating; and more. These courses range from 3 to 144 hours and cost between $89 and $299.

Lastly, for some aspiring HVAC workers in DE, it can be difficult to attend an on-campus program. For those that live in more rural regions of the state or have time commitments that prevent them from completing a traditional, brick-and-mortar course sequence there is a wide range of distance-based HVAC programs available. To learn about the details of web-based instruction in this field, check out the online HVAC programs page.

HVAC Licensing in Delaware

In addition to completing an HVAC training program in DE, these professionals also must receive the proper credentialing prior to seeking employment. There is one mandatory credential for all people nationwide who work with refrigerants: the EPA Section 608 certification. This is due to the environmentally sensitive nature of chemicals involved in refrigeration, as well as to protect workers, ensuring that they’re educated in the safe disposal and transportation of these substances. Most HVAC training programs will include training for section 608 certification and many include the certification test as part of their program. There are four kinds of this credential which vary by type of equipment used:

  • Type 1 (small appliance)
  • Type 2 (high-pressure appliances)
  • Type 3 (low-pressure appliances)
  • Type 4 (universal)

There are other national certifications available through entities including North American Technician Excellence (NATE), HVAC Excellence, and the Refrigeration Service Engineers Society (RSES). To discover the array of national, competency-based HVAC credentials available, check out the details on the main HVAC certifications page.

In Delaware, it is also necessary to have the proper state licenses prior to working in this field. According to Delaware’s Title 24, only “master HVACR (restricted) licensees” may provide HVACR services without supervision. Apprentices, journeymen, mechanics, and others may work in this field, as long as the work is overseen by a qualified professional and they have the proper training certificate (e.g., journeyman certificate). In DE, the main state licensing organization in this field is the Delaware Board of Plumbing, Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning and Refrigeration Examiners.

To become a master HVACR licensee, candidates must have:

  • Journeyman’s certificate from any state following the completion of a qualifying training program and two years of experience; or seven years of experience and have completed a Board-issued equivalency test
  • EPA Section 608 certification
  • A clean record
  • Processing fee made out to the “State of Delaware” ($141)
  • Passing score (70 percent +) on a comprehensive examination

There are two subtypes of state licensure: Master HVACR and Master HVACR Restricted. The former is a universal license type, whereas the latter must be restricted to one of the following specializations:

  • Heating (forced air systems, ventilation & gas piping
  • Heating (hydronic systems & gas piping
  • Commercial hood systems
  • Refrigeration
  • Air conditioning
  • Gas piping

These licenses must be renewed every two years by October 31st of even years. Since continuing education (CE) requirements for renewals vary, check out the current policies on the main DE Board of Plumbing, Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning and Refrigeration Examiners website.

Finally, local laws and permitting may differ within Delaware as well. Prior to completing any HVACR work, professionals are strongly advised to contact the local governments to ensure they hold all necessary credentials.