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 in the First State, 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 Dec. 2015) adds that one in ten HVAC workers nationwide was self-employed in 2014. While some of these skilled professionals work normal business hours, others may be asked to work evenings, weekends, or holidays according to client needs, particularly during the high 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’s 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 mentioned in the introduction, not only is the nationwide employment outlook in HVAC bright, but there’s some evidence that there will be even greater opportunities in Delaware. By illustration, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS Dec. 2015) estimated a 14 percent increase in HVAC openings across the country between 2014 and 2024, a figure which is double the average percentage growth projected across all occupations during that time period (7 percent). And the 39,600 fresh HVAC opportunities in the US is only part of the story. CareerOneStop (2016)—a partner of the US Department of Labor—anticipated that HVAC would be the third-fastest growing industry in Delaware for workers with “some college;” it predicted that there would be an 18 percent increase in HVAC job openings in DE between 2014 and 2024, significantly higher than the BLS’s national projection in this field. With the expected addition of 360 new jobs in the state, the future looks bright for Delaware’s HVAC workers.

In November 2016, HVAC Classes surveyed common job posting websites, and found that there were many openings available for these professionals. By illustration, Monster (Nov. 2016) had 84 relevant postings in the state, advertising HVAC opportunities at places such as Northeast Heating & Air Conditioning, William G. Day Company, Service Today Inc., Moon Services Inc., First Class Heating & A/C Inc., Liberty Personnel, Sobieski Enterprises Inc., Tradesmen International Inc., Boulden Brothers, Horizon Services, Burns & McBride Home Comfort, and Siemens Corporation, among others. Additionally, Indeed (Nov. 2016) provided 87 openings in HVAC in DE at Air Temp Solutions, Calvert’s One Hour Heating & Air Conditioning, Telecom Mechanical Solutions, Cool It LLC, Fletcher’s Plumbing & Heating, Bilfinger Industrial Services Inc., Capano Management, Service Mark (AmeriGas), and Sovereign Property. In sum, there’s expected to be no shortage of work in this field in the years to come.

While these prospects are promising, it’s 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. By illustration, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS May 2015) reported that there were 274,680 HVAC workers across the country with an annual average salary of $47,380; in DE, the 1,820 HVAC workers enjoyed an average salary of $51,640, nine percent higher than the national average. In more granular terms, here were the wage percentiles among the HVAC workers nationwide:

United States (274,680 HVAC workers)

  • 10th percentile: $27,790
  • 25th percentile: $34,920
  • 50th percentile (median): $45,110
  • 75th percentile: $58,070
  • 90th percentile: $71,690

Put into hourly figures, these national salary figures became:

United States: $22.78/hr. average

  • 10th percentile: $13.36/hr.
  • 25th percentile: $16.79/hr.
  • 50th percentile (median): $21.69/hr.
  • 75th percentile: $27.92/hr.
  • 90th percentile: $34.47/hr.

Notably, these figures varied by source of data. In fact, Payscale (Nov. 2016)—a site which relies on self-reported wages across common occupations—had 451 HVAC respondents in the US and found the following percentiles:

United States (451 HVAC respondents)

  • 10th percentile: $29,000
  • 25th percentile: $35,000
  • 50th percentile (median): $42,886
  • 75th percentile: $53,000
  • 90th percentile: $67,000

A majority of HVAC respondents chose to report their hourly wages to Payscale. Among these 2,486 HVAC workers from around the country, Payscale (Nov. 2016) found the following percentiles:

United States (2,486 HVAC respondents)

  • 10th percentile: $13.00/hr.
  • 25th percentile: $15.00/hr.
  • 50th percentile (median): $18.00/hr.
  • 75th percentile: $24.00/hr.
  • 90th percentile: $29.00/hr.

There’s 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 (May 2015) found the following salaries among Delaware’s HVAC workers:

Delaware (1,820 HVAC workers): $51,640 annual average

  • 10th percentile: $37,640
  • 25th percentile: $43,070
  • 50th percentile (median): $49,910
  • 75th percentile: $59,750
  • 90th percentile: $69,440

Translated into hourly figures, these salaries became:

Delaware: $24,83/hour avg.

  • 10th percentile: $18.10/hr.
  • 25th percentile: $20.71/hr.
  • 50th percentile (median): $24.00/hr.
  • 75th percentile: $28.73/hr.
  • 90th percentile: $33.38/hr.

While these salaries are much higher than the national figures, it’s important to add that the cost of living is also more expensive in DE than in many US states. In fact, the Missouri Economic Research & Information Center (MERIC 2016) found that the Blue Hen State was the eighteenth 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 as well. The BLS designated two metropolitan areas within DE, and they’re listed here with the number of HVAC workers employed, average salaries, and wage percentiles (BLS May 2015):

Dover, DE (unknown number of HVAC workers): $44,370 annual average

  • 10th percentile: $36,950
  • 25th percentile: $41,330
  • 50th percentile (median): $44,850
  • 75th percentile: $48,490
  • 90th percentile: $50,690

Wilmington, DE-MD-NJ Metropolitan Division (1,310 HVAC workers): $53,080 avg.

  • 10th percentile: $36,440
  • 25th percentile: $43,580
  • 50th percentile (median): $52,470
  • 75th percentile: $61,330
  • 90th percentile: $72,890

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

Dover, DE (unknown number of HVAC workers): $21.33/hour average

  • 10th percentile: $17.77/hr.
  • 25th percentile: $19.87/hr.
  • 50th percentile (median): $21.56/hr.
  • 75th percentile: $23.31/hr.
  • 90th percentile: $24.37/hr.

Wilmington, DE-MD-NJ Metropolitan Division (1,310 HVAC workers): $25.52/hour avg.

  • 10th percentile: $17.52/hr.
  • 25th percentile: $20.95/hr.
  • 50th percentile (median): $25.23/hr.
  • 75th percentile: $29.49/hr.
  • 90th percentile: $35.04/hr.

Accredited HVAC Schools in Delaware

Prior to seeking employment or Delaware licensure in HVAC, it’s 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).

As of November 2016, there was one DE school with PAHRA-accredited programs: the Delaware Technical Community College. At DTCC’s Stanton campus, students can complete an HVAC maintenance technician certificate, which requires coursework in OSHA construction safety; heating I/II; refrigeration & air conditioning I/II; electrical control systems; blueprint reading for HVAC technicians; and EPA section 608 certification preparation. At DTCC’s Georgetown campus, students can complete either a diploma or an associate of applied science (AAS) program in HVACR (i.e., “refrigeration heating AC studies”). Classes in 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. The Georgetown campus also offers a one-semester certificate program in HVAC with classes such as introduction to entrepreneurship; residential climate control; and opportunity analysis. For in-state students, DTCC’s programs cost either $139.75 per credit (1-14 credit hours) or $2,096.25 per semester (15+ credits). For out-of-state students, these figures swell to $349.50 and $5.242.50, 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 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 have to pay $110.15 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 18 to 144 hours and cost between $179 and $299.

Lastly, for some aspiring HVAC workers in DE, it can be difficult to attend an on-campus program. Perhaps they live in more rural regions of the state or have time commitments which prevent them from completing a traditional, brick-and-mortar course sequence. Luckily, there’s 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 a number of certifications available on a national level. 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. 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 has seven years of experience and completed a Board-issued equivalency test
  • EPA Section 608 certification
  • A clean record
  • Processing fee made out to the “State of Delaware” ($121)
  • 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.