Accredited HVAC Schools in Florida
In order to become an HVAC mechanic, technician, or installer in Florida, it is important to receive the proper training and preparation for the field. There are various professional routes to this end.
For instance, historically, many people learned this trade through apprenticeships, which are still an option today. These programs typically last three to five years, comprising at least 144 hours of formal instruction and a minimum of 2,000 hands-on hours under the guidance of a qualified HVAC professional.
One such program is available from the Air Conditioning Contractors Association (ACCA) of Central Florida, involving 36 months (6,000 hours) of on-the-job training in addition to coursework taken over a period of three years. Apprentices take classes such as air conditioning fundamentals, basic electricity, basic blueprint reading, types of equipment and application, basic system components, refrigerant recovery, electrical installations, and water source heat pumps, among others.
For aspiring HVAC workers in FL interested in a more traditional classroom environment, there are many programs lasting six months to two years at vocational schools, community colleges, and similar institutions. Students are advised to seek out accredited college programs, which indicates that a program has been evaluated for its school facilities, program curricula, and student outcomes (among other criteria) to determine the fitness of the college in preparing its graduates for a career in HVAC technologies.
The two main accreditation agencies for HVAC programs are HVAC Excellence and the Partnership for Air-Conditioning, Heating, Refrigeration Accreditation (PAHRA). As of May 2020, there were seven Florida HVAC programs accredited by HVAC Excellence, and one with accreditation from PAHRA.
One program that has earned HVAC Excellence accreditation is available at Traviss Technical College in Lakeland. This air conditioning, refrigeration, and heating technology program includes rigorous training in the theory and applications of HVAC, blueprint reading, and troubleshooting components. Available as adult education or a for-credit program for high schoolers, Traviss prepares its students to take the federally mandated EPA Section 608 certification exam but does not result in a degree or other professional certification.
Lively Technical Center in Tallahassee also offers two HVAC Excellence-accredited training programs in heating, ventilation, air-conditioning/refrigeration. With hands-on instruction in how to use the tools of the trade and how to service various HVAC components (e.g., piping, tubing, fittings, electrical wiring), Lively’s HVACR/1 program prepares its students for a career in HVAC.
To complete the HVAC/R 2 program, students must take at least three employment-ready certification exams: Air Conditioning, Electrical, and one source of Heating (e.g. Heat Pump, Electric Heat, or Gas Heat).
Palm Beach State College in Lake Worth, Florida has an HVAC excellence-accredited post-secondary adult vocational program in heating, ventilation, air-conditioning and refrigeration. In addition to technical and production skills, principles of health and safety, and knowledge regarding environmental issues, the career certificate prepares graduates HVAC industry through operational skills including management, finance, and labor. Students can enroll in a day program lasting 12 to 13 months, or an evening program lasting 20 months.
Pinellas Technical College in Saint Petersburg, Florida offers an HVAC-Excellence accredited 750 hour certificate program in air conditioning, refrigeration, and heating technology. Students enrolled in the program will learn principles of heating and air conditioning, soldering, brazing, safety, electricity, control wiring, electric heat and fossil fuel heating, indoor air quality and other properties of air, and more. PinellasTechnical College also offers an apprenticeship program at their Clearwater, FL campus.
Suncoast Technical College in Sarasota offers a seven-month, 750 hour, HVAC Excellence accredited certificate program in heating, ventilation, air-conditioning/refrigeration. The program prepares students to pass the EPA section 608 tests, to obtain HVAC excellence employment ready certifications in heat pumps, electrical, and air conditioning, and to pass The National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER) academic career tests for HVAC, levels one to three. Classes meet Monday through Friday during the day.
Suncoast Technical Education Center in Brooksville offers a 38-week, 750-hour, HVAC Excellence accredited certificate program in heating, ventilation, air-conditioning/refrigeration (HVAC/R). In addition to preparing students for EPA section 608 certification, ESCO R-410 safety, and students will be prepared for HVAC Excellence employment-ready exams in electrical, air conditioning, and heat pumps. This is an afternoon and evening program that meets Monday through Thursday.
Withlacoochee Technical College in Inverness offers a 1,350-hour HVAC Excellence accredited certificate program in heating, ventilation, air-conditioning/refrigeration. Students enrolled in this program will learn hands-on systems troubleshooting, fabrication of duct systems, electrical circuits, walk-in coolers, field style techniques, and more.
After completing the HVAC/R fundamentals, students can choose to specialize in advanced service practices or advanced commercial and industrial service practices. In addition to HVAC Excellence Employment Ready certifications and EP section 608, students will be prepared for optional certification in OSHA 10 and NATE ICE.
The Osceola Technical College holds PAHRA accreditation for its program specializing in the planning, installation, and servicing of HVAC systems. Coursework at this school includes troubleshooting of electrical and mechanical systems; routine maintenance and service; use of specialized tools and equipment; job estimating and code compliance; employability skills; and a class on entrepreneurship. Notably, this school prepares its graduates to take the EPA 608 and the NATE core and heat pump certification exams. This program involves 1,350 hours of training.
For residents of South Florida, CBT College has five locations across Miami-Dade, two of which offer HVAC training (the Flagler and Hialeah locations). In its eight-month A/C refrigeration technician program, CBT covers topics such as the basic design of HVAC systems, repair of residential and commercial equipment, air conditioning repair, heating equipment repair, installation, and refrigeration maintenance. Conveniently, this program is available in both English and Spanish.
Finally, some Floridians may have difficulty attending a traditional on-campus HVAC apprenticeship or vocational program. Luckily there are also a wide range of distance-based training and diplomas available. Students are advised to ensure their eligibility as state legislation regarding distance-based education varies by region. To learn more about web-based HVAC training options, check out the online HVAC programs page.