HVAC Training Schools in Cape Coral, Florida (FL)

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Cape Coral, Florida (FL) is a planned community established by two real estate brothers in 1957 and incorporated in 1970. Located on a peninsula in southwest Florida, the city grew rapidly and is now the largest city in the Cape Coral – Fort Myers Metropolitan area.

The region is home to many birds and aquatic wildlife that attract nature enthusiasts. Cape Coral has more than 400 miles of navigable waterways, which have led to the nickname “Venice of America.” That’s more canals than any other city in the world, and they provide residents with access to surrounding rivers and the Gulf of Mexico.

The “blue skies, beaches, and warm weather,” combined with the opportunity to live in waterfront homes, have kept the population growing. The Cape Coral and Fort Myers area is among the nation’s metro areas with the highest percentage rate of growth. The local economy has long been based on healthcare, real estate, and retail trade. Construction is now a major contributor to Cape Coral’s economy, and the tourist industry is expanding. Other growing industries include finance, insurance, professional services, and technology. As the tourist trade expands, hospitality and entertainment venues are increasing. The boat industry is thriving, along with other light industrial businesses.

Summers in Cape Coral are sunny and hot. The temperatures start climbing in May and stay in the low 90s F until September. The summer months also experience high humidity, with June through September receiving eight to nine inches of precipitation each month. The winter months are milder, with average temperatures ranging from the mid 70s to the low 80s. The nighttime lows hover in the 50s and 60s, and precipitation decreases to one to three inches monthly. Freezing temperatures occur only in record-setting years, and snow is unknown. Cape Coral is subject to hurricanes.

Cape Coral residents depend on heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) for comfort in their homes and workplaces. Healthcare facilities, educational institutions, and hospitality venues often add refrigeration (HVAC/R) to their systems. As technology-based industries continue to grow and more businesses utilize high-tech, the demand for the specialized climate-control systems and equipment required to keep the electronics functioning correctly is increasing.

Data compiled by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS May 2022) indicates that 1,210 HVAC and HVAC/R technicians were employed in the Cape Coral – Fort Myers area. Various national, state, and local industry associations provide resources and support to the technicians and their employers. These include, among others:

  • Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA)
  • American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE)
  • Mechanical Contractors Association of America (MCAA)
  • Refrigeration Service Engineers Society (RSES)
  • Southwest Florida Air Conditioning Contractors Association (SWACCA)
  • UA Local Union 630 Plumbers, Pipefitters, & HVAC

Organizations such as the above collaborate with others in the industry and regulatory agencies to establish and maintain educational and licensing standards. They serve all aspects of the HVAC and refrigeration industries, including performance and the safety of technicians, the public, and the environment.

Occupational Demand for HVAC and HVAC/R Technicians in Cape Coral, FL

The nationwide demand for trained HVAC and HVAC/R technicians continues to grow. Data from the BLS (2022) predicts a 5 percent increase in openings nationally between 2021 and 2031.

The BLS expects most of the growth in the HVAC industry to come from the construction of new commercial and residential structures. The other primary factor in growth results from repairing or replacing aging or obsolete systems and equipment in existing structures. Changes in efficiency, regulatory, and safety requirements generate additional demand for new installations. Additionally, the modern emphasis on energy efficiency and pollution reduction means that contemporary climate-control systems are more complex than ever. That further increases the demand for trained technicians.

Homeowners and companies want “smart” buildings that incorporate high-tech. That includes their HVAC systems. Installing, maintaining, and servicing modern climate-control systems require technicians who are skilled troubleshooters, proficient with computers, and understand electronics and high-tech. The best job opportunities are available to technicians with training and expertise in up-to-date systems.

HVAC technicians who specialize in new construction can face reduced opportunities if development declines. As businesses and the population in Cape Coral grow, a decline doesn’t seem likely in the foreseeable future. The City has adopted a “proactive approach toward creating a business-friendly environment” that encourages continuing development.

As businesses and homeowners need year-round climate control, technicians who specialize in maintaining, servicing, and repairing equipment can expect continuous employment regardless of the economy.

HVAC and HVAC/R Salaries in Cape Coral, FL

The BLS (May 2022) reports that HVAC mechanics and installers nationwide received a yearly median salary of $51,390. The median salary for technicians in the Cape Coral – Fort Myers area is $47,970 yearly. The wage difference is greater than it appears, as the cost of living in Florida is moderately higher than in other American states.

Wage details nationally, in Florida, and in the Cape Coral – Fort Myers area are as follows:

United States Florida Cape Coral-Fort Myers, FL
Number of HVAC professionals employed 374,770 33,560 1,210
Average annual salary $57,460 $49,380 $49,010
10th percentile $36,170 $32,120 $31,780
25th percentile $44,100 $38,320 $38,560
50th percentile $51,390 $47,260 $47,970
75th percentile $65,630 $58,540 $58,360
90th percentile $82,630 $64,600 $63,600

HVAC Apprenticeships in Cape Coral, FL

Aspiring HVAC and HVAC/R technicians can obtain the necessary training by participating in an apprenticeship program or attending school. Entering the HVAC industry as a helper and learning through on-the-job training is rarely an option.

Obtaining formal training creates more employment opportunities for technicians. Apprenticeships typically include specified hours of on-the-job training, usually 2,000 hours, and classroom work, usually 144 hours, annually for three to five years.

Individuals seeking apprenticeships can start with the Florida Department of Education. It has a registered apprenticeship program and provides information and resources for apprentices and employers. The Tri-County Apprenticeship Academy is a registered program that offers programs for the trades, including HVAC. It’s located in Fort Myers, and apprenticeships take four years.

UA Local 630 offers an HVAC apprenticeship program for Cape Coral residents able to commute to West Palm Beach. The program includes 2,000 hours of on-the-job training and 216 hours of classroom instruction each year for five years.

Workers can also attend HVAC and HVAC/R apprenticeship programs sponsored by industry associations such as 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 organization provides details of schedules and fees on its website.

Accredited HVAC and HVAC/R Schools in Cape Coral, FL

Apprentices who obtain their training by attending school should select an accredited institution. An accredited school has undergone an evaluation of its program’s curriculum and instructors by an independent agency. HVAC programs are evaluated by HVAC Excellence and the Partnership for Air-Conditioning, Heating, Refrigeration Accreditation (PAHRA).

HVAC Excellence has accredited the following Florida schools:

  • Lively Technical College, Tallahassee, FL
  • Palm Beach State College, Lake Worth, FL
  • Traviss Technical Center, Lakeland, FL
  • Wilton Simpson Technical College, Brooksville, FL
  • Withlacoochee Technical College, Inverness, FL

PAHRA has accredited the Osceola Technical College, Kissimmee, FL. Additionally, the Fort Myers Technical College website indicates that it has PAHRA accreditation for parts of its curriculum. However, the PAHRA website does not include it in its list.

Because of the commutes necessary for Cape Coral students to attend the industry-accredited schools, only Traviss Technical Center is included in the profiles below. Other reputable agencies have accredited the additional schools.

Florida Academy

The HVAC/R technology diploma program at Florida Academy prepares students for entry-level employment. The curriculum includes classroom lectures and hands-on practice in a fully-equipped lab.

The coursework includes HVAC/R fundamentals, safety, electricity, cooling, air distribution systems, copper and plastic piping, soldering and brazing, compressors, refrigerant and oils, leak detection, refrigerant evacuation, recovery, and charging, metering devices, heat pumps, maintenance, sheet metal duct systems, fiberglass and fabric duct systems, commercial airside systems, and air quality equipment. Graduates are qualified to sit for industry exams that include EPA 608, R410A safety, and OSHA 10-hour safety.

  • Location: Fort Myers, FL
  • Accreditation: Council on Occupational Education
  • Estimated Tuition: $11,700
  • Estimated Program Length: Eight months

Fort Myers Technical College

FMTC offers an HVAC/R certificate program to prepare graduates for entry-level positions as technicians. Coursework is presented in classroom lectures accompanied by hands-on training in the lab. Students additionally have opportunities for job shadowing experiences to acquire on-the-job training. Students must adhere to a dress code that includes uniforms.

The curriculum includes an introduction to HVAC/R, HVAC/R fundamentals, refrigeration systems and components, refrigeration practices, electrical systems and components, air conditioning systems, heating systems, heat pumps, system design, sizing and layout, commercial environmental systems, commercial refrigeration systems, and installation maintenance, service, and troubleshooting. Students obtain EPA 608 certification before graduating and are qualified to sit for NATE industry competency exams.

  • Location: Fort Myers, FL
  • Accreditation: Council on Occupational Education
  • Estimated Tuition: $6,553
  • Estimated Program Length: 12 months

Traviss Technical Center

Traviss offers two HVAC/R program tracks. Both are taught via classroom lectures and hands-on practice in the lab. Students are qualified to seek entry-level employment as technicians. As part of the coursework, students take industry certification exams that include EPA 608, OSHA 10 construction safety, and employment-ready air conditioning, electrical, and heat pump testing.

The HVAC/R (1) curriculum includes an introduction to HVAC/R, HVAC/R fundamentals, and HVAC/R service practices. The track takes 750 hours to complete. HVAC/R (2) continues with intermediate HVAC/R service practices and advanced HVAC/R service practices or advanced commercial and industrial service practices. The track takes 600 hours to complete.

  • Location: Lakeland, FL
  • Accreditation: HVAC Excellence; Council on Occupational Education
  • Estimated Tuition: $2.88 per hour
  • Estimated Program Length: 12 months for both

Cape Coral students who cannot attend one of the profiled schools may find that an online institution will meet their needs. More information on accredited programs is available at online HVAC training.

HVAC and HVAC/R Certification and Licensing in Cape Coral, FL

The profiled schools prepare technicians for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Section 608 certification exams. All HVAC or HVAC/R technicians who handle refrigerants must pass exams on refrigerant safety. Section 608 certification is required for most employment opportunities. The exams and certifications are based on the type and size of equipment on which a technician works, as described below:

  • 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 defines each level and provides additional information on its website.

Industry organizations offer information and testing for certifications, including Section 608, that increase a technician’s employability. A sample of organizations includes:

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

Details of availability, scheduling, and fees are on the organization’s website. There is also more information on the HVAC certifications page.

The Florida Department of Business & Professional Regulation oversees HVAC and HVAC/R contractors. The Board has designated three classes of licensing, as follows:

  • Class A: unlimited
  • Class B: limited to 25 tons of cooling and 500,000 BTU of heating in any one system
  • Class C: limited to the servicing of air-conditioning, heating, or refrigeration systems, including any duct cleaning and equipment sanitizing which requires at least a partial disassembling of the system

A certified contractor has a certificate of competency issued by the department which allows them to work in any jurisdiction in Florida without being required to fulfill the competency requirements of that jurisdiction. Registered contractors who do not have the department competency certification can work only in jurisdictions where they have met local competency requirements.

Applicants must meet experience requirements, including at least one year of supervisory experience, pass an exam, obtain liability, property damage, and workers comp insurance, be financially stable or submit a bond, and pay the relevant fees. Licenses are valid for two years. Renewal requires 14 continuing education units in specified subjects and paying a fee.

The City of Cape Coral requires all contractors to register and obtain a competency license. The fees vary according to business. All businesses must obtain a business tax receipt. Lee County also requires that businesses obtain a county business tax receipt after obtaining the city tax receipt. The fees vary according to the type of business and the number of employees.

HVAC professionals, including those with a home-based business, are encouraged to confirm that they comply with current state and local requirements before starting a project, as regulatory agencies may change their guidelines.

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.