Hialeah, FL HVAC Training Schools & Certification

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The city of Hialeah, FL, received its name for the Native Americans’ description of the broad prairie on which it’s situated. Located in southern Florida, it’s flanked by Biscayne Bay and the Everglades. Hialeah traces its beginnings to the “roaring twenties” when developers started the Hialeah Park Race Track, and the area became a playground for the rich and famous. The race track is now an Audubon Bird Sanctuary and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Hialeah has rapidly grown into a large city as part of the Miami Metropolitan area. The race track has been restored, and an entertainment complex is undergoing development around it. Along with construction, retail trade, healthcare, finance, insurance, and business are part of the city’s thriving economy. Electronics and technology are making an increasing contribution to Hialeah’s status as a commercial center.

Heat and humidity define Hialeah’s tropical climate, especially during the summers. The average temperatures begin soaring into the 80s F during April and don’t begin cooling until November. July and August are the hottest months, spiking to 89 degrees. June and September are the wettest months, with more than 11 inches of rainfall each. Residents get some relief during the winter when the high temperatures are only in the mid-70s. Precipitation decreases to only a few inches. Other than in occasional record-setting years, the temperatures never drop to freezing.

Climate control is essential for Hialeah residents. Heating, ventilation, and heating (HVAC) keep them comfortable in their homes and workplaces. Educational institutions and healthcare facilities often find it necessary to add refrigeration (HVAC/R) to their systems. The hospitality industry and entertainment venues require refrigeration for the comfort of visitors. The expanding electronics and technology industries often need specialized climate-control systems and equipment to operate correctly.

According to the most recent Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS 2021) data, 8,450 HVAC and HVAC/R technicians were employed in the Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach area, which includes Hialeah. The technicians and their employers receive resources and support from national, state, and local industry associations, including:

  • Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA)
  • American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE)
  • Mechanical Contractors Association of South Florida (MCASF)
  • Miami-Dade County Plumbing Contractors Association (PCA)
  • Palm Beach Air Conditioning Contractors Association (PBACCA)
  • Refrigeration Service Engineers Society (RSES)
  • South Florida Air Conditioning Contractors Association (SFACA)
  • Southwest Florida Air Conditioning Contractors Association (SWACCA)
  • UA Local Union 725 Pipefitters, Refrigeration and Air Conditioning

These organizations cooperate with others in the industry, regulatory agencies, and businesses to establish and maintain educational, licensing, and performance standards for the safety of technicians, the public, and the environment.

Occupational Demand for HVAC and HVAC/R Technicians in Hialeah, FL

The BLS (2021) anticipates a 5 percent increase in openings nationally for trained HVAC and HVAC/R technicians between 2020 and 2030. That’s an average of 38,500 new job openings each year. Projections Central (2022) data is more optimistic in their predictions for Florida, foreseeing 15.4 percent growth in HVAC openings around the state during the same decade.

Growth in the HVAC industry primarily relies on the construction of new commercial and residential buildings. Secondarily, the renovation and remodeling of existing structures contribute significantly to industry growth. Obsolete equipment and systems must be repaired, replaced, or updated to meet growing or changing requirements.

On occasion, climate control systems in newer structures are sometimes replaced due to evolving regulations, technological advances, and the demands of new industries, such as the influx of technology-based businesses making Hialeah their new home. Finally, the contemporary emphasis on energy efficiency and pollution reduction is a substantial factor driving industry growth.

Homeowners and businesses, new and old, want buildings to incorporate high-tech. They expect “smart” buildings with sophisticated climate-control systems. The HVAC technicians working with those systems must be skilled troubleshooters, proficient with computers, and understand electronics and high-tech. Their training and expertise provide the best job opportunities.

Technicians who prefer to specialize in new construction may occasionally experience unemployment if construction declines. A decline does not seem likely in the foreseeable future.

Hialeah, the City of Progress, bills itself as a “dynamic, business-friendly community,” and is widely regarded as “an American industrial city that continues to grow. Hialeah is one of the largest areas for employment and economic development in Miami-Dade County.”

Technicians who prefer to maintain, service, and repair equipment and systems can expect continuous employment regardless of the economy, as businesses and homeowners rely on year-round climate control.

HVAC and HVAC/R Salaries in Hialeah, FL

According to BLS (May 2021) statistics, HVAC mechanics and installers nationally received a median salary of $48,630. Their statistics also show that Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Palm Beach area technicians earned an annual median salary of $47,140. The wage difference isn’t as significant as it might seem, as the cost of living in Florida is slightly higher than in most other American states.

The table below compares BLS (May 2021) statistics for national, state, and regional earnings of HVAC professionals:

United States Florida Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach, FL
Number of HVAC professionals employed 356,960 30,480 8,450
Average annual salary $54,690 $46,850 $46,390
10th percentile $34,320 $29,740 $29,260
25th percentile $38,450 $37,360 $37,190
50th Percentile $48,630 $46,940 $47,140
75th percentile $62,000 $57,110 $59,400
90th percentile $78,210 $62,250 $63,920

HVAC Apprenticeships in Hialeah, FL

Although HVAC and HVAC/R technicians in the past learned their skills through on-the-job training, the complexity of contemporary climate-control equipment and systems requires trained workers.

Most aspiring technicians now attend classes or participate in an apprenticeship program. Formal training opens up more employment opportunities for most workers. 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.

The Florida Department of Education implements and oversees registered apprenticeships. They provide information and resources for apprentices.
The Air conditioning, Refrigeration, and Pipefitting Education Center (ARPEC) offers a five-year HVAC program. They do not charge tuition, but apprentices must pay for their books and union fees. Miami-Dade College offers a four-year HVAC technology apprenticeship at several campuses, including Hialeah.

Workers can also attend HVAC and HVAC/R apprenticeship programs from 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)

Details are available on each organization’s website.

Accredited HVAC and HVAC/R Schools in Hialeah, FL

Workers choosing to attend a school should select an accredited institution. Accreditation means that an independent agency has evaluated the school’s program’s quality, including the curriculum and the instructors. HVAC Excellence and the Partnership for Air-Conditioning, Heating, Refrigeration Accreditation (PAHRA) accredit HVAC programs.

HVAC Excellence has accredited the following Florida schools:

  • Lively Technical College, Tallahassee, FL
  • Palm Beach State College, Lake Worth, FL
  • Suncoast Technical College, Sarasota, FL
  • Suncoast Technical Education Center, Brooksville, FL
  • Traviss Technical Center, Lakeland, FL
  • Withlacoochee Technical College, Inverness, FL

PAHRA has accredited the Osceola Technical Center, Kissimmee, FL.

Although all the accredited schools require a commute for Hialeah students, Palm Beach College and Osceola Technical Center are profiled below due to their accreditation. Other reputable agencies have accredited the remaining schools.

Note: The information in this article was compiled in July 2022, when pandemic restrictions were in a state of flux. The profiled schools may have temporarily suspended classes or are offering online options. Please direct questions about timing and format to the school administration.

CBT Technology Institute

CBT offers an HVAC/R technician diploma program and an HVAC/R technology degree program. Both programs are currently available at the Hialeah and Miami campuses. Coursework in both programs is presented in English and Spanish and combines classroom lectures and hands-on training.

Coursework for the diploma program includes the following: HVAC fundamentals, electricity fundamentals, HVAC/R electrical systems, servicing and troubleshooting HVAC systems, air distribution system and ductwork, electric motors applications, controls, and troubleshooting, servicing and troubleshooting commercial refrigeration systems, and blueprints and design codes. Students complete 24 credit hours and are qualified to seek entry-level positions as technicians.

Students enrolled in the degree program complete all the diploma curriculum. They then add the following technical coursework: HVAC automatic controls, heating systems, chillers and commercial AC systems, estimating HVAC/R projects, specialized commercial refrigeration systems, HVAC systems design, and energy efficiency in buildings and construction codes.

They also complete general education coursework that includes principles of college algebra, English composition, US history, fundamentals of physics, and speech. They are awarded their degree at the completion of 60 credit hours. Graduates are eligible to take the county certifications as journeymen if they meet the other requirements.

  • Location: Cutler Bay, FL; Hialeah, FL; Miami, FL
  • Accreditation: Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS)
  • Tuition: $498.00 per credit
  • Program length: Diploma, eight to 12 months; degree, two years

Futura Career Institute

Futura offers an HVAC/R technician diploma program. The coursework is presented in classroom lectures and hands-on experience in a fully equipped lab. The program is taught only in the evenings and is available in English and Spanish. Students are required to wear a uniform and act professionally.

The curriculum includes basic principles of refrigeration, Freon and temperature-pressure relationships, charging window units and refrigerators, servicing commercial equipment, principles of electricity, electric motors, motor starting devices, electrical troubleshooting of hermetic compressors, air distribution and balance, central systems, gas and electric heating, heat pumps, ice machines, and refrigerant. Graduates are qualified to take the EPA Section 608 exam and seek entry-level employment.

  • Location: Hialeah, FL
  • Accreditation: Commission of the Council on Occupational Education (COE)
  • Tuition: $7,500
  • Program length: 36 weeks

Osceola Technical College

Osceola Technical College offers two certificate programs: HVAC/R technology 1 and HVAC/R technology 2. Both programs are available on a full-time or part-time basis. The full-time track is taught in the mornings and evenings. The part-time track is available in the mornings, afternoons, and evenings. Students in both programs must wear a navy polo shirt and blue work pants uniform.

The HVAC/R 1 curriculum includes an introduction to HVAC/R, HVAC/R fundamentals, and HVAC/R service practices. Each course takes 250 hours, for a total of 750 hours to earn the certificate. The HVAC/R coursework includes HVAC/R intermediate service practices and HVAC/R advanced service practices or HVAC/R advanced commercial and industrial services practices, for a total of 600 credit hours. Credits may be transferred to a degree program.

Graduates are qualified to sit for industry exams, including NATE, EPA Section 608, OSHA, and CPR. Certifications such as these increase a technician’s employability.

  • Location: Kissimmee, FL
  • Accreditation: PAHRA; Council on Occupational Education (COE)
  • Tuition: $5,050 for both
  • Program length: HVAC 1, nine months; HVAC 2, seven months

Palm Beach State College

PBSC offers an HVAC/R career certificate program. Students learn through classroom lectures and hands-on experience in a lab with various up-to-date equipment.

The coursework progresses from HVAC helper 1 and 2; to HVAC mechanic assistant 1 and 2; to HVAC mechanic 1, 2, 3, 4; to HVAC technician 1, 2, 3. The complete program takes 1,350 credit hours to complete. Graduates are qualified to seek entry-level positions as technicians.

  • Location: Lake Worth, FL
  • Accreditation: HVAC Excellence; Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
  • Tuition: $3,753
  • Program length: One to two years

Hialeah students who are unable to attend one of the above 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 Hialeah, FL

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations require that all HVAC and HVAC/R technicians who handle refrigerants obtain Section 608 certification. Certification is awarded upon passing exams on refrigerant safety. Four certification levels are available 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.

Technicians may obtain Section 608 certification and other certifications from industry organizations that include, among others:

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

Each organization includes details of availability, scheduling, and fees on its website. There is also more information on the HVAC certifications page.

The Florida Department of Business & Professional Regulation licenses and regulates the construction industry, including HVAC and HVAC/R contractors. Three classes of licensing apply, 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

Applicants for all licenses must meet experience requirements, 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 Hialeah requires all businesses to register annually and pay a business tax. Fees are dependent on the business type. Miami-Dade County requires all businesses within the county to obtain a local business tax account in addition to city business taxes. The county fee depends on the type of business.

As licensing regulations are always subject to change, HVAC professionals are encouraged to confirm that they comply with current state and local guidelines 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.