HVAC Technical Schools in Jacksonville, FL – Programs & Certifications

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Jacksonville, Florida (FL) is growing. More than a billion dollars are earmarked for downtown projects, including a new regional transportation center. The healthcare, life sciences, and biotechnology industries are expanding, as is the aerospace industry.

The River City is home to dozens of major companies, including three Fortune 500 companies. Summers are hot, with temperatures in the high 80s and low 90s F. Winter is a late arrival, as significant cooling doesn’t occur until November or December. Every month experiences precipitation, with September averaging nearly eight inches.

Work and weather keep Jacksonville residents inside, making heating, venting, and air conditioning, and refrigeration (HVAC/R) essential for comfort. Much of the industrial technology today requires specific temperatures and certain levels of humidity, further increasing the need for HVAC/R services. By illustration, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS May 2020) reported that 2,430 HVAC mechanics and installers were employed in Jacksonville.

Technicians receive training and support from the following local industry organizations:

  • Northeast Florida Builders Association (NEFBA)
  • North Florida Air Conditioning Contractors Association (NFACCA)
  • UA Local Union No. 234

These organizations work with others in the industry and with government organizations to establish educational and licensing standards. They serve all aspects of the HVAC and refrigeration industries, including performance and promotion.

HVAC and HVAC/R technicians use their skills to install, maintain, and repair equipment and systems that control the temperature and air quality in buildings. Installers are responsible for putting equipment in place and connecting the wiring, piping, and ducting. They also test components, controls, and circuitry. Skills include reading blueprints, computing heat load and loss calculations, and calibrating controls.

Technicians need to be familiar with how components such as motors, belts, fans, filters, and valves function as part of a complete system. They service commercial equipment such as boilers, compressors, heat pumps, humidifiers, economizers, and water pumps, as well as residential installations. They replace or repair malfunctioning parts, too. Their skills include brazing or welding and using a variety of sophisticated tools.

All workers are responsible for keeping their credentials current, traveling to job sites, and making sure customers receive detailed service records. An important part of their job is helping customers understand and practice energy conservation.

This guide explores accredited HVAC training schools in Jacksonville, FL, as well as the local job outlook and credentialing.

Occupational Demand for HVAC Technicians in Jacksonville, FL

The demand for HVAC technicians nationwide continues to grow. According to the BLS (2021), the number of HVAC job openings in the U.S. is expected to grow 5 percent between 2020 and 2030. That’s slightly slower than the average for all occupations (8 percent). Florida is experiencing even faster growth in job creation for technicians. In fact, Projections Central predicted a 16.2 percent statewide increase for the decade ending in 2028.

Several factors contribute to the growth of the HVAC and HVAC/R industry:

  • New commercial buildings and residences
  • The increasing sophistication of climate control systems
  • The contemporary emphasis on energy efficiency and reducing pollution
  • Replacing, retrofitting, or upgrading older systems

In addition to industry demands for specialized systems in Jacksonville, Florida, utilities offer rebates to homeowners and businesses for HVAC upgrades of existing equipment.

One of the most direct ways to observe the strength of the HVAC industry in Jacksonville is by performing an online search for available jobs through various search engines. For example, Monster (November 2021) yielded jobs in HVAC with companies such as Home Builders Institute Inc, Inc., Northport Heating and Air Conditioning, Air McCall Inc., CMS Nextech, and Bryant Staffing Solutions, among many others. A similar search on Indeed (November 2021) yielded 241 job openings, including opportunities with Jacobs, Weathers Engineers, Coke Florida, PGA Tour, JRT Custom Climates, and many more.

HVAC Worker Salary in Jacksonville, FL

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (May 2020), HVAC professionals earn relatively competitive salaries, particularly for positions that may require just two years of post-secondary training. BLS (May 2020) reported that there were 344,020 HVAC mechanics and installers nationwide with an average annual salary (annual mean wage) of $53,410 and 33,210 HVAC mechanics and installers (the highest most among all states in the nation) in Florida with an average annual salary (annual mean wage) of $45,450. Jacksonville had 2,430 HVAC mechanics and installers with an average annual salary (annual mean wage) of $49,340.

The table below is a comparison of national, state, and regional salaries of HVAC professionals (BLS May 2020):

United States Florida Jacksonville, Florida
Number of HVAC Professionals Employed 344,020 33,210 2,430
Annual Mean Wage $53,410 $45,450 $49,340
10th Percentile $31,910 $29,210 $32,640
25th Percentile $39,320 $35,670 $37,530
50th Percentile (Median) $50,590 $43,890 $46,530
75th Percentile $64,350 $53,160 $59,640
90th Percentile $80,820 $64,930 $72,590

Another source, Indeed (November 2021), stated that HVAC workers in Jacksonville, FL made $43,806 per year on average. Also, Salary.com found that HVAC mechanics made an average of $41,158 annually.

The national figures were a bit different according to another source of data, PayScale (November 2021), which relies on self-reported salaries. Among the HVAC workers reporting their annual salaries, Payscale found these percentiles for the United States:

  • 10th percentile: $32,000
  • 50th percentile (median): $49,503
  • 90th percentile: $79,000

That said, the BLS projections are generally considered more reliable due to the higher sample size and systematized data collection methods.

It is important to note that the Missouri Economic Research and Information Center (MERIC 2021) reported that Florida had the 29th lowest cost of living in the United States.

HVAC Apprenticeships in Jacksonville, FL

Most aspiring HVAC professionals in Florida attend classes or participate in an apprenticeship program. Coursework and apprenticeships open up more employment opportunities. Trained workers also start at higher wages and earn more throughout their careers.

The Florida Department of Education has a registered apprenticeship program. Apprentices who complete the program earn a completion of apprenticeship certificate and may receive journey-level status in their chosen trade. A list of apprentice sponsors is available, which currently includes several HVAC companies.

UA Local 234 has an apprenticeship program that includes HVAC opportunities. Apprentices receive classroom training as well as employment that provides on-the-job experience. Applicants must meet requirements which include, but aren’t limited to:

  • Must be 18 years of age or older
  • Must have a valid driver’s license
  • Must pass substance testing
  • Must be of good moral character
  • Must have a high school diploma or GED

A background or aptitude in subjects such as mathematics, science, or industrial arts is recommended. They also offer a pre-apprentice (“helper”) program. The cost of attending is not disclosed on their website.

The Northeast Florida Builders Association also offers several apprenticeship programs, including HVAC. Apprentices are employed 40 hours a week where they receive on-the-job experience. They also attend classes twice a week and are not charged tuition.

Applicants must be at least 18 years old, have a high school diploma or GED, a valid driver’s license, and letters of recommendation, among other requirements. The curriculum is based on the National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER) standards. The program takes four years to complete.

The local chapters of national industry associations are another source of apprenticeship programs. These include, but are not limited to:

  • Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA)
  • Mechanical Contractors Association of America (MCAA)
  • Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors Association (PHCCA)
  • Sheet Metal Workers International Association (SMART, formerly SMWIA)

Details of what each association offers in the way of apprenticeships and corresponding fees are available on each association’s website.

Accredited HVAC Schools in Jacksonville, FL

Accreditation is a process by which an independent agency evaluates the quality of the curriculum and the instructors. When choosing a school, it is essential to determine if it is accredited, and if so, what agency accredited it. Certain standards must be met before accreditation is granted.

Two main organizations evaluate and accredit HVAC programs: HVAC Excellence and the Partnership for Air-Conditioning, Heating, Refrigeration Accreditation (PAHRA). Both organizations have granted accreditation to various Florida programs, but as of this writing (November 2021), neither has accredited a program in the Jacksonville area. That said, the following programs have regional accreditation from established entities.

Florida Career College

Florida Career College, a vocational school, offers a hands-on training program that prepares students for entry-level HVAC jobs. This HVAC diploma prepares students for troubleshooting, maintaining, installing, and repairing residential HVAC systems. Students in this program are prepared for two optional HVAC Certifications: the EPA Section 608 and the Universal R-410A Safety Training & Certification.

The curriculum includes instruction in basic electricity, motors, and HVAC controls; air conditioning, troubleshooting, and heat pump systems; basic refrigeration theory and application; heating systems and boilers; duct design, blueprint reading, and load calculation; commercial refrigeration systems; and specialized commercial equipment and green awareness.

Students learn through a combination of coursework and time spent in the lab. At the end of the program, graduates can pursue opportunities such as HVAC technicians, service technicians, air conditioning technicians, HVAC mechanics, HVAC specialists, refrigeration technicians, and refrigeration mechanics.

  • Location: Jacksonville, FL
  • Accreditation: Commission of the Council on Occupational Education
  • Expected Time to Completion: 10 months
  • Estimated Tuition: $21,500

Florida State College at Jacksonville

The Florida State College at Jacksonville offers a workforce certificate that prepares students for HVAC employment. Students learn through classroom instruction that includes current theories of HVAC/R and electrical systems, and through hands-on training in labs that teach the basics of piping and brazing, setting up HVAC systems, adjustment, and troubleshooting.

Comprising 1,350 clock hours, the curriculum includes classwork and labs in the following subjects: air conditioning and refrigeration theory; basic electricity and schematics; applied electricity and schematics, piping; HVAC controls; applied heating; and refrigeration controls. Graduates may be qualified to take the apprentice certification test.

  • Location: Jacksonville, FL
  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
  • Expected Time to Completion: 12 months
  • Estimated Tuition: $3,942

Tulsa Welding School

The Tulsa Welding School offers a refrigeration technologies program that includes HVAC training. Trains students in the fundamentals of HVAC/R, this hands-on training program prepares them for job opportunities as entry-level technicians in refrigeration service and maintenance.

The faculty of the program includes expert instructors who train students in the knowledge and skills necessary for becoming valuable refrigeration technicians who know how to maintain and service HVAC/R equipment.

Students complete coursework and hands-on experience in the fundamentals of electricity, the fundamentals of refrigeration, commercial and residential climate control systems, commercial and residential refrigeration, and advanced troubleshooting. Classes are available in the evening and well as during the day.

On successful completion of the program, graduates can take up roles such as refrigeration technicians, commercial refrigeration installers, HVAC/R service technicians, HVAC/R installation technicians, refrigeration service technicians, and commercial transportation refrigeration troubleshooters.

  • Location: Jacksonville, FL
  • Accreditation: Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges
  • Expected Time to Completion: Seven months
  • Estimated Tuition: Non-military students ($14,523); military students ($13,071)

Jones Technical Institute

J-Tech Institute, a nonprofit institution, offers an HVAC/R program that provides hands-on training to students. The program is focused on the understanding of HVAC systems, effective repair methods, logical diagnostic procedures, and much more. With real-world HVAC training, students will develop the technical knowledge and business acumen desired by employers.

As part of the program, students will delve into topics such as HVAC-R systems design; electrical systems AC & DC; fabrication & duct design; direct digital control systems; motor controls; residential and commercial HVAC-R; piping systems; and transport HVAC-R.

Upon program completion, graduates will be able to enter the industry as entry-level HVAC-R technicians in several different industries. They can take up roles such as residential installation helpers, residential installation lead installers, residential and light commercial installers, commercial maintenance technicians, and industrial refrigeration technicians, among many such roles.

  • Location: Jacksonville, FL
  • Accreditation: The Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC)
  • Expected Time to Completion: Less than 12 months
  • Estimated Tuition: $33,943

Please note that the schools charge for books, supplies, and other fees in addition to tuition.

HVAC Certification & Licensing in Jacksonville, FL

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requires technicians who work with refrigerants to obtain the EPA Section 608 Certification. Certification requires passing an exam on the safe handling of refrigerants. The four certification levels are:

  • Type 1: small appliances
  • Type II: high-pressure refrigerants
  • Type III: low-pressure refrigerants
  • Technicians who will be working on all types of equipment are required to obtain universal HVAC certification (Type IV)

Various organizations offer classes and administer the exam.

Technicians may obtain additional training and certifications from industry organizations. These include, but aren’t limited to:

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

Details of certifications available, qualifications, and fees are available on their websites or in this comprehensive HVAC certification guide.

The Florida Department of Business & Professional Regulation issues two types of contractor licenses: Class A and Class B. HVAC contractors are subject to a third category: Class C. Class A licenses are unlimited; Class B licenses limit contractors to 25 tons of cooling and 500,000 BTU of heating in any one system; Class C licensees are limited to the servicing of HVAC and HVAC/R systems.

Obtaining a license requires passing the relevant exams, submitting proof of work experience, financial stability, and liability insurance, as well as paying the appropriate fees. Licenses must be renewed every two years. Renewal is dependent on obtaining 14 units of continuing education in specific subjects.

The City of Jacksonville and the County of Duval require a business license for all businesses, including contractors. A self-employed HVAC or HVAC/R technician is considered a contractor. Obtaining a business license is dependent upon first obtaining a Florida state contractor license as described above. Business license fees are based on the kind of business, the number of employees, equipment, and various other factors.

The City of Jacksonville Construction Trades Qualifying Board is charged with ensuring that contractors, including HVAC contractors, prove “competency, financial responsibility, credit, and insurance threshold qualifications established under both City Ordinance and state law.” Applicants must pass an exam and obtain a certificate. Exam fees vary from $65 – $150, and certificate fees vary from $25 to $75. Certificates must be renewed every two years. Renewal fees range from $50 to $160.

As a final note, Jacksonville requires a Certificate of Use for a startup business, and contractors working from their homes must notify the Building and Zoning Department and file a disclosure statement. Fees are not disclosed on the website.

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.