HVAC Technical Schools in Jacksonville, FL

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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 2017) reported that 2,070 HVAC mechanics and installers were employed in Jacksonville.

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

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 (2018), the number of HVAC job openings in the U.S. is expected to grow 15 percent between 2016 and 2026. That’s much faster growth than average for all occupations. Florida is experiencing even faster growth in job creation for technicians. In fact, Projections Central predicted a 33.4 percent statewide increase for the decade ending in 2024.

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

  • New commercial buildings and residences
  • Increasing sophistication of climate control systems
  • 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 offer rebates to homeowners and businesses for HVAC upgrades of existing equipment.

HVAC Worker Salary in Jacksonville, FL

The salaries of HVAC/R mechanics and installers depend on their region of residence. The BLS (May 2017) found the following statewide and municipal figures:

State of Florida

(29,450 HVAC workers): $42,260 average annual salary

  • 10th percentile: $27,410
  • 25th percentile: $33,030
  • 50th percentile (median): $40,300
  • 75th percentile: $50,110
  • 90th percentile: $61,070

$20.32 average hourly salary

  • 10th percentile: $13.18/hr.
  • 25th percentile: $15.88/hr.
  • 50th percentile (median): $19.38/hr.
  • 75th percentile: $24.09/hr.
  • 90th percentile: $29.36/hr.

City of Jacksonville, FL (2,070 HVAC workers): $43,260 average annual salary

  • 10th percentile: $24,670
  • 25th percentile: $30,930
  • 50th percentile (median): $43,100
  • 75th percentile: $54,590
  • 90th percentile: $62,730

$20.80 average hourly salary

  • 10th percentile: $11.86/hr.
  • 25th percentile: $14.87/hr.
  • 50th percentile (median): $20.72/hr.
  • 75th percentile: $26.25/hr.
  • 90th percentile: $30.16/hr.

Accredited HVAC Schools 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 career.

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. 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.

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 (June 2018), neither has accredited a program in the Jacksonville area. That said, the following programs have regional accreditation from established entities.

Florida Career College, a vocational school, offers a hands-on training program that prepares students for entry-level HVAC jobs. The curriculum includes instruction in basic electricity, basic refrigeration theory and commercial refrigeration application, air conditioning, commercial and residential troubleshooting, green awareness, heating systems and boilers, duct design, reading blueprints, load calculations, and chiller applications.

Students learn through a combination of coursework and time spent in the lab. Graduates receive a diploma.

  • Location: Jacksonville
  • Accreditation: Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools
  • Expected Time to Completion: Nine months
  • Estimated Tuition: $20,500

The Florida State College at Jacksonville offers a workforce certificate that prepares students for HVAC employment. The curriculum includes classwork and labs in the following subjects:

air conditioning theory, basic and applied electricity, schematics, HVAC and HVAC/R controls, piping, and applied heating. Graduates may be qualified to take the apprentice certification test.

  • Location: Jacksonville
  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
  • Expected Time to Completion: One year
  • Estimated Tuition: $4,318

The Tulsa Welding School offers a refrigeration technologies program that includes HVAC training. 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.

  • Location: Jacksonville
  • Accreditation: Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges
  • Expected Time to Completion: Seven months
  • Estimated Tuition: Not disclosed

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 I: 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.

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 kind of business, 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 – $75. Certificates must be renewed every two years. Renewal fees range from $50 – $160.

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