HVAC Schools in Orlando, FL – Degrees & Certification

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Those who have only visited Orlando, Florida (FL) on vacation—perhaps to a prominent theme park—may think of the city and Florida as a whole as only a vacationer’s paradise. The truth is that nearly 21.5 million people live in Florida full-time and the majority of them thrive on climate control (U.S. Census Bureau 2020). Of those Floridians, more than 10 percent live in the Orlando metropolitan area. That is why the HVAC business is truly booming in the state and is only expected to grow.

HVAC technicians in Orlando can expect to find high demand for their skills in the coming years at both the residential and commercial levels. After all, someone has to keep those theme parks cool. In fact, growth for the HVAC profession in Florida is expected to hit 27 percent from 2016 through 2026, according to CareerOneStop (which is sponsored by the US Department of Labor). With such a population concentration in Orlando, it stands to reason that a huge amount of growth will occur there.

Read on to discover how to become an HVAC installer or technician in Orlando, including information on the local career outlook, salaries, certification and licensing, and accredited HVAC programs.

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Demand for HVAC Technicians in Orlando, Florida

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Florida has the highest employment rate for HVAC technicians in the country (BLS May 2019). It would take a severe change in climate for HVAC technician demand in Florida to decrease since air conditioning is essential in the hot and humid summers.

Due to high demand and relatively high wages, Emerson Climate Technologies named Florida one of the top 10 best states to work as an HVAC technician. No specific data is available for the Orlando job market, but job listings on Indeed and Simply Hired—two popular job search sites—indicate that there is a sustained demand in the Orlando area, both in a residential and commercial capacity.

Of course, there are also specializations within the HVAC field which can mean different demand and salary possibilities.

For instance, solar energy installers work within the same purview as HVAC technicians, but their expected salaries are a bit different. According to Simply Hired (2020), solar installation technicians can expect a median salary of $33,268. This salary is somewhat lower than that of an HVAC technician.

Refrigeration technicians in Orlando may also have somewhat different salary expectations. According to Indeed (2020), the average salary for refrigeration technicians in Orlando is $48,521. This slightly higher salary may reflect the higher experience requirements for commercial level refrigeration work.

In terms of HVAC training, Orlando residents can take advantage of Florida’s Career and Professional Education Act of 2007 (CAPE), which aims to train and retrain unemployed professionals for work in fields such as HVAC. Those who may qualify should visit FloridaJobs.org for more information.

HVAC Worker Salary in Orlando, Florida

The BLS (May 2019) reported that HVAC mechanics and installers nationally received a median salary of $48,730 as of May 2019. Technicians in Orlando, Florida received an annual median salary of $44,070.

The table below is a comparison of national, state, and regional salaries of HVAC professionals, according to the BLS (May 2019):

United States Florida Orlando, Florida
Number of HVAC professionals employed 342,040 31,710 4,770
Annual mean wage $51,420 $44,720 $45,010
10th percentile $30,610 $29,590 $29,160
25th percentile $37,660 $35,130 $35,330
50th percentile (median) $48,730 $43,050 $44,070
75th percentile $62,070 $52,140 $53,250
90th percentile $77,920 $63,270 $62,420

Another source, Indeed (July 2020), stated that HVAC workers in Richmond, VA made $39,850 per year on average. Also, Salary.com (2020) found that HVAC mechanics made an average of $45,156 annually.

The national figures were a bit different according to another source of data, Payscale (July 2020), which relies on self-reported salaries. Among the HVAC workers reporting their annual salaries, Payscale found these percentiles for the United States:

  • 10th percentile: $30,000
  • 50th percentile (median): $47,097
  • 90th percentile: $74,000

It is important to note that the Missouri Economic Research and Information Center (MERIC 2020) reported that Florida had the 27th lowest cost of living in the United States for 2020.

Accredited HVAC Training Schools in Orlando, FL

There are a number of HVAC programs in and around Orlando that offer a foundational education for students who want to pursue this rewarding career. Here are some of the options available to Orlando residents who are ready to invest in their HVAC education.

Prospective HVAC students should look for programs that are accredited by recognized accreditation agencies.

The two most prominent accreditation organizations for HVAC training are HVAC Excellence and the Partnership for Heating, Air-conditioning, and Refrigeration Accreditation (PAHRA).

Both HVAC Excellence and PAHRA use an evaluation system that includes self-evaluation, peer review, and specialty site visits in order to determine a program’s efficacy and value to its students. Interested parties can visit the organizations’ websites for details of their accreditation process and standards.

Please note that all schools have at least regional accreditation from a reputable entity.

Florida Technical College

Florida Technical College offers the HVAC/R with PLC diploma program providing students with the practical and technical skills for performing HVAC maintenance, repairs, and installations.

Unlike some HVAC schools, the FTC program has a Programmable Logic Controller (PLC) component, which means graduates will be prepared to work with this type of equipment, giving them a competitive edge in the job market. Graduates of the program are also eligible to take certification tests such as the EPA 608 Universal and OSHA 10.

For admission into this program, students require a high school diploma or a recognized equivalent, while no previous knowledge in refrigeration and A/C is required.

Comprising 920 total contact hours, courses in this program include safety and craft skills; introduction to electricity (DC-AC); applied math for HVAC technicians; introduction to refrigeration and A/C; heat pumps and related systems; refrigeration and A/C: residential and commercial; electrical instrumentation: lab; environmental protection agency (EPA) laws and regulations; and commercial A/C equipment: lab, among others.

Graduates of the program can take up roles such as HVAC mechanic, systems maintenance mechanic, HVAC installer, A/C tech, HVAC service technician, and more.

  • Location: Orlando, Florida
  • Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education
  • Expected Time to Completion: 15 months
  • Estimated Tuition: $14,995

Traviss Technical College

Located about an hour outside of Orlando in Lakeland, Traviss Technical College is one of the few HVAC programs in the state that has earned accreditation from HVAC Excellence. The Traviss Technical College program offers two tracks in air-conditioning, refrigeration, and heating technology, which are available to both high school and adult students.

The program is available for students who are 16 years of age or older and interested in Technical Colleges education for gaining employment and/or continuing their education at a post-secondary education institution.

The air-conditioning, refrigeration, and heating technology (track 1) program consists of 750 total contact hours. The curriculum delves into topics such as air conditioning, refrigeration and heating helper; air conditioning, refrigeration and heating mechanic assistant; and air conditioning, refrigeration, and heating mechanic 1.

The air-conditioning, refrigeration, and heating technology (track 2) program is made up of 600 total contact hours. Sample some of the coursework: air conditioning, refrigeration and heating mechanic 2; and air conditioning, refrigeration, and heating technician. The first program is a prerequisite for taking up the second program.

Additionally, students are also required to test for the following certifications while pursuing these programs: EPA certified technician and the OSHA 10 construction industry safety test.

Students are prepared for employment as HVAC/R mechanics. They learn how to install, repair, and maintain HVAC/R systems as well as the basic principles involved in air-conditioning. They also study about various heating and cooling units and parts, and learn how to read blueprints and use technical reference manuals.

  • Location: Lakeland, FL
  • Accreditation: HVAC Excellence
  • Expected Time to Completion: A/C, refrigeration and heating technology track 1 (750 hours); A/C refrigeration and heating technology track 2 (600 hours)
  • Estimated Tuition: $2.88 to $5.76 per credit-hour (FL residents); $11.52 per credit-hour (non-residents)

Technical Education Center Osceola

Technical Education Center Osceola (TECO) is the only HVAC program in Florida accredited by the Partnership for Air-Conditioning, Heating and Refrigeration Accreditation (PAHRA). Located just outside of Orlando in Kissimmee, TECO’s air-conditioning, refrigeration and heating technology career certificate program is offered as both full-time and evening class options. Students completing the program will also earn their EPA Certification as well as the NATE, OSHA, and CPR Certifications.

Consisting of 1,350 total contact hours, the program includes courses such as an introduction to HVAC/R; HVAC/R fundamentals; HVAC/R service practices; HVAC/R intermediate service practices; and HVAC/R advanced service practices, or HVAC/R advanced commercial and industrial service practices.

Upon successful completion of this program, students enrolling in an AS program may be eligible to transfer credits. The mission of this program is to prepare its students for employment as HVAC/R technicians and provide them with advanced training for the HVAC/R industry.

  • Location: Kissimmee, FL
  • Accreditation: Partnership for Air-Conditioning, Heating and Refrigeration Accreditation (PAHRA)
  • Expected Time to Completion: 14 months
  • Estimated Tuition: $7,253

Southern Technical College

Southern Technical College offers the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning diploma program that prepares students to take up entry-level HVAC technician jobs. This hands-on program not only provides students with a fundamental understanding of technology systems but also provides them with hands-on experience. They learn about the installation and servicing of light commercial and residential air conditioning and heating systems.

Taught by industry professionals, courses in the program include basic electricity and electronics, introduction to building construction, applied heating, commercial refrigeration, motors and controls, air conditioning and refrigeration theory, HVAC system design, and commercial air conditioning, among others.

On successful completion of the program, graduates can take up opportunities at construction sites, HVAC firms, educational facilities, hospitals, government facilities, residential establishments, factories, office buildings, and more.

Apart from a diploma, the Southern Technical College also offers an associate’s degree in heating, ventilation and air conditioning/refrigeration (HVACR) at the Sanford campus.

  • Location: Orlando, Auburndale, Brandon, and Sanford, FL
  • Accreditation: Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC)
  • Expected Time to Completion: Diploma (10 months); associate’s degree (18 months)
  • Estimated Tuition: $22,860

HVAC Certification and Licensing in Orlando, Florida

The Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR) provides credentialing for HVAC technicians in Florida, including Orlando. In Florida, HVAC technician licenses are known as “air conditioning licenses” but are applicable to all segments of the industry.

In order to work as an HVAC technician in Orlando, one must either become a certified technician or a registered technician. The difference is that certified technicians in Florida are allowed to work throughout the state while registered technicians are only permitted to work in the region where they are registered. Therefore an Orlando HVAC technician who is registered in Orlando would only be able to work there, unless they subsequently obtained certified status.

Florida also distinguishes Class A and Class B certificates and registration. Class A licenses are unrestricted while Class B licenses only allow the technician to work on those systems with less than 25 tons of cooling and less than 500,000 BTU of heating.

Specialty contractors, including HVAC technicians, must register with the City of Orlando before beginning work. The registration application must include details about the contractor’s license as well as insurance and tax information.

Farheen Gani

Farheen is a freelance writer, marketer, and researcher. She writes about technology, education, and marketing. Her work has appeared on websites such as Tech in Asia and Foundr, as well as top SaaS blogs such as Zapier and InVision. You can connect with her on LinkedIn and Twitter (@FarheenGani).