HVAC Training in Tallahassee, Florida (FL)

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The area now known as Tallahassee, FL, was home to Native Americans long before recorded history. Spanish settlers began arriving in the 1500s and established missions during the 1600s. Legislators designated Tallahassee as the capital of Florida Territory, which has continued as the capital of the State of Florida. The early economy was based on cotton; however, schools that eventually became renowned institutions of higher learning were started by the late 1800s. Government and education became the mainstays of Tallahassee’s economy.

The economy gradually evolved into more agricultural products, lumber, livestock, and a growing tourist industry. While those are important, Tallahassee continues as a center for government and is regarded as a college town. The city has grown, and the economy has diversified with it. “Tallahassee is a high technology center sometimes called Silicon Valley South.” Research facilities have placed it “on the cutting edge of technology.” Healthcare, professional services, finance, and insurance round out the expanding economy.

Tallahassee lies within the humid subtropical climate zone. Residents experience hot and humid summers and mild winters, with brief autumns and springs. Temperatures during June through August consistently average in the 90s F, with occasional spikes into the 100s. Those months also have the greatest amount of rain, with more than seven inches each month. The days start to cool during September, dropping to the 60s by January. Warming starts in March, reaching the high 80s by May. Rainfall averages three and a half to nearly five inches each month during autumn, winter, and spring. It increases to almost six inches in March. The temperatures seldom drop to freezing. Snow flurries are rare but occur in some winters. The area is subject to hurricanes or tornadoes on occasion.

The temperature extremes and high humidity make heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) essential for comfort in homes and workplaces. Healthcare facilities, educational institutions, food processing plants, and research centers frequently add refrigeration (HVAC/R) to their systems. The expanding technology industry and the use of high-tech in most businesses require specialized climate-control systems and equipment to keep their electronics operating correctly.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS May 2022) indicates that 520 HVAC and HVAC/R technicians were employed in Tallahassee. The technicians and their employers are supported with resources from industry associations that include, among others:

  • Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA)
  • American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE)
  • Associated Builders and Contractors of North Florida (ABC)
  • Building Industry Association of the Big Bend (BIABB)
  • Florida Association of Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors ((FAPHCC)
  • Mechanical Contractors Association of America (MCAA)
  • Refrigeration Service Engineers Society (RSES)
  • Tallahassee Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Contractors Association (TRACCA)
  • UA Local Union 234 Plumbers and Pipefitters and HVAC Service Techs

These, and similar national, state, and local organizations, 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 Tallahassee, FL

The BLS (2022) data for workforce growth predicts an increase of 5 percent in demand for trained HVAC and HVAC/R technicians nationwide from 2021 to 2031. That equals an average of 40,100 new job openings each year.

According to the BLS, primary growth in the HVAC industry is due to new commercial and residential building construction. The sophistication of modern climate-control systems is also increasing the demand for trained technicians. In older cities like Tallahassee, renovating and remodeling existing buildings also contribute to growth. Aging or obsolete climate control systems and equipment must be updated, retrofitted, or replaced.

Technicians occasionally replace or update systems in newer buildings to meet evolving efficiency, regulatory, and safety requirements. As technology-based industries in Tallahassee expand, increasingly complex climate-control equipment and system installations will increase the demand for trained technicians. Another significant component of the HVAC industry’s growth is the contemporary emphasis on energy efficiency and pollution reduction.

Not to be overlooked is the fact that homeowners and businesses, new and old, want “smart” buildings that incorporate high-tech, including 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. Their training and expertise provide the best job opportunities.

HVAC technicians specializing in new construction can face reduced opportunities if development declines. That doesn’t seem likely in the foreseeable future in Tallahassee as the city offers “innovative startups and a highly educated workforce” and is a “cutting-edge diverse community that continues to grow.”

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 Tallahassee, 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 Tallahassee was less, at $42,690 yearly. The wage difference is more significant than it appears, as the cost of living in Florida is moderately higher than in other American states. However, it should be noted that the cost of living in Tallahassee is significantly lower than both the national average and the rest of Florida.

Details of earnings, according to the BLS (May 2022), for national, Florida, and Tallahassee HVAC professionals, are as follows:

United States Florida Tallahassee, FL
Number of HVAC professionals employed 374,770 33,560 520
Average annual salary $57,460 $49,380 $44,570
10th percentile $36,170 $32,120 $30,580
25th percentile $44,100 $38,320 $37,160
50th percentile $51,390 $47,260 $42,690
75th percentile $65,630 $58,540 $50,800
90th percentile $82,630 $64,600 $58,940

HVAC Apprenticeships in Tallahassee, FL

As noted above, working on climate-control equipment and systems in contemporary installations requires trained workers. Entering the HVAC industry as a helper and learning through on-the-job training is rarely an option now. Most aspiring technicians currently attend classes or participate in an apprenticeship program.

Obtaining formal training creates more employment opportunities for HVAC 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.

The Florida Department of Education has a registered apprenticeship program in place. Information and resources for apprentices and employers are available on the site. The Leon Works Junior Apprenticeship Program offers junior and senior high school students trade apprenticeships.

The Tallahassee Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Contractors Association (TRACCA) has a three-year HVAC apprenticeship program in the planning stages. They anticipate 6,000 hours of on-the-job training to complete the program. Tallahassee Community College offers a two-year HVAC apprenticeship career and technical program. The classroom and hands-on experience prepare students for certification as journeymen. UA Local 234 offers an apprenticeship program for Tallahassee residents able to commute to the Jacksonville Training Center.

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 of schedules and fees are provided on each organization’s website.

Accredited HVAC and HVAC/R Schools in Tallahassee, FL

Workers planning to attend a school should select an accredited institution. Accredited schools have undergone an evaluation of their 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

Except Lively Technical College, the commute to the other industry-accredited schools is too lengthy for Tallahassee students. Other reputable agencies have accredited the additional schools in the profiles below.

Florida Gateway College (formerly Lake City Community College)

Florida Gateway College offers a certificate program in commercial HVAC/R technology. Graduates are prepared to seek entry-level employment. The curriculum includes an introduction to air conditioning, domestic refrigeration, basic electricity, central residential A/C, psychometrics, compressors, heat pumps, advanced service practices, commercial refrigeration, and commercial troubleshooting. Midway through the program, students will take the EPA 608 certification exam. The program requires 45 credits to complete, and graduates are awarded a certificate of completion.

  • Location: Lake City, FL
  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
  • Estimated Tuition: $84.89 per credit
  • Estimated Program length: Two years

Lively Technical College

LTC offers two HVAC/R certificate programs. Students in both programs learn via classroom instruction and hands-on training in the lab. (HVAC/R) 1 prepares students for entry-level employment. The curriculum includes an introduction to HVAC/R, HVAC/R fundamentals, and HVAC/R service. Students are expected to take the EPA 608 certification exam before graduating. The (HVAC/R) 2 program curriculum continues with HVAC/R intermediate service practices and advanced service practices.

  • Location: Tallahassee, FL
  • Accreditation: HVAC Excellence, Council on Occupational Education
  • Estimated Tuition: (HVAC/R) 1: $2,190; (HVAC/R) 2: $1,752
  • Estimated Program length: Two years for both

Tallahassee Community College

TCC offers an HVAC/R certificate program at its Gadsden campus in Quincy. The coursework includes an introduction to HVAC/R, HVAC/R fundamentals, HVAC/R service practices and intermediate service practices, and refrigeration and heating technician. Students also complete the requirements to receive the OSHA 10-hour safety card and are prepared to sit for industry certification exams, including the EPA 608 certification exam. The program is available only during the evenings. Graduates are qualified to seek entry-level employment.

The college also offers an HVAC apprenticeship career and technical program that prepares students for certification as journeymen.

  • Location: Quincy, FL
  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
  • Estimated Tuition: HVAC/R certificate $3,603.15; HVAC apprentice $30,677.49
  • Estimated Program length: Both programs are two years each

Tallahassee 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 Tallahassee, FL

An HVAC or HVAC/R technician who handles refrigerants under the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) mandate to pass refrigerant safety exams. Those who pass receive Section 608 certification, which 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.

Technicians may obtain various certifications, including Section 608, that increase their employability from industry organizations such as:

  • 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 oversees the construction industry. The Board has designated three classes of licensing applicable to HVAC and HVAC/R contractors, 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. A registered contractor does not have the department competency certification and can work only in jurisdictions where they have met local competency requirements.

Applicants for all licenses 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 Tallahassee does not require a business license but requires that state licensing requirements be met.

HVAC professionals 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.