HVAC Training Programs in Georgia

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In Georgia (GA) there is an abundance of employment opportunities for HVAC professionals, particularly those who specialize in air conditioning. In addition to jobs, there are several resources for these workers within the state as well. For example, National HVAC Insider (Oct. 2018) indicates that the Georgia chapter of the Plumbing Heating Cooling Contractors Association (PHCC) has recently begun offering an apprenticeship program to its members. In addition to PHCC of Georgia, the Conditioned Air Association of Georgia (CAAG) is a nonprofit trade association in the Empire State of the South that boasts over 900 members and 23 local chapters and works to promote best practices in the industry and local advocacy for legislation.

And the career outlook is bright for GA HVAC workers. Atlanta Journal-Constitution (Sept. 2018) recently reported that the construction industry in Georgia over the last five years has reached an all-time high with spending topping $1.5 trillion. The explosion of construction across this area and other parts of Georgia, the openings for HVAC professionals expand as well.

So how does one become an HVAC technician or air conditioning specialist in Georgia? First, HVAC contractors in GA need a license from the Georgia Board of Conditioned Air Contractors to perform work that costs $2,500 or more. A majority of job openings in this industry ask for candidates with a driver’s license and at least three years of HVAC experience. Some GA HVAC workers learn on the job, while others enroll in a structured training program through one of the schools discussed below. These professionals take on varied tasks such as installing and repairing HVAC systems and components (e.g., motors, pipes, electrical wiring, humidifiers, intake valves, fans, temperature controls, evaporators, compressors, condensers, fuses, filters, etc.); documenting all work performed on systems; making recommendations to improve system energy efficiency; connecting systems to fuel and water lines; and maintaining compliance with local and federal legislation. Additionally, HVAC workers must keep on top of new technologies in their industry and fulfill continuing education requirements for any licenses or permits.

Discover the promising career outlook for Georgia HVAC workers, as well as the salary prospects, accredited training programs, and licensing procedures in the state.

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HVAC Occupational Demand in GA

There is excellent news for Georgia residents interested in HVAC careers: it is expected to be a high-growth industry into the future. By illustration, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS 2017) anticipates a 15 percent increase in HVAC openings nationwide between 2016 and 2026; this is much more robust than the 7 percent average growth anticipated across all occupations during that time. Furthermore, CareerOneStop (2017) — a data affiliate of the US Department of Labor — reported that the projected growth for HVAC workers in Georgia is on even pace with the rest of the country, with an additional 1,490 jobs expected by 2026.

HVAC workers and air conditioning specialists in Georgia work in a wide range of environments, including residences, business buildings, schools, hospitals, and more. Particularly during the humid, hot summers in Georgia, these professionals may see the demand for their services spike and may be called upon to work evenings, weekends, or holidays during this busy season.

It is important to note that HVAC technicians, mechanics, and installers do incur one of the highest rates of work-related injuries and illnesses in the country. This is due to the physical nature of the work which carries a risk of electrical shock, burns, and muscular strains. Also, common refrigerants can pose health hazards as well. Given these risks, it is very important to receive the proper training in safety and handling of sensitive materials, an area covered by the accredited HVAC training programs discussed below.

As evidence of the thriving demand for these skilled professionals, a survey of common job post sites such as Monster, CareerBuilder, and others boasted hundreds of openings in this field. Indeed (Oct. 2018) advertised more than 1,000 opportunities in Georgia at companies including the ICEE Company, Ingersoll Rand, NextGen, South Atlanta Mechanical, and Savannah College of Art and Design.

Accredited HVAC Schools in GA

For aspiring HVAC mechanics, installers, and technicians in Georgia, appropriate training and preparation for the career is essential. Although it is not required for licensure, HVAC professionals in GA are encouraged to seek out accredited programs. There are two predominant approval agencies in this field: the Partnership for Air-Conditioning, Heating, Refrigeration Accreditation (PAHRA) and HVAC Excellence. These organizations weigh several factors in the program approval process, such as program mission, quality of facilities & faculty, and comprehensiveness of curricula. For an in-depth examination of each of these factors, check out the PAHRA and HVAC Excellence websites. Luckily for Georgia residents, there are four PAHRA-accredited schools in the state.

West Central Technical College in Carrollton provides PAHRA-accredited career diplomas and certificates in air conditioning technology with sub-specializations for A/C electrical technicians, repairers, technician assistants, and installers. Through its various programs, this school offers coursework in areas such as refrigeration fundamentals; system components; HVACR electrical fundamentals; electrical motors; air conditioning systems application & installation; gas heat; heat pumps & related systems; and troubleshooting air conditioning systems. West Georgia programs cost $89 per credit hour for Georgia residents and $178 per credit hour for out of state students.

Georgia Piedmont Technical College in Clarkston also offers PAHRA-accredited HVAC training. Georgia Piedmont provides two certificates (air conditioning technician’s assistant and air conditioning electrical technician) along with a diploma program and an associate degree program in air conditioning technology. In the school’s degree program, students take general education coursework in addition to classes such as refrigeration principles & practices; refrigeration system components; HVAC-R electrical motors; HVAC-R electrical components & controls; air conditioning systems application & installation; gas heat; heat pumps & related systems; and residential systems designs. This program also costs $89 per credit hour for Georgia residents and $178 for out of state students.

Gwinnett Technical College, with campuses in Lawrenceville and Alpharetta, provides several certificates (A/C electrical technician, A/C maintenance technician, and refrigeration system service technician), diplomas (air conditioning technology and building maintenance), and a degree program in air conditioning technology. In its associate of applied science (AAS) program, students take courses such as refrigeration fundamentals; HVAC-R electrical components & controls; and troubleshooting air conditioning systems. The cost of enrollment at Gwinnett Tech is notable higher, with in-state tuition coming in at $507 per credit and out of state students paying $596 per credit. However, that per credit rate goes down with the more credits a student takes.

In addition to the programs listed above, as of October 2018 there were ten schools with programs accredited by HVAC Excellence. For instance, Coastal Pines Technical College has campuses in several cities (e.g., Waycross, Jesup, Golden Isles) and provides several certificate courses, including an air conditioning technician program with courses in refrigeration fundamentals and troubleshooting air conditioning systems.

Please note that there are also some accredited distance-based programs for people living in more rural regions of GA or who have commitments that make it impossible to travel to a school campus. To learn about these options, check out the online HVAC programs page.

Georgia HVAC Worker Salary

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (2017) reported that there were 307,060 HVAC workers around the country with an annual average salary of $49,530. In more detailed terms, these HVAC professionals had the following yearly wage percentiles nationwide:

US (307,060 HVAC workers): $49,530 annual average salary

  • 10th percentile: $29,120
  • 25th percentile: $36,150
  • 50th percentile (median): $47,080
  • 75th percentile: $60,270
  • 90th percentile: $75,330

And in hourly figures, these wages equated to:

US: $23.81/hr. average

  • 10th percentile: $14.00/hr.
  • 25th percentile: $17.38/hr.
  • 50th percentile (median): $22.64/hr.
  • 75th percentile: $28.98/hr.
  • 90th percentile: $36.22/hr.

Interestingly, the HVAC mechanics, technicians, and installers in Georgia made only slightly less money than national averages despite enjoying a relatively low cost of living. By illustration, the Missouri Economic Research and Information Center (MERIC 2018) found that Georgia was the ninth most affordable state in the country, boasting particular savings in housing.

The BLS (2017) reported that the 8,350 HVAC workers in Georgia made an annual average salary of $42,890. In more detailed terms, they had the following percentiles:

Georgia (8,350 HVAC workers): $42,890 average annual salary

  • 10th percentile: $26,980
  • 25th percentile: $34,000
  • 50th percentile (median): $42,110
  • 75th percentile: $50,170
  • 90th percentile: $61,230

And in hourly terms, these Georgia-based HVAC worker salaries equated to:

Georgia: $20.62/hr. avg.

  • 10th percentile: $12.97/hr.
  • 25th percentile: $16.34/hr.
  • 50th percentile (median): $20.25/hr.
  • 75th percentile: $24.12/hr.
  • 90th percentile: $29.44/hr.

Not surprisingly, these wages also varied substantially among regions of the state. Here are the numbers of HVAC workers employed, average salaries, and wage percentiles among the 16 BLS-designated regions of Georgia for which data was reported(BLS 2017):

Albany, GA (number of HVAC workers employed unknown): $37,450 average annual salary

  • 10th percentile: $27,160
  • 25th percentile: $32,940
  • 50th percentile (median): $37,510
  • 75th percentile: $43,200
  • 90th percentile: $48,100

Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell, GA (5,190 employed): $44,370 avg.

  • 10th percentile: $26,800
  • 25th percentile: $35,000
  • 50th percentile (median): $43,850
  • 75th percentile: $51,390
  • 90th percentile: $63,230

Augusta-Richmond County, GA-SC (550 employed): $42,740 avg.

  • 10th percentile: $29,420
  • 25th percentile: $34,410
  • 50th percentile (median): $40,660
  • 75th percentile: $49,020
  • 90th percentile: $61,120

Columbus, GA-AL (230 employed): $40,660 avg.

  • 10th percentile: $26,730
  • 25th percentile: $31,790
  • 50th percentile (median): $40,880
  • 75th percentile: $49,070
  • 90th percentile: $57,330

Dalton, GA (80 employed): $41,390 avg.

  • 10th percentile: $27,560
  • 25th percentile: $32,630
  • 50th percentile (median): $40,690
  • 75th percentile: $50,710
  • 90th percentile: $58,140

Gainesville, GA (280 employed): $43,390 avg.

  • 10th percentile: $28,540
  • 25th percentile: $33,740
  • 50th percentile (median): $41,500
  • 75th percentile: $52,920
  • 90th percentile: $61,450

Hinesville, GA (50 employed): $41,590 avg.

  • 10th percentile: $32,890
  • 25th percentile: $36,580
  • 50th percentile (median): $42,310
  • 75th percentile: $47,280
  • 90th percentile: $50,270

Macon, GA (200 employed): $40,910 avg.

  • 10th percentile: $27,790
  • 25th percentile: $31,770
  • 50th percentile (median): $37,610
  • 75th percentile: $48,250
  • 90th percentile: $61,260

Rome, GA (70 employed): $44,550 avg.

  • 10th percentile: $31,510
  • 25th percentile: $38,610
  • 50th percentile (median): $44,860
  • 75th percentile: $50,250
  • 90th percentile: $59,880

Savannah, GA (410 employed): $43,040 avg.

  • 10th percentile: $31,420
  • 25th percentile: $35,520
  • 50th percentile (median): $42,230
  • 75th percentile: $49,220
  • 90th percentile: $58,110

Valdosta, GA (number employed unknown): $37,530 avg.

  • 10th percentile: $25,700
  • 25th percentile: $30,720
  • 50th percentile (median): $37,360
  • 75th percentile: $44,990
  • 90th percentile: $50,210

Warner Robins, GA (230 employed): $33,910 avg.

  • 10th percentile: $21,840
  • 25th percentile: $25,640
  • 50th percentile (median): $30,230
  • 75th percentile: $41,830
  • 90th percentile: $55,000

North Georgia Nonmetropolitan Area (260 employed): $39,960 avg.

  • 10th percentile: $31,150
  • 25th percentile: $34,730
  • 50th percentile (median): $40,190
  • 75th percentile: $45,970
  • 90th percentile: $49,500

Middle Georgia Nonmetropolitan Area (80 employed): $44,750 avg.

  • 10th percentile: $27,330
  • 25th percentile: $32,370
  • 50th percentile (median): $46,760
  • 75th percentile: $57,630
  • 90th percentile: $62,390

East Georgia Nonmetropolitan Area (170 employed): $39,730 avg.

  • 10th percentile: $29,730
  • 25th percentile: $34,040
  • 50th percentile (median): $39,650
  • 75th percentile: $46,270
  • 90th percentile: $50,350

South Georgia Nonmetropolitan Area (390 employed): $38,760 avg.

  • 10th percentile: $25,260
  • 25th percentile: $31,940
  • 50th percentile (median): $37,090
  • 75th percentile: $44,810
  • 90th percentile: $56,430

Georgia HVAC Certification & Licensing

Prior to securing employment as an HVAC-R or air conditioning professional in Georgia, it’s important to have the proper credentialing. There is one mandatory national certification for people who work with refrigerants: the EPA Section 608 certification of which there are four kinds varying by type of equipment:

  • type I (small appliances)
  • type II (high-pressure refrigerants)
  • type III (low-pressure refrigerants)
  • type IV (universal)

Type II or higher is required for all GA conditioned air contractors seeking state licensure.

Some HVAC professionals in GA seek certifications from the Refrigeration Service Engineers Society (RSES), North American Technician Excellence (NATE), or HVAC Excellence as well. For a detailed overview of these options, check out the HVAC certifications page.

Finally, there is a required state-specific credential to consider. A contractor’s license from the Georgia Board of Conditioned Air Contractors is necessary for anyone who completes residential or commercial projects costing more than $2,500. There are two levels of conditioned air contractor licenses available:

  • Class 1 – Restricted (open to people with four years of qualifying experience)
  • Class 2 – Unrestricted (open to those with five years of experience, including proof of having installed systems with at least 175,000 BTU [net] of heating and 60,000 BTU of cooling)

For those who have completed a certificate, diploma, or degree program, two years of this formal training can be applied to qualify for a state contractor license. Additionally, candidates must do the following to qualify for credentialing:

  • Submit three notarized references from professionally credentialed people
  • Show proof of at least a type II (high-pressure refrigerants) EPA Section 608 certification
  • Pass a comprehensive examination in conditioned air with at least a 70 percent score

The open-book exam comprises 100 questions, covering business & law as well as the technical aspects of the profession (e.g., system design, maintenance & repair). The Georgia Board has reciprocal agreements with Louisiana, South Carolina, and Texas so candidates who are licensed in those states may be exempt from the exam. Georgia licenses are valid for two years and licensees must complete at least eight hours of continued education (CE) per renewal period in order to mainain their credential in good standing.