HVAC Training Programs in Georgia

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In the Empire State of the South, there’s an abundance of employment opportunities for HVAC professionals, particularly those who specialize in air conditioning. There are several resources for these workers within the state as well. For example, National HVAC Insider (Oct. 2016) offers a regional newspaper for Georgia (GA) HVAC workers. Furthermore, the Conditioned Air Association of Georgia (CAAG)—a nonprofit trade association—boasts over 900 members and 23 local chapters and works to promote best practices in the industry and local advocacy for legislation. Additionally, the Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors of GA offers benefits such as local lobbying and networking opportunities.

And the career outlook looks bright for GA HVAC workers. HVAC Insider (Aug. 2016) recently reported that the Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell area added 7,700 construction jobs in one year—a seven percent increase—the fourth fastest growth rate of any metropolitan region. With 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 which 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’s excellent news for Georgia residents interested in HVAC careers. It’s expected to be a high-growth industry into the future. By illustration, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS Dec. 2015) anticipates a 14 percent increase in HVAC openings nationwide between 2014 and 2024; this is much more robust than the 7 percent average growth anticipated across all occupations during that time. Furthermore, CareerOneStop (2016)—a data affiliate of the US Department of Labor—reported that the projected growth for HVAC workers in Georgia is even higher. Among workers with some college, HVAC is expected to be the eleventh fastest growing occupation in the state with an expected 20 percent increase in openings between 2014 and 2024. With the addition of 1,800 fresh openings in this field, opportunities are expected to be ripe in the Peach State. Also, a July 2015 Burning Glass Technologies report on HVAC services demand found that the average job post for HVAC workers in Georgia is up for 33 days, a trend denoting a significant demand for workers which isn’t being met by the existing talent pool.

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 relatively 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’s important to note that HVAC technicians, mechanics, and installers 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’s 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. By illustration, Indeed (Oct. 2016) advertised opportunities in Georgia at Coca-Cola Refreshments, Anchor Hospital, Premier Heating & Air, Assured Comfort Heating, Air & Plumbing, Cooper’s Heating & Air, Birch Corporation, J. Paul Partners, Total Air Care, Steadfast Companies, Maintenance Unlimited, American Residential Services LLC, Express Comfort Heating & Air LLC, Atlanta Compressor Corp., Lennox International, Burch Corporation, and many others.

Accredited HVAC Schools in GA

For aspiring HVAC mechanics, installers, and technicians in Georgia, it’s important to receive appropriate training and preparation for the career. Although it is not essential for licensure, HVAC professionals in GA are encouraged to seek out accredited programs, and 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- or institution-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. One of them is at West Central Technical College of Carrollton, which provides 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 provides 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. These programs cost $89 per credit hour for Georgia residents. The Georgia Piedmont Technical College of Clarkston provides two certificates (air conditioning technician’s assistant and sustainable technologies), 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; HVACR electrical motors; HVACR 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. Additionally, Gwinnett Technical College of Lawrenceville provides several certificates (A/C electrical technician, A/C maintenance technician, photovoltaic systems installation & repair, refrigeration system service technician, and residential wiring 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; HVACR electrical components & controls; and troubleshooting air conditioning systems.

As of October 2016, there were eleven schools with programs accredited by HVAC Excellence. For example, 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 unbreakable time commitments. To learn about these options, check out the online HVAC programs page.

Georgia HVAC Certification & Licensing

Prior to securing employment as an HVACR 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), and type IV (universal). Please note that a 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.

And finally, there is a state-specific credential as well. 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). Please note that the Georgia Board has reciprocal agreements with Louisiana, South Carolina, and Texas.

Lastly, these licenses are valid for two years and licensees must complete at least eight hours of continued education (CE) per renewal period.

Georgia HVAC Worker Salary

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS May 2015) reported that there were 274,680 HVAC workers around the country with an annual average salary of $47,380. In more detailed terms, these HVAC professionals had the following yearly wage percentiles nationwide:

US (274,680 HVAC workers): $47,380 annual average salary

  • 10th percentile: $27,790
  • 25th percentile: $34,920
  • 50th percentile (median): $45,110
  • 75th percentile: $58,070
  • 90th percentile: $71,690

And in hourly figures, these wages equated to:

US: $22.78/hr. average

  • 10th percentile: $13.36/hr.
  • 25th percentile: $16.79/hr.
  • 50th percentile (median): $21.69/hr.
  • 75th percentile: $27.92/hr.
  • 90th percentile: $34.47/hr.

Interestingly, the HVAC mechanics, technicians, and installers 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 2016) found that Georgia was the fifteenth most affordable state in the country, boasting particular savings in housing and utilities. Please keep this in mind while evaluating the following figures.

The BLS (May 2015) reported that the 8,850 HVAC workers in Georgia made an annual average salary of $43,710. In more detailed terms, they had the following percentiles:

Georgia (8,850 HVAC workers): $43,710 average annual salary

  • 10th percentile: $27,140
  • 25th percentile: $33,670
  • 50th percentile (median): $42,270
  • 75th percentile: $50,970
  • 90th percentile: $63,760

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

Georgia: $21.01/hr. avg.

  • 10th percentile: $13.05/hr.
  • 25th percentile: $16.19/hr.
  • 50th percentile (median): $20.32/hr.
  • 75th percentile: $24.50/hr.
  • 90th percentile: $30.65/hr.

Not surprisingly, these wages also varied substantially among regions of the state with the Augusta-Richmond County and Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell enjoying the highest salaries in the area. Here are the numbers of HVAC workers employed, average salaries, and wage percentiles among the 18 BLS-designated regions of Georgia (BLS May 2015):

Albany, GA (150 HVAC workers employed): $36,780 average annual salary

  • 10th percentile: $27,100
  • 25th percentile: $31,850
  • 50th percentile (median): $36,770
  • 75th percentile: $42,670
  • 90th percentile: $47,460

Athens-Clarke County, GA (250 employed): $38,770 avg.

  • 10th percentile: $26,260
  • 25th percentile: $28,090
  • 50th percentile (median): $31,130
  • 75th percentile: $42,410
  • 90th percentile: $62,280

Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell, GA (5,580 employed): $45,970 avg.

  • 10th percentile: $28,800
  • 25th percentile: $36,160
  • 50th percentile (median): $44,560
  • 75th percentile: $54,420
  • 90th percentile: $68,400

Augusta-Richmond County, GA-SC (310 employed): $47,680 avg.

  • 10th percentile: $29,150
  • 25th percentile: $36,790
  • 50th percentile (median): $48,380
  • 75th percentile: $57,350
  • 90th percentile: $62,600

Brunswick, GA (unknown number employed): $33,640 avg.

  • 10th percentile: $25,340
  • 25th percentile: $27,260
  • 50th percentile (median): $30,480
  • 75th percentile: $42,150
  • 90th percentile: $47,350

Columbus, GA-AL (320 employed): $37,460 avg.

  • 10th percentile: $26,060
  • 25th percentile: $29,870
  • 50th percentile (median): $35,900
  • 75th percentile: $43,590
  • 90th percentile: $51,670

Dalton, GA (unknown number employed): $36,030 avg.

  • 10th percentile: $25,120
  • 25th percentile: $28,310
  • 50th percentile (median): $35,760
  • 75th percentile: $44,080
  • 90th percentile: $48,680

Gainesville, GA (140 employed): $45,120 avg.

  • 10th percentile: $29,700
  • 25th percentile: $35,640
  • 50th percentile (median): $44,460
  • 75th percentile: $53,870
  • 90th percentile: $62,170

Hinesville, GA (60 employed): $41,310 avg.

  • 10th percentile: $18,360
  • 25th percentile: $28,740
  • 50th percentile (median): $43,330
  • 75th percentile: $55,410
  • 90th percentile: $60,100

Macon, GA (160 employed): salary data N/A

Rome, GA (90 employed): $36,560 avg.

  • 10th percentile: $20,860
  • 25th percentile: $27,240
  • 50th percentile (median): $38,690
  • 75th percentile: $45,500
  • 90th percentile: $49,000

Savannah, GA (510 employed): $42,940 avg.

  • 10th percentile: $32,290
  • 25th percentile: $36,220
  • 50th percentile (median): $42,620
  • 75th percentile: $48,650
  • 90th percentile: $56,670

Valdosta, GA (150 employed): $38,510 avg.

  • 10th percentile: $23,740
  • 25th percentile: $29,840
  • 50th percentile (median): $35,780
  • 75th percentile: $43,290
  • 90th percentile: $60,900

Warner Robins, GA (130 employed): $39,170 avg.

  • 10th percentile: $26,020
  • 25th percentile: $33,490
  • 50th percentile (median): $37,450
  • 75th percentile: $48,780
  • 90th percentile: $54,630

North Georgia Nonmetropolitan Area (240 employed): $35,550 avg.

  • 10th percentile: $25,880
  • 25th percentile: $30,460
  • 50th percentile (median): $35,440
  • 75th percentile: $40,690
  • 90th percentile: $46,880

Middle Georgia Nonmetropolitan Area (170 employed): $38,980 avg.

  • 10th percentile: $24,310
  • 25th percentile: $31,640
  • 50th percentile (median): $36,780
  • 75th percentile: $50,590
  • 90th percentile: $57,750

East Georgia Nonmetropolitan Area (140 employed): $38,160 avg.

  • 10th percentile: $22,910
  • 25th percentile: $30,540
  • 50th percentile (median): $38,590
  • 75th percentile: $45,300
  • 90th percentile: $49,160

South Georgia Nonmetropolitan Area (320 employed): $37,920 avg.

  • 10th percentile: $24,170
  • 25th percentile: $28,170
  • 50th percentile (median): $34,460
  • 75th percentile: $47,500
  • 90th percentile: $59,200