HVAC Training Schools in Hawaii – Degrees & Certifications

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Although Hawaii (HI) may seem like a tropical paradise, the outdoor temperatures, especially during the summer, can make it all but unbearable to live without air conditioning. As such, many residents of the Aloha State have some form of climate-control systems in their homes, which they rely on during the year. This is one of the many reasons that the demand for heating, air conditioning, and ventilation (HVAC) technicians is continuously growing.

In addition to a strong industry with growing job opportunities, HVAC technicians in Hawaii are also able to enjoy the myriad benefits offered by local unions and organizations. Many HVAC associations provide professional advocacy, continuing education, and even on-the-job training programs for those interested in pursuing a career in the field. One example is the Plumbers & Fitters UA Local Union 675 located in Honolulu. This union provides support for members by offering a pension plan, an apprenticeship program, and much more.

HVAC technicians in Honolulu may also choose to pursue membership with Hawaii Sheet Metal Workers, an organization that supports sheet metal workers, HVAC technicians, and others in the skilled trades. An apprenticeship and training program are available through this organization, along with professional advocacy and representation.

Ultimately, HVAC technicians in Hawaii generally show a great deal of satisfaction with the career that they have chosen. That said, anyone interested in a job in this field should fully understand what to expect before signing up for a training program. Typical job duties of HVAC mechanics and installers in Hawaii include:

  • Performing calculations on HVAC equipment
  • Ensuring that equipment is tested and properly calibrated
  • Keeping correct records
  • Reading various blueprints
  • Ensuring compliance with all relevant laws
  • Going to and from various worksites
  • Providing education to customers on energy use and conservation
  • Maintaining all required permits and licenses

Of course, some HVAC technicians in Hawaii may even perform tasks that do not appear on this list above. Furthermore, anyone who works with environmentally-sensitive refrigerants must maintain active EPA Section 608 Certification.

Overall, a career in the HVAC industry in Hawaii can be rewarding. As such, anyone interested in starting a new job in this field should be fully prepared for what to expect as they obtain the requisite training. To help in this process, the following guide outlines industry growth projections in Hawaii, salary expectations for future workers, a number of HVAC training programs in the state, and local licensure requirements.

Occupational Demand for HVAC Technicians in Hawaii

Fortunately for those interested in finding work as an HVAC technician, available job opportunities are only expected to grow into the future. By illustration, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS May 2019) reported that there were 342,040 HVAC technicians across the country, earning an average annual salary of $51,420. The BLS anticipated that the industry would grow 4 percent between 2019 and 2029, which is as fast as the average for all occupations.

There’s evidence that Hawaii is predicted to need new technicians at a much faster rate. Projections Central (2020)—a data organization partnered with the US Department of Labor—reported that there would be a 10.2 percent increase in HVAC positions across Hawaii between 2018 and 2028.

Of course, it is impossible to pinpoint only one reason for this rapid growth in the field of HVAC. There are a number of driving factors; for one, as buildings continue to be erected in the state, demand will grow for skilled HVAC technicians who can install climate-control systems in the new construction projects.

Furthermore, climate-control systems must be maintained on a regular basis, and often need to be entirely replaced every 10 to 15 years; HVAC technicians must assist in this process. Finally, because the laws and regulations that govern the HVAC industry are constantly in flux, technicians must always stay abreast of these rules and help customers stay in compliance with the law.

Generally, the easiest way to visualize the surge in demand for HVAC technicians is by performing an online search for jobs available in the area. For example, a search for HVAC positions in Hawaii on Monster (2021) brought up 156 results with companies such as CBRE, Gulfstream Strategic, Transform Home Services, Sears Holdings Corporation, and many others. A similar search on Indeed (2021) yielded 40 results with companies including the CACI, Reddy Ice, Wyndham Destinations, and Hawaiian Building Maintenance, among others.

HVAC Worker Salary in Hawaii

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (May 2019), HVAC professionals earn relatively competitive salaries, particularly for positions that may require just two years of post-secondary training. BLS (May 2019) states, the annual mean wage for HVAC workers nationwide was $51,420 per year, while the annual mean wage for HVAC technicians in Hawaii was even higher at $61,480 per year. In more detail, here were the salary percentiles of HVAC professionals across the US and in Hawaii specifically:

United States Hawaii
Number of HVAC professionals employed 342,040 1,080
Annual mean wage $51,420 $61,480
10th percentile $30,610 $35,660
25th percentile $37,660 $44,590
50th percentile (median) $48,730 $59,440
75th percentile $62,070 $75,310
90th percentile $77,920 $93,700

The national figures were slightly different according to another source of data, Payscale (2021), which relies on self-reported salaries. Among the HVAC workers reporting their annual salaries, Payscale found these percentiles:

  • 10th percentile: $31,000
  • 50th percentile (median): $47,948
  • 90th percentile: $75,000

As noted above, the average salary for HVAC workers in Hawaii is higher than the nation’s average salary. As with any salary projections, taking into account the cost of living is also important. As such, the Missouri Economic Research and Information Center (MERIC 2020) found that Hawaii was the most expensive state in the US. For HVAC technicians, this means relatively high salaries may still not go as far as lower salaries in other states, so that is something to keep in mind.

HVAC Apprenticeships in Hawaii

Before finding a job in the industry, aspiring HVAC technicians must first obtain some type of training, whether it is conducted formally or on the job. In many cases, the best training options are available through apprenticeships and degree or certificate programs, as they include both classroom education and hands-on training to ensure the graduate has the requisite skills and knowledge to succeed in the field.

For anyone interested in comprehensive training under the supervision of skilled professionals, an apprenticeship program through the Plumbers & Fitters UA Local Union 675 may be a worthwhile pursuit. This apprentice must complete 10,000 hours of on-the-job training and takes courses in safety, soldering, brazing, welding, and various other skills. Apprentices are also paid for their work, and receive other benefits, as well, including access to a pension, health insurance options, vacation time, and more.

Accredited HVAC Schools in Hawaii

It is necessary to mention that a growing number of students are choosing to enroll in accredited programs, which often last for six months to two years. Currently, two main organizations offer accreditation for HVAC programs: HVAC Excellence and the Partnership for Air-Conditioning, Heating, Refrigeration Accreditation (PAHRA). As of this writing, no HVAC programs exist in Hawaii that has received recognition from these accrediting agencies.

Honolulu Community College

Aspiring HVAC technicians have the option to complete a degree program, such as the associate of applied science (AAS) in HVAC/R technology offered by Honolulu Community College. In this program, students take courses on a variety of subjects related to the HVAC industry, graduating with an understanding of the field and the knowledge and skills necessary to succeed.

Technicians also have the option of a certificate of achievement which requires fewer credits than the AAS, although the training may not be as comprehensive. That said, students who complete a certificate of achievement may still be prepared to find employment as HVAC technicians.

The AAS degree is made up of 63 credit hours, while the certificate of achievement consists of 48 credit hours. The curriculum includes courses such as basic refrigeration, technical college mathematics, commercial refrigeration, composition I advanced technical writing, air conditioning I and II, and additional general education courses.

After successfully completing the program, graduates will be able to exhibit positive work attitudes and habits, demonstrate skills and knowledge required for repairing and maintaining HVAC/R equipment as per National Standards, and gain employment in the HVAC field.

Students will gain both hands-on skills and technical knowledge which is necessary for becoming successful and efficient HVAC/R technicians. Students will also be prepared to pass the EPA Refrigerant Handling Certification. This certification is necessary for work in the field.

  • Location: Honolulu, HI
  • Accreditation: Western Association of Schools and Colleges
  • Expected Time to Completion: 24 months
  • Estimated Tuition: Resident ($131 per credit-hour); non-resident ($345 per credit-hour)

Ashworth College

Ashworth College offers a career diploma in heating and air conditioning and a career certificate in automotive HVAC. These HVAC training programs can be completed online. These online programs are a smart move for anyone who wants to enhance their current skills and prepare for a high-demand field.

The HVAC diploma program offers students the opportunity to complete the EPA 608 certification exam as offered by the ESCO Institute. Students through this program gain the essential skills and knowledge needed for successfully installing, troubleshooting, and maintaining HVAC systems for commercial and residential buildings.

A comprehensive collection of lessons, this HVAC program includes lessons such as learning at Ashworth, the HVAC/R field, HVAC/R tools, testing instruments and service equipment, refrigeration systems, and refrigerant properties and management.

The automotive HVAC program, composed of NATEF aligned content, is ideal for students who desire to expand their careers in the automotive repair industry and to prepare for specific industry certifications such as ASE certification exam A7 – heating and air conditioning. The curriculum includes safe work practices and emergency procedures, automotive engine basics, and automotive HVAC.

  • Location: Norcross, GA
  • Accreditation: Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC)
  • Expected Time to Completion: HVAC diploma (four months); automotive HVAC (eight months)
  • Estimated Tuition: HVAC diploma ($619); automotive HVAC ($299)

HVAC Certification and Licensing in Hawaii

As alluded to above, HVAC technicians must retain active EPA Section 608 Certification in order to perform work with refrigerants. This certification is split into four categories as follows:

  • Type 1 (small appliances)
  • Type 2 (high-pressure appliances)
  • Type 3 (low-pressure appliances)
  • Type 4 (universal)

Furthermore, a number of skill-specific certifications are available to HVAC technicians, many of which can assist in a future job search. Currently, certifications are available through a number of organizations, including the Refrigerating Engineers and Technicians Association (e.g., entry-level Certified Assistant Refrigeration Operator); North American Technician Excellence (e.g., Industry Competency Exams or ICE); HVAC Excellence (e.g., Heating, Electrical, Air Conditioning Technology Plus); and others.

To learn more about certifications, please visit the HVAC Certification page.

Finally, all HVAC technicians must comply with licensure requirements as set forth by the state government before performing any work. In Hawaii, in order to obtain a contractor license, a candidate must submit an application to the Board of Professional & Vocational Licensing with the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs, along with an application fee of $50, and the following information:

  • Proof of worker’s compensation insurance
  • Proof of liability insurance in the amount of $100,000 for each person and $300,000 for each occurrence
  • Proof of property damage insurance in the amount of $50,000 for each occurrence
  • Location of the place of business
  • An additional application submitted by a responsible managing employee, along with separate fees

Once the application is approved, the applicant must then complete two licensing examinations: one on business and law, and one on HVAC. Applicants should carefully choose the contractor classification for which they wish to apply. Class C-4 licenses cover those working with boilers, hot-water heating, and steam fitting, while C-40 is for refrigeration contractors and C-52 is for ventilating and air conditioning contractors.

The licensure process for HVAC workers in Hawaii may seem somewhat complex, but it is imperative that all professionals ensure they remain in compliance with the law.

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).