HVAC Schools in Idaho (ID) – Degrees & Certifications

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Throughout Idaho, residents are living in homes that are equipped with climate-control systems to protect them from the elements. While the Gem State may be home to incredibly beautiful landscapes, it is also host to frigid winters and blistering summers across the state, causing many to reach for the dial on the heater or air conditioner. Because of the varied climate, Idaho may be a perfect place to begin a new career in the field of heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC).

The weather patterns are not the only reason to pursue a career in this field: HVAC technicians also receive strong support from local unions and organizations. Take the Plumbers & Pipefitters UA Local 296, a union with an office in Meridian. This organization offers benefits to members in the form of ongoing training, events, networking with other members, access to job listings, and much more.

Additionally, HVAC technicians in Idaho may choose to pursue membership with the Sheet Metal Workers’ Union Local #55, instead. This union, which has offices in Boise as well as Spokane and Pasco, Washington, offers similar benefits; notably, it boasts an apprenticeship program for those interested in comprehensive training to develop the requisite skills and knowledge to succeed in the industry.

What can an HVAC professional in Idaho expect to do on a daily basis? Following are a handful of typical duties:

  • Calibrate HVAC equipment when required
  • Perform routine calculations
  • Maintain proper records
  • Read and interpret blueprints
  • Remain in compliance with all relevant laws and regulations
  • Travel to and from worksites and office locations
  • Offer education to customers on energy use and conservation
  • Maintain active licensure and permits

Of course, this list is not exhaustive, and some HVAC technicians in Idaho may have additional responsibilities. Additionally, HVAC technicians who work with refrigerants (in any state_ must maintain an active EPA Section 608 Certification.

As the HVAC industry continues to grow and thrive in Idaho, now may prove the perfect time to enter this lucrative field. The following guide outlines the scope of the industry and growth projections across Idaho, as well as salary statistics, information about training programs, and the licensure requirements.

Occupational Demand for HVAC Technicians in Idaho

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS May 2020) reported that there were 344,020 technicians working across the country, a number that is only expected to grow in the future. Specifically, the BLS (2021) projected that openings in the HVAC industry would grow 4 percent overall between 2019 and 2029, representing an addition of 15,100 new jobs nationally. This growth rate is as fast as the expected average growth across all occupations during that time period, which is also four percent.

And Idaho is keeping pace with the national demand for technicians. In fact, Projections Central (2021) predicted a 15.7 percent statewide increase in HVAC jobs for the decade ending in 2028.

What are the driving factors behind the rapid expansion in the HVAC industry? For one, laws surrounding the HVAC industry are constantly in flux, which increases the demand for skilled technicians who can ensure customers remain in compliance with regulations. Furthermore, virtually all new buildings in Idaho are constructed with HVAC systems in place, which requires the expertise of an HVAC professional throughout the construction process. Additionally, HVAC systems must be replaced every 10 to 15 years, and generally require routine maintenance by a professional in the interim.

By taking a look at the available job opportunities in Idaho, it is fairly easy to see the demand for skilled HVAC technicians. For example, Monster (2021) listed several different jobs in the area with companies like Terry’s Heating & A/C, Inc., First Call Jewel Inc, Western Heating and Air Conditioning, and others. Indeed (2021) yielded 180 results with Johnson Controls, Micron Technology, RM Mechanical, and Trane Technologies, among many other companies.

HVAC Worker Salary in Idaho

The BLS (May 2020) reported that nationally HVAC/R mechanics and installers receive a median salary of $50,590 annually. Idaho HVAC/R technicians receive slightly less, as their annual median wage was $43,120. It’s important to note that the cost of living in Idaho is also substantially lower than in many states. By illustration, the Missouri Economic Research and Information Center (MERIC 2021) reported that ID had the 27th lowest cost of living in the United States for 2021. Please keep this fact in mind while considering the following data.

In more detail, here were the annual wage percentiles for HVAC professionals across the country and across Idaho (BLS May 2021):

United States Idaho
Number of HVAC Professionals Employed 344,020 3,200
Annual Mean Wage $53,410 $46,680
10th percentile $31,910 $28,570
25th percentile $39,320 $33,570
50th percentile (median) $50,590 $43,120
75th percentile $64,350 $55,170
90th percentile $80,820 $64,960

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

  • 10th percentile: $33,000
  • 50th percentile (median): $49,571
  • 90th percentile: $78,000

Accredited HVAC Schools in Idaho

Prior to working as an HVAC technician, it is necessary to obtain the requisite skills and knowledge through a training program. Typically, instruction is available through an apprenticeship, degree, or certificate program.

An apprenticeship usually offers comprehensive training while paying students to learn. For example, the Sheet Metal Workers’ Union Local #55 of Boise provides an apprenticeship program that lasts four years, during which the apprentice will receive on-the-job training, as well as 280 hours of classroom education each year. Apprentices earn compensation for their work, and are eligible for five percent raises every six months.

Another example would include Lewis-Clark State College’s hands-on apprenticeship degree program which is intended for technicians who are actively employed in the trade. The program involves 16 to 18 general education requirements and 64 credits of HVAC-R-based theories and apprenticeship work.

Aspiring HVAC technicians also have the option to pursue a degree. Here, it is also important to note that more and more aspiring HVAC technicians are choosing to enroll in accredited programs, which may last up to two years. Currently, only two agencies provide accreditation for HVAC schools: HVAC Excellence and Partnership for Air-Conditioning, Heating, Refrigeration Accreditation (PAHRA).

As of August 2021, there were two HVAC Excellence-accredited programs in ID and no PAHRA-accredited options.

College of Southern Idaho

The College of Southern Idaho in Twin Falls offers an associate of applied science (AAS) degree, a basic technical certificate, and an intermediate technical certificate in air conditioning, refrigeration, and heating technology providing students with the knowledge and skills needed for working on refrigeration and heating systems.

The basic certificate comprises 8 credits while the intermediate certificate consists of 32.5 credits. The AAS degree program is made up of 60 credits.

As part of the program, students will delve into topics such as fossil fuel furnaces, heat pumps, national electrical code, commercial refrigeration, ammonia refrigeration, EPA certification, and air conditioning.

Students through these programs gain the basic knowledge and skills for safely working with, repairing, troubleshooting, and servicing industrial, and commercial refrigeration systems and the associated equipment and identifying the hazards associated with ammonia systems.

  • Location: Twin Falls, ID
  • Accreditation: Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities; HVAC Excellence
  • Expected Time to Completion: AAS degree (24 months); certificates (Less than a year)
  • Estimated Tuition: In-district ($140 per credit); out-of-district ($190 per credit); out-of-state and foreign ($285 per credit)

North Idaho College

Aspiring HVAC technicians also have the option of pursuing a certificate from North Idaho College of Coeur d’Alene. The college provides a certificate in heating, ventilation, air conditioning, and refrigeration preparing students for entry-level employment in this challenging HVAC industry. Combining classroom theory with hands-on lab exercises and cooperative work experiences, the program prepares students to troubleshoot and service almost all types of HVAC/R systems.

Students in this nine-month program take 42 to 45 credits of courses focusing on HVAC/R systems, heating systems, electricity, local fuel codes, the refrigeration cycle, applied thermodynamics, and more.

Graduates of the program will be able to apply proper safety procedures and techniques for servicing and troubleshooting HVAC/R systems, repair and install fossil fuel combustion systems, repair and install oil combustion and electric furnace operations, learn about safe refrigerant handling and recovery, troubleshoot various refrigeration processes, and interpret building blueprints and electrical schematics.

  • Location: Coeur d’Alene, ID
  • Accreditation: Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities
  • Expected Time to Completion: 9 months
  • Estimated Tuition: District resident ($141.50 per credit); non-district ($215 per credit); non-resident ($364 per credit)

Lewis-Clark State College

Lewis-Clark State College offers an AAS degree program and an advanced technical certificate in heating, venting, air conditioning, and refrigeration technology providing students with the necessary training in the HVAC/R field, both commercial as well as residential. The program combines hands-on lab work with classroom theory instruction preparing students to service, troubleshoot, and repair HVAc/R systems.

The AAS degree consists of 68 credits while the certificate comprises 55 credits. The curriculum includes courses such as heating systems, hydronic systems, mechanical systems maintenance, basic electricity, refrigeration theory, advanced HVAC/R controls, duct fabrication, and A/C system design and installation.

At the end of the program, graduates can pursue opportunities such as HVAC installer, A/C technician, HVAC mechanic, commercial refrigeration technician, service technician, and many such roles.

  • Location: Lewiston, ID
  • Accreditation: Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities; HVAC Excellence
  • Expected Time to Completion: AAS (24 months); certificate (less than a year)
  • Estimated Tuition: $356 per credit

HVAC Certification and Licensing in Idaho

To remain in compliance with the law, HVAC technicians who work with refrigerants must maintain active EPA Section 608 Certification. This certification is broken down into four categories: type 1 (small appliances), type 2 (high-pressure appliances), type 3 (low-pressure appliances), and type 4 (universal).

In addition, certain skill-based HVAC certifications are available to HVAC professionals, as well. For example, the Refrigerating Engineers and Technicians Association provides the entry-level Certified Assistant Refrigeration Operator; North American Technician Excellence offers Industry Competency Exams or ICE; and HVAC Excellence has the Heating, Electrical, Air Conditioning Technology Plus credential.

While it is not always necessary to obtain a specific certification in order to find employment, it will likely have benefits when searching for a job.

As a final note, all aspiring technicians must obtain the proper local licensure and credential before starting any work in the field. Specifically, HVAC workers must obtain a license through the Idaho Division of Building Safety in one of the following six categories:

  • Apprentice
  • Journeyman HVAC
  • HVAC Contractor
  • Specialty HVAC Apprentice
  • Specialty Journeyman HVAC
  • Specialty HVAC Contractor

The requirements for each of the six licenses vary; however, for each license, the aspiring HVAC technician must submit an application with proof of work experience and/or the completion of a training program. Once the application has been approved, the applicant is required to sit for the relevant examination. Upon successfully passing the exam, the license will be provided to the applicant once they pay a licensing fee and submit an additional Compliance Bond.

The Idaho Division of Building Safety states, “Persons who perform electrical, HVAC or plumbing work without a required state-issued license or who violate other applicable codes or rules are subject to civil penalties.” Therefore, all HVAC professionals in the state are strongly advised to secure all required permits and licenses prior to beginning any work.

Jocelyn Blore

Jocelyn Blore is the chief content officer of Sechel Ventures and the co-author of the Women Breaking Barriers series. She graduated summa cum laude from UC Berkeley and traveled the world for five years. She also worked as an addiction specialist for two years in San Francisco. She’s interested in how culture shapes individuals and systems within societies—one of the many themes she writes about in her blog, Blore’s Razor (Instagram: @bloresrazor). She has served as managing editor for several healthcare websites since 2015.

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