Boise, ID HVAC Schools – Technical Training Programs

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The largest city in Idaho (ID), Boise is both the state capital and the Ada County seat. It’s also the center of the metropolitan area known as Treasure Valley. Governmental agencies contribute significantly to the local economy, but various national companies, such as Albertsons, Hewlett-Packard, and Weyerhaeuser have headquarters in the City.

A Census Bureau report designates Idaho as the fastest-growing state in the Union, with Boise reported as the fastest-growing major metro area. Boise’s boom is “likely to continue.” The City has “the pieces in place. It’s got the location, it’s got low cost, a healthy tech presence.” New businesses, such as the thriving microbrewery industry and technology-based enterprises, are establishing themselves in Boise. A planned community of 2,000 homes and several large public projects are in the works as well.

Boise is hot in the summer and cold in the winter. There is moderate precipitation every month during the summer and snow during the winter. Spring receives the heaviest rainfall, averaging slightly more than an inch per month. Winter snowfall is heaviest during December, January, and February. Those months average eight to nine inches of new snow. Overall, the climate is considered arid. Daytime temperatures in the summer hover around the high 80s and low 90s F, with occasional spikes into the 100s. Evenings are much cooler, averaging about 30 degrees lower than daytime highs. Winter daytime temperatures are typically in the high 30s to mid-40s, with nighttime lows often dipping below freezing.

Many of the newer residents settling in Boise are not used to the weather extremes, and all residents may remain indoors to escape the heat or the cold. Everyone relies on heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) for comfort whether at home or work. Boise’s history and outdoor recreation opportunities draw visitors to the area. Hospitality venues rely on the addition of refrigeration (HVAC/R), as do the manufacturing and high-tech industries.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS 2019) reports that 1,560 HVAC mechanics and installers were employed in Boise City, ID as of May 2018. Technicians and their employers received training and support from industry organizations that include:

  • Air Conditioning Contractors of America
  • American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers
  • Idaho Associated General Contractors Boise Metro Chapter
  • Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors Association
  • Refrigeration Service Engineers Society Boise Valley Chapter
  • Sheet Metal Workers Union Local #55
  • UA Union of Plumbers, Fitters, Welders, & Service Techs Local 296

These and similar groups coordinate with others in the industry and with government organizations to establish educational, licensing, and safety standards. Their goal is to ensure the safety of workers and the public.

Occupational Demand for HVAC Technicians in Boise, ID

Job opportunities for all occupations are expected to increase by 5 percent between 2018 and 2028 nationwide, according to the BLS (2019). Their expectation for HVAC and HVAC/R technicians is much brighter, as they anticipate a 13 percent increase nationally in new positions for the same decade. Idaho is halfway between these numbers, with an 11.9 percent statewide increase predicted by Projections Central by the end of 2026.

Boise’s booming economy is behind the local demand for continued installation of new climate-control systems and equipment. The influx of new residents and businesses means that more housing and commercial buildings are needed. Another factor leading to HVAC installations is the renovation and remodeling of older structures. The existing equipment and systems must be replaced, retrofitted, or upgraded to meet current standards for energy efficiency and pollution reduction.

The high-tech and specialized industries require sophisticated HVAC and HVAC/R systems that only trained technicians can install or maintain. Technicians must understand the electronics and computerized controls used in contemporary “smart” buildings. They must also be skilled at troubleshooting. Those who specialize in new installations occasionally experience unemployment, but the continued growth expected for Boise should lead to full-time employment in the foreseeable future. Technicians who specialize in maintenance and repair services can also anticipate full-time employment, as businesses and homeowners want to keep their systems in operation regardless of the economy.

HVAC Salaries in Boise, ID

According to the BLS (2019), HVAC mechanics and installers nationwide earned a median salary of $47,610 as of May 2018. Boise City, ID technicians earned an annual median salary of $44,060. The lower pay rate isn’t as significant as it seems at first glance, as the cost of living in Idaho is lower than the national index.

Below is a comparison of national, state, and regional salaries of HVAC professionals:

United States Idaho Boise City, ID
Number of HVAC Professionals Employed 324,310 2,660 1,560
Average Annual Salary $50,160 $42,640 $44,100
10th Percentile $29,460 $26,160 $26,690
25th Percentile $36,520 $30,440 $31,150
50th Percentile (Median) $47,610 $41,590 $44,060
75th Percentile $60,900 $53,060 $55,390
90th Percentile $76,230 $61,830 $62,680

HVAC Apprenticeships in Boise, ID

The complexity of HVAC systems means that there are few opportunities for untrained workers. Workers who complete an apprenticeship or seek formal training have the best chances of obtaining employment. They also potentially start at higher beginning wages and often have a higher salary throughout their careers.

Apprentices are paid during their on-the-job training, which usually takes four to five years. They also attend school for a specified number of hours each year. Information for registered apprentices and job training resources are available at the Idaho Department of Labor. They list eight HVAC classifications with varying levels of training and time involved.

The Sheet Metal Workers Union Local #55 sponsors a four-year HVAC apprenticeship at their Boise training facility. Applicants must have an Idaho apprentice license. They receive paid, on-the-job training from a licensed employer. They must complete 280 hours of classroom training each year.

The College of Western Idaho offers a four-year HVAC apprenticeship program in Nampa, ID. Applicants must obtain an Idaho apprentice license and find employment with a sponsoring employer for on-the-job training. The college provides classroom training online or in hybrid classes that combine online learning with on-campus instruction. At the end of the four years, apprentices will have completed 8,000 hours of on-the-job training and 576 hours of classroom training. Graduates are qualified to apply for HVAC licensing and to take the journey-level exam. The cost is $900 to $1,000 annually.

Various industry organizations, including the following, offer training:

  • Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA)
  • Mechanical Contractors Association of America (MCAA)
  • Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors Association (PHCCA)
  • Refrigeration Service Engineers Society (RSES)
  • International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers (SMART)

Their websites have details regarding scheduling, availability, and fees.

Accredited HVAC Schools in Boise, ID

Institutions of higher learning routinely undergo the process of accreditation. Accreditation is an evaluation conducted by independent agencies. The evaluation includes verifying that the instructors and the curriculum meet specified standards. Students seeking training are encouraged to ensure that the schools they choose are accredited.

Two industry organizations evaluate HVAC and HVAC/R programs. The Partnership for Air-Conditioning, Heating, Refrigeration Accreditation (PAHRA) has not accredited an Idaho school, but HVAC Excellence has awarded accreditation to the College of Southern Idaho in Twin Falls. It is profiled below due to the accreditation despite its distance from Boise.

The College of Southern Idaho offers three HVAC programs:

Enrollment in the programs is limited, and students should consult with an academic advisor prior to planning to attend at a particular time.

The curriculum for the basic certificate includes instruction in the national electrical code, air conditioning, EPA certification exam preparation, fossil fuel furnaces ammonia refrigeration, heat pumps, and commercial refrigeration.

The intermediate certificate curriculum includes the above coursework, with the addition of general education classes such as communications, math, and social or behavioral science.

Students enrolled in the degree program complete the same technical coursework as the certificate programs. They complete the general education coursework required for the intermediate certificate, as well as additional general education electives such as biology and philosophy.

Graduates of all three programs will have the skills to repair, troubleshoot, and service commercial and industrial systems.

Credits earned at the College of Southern Idaho may be transferred to the University of Idaho – Boise; however, the University does not presently offer an HVAC program.

  • Location: Twin Falls, ID
  • Accreditation: HVAC Excellence; Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU)
  • Tuition: $140 per credit-hour
  • Format: On-campus
  • Program Length: Certificates vary; degree two years

As Boise has few resources for HVAC students beyond apprenticeships, workers may find that an online institution can better meet their educational needs. More information on accredited online HVAC training is available on this site.

HVAC Certification and Licensing in Boise, ID

Federal law requires HVAC technicians who work with refrigerants to obtain Section 608 Certification from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Technicians must pass an exam on the safe handling of refrigerants. The EPA designates four types of certification:

  • For servicing small appliances (Type I)
  • For servicing or disposing of high-pressure appliances, except small appliances and motor vehicle air conditioning (Type II)
  • For servicing or disposing of low-pressure appliances (Type III)
  • For servicing all types of equipment (Universal)

Further information and practice exams are available on the website.

Industry organizations offer training, 608 certifications, and additional certifications that are designed to increase a technician’s knowledge and employability. A sample includes:

  • Refrigeration Service Engineers Society (RSES) provides comprehensive, cutting-edge education and certification to the HVAC/R industry.
  • North American Technician Excellence (NATE) provides certification tests that represent real-world working knowledge of HVAC/R systems
  • HVAC Excellence validates that an individual has retained knowledge in a specific area of the HVAC/R industry.

There is more information on the HVAC certifications page.

The Idaho Division of Building Safety is the licensing agency for HVAC and HVAC/R workers. Licenses are of one of the following types:

  • Apprentice
  • Journey-level HVAC
  • HVAC contractor
  • Specialty HVAC apprentice
  • Specialty HVAC journey-level
  • Specialty HVAC contractor

Requirements differ for each type, but all professionals (except apprentices) must submit an application documenting their relevant experience and pass an exam. Contractors must submit a $2,000 compliance bond. The fee for contractor and journey-level licenses is $35 and licenses must be renewed annually. Renewal fees are $75 for journey-level and $150 for contractors. There is not a current continuing education requirement. Apprentices must verify current employment. The fee for their license is $50 and the license is valid for five years.

The City of Boise does not currently require HVAC technicians to be licensed.

As a final note, regulatory agencies always have the option of modifying their licensing guidelines. HVAC professionals are encouraged to ensure that they comply with all current requirements before starting a project.

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.