HVAC Training Programs & Certifications in Illinois (IL)

Find HVAC Programs Now Enrolling Students

Get information on HVAC-R Certified Technician programs by entering your zip code and request enrollment information.

Sponsored Ad

The Prairie State has a continental climate marked by cold winters and hot humid summers, making it a thriving environment for climate control professionals.

Illinois (IL) not only has a high demand for workers in heating, ventilation, air conditioning, and refrigeration (HVAC/R), but it also boasts a wealth of professional organizations that support men and women in this line of work. By illustration, the Illinois Plumbing, Heating, Cooling Contractors Association has been around for more than 120 years, striving to “protect the environment, health, welfare, and safety of the residents of Illinois.” The group provides legal representation with government regulatory agencies, networking events, educational training, scholarships, federated insurance, business discounts, and many other resources. The PHCC also has a Southwestern IL chapter, which exists among other professional HVAC contractor associations in the state.

HVAC workers in the Land of Lincoln and beyond take on varied responsibilities such as reading blueprints and diagrams; calculating heat loads and losses; installing, repairing, troubleshooting, and maintaining HVAC components (e.g., refrigeration circuits, controls, hermetic compressors, heat pumps, split systems, package units, electric motors, relays, starters, water pumps, intake and exhaust fans, economizers, humidifiers, etc); keeping detailed client service records, vendor packing slips, and other paperwork; and offering customers recommendations on the increasing energy efficiency of their HVAC systems.

Some of these skilled professionals focus on one type of equipment, manufacturer, or method, while others choose to become generalist technicians with more broad-based training and abilities. Regardless of one’s chosen path, all workers nationwide who handle refrigerants must achieve the EPA Section 608 certification, which is discussed in the last section of this guide.

This piece examines the thriving employment climate for HVAC workers in Illinois and nationwide, as well as the accredited training programs, salary potential, and credentialing requirements within the state.

Featured Online Programs


Take the first step towards your HVAC certification

Online HVACR Technician Career DiplomaVisit Site

Demand for HVAC Workers in Illinois

As mentioned in the introduction, the HVAC industry is currently booming. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS May 2020) projected a 4 percent increase in openings for HVAC professionals across the country between 2019 and 2029, which is as fast as the average growth (4 percent) expected across all occupations during that same period. This equates to 15,100 fresh opportunities in HVAC nationwide.

There is evidence that the prospects in Illinois are nearly as bright. Projections Central (2021) reported that there would be a 2.2 percent increase in HVAC positions in Illinois between 2018 and 2028, resulting in 180 new jobs in the state.

There are various reasons for this explosion in opportunities for trained HVAC workers. Not only do maintenance and service contracts guarantee a steady stream of work, but HVAC systems also need to be replaced every 10 to 15 years. In States like Illinois with marked temperature extremes during the winter and summer and in areas with high growth and rates of construction such as Chicago, the demand for HVAC services is strong. Additionally, old systems sometimes need to be retrofitted, particularly as legislation on environmental protection evolves. Furthermore, many businesses depend on climate-control systems and rely on the availability of skilled professionals to maintain all equipment and ensure it is in working order.

As of June 2021, around 7 percent of HVAC workers were self-employed, and 66 percent worked in the contracting industry (BLS 2020). It is important to note that people in this profession experience a higher-than-average risk of injury compared to other occupations. This is due to the physical nature of the work, which can involve lifting heavy objects, changing out electrical wiring, and dealing with flammable substances. With the proper training and use of safety equipment, however, these problems can generally be kept to a minimum.

Some HVAC professionals in IL work normal business hours, but especially during the busy seasons, they may be called upon to work weekends, evenings, or holidays to meet the needs of clients.

There is abundant evidence that business is booming for Illinois HVAC workers. Indeed (June 2021) had a healthy 831 job posts calling for HVAC workers in cities across IL, including openings at Leyden High School, Johnson Controls, Austin Industrial, and Community Consolidated School District, to name a few. Additionally, Monster (June 2021) had 327 posts with opportunities at Thornton Heating Service Inc., Bell American Group, Lumen Technologies, Inc, EMCOR Group, and Randstad, amongst others.

Illinois (IL) HVAC Technician Salary Data

Not only is the employment climate fertile for HVAC workers in Illinois, but it is also a relatively lucrative profession, especially for a job requiring only one to two years of postsecondary training. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (May 2020) found that the 344,020 HVAC mechanics and installers nationwide boasted an annual average salary (mean wage) of $53,410. The following chart examines how the salaries of the 8,560 HVAC technicians in Illinois were, compared to national averages (BLS May 2020).

United States Illinois
Number of HVAC professionals employed 344,020 8,560
Average annual salary $53,410 $58,740
10th percentile $31,910 $29,660
25th percentile $39,320 $40,150
50th percentile (median) $50,590 $56,270
75th percentile $64,350 $75,340
90th percentile $80,820 $94,380

Except for those earning in the 10th percentile, the HVAC workers in IL fared much better than people in this industry nationwide. What makes this salary point particularly interesting is the fact that Illinois is one of the cheaper states to live in across the country. The Missouri Economic Research and Information Center (MERIC 2021) found that the Prairie State was the 21st most affordable, with below-average costs for everything except for transportation.

Accredited HVAC Schools in Illinois (IL)

Before joining this high-growth, high-paying industry in Illinois, it is important to get the proper training. There are currently two main organizations that approve HVAC programs and schools nationwide: HVAC Excellence and the Partnership for Air-Conditioning, Heating, Refrigeration Accreditation (PAHRA).

As of June 2021, there were nine HVAC schools in IL with accreditation from one of these two entities. To learn more about how institutions and programs are approved, please visit the websites for each organization or the main HVAC schools page for a breakdown of criteria.

HVAC Technical Institute

The HVAC Technical Institute is a unique, minority-owned trade school that opened in 1994. The Institute offers a 433-hour, seven-module HVAC course; a 649-hour, 11-module HVAC/R course; and a 216-hour, four-module light commercial refrigeration (LCR) course (designed for current HVAC technicians).

With an emphasis on guided, hands-on learning, the facility comprises 7,500 square feet of offices and classrooms, as well as over 10,000 square feet of lab space. In its certificate program, students receive preparation for the aforementioned EPA Section 608 certification and the R-410A safety certification, as well as training in electricity; heating; basic and advanced air conditioning; ventilation and installation; hydronics; and career readiness.

Admission to these programs requires students to have a high school diploma or G.E.D, a valid driver’s license, and a social security card.

  • Location: Chicago, IL
  • Accreditation: HVAC Excellence
  • Expected Time to Completion: HVAC course (22 to 32 weeks); light commercial refrigeration course (10.75 to 17 weeks); HVAC/R course (32.5 to 48 weeks)
  • Estimated Tuition: $15,000 (HVAC/R), $10,500 (HVAC), $4,500 (LCR)

Midwest Technical Institute

The Midwest Technical Institute offers a 28-credit HVAC/R technician program preparing students to install, maintain, and repair HVAC/R equipment. The faculty of the program includes dedicated instructors with real-world experience who train students in the latest HVAC/R technology through a combination of hands-on lab instruction and classroom theory.

In its 35-week program, students receive 735 hours of training and 185 outside hours, with courses offered in the daytime or evening hours. Students gain proficiency in basic electricity; air conditioning and heat pump service installation; gas and electric heat; and major appliance repair. The program prepares students for EPA section 608 certifications type I and II.

Graduates of the program will be ready to take up roles such as refrigeration mechanic, equipment & duct installer, field service representative, apartment maintenance technician, sales representative, and commercial maintenance technician.

  • Location: Springfield, Moline, and East Peoria, IL; Springfield, MO
  • Accreditation: HVAC Excellence; Accrediting Commission of Career Schools & Colleges (ACCSC)
  • Expected Time to Completion: 35 weeks
  • Estimated Tuition: $12,000 to $15,000 for the program

Richland Community College

Richland Community College provides a 61-credit associate of applied science (AAS) degree in HVAC/R. For those who do not want to commit to a degree program, Richland also provides a 21-credit HVAC residential installer certificate; a 33-credit commercial HVAC certificate; and a 30-credit residential HVAC certificate. The curriculum of the program classroom instruction with hands-on experiences helping students become confident and professional HVAC/R technicians or installers.

As part of the program, students will delve into topics such as occupational safety; refrigeration fundamentals; electricity fundamentals; control applications; troubleshooting air conditioning systems; motors and controls; and technical mathematics, among other courses.

At the end of the program, graduates can pursue opportunities such as commercial heating & AC technicians, commercial refrigeration technicians, residential heating & AC technicians, HVAC/R counter salesperson, heating & AC estimator, and HVAC/R outside salesperson.

  • Location: Decatur, IL
  • Accreditation: HVAC Excellence; Higher Learning Commission
  • Expected Time to Completion: Two years (AAS)
  • Estimated Tuition: In-district ($153 per credit); out-of-district ($303 per credit); out-of-state ($489 per credit)

Kaskaskia College

Kaskaskia College offers a 65 to 66-credit associate of applied science (AAS) and a 29-credit career and technical certificate in heating, ventilation, and air conditioning.

Students in the AAS degree learn about the physical, chemical, and mechanical principles of HVAC/R with an emphasis on motors and electrical controls. They will also gain proficiency in sheet metal construction, blueprint reading, proper HVAC diagnosis, and installation of commercial and residential equipment.

Coursework in both programs includes concepts of basic refrigeration, environmental control mechanisms, heat pump systems, systems design, advanced sheet metal, recovery & reclaim procedures, and HVAC blueprint reading. While both programs prepare students to install, service, and repair residential or commercial refrigeration systems, the AAS program may be more appropriate for those who see themselves in management or self-owned HVAC businesses.

These programs open up several opportunities for graduates. They can take up roles such as service technician, refrigeration mechanic & installer, sheet metal worker, and HVAC installer to name a few.

  • Location: Centralia, IL
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission
  • Expected Time to Completion: AAS (two years); certificate (two semesters)
  • Estimated Tuition: AAS ($13,214); certificate ($6,287)

Waubonsee Community College

Waubonsee Community College offers a 60-credit associate in applied science (AAS) and a 21-credit certificate of achievement in heating, ventilation, and air conditioning. The program is taught by skilled instructors who lead students in well-equipped labs and on real-world equipment. Students gain real-world experience servicing HVAC systems and replacing heating and cooling systems.

Coursework in both programs includes HVAC/R electrical systems, basic sheet metal fabrication & print reading, refrigerant EPA certification, HVAC/R safety, HVAC/R electrical systems & troubleshooting, sheet metal fabrication, load calculations & duct design, commercial refrigeration, and residential heating systems.

Students enrolled in the certificate program will be qualified to work on residential systems, while those who graduate from the AAS program will be qualified to work on residential or commercial systems.

  • Location: Sugar Grove, Aurora, and Plano, IL
  • Accreditation: HVAC Excellence; Higher Learning Commission
  • Expected Time to Completion: AAS (two years); certificate (48 weeks)
  • Estimated Tuition: In-district ($132 per credit); out-of-district ($379.87 per credit); out-of-state ($415.14 per credit)

As of June 2021, there were also five PAHRA-accredited programs in Illinois:

College of Lake County

College of Lake County has several programs, including a 63- to 67-credit associate of applied science (AAS) in HVAC/R engineering technology and the following specialized certificates:

  • HVAC/R Installation Technician Certificate (18.5-20 credits)
  • HVAC/R Service Technician Certificate (29 credits)
  • Commercial Refrigeration Technician Certificate (14 credits)
  • Electrical Troubleshooting Technician Certificate (14 credits)
  • Residential Air Conditioning Technician Certificate (14 credits)
  • Residential Energy Auditing Certificate (16 credits)
  • Residential Heating Technician Certificate (14 credits)

Apart from these certificates and degrees, students can also choose to complete the FastTrack program, which takes only 16 weeks and prepares graduates to take the HVAC certification exam.

The curriculum includes courses such as Basic Refrigeration; blueprint reading; refrigeration (commercial appliances); air movement and ventilation; installation and service; and metal fabrication, among others. Students graduating from the AAS and certificate programs at the College of Lake Country will be prepared to sit for a national exit exam. Those who pass will be placed on an Air Conditioning and Refrigeration Institute national registry which is given to HVAC employers.

  • Location: Grayslake, IL
  • Accreditation: PAHRA; Higher Learning Commission
  • Expected Time to Completion: AAS (two years); certificate (two semesters each)
  • Estimated Tuition: In-district ($125 per credit); Out-of-district ($322 per credit); Out-of-state ($436 per credit)

Elgin Community College

Elgin Community College offers a 62.5-credit associate of applied science (AAS) in heating, ventilation, air conditioning, and refrigeration (HVACR); three vocational specialist certificates in sheet metal mechanics (34.5 credits), light commercial HVAC service (38.5 credits), and HVAC facilities maintenance (46.5 credits); and three basic vocational specialist certificates in residential HVAC service (26.5 credits), residential HVAC systems (12.5 credits), and refrigeration service (18.5 credits).

Coursework in the various programs includes air conditioning and refrigeration, basic heating gas/oil, basic electricity & HVAC/R controls, basic sheet metal, advanced heating hydronics/steam, refrigerant recovery certification, blueprint reading for heating & AC, commercial air conditioning, and heat pumps & electrical heat, among others.

Students in these programs will be prepared to pursue high-paying HVAC careers and will be able to work in both residential as well as commercial settings. The faculty of the program includes expert professionals who have years of experience in this industry.

  • Location: Elgin, IL
  • Accreditation: PAHRA; Higher Learning Commission
  • Expected Time to Completion: AAS (two years); sheet metal mechanics (two semesters); light commercial HVAC service tech (three semesters); residential HVAC service technician (two semesters); residential HVAC systems (one semester); HVAC facilities maintenance tech (four semesters); refrigeration service technician (one semester)
  • Estimated Tuition: In-district resident ($132 per credit); out-of-district resident ($297 per credit); out-of-state ($396 credit)

Illinois Central College

Illinois Central College offers two pathways for students to break into HVAC. The fastest career pathway is the 16-credit HVAC residential installer certificate program. Then, if there is interest in continuing the study, students can add 12 credits to earn the 28-credit HVAC technician certificate or a 28-credit commercial refrigeration technician certificate.

While students will be prepared to sit for EPA section 608 certification and two HVAC Excellence exams at the end of the first course of study, the second course adds additional preparation for a third HVAC Excellence employment-ready exam.

And if the student is interested in more education, they can add 41 credits by enrolling in the 69-credit associate of applied science (AAS) in HVAC/R technology. The AAS prepares students to sit for the four-part HVAC Excellence system performance certification.

Sample some of the courses in the curriculum: blueprint reading, residential and commercial wiring, introduction to refrigeration, residential air conditioning, residential furnaces, heat pumps & geothermal, light commercial refrigeration, duct fabrication, and sheet metal for HVAC/R, among others.

  • Location: East Peoria, IL
  • Accreditation: PAHRA; Higher Learning Commission
  • Expected Time to Completion: AAS (two years); certificate (varies)
  • Estimated Tuition: In-district ($155 per credit); out-of-district ($330 per credit); out-of-state ($390 per credit)

John A. Logan College

John A. Logan College offers a 70-credit associate of applied science (AAS) in heating and air conditioning and a 46-credit certificate of achievement in heating and air conditioning. Both programs give students the option to complete a one- to three-credit internship. In lieu of the internship at the end of the certificate program, students can also choose to take a college success and career planning course.

Students enrolled in this program will need to provide their basic toolkit by the fifth week of the first semester. Coursework includes basic sheet metal layout, construction document interpretation, advanced controls and circuitry, oxy-acetylene fusion welding, residential electrical wiring, weatherization, heating, brazing and soldering, brazing & soldering, geothermal systems, and installation of HVAC systems.

  • Location: Carterville, IL
  • Accreditation: PAHRA; Higher Learning Commission
  • Expected Time to Completion: AAS (two years); certificate (two years)
  • Estimated Tuition: In-district ($133 per credit); out-of-district ($188 per credit); out-of-state ($222 per credit)

Oakton Community College

Oakton Community College offers a 60-credit associate in applied science (AAS) of air conditioning, heating, and refrigeration technology (HVAC/R), and four certificate programs, including a 32-credit commercial buildings energy systems certificate, a 35-credit residential comfort control certificate, a 25-credit residential comfort systems installer certificate, and a 17-credit stationary engineer license preparation course.

Coursework across the programs includes residential hot water boilers and hydronics technology, an introduction to electricity and automatic controls, sheet metal layout and fabrication, heating and air conditioning load calculations, commercial refrigeration systems, advanced automatic controls, and energy management and DDC controls. All programs prepare students to sit for the EPA Section 608 certification exam (except for the stationary engineer license prep course).

Upon completion, students will be prepared to work with contractors for installing and servicing HVAC/R systems for light commercial and residential buildings. Graduates will develop the knowledge and skills needed for certification and employment in several areas of HVAC.

  • Location: Des Plains, IL
  • Accreditation: PAHRA; Higher Learning Commission
  • Expected Time to Completion: AAS (two years); Certificate (varies)
  • Estimated Tuition: In-district ($136.25 per credit); out-of-district ($367 per credit); out-of-state ($439 per credit)

Lastly, while an on-campus program is convenient for students located close to accredited programs, those in more rural regions of IL may have difficulty attending a traditional brick-and-mortar institution. Fortunately, there’s also a wealth of distance-based training options available to residents of IL.

To learn more, check out the main online HVAC programs page.

HVAC Licensing and Certification in Illinois (IL)

In addition to seeking out the proper training, aspiring HVAC mechanics, technicians, and installers in IL also must receive the proper credentialing before beginning work. As previously mentioned, there is one mandatory national certification for all people who work with refrigerants: the EPA Section 608 certification. Training for this is typically provided in HVAC/R certificate and degree programs. There are four kinds:

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

Additionally, there are several organizations that offer employment-ready credentialing in this field. For example, HVAC Excellence has two main broad-based certifications: Heating, Electrical, Air Conditioning Technology (HEAT), and HEAT Plus. It also has various specialty certifications in areas such as green awareness, residential heat load analysis, and combustion analysis, to name a few.

North American Technician Excellence (NATE) has several specialty certifications in areas such as light commercial refrigeration, Hydronics (gas or oil), and oil heating, as well as industry competency exams (ICE).

To learn about the gamut of national certifications available, check out the HVAC certifications page.

Finally, while there is currently no state license required for HVAC workers in Illinois, local permitting and registration requirements vary:

  • For example, the City of Evanston requires all mechanical contractors (including HVAC workers) to seek a license from the city. To qualify, candidates must pass an open book exam on the International Mechanical and Fuel Gas Codes and pay $100. The Evanston license can be renewed annually.
  • The City of Elgin—notably a top-paying metropolitan region for HVAC professionals in IL—requires its warm air heating contractors to register with the city’s Department of Community Development. The qualifying exam takes three to four hours to complete, covering three main areas: duct design, venting and combustion air, and installation parameters. The exam costs $100, and for successful applicants, the registration fee is $25 annually.

In sum, all interested HVAC workers in IL and other states are strongly encouraged to check with local credentialing authorities before beginning any work in maintenance, installation, or repair of these systems.

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.