HVAC Schools in Aurora, Illinois – Degrees & Certifications

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

Aurora, IL, residents have adapted to summertime temperatures that hover in the high 70s to mid-80s degrees F. In record-setting years, the highs can spike into the 100s. Every month from April through October, three to four inches of rain are received. Temperatures begin dropping then, and the precipitation turns to snow. By December, the evening temperatures consistently sink below freezing and barely exceed freezing during the daytime. Record lows are in the minus degrees.

Aurora, the second-largest city in Illinois, is part of the Chicago Metropolitan area. It encompasses parts of four counties within the city limits. It also borders the Illinois Technology and Research Corridor, “a busy economic center, home to the headquarters and regional offices of businesses representing a diverse range of industries—from aerospace and healthcare to transportation and manufacturing—as well as scientific institutions, colleges and universities.”

Aurora has its economic roots in industrial manufacturing, and that continues as a mainstay of its prosperity. Although manufacturing, distribution centers, and warehouses contribute significantly, the city also relies on healthcare, professional and financial services, retail trade, technology, and tourism to keep the economy strong and stable.

The hot and humid summers and the freezing winters often keep Aurora residents indoors. They rely on heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) for home and workplace comfort. The expanding tourist trade means that hospitality venues often require the addition of refrigeration (HVAC/R) for the comfort of visitors. The health care facilities, especially those engaging in research and manufacturing plants frequently need additional equipment and systems for temperature and humidity control. Aurora is a historic city with many museums and structures that need specialized climate control to protect the artifacts. Businesses that rely on technology also require state-of-the-art systems to keep their electronics operating correctly.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS May 2023) data shows that 7,840 HVAC mechanics and installers were employed in the Chicago-Naperville-Elgin, IL-IN-WI area, which includes Aurora. HVAC technicians and their employers receive resources and support from national, state, and local industry associations that include the following:

  • American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE)
  • Associated Builders and Contractors, Illinois Chapter (ABCI)
  • Associated General Contractors of Illinois (AGCI)
  • Home Builders Association of Illinois (HBAI)
  • Illinois Association of Plumbing Heating Cooling Contractors
  • Illinois Mechanical & Specialty Contractors Association (IMSCA)
  • Illinois Pipe Trades Association
  • Refrigeration Service Engineers Society (RSES)
  • The International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail, and Transportation Workers Local 265 (SMART)

These and similar associations coordinate with others in the industry and with government agencies to establish educational, licensing, and performance standards for the safety of technicians, the public, and the environment.

Occupational Demand for HVAC Techs in Aurora, IL

As per the BLS (2023), the U.S. demand for trained HVAC/R mechanics and installers continues to increase. The data indicates an average of 37,700 new job opportunities each year between 2022 and 2032. That’s a 6 percent annual increase in the nationwide demand for technicians, which is twice the growth predictions for all other occupations. The outlook for Illinois technicians is more optimistic, according to Projections Central. They predict an annual 9.5 percent increase in the demand for trained technicians in Illinois between 2020 and 2030. That’s an average of 970 new positions each year.

Construction of new commercial and residential buildings is the primary force driving the HVAC industry. The renovation and remodeling of existing buildings, especially in older cities such as Aurora, also create new jobs. The aging or obsolete climate-control equipment and systems frequently must be replaced, retrofitted, or updated. Technology-based industries and evolving regulations often require replacing systems and equipment to meet user’s needs while remaining in compliance with building codes. Finally, the increasing emphasis on energy efficiency and pollution reduction contributes to industry growth.

The Illinois Technology and Research Corridor, now known as the I-88 Corridor, “continues to attract and retain a diverse range of businesses and talented people.” Among other efforts to create and maintain growth, “The City of Aurora, through Aurora Downtown, provides grants for exterior restoration to renew original architectural features, and interior rehabilitation for HVAC, plumbing, structural and electrical work in the historic downtown area.” An active convention bureau has boosted tourism, adding millions of dollars to Aurora’s economy. In short, Aurora is a thriving community that’s continuing to grow.

Whether new structures or remodeled existing ones, most buildings now incorporate sophisticated climate-control systems that satisfy homeowner and business demands for “smart” buildings. The increasing complexity of contemporary HVAC and HVAC/R systems requires trained technicians to install, maintain, and service them. Technicians must understand electronics and high-tech. The best job opportunities will go to Aurora technicians who are skilled troubleshooters and are proficient with computers.

Technicians specializing in installing new systems may sometimes experience unemployment if construction declines. A slowdown is unlikely in the foreseeable future as Aurora is on a path of sustainable and diverse economic growth. Technicians specializing in maintaining, servicing, and repairing equipment and systems seldom experience unemployment regardless of the economy, as the weather makes year-round climate control essential for businesses and homeowners.

HVAC Salaries in Aurora, IL

According to the BLS (May 2023), HVAC mechanics and installers nationally earned an annual median salary of $57,300. Technicians in the Chicago-Naperville-Elgin, IL-IN-WI area, including Aurora, received an annual median salary of $66,560. The wage difference is greater than it appears, as the cost of living in Illinois is lower than it is nationwide.

BLS data for national, state, and regional salaries of HVAC professionals follows:

United States Illinois Chicago-Naperville-Elgin, IL-IN-WI
Number of workers 397,450 10,380 7,840
Average annual salary $59,620 $69,000 $71,060
10th percentile $37,270 $38,840 $40,250
25th percentile $46,550 $47,920 $49,070
50th percentile (median) $57,300 $64,920 $66,560
75th percentile $71,120 $80,480 $81,270
90th percentile $84,250 $106,090 $111,990

HVAC Apprenticeships in Aurora, IL

HVAC technicians traditionally acquired their skills through on-the-job training. That’s rarely possible in today’s job markets, as there are few opportunities for untrained workers. Most aspiring technicians now attend classes or participate in an apprenticeship program. Trained workers have more employment opportunities, start at higher wages, and earn more throughout their careers.

Apprentices must commit to specified hours of on-the-job training, typically 2,000, and classroom work, usually 144 hours, annually for three to five years.

The Illinois Department of Employment Security provides information and resources for apprentices and their employers. They are actively working to develop new apprenticeship opportunities for Illinois workers. The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity administers a grant program that funds organizations throughout the state that offer free pre-apprenticeship training to prepare workers for employment.

Associated Builders and Contractors-Illinois Chapter, sponsors trade apprenticeships, including HVAC, in several Illinois cities, including the main training center in Elk Grove Village. Apprentices who complete the program achieve journey-level status.

Apprenticeship programs are available from industry associations such as the following:

  • Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA)
  • Mechanical Contractors Association of America (MCAA)
  • Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors Association (PHCC)
  • Refrigeration Service Engineers Society (RSES)

Each organization has details of available HVAC and HVAC/R programs, schedules, and fees on their website.

Accredited HVAC Schools in Aurora, IL

Students choosing to attend a school should ensure that it is accredited. Accreditation is the process by which an independent agency has evaluated the quality of the curriculum and instructors of the institution. HVAC programs are accredited by HVAC Excellence and the Partnership for Air-Conditioning, Heating, Refrigeration Accreditation (PAHRA).

HVAC Excellence has accredited Midwest Technical Institute, Springfield, and Waubonsee Community College, Sugar Grove. PAHRA has accredited Illinois schools as follows:

  • College of Lake County, Grayslake
  • Elgin Community College, Elgin
  • Illinois Central College, East Peoria
  • John A. Logan College, Carterville
  • Oakton Community College, Des Plaines

Additional schools in the profiles below have received accreditation from other credible agencies.

College of DuPage

The college offers five certificate programs and three HVAC/R degree programs as follows:

  • Building automated systems certificate – prepares students for careers that merge traditional HVAC/R knowledge with computer and IT skills – 37 credit-hours
  • Energy audit and analysis certificate – designed for HVAC/R and building inspector contractors – 10 credit-hours
  • Entry level HVAC/R certificate – prepares students for entry-level positions in the HVAC/R industry – 13 credit-hours
  • Service technician certificate – prepares students for entry-level positions in the HVAC/R industry – 33 credit-hours
  • Stationary operator certificate – prepares students for commercial and industrial facilities management – 31 credit-hours
  • HVAC/R service technician associate of science degree – 64 to 68 credit-hours
  • HVAC/R contractor associate of science degree – 64 to 68 credit-hours
  • Facility maintenance mechanic associate of science degree – 64 to 68 credit-hours

Each certificate program, except the energy audit and analysis program, begins with coursework that includes safety, materials, and equipment; refrigeration principles and refrigerant certification; electricity and controls; and heating principles. Students in the entry-level HVAC/R certificate program complete only the above coursework. The energy audit and analysis certificate curriculum includes energy audits/economics, load calculations and duct design, and HVAC contracting.

Students in the remaining certificate programs add coursework relevant to the certificate title described below.

The curriculum for the building automated systems (BAS) certificate adds commercial air conditioning; automation control devices; object-oriented programming; and building commissioning, system solutions, and system integration. The service technician certificate program curriculum adds introduction to sheet metal; residential and light commercial forced-air heating; hydronic heating; residential and commercial air conditioning; installation; and troubleshooting systems. Students in the stationary operator add hydronic heating; central heating and cooling plants; commercial air conditioning; and mechanical systems to their curriculum.

Students enrolled in the degree programs complete the coursework described in the certificate programs. They also must complete 18 to 22 credit-hours of general education coursework.

Enrollees in the service technician program add HVAC contracting and system balancing to their coursework. Students in the HVAC/R contracting HVAC/R contractor degree program add HVAC contracting and principles of management to the curriculum. Those in the facilities maintenance program add system balancing, industrial air conditioning design, programmable logic controllers, machine shop, and welding to their coursework.

All program students learn via classroom lectures and hands-on training on cutting-edge lab equipment. They enjoy flexible day, evening, and online class scheduling.

  • Location: Glen Ellyn, IL
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission
  • Estimated Program Length: Degrees two years; certificates vary

ETI School of Skilled Trades

The HVAC/R program at ETI includes sheet metal, conduit, electricity, boiler systems, piping and applications, gas heating, system design, controls, HVAC/R, and preparation for the EPA exam. Students spend 449 hours learning theory and 457 in hands-on practice in the lab.

Enrollees may attend day or evening classes. Students are expected to adhere to a dress code and conduct themselves in a professional manner. Graduates are prepared to seek entry-level employment. Although ETI does not guarantee job placement, students receive assistance from the Career Services Department in preparing resumes, interview preparation, finding the right employer, and placement services for alumni.

  • Location: Willowbrook, IL
  • Accreditation: Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges
  • Estimated Program Length: Seven months

Elgin Community College

Elgin offers three basic vocational certificates, three vocational certificates, and an HVAC/R associate of science degree. Students in all the programs learn from classroom lectures and hands-on practice in well-equipped labs that feature state-of-the-art equipment. Graduates are prepared to sit for the EPA exams and are qualified to seek entry-level employment.

The basic vocational certificates include refrigeration service technician (18.5 credit-hours), residential HVAC service technician (12.5 credit-hours), and residential HVAC systems (26.5 credit-hours). Coursework for these includes HVAC/R, electricity, controls, gas and oil heating, sheet metal, refrigerant, hydronics/steam, load calculations, duct systems, and blueprints.

Vocational certificate programs include facilities maintenance technician (46.5 credit-hours), light commercial HVAC service tech (38.5 credit-hours), and sheet metal mechanics (34.5) credit-hours. The curriculum for each includes the coursework from the basic programs. Additional coursework relevant to each program is added from welding, cost estimates, testing and balancing systems, heat pumps, electric heat, motor controls, codes and standards, commercial HVAC, commercial/industrial boilers, and renewable energy systems.

The HVAC/R degree program includes the certificate curricula, technical math, and general education classes. Students complete 62.5 credit-hours to earn their degree.

  • Location: Elgin, IL
  • Accreditation: PAHRA, Higher Learning Commission
  • Estimated Program Length: Degree two years; certificates vary

Oakton Community College

Oakton students may choose from four certificate programs or earn an associate of science degree in HVAC/R technology.

The certificate programs include:

  • Commercial buildings energy systems (32 credit-hours)
  • Residential comfort control (32 credit-hours)
  • Residential comfort systems installer (25 credit-hours)
  • Stationary engineer license preparation (16 credit-hours)

Curricula for all the certificates include HVAC/R, electricity, and controls. Other coursework includes selections as relevant to the program name from classes in load calculations, indoor air quality, commercial HVAC systems, energy audit, analysis, and management, business and technical writing, technical math, sheet metal layout and fabrication, split systems, hot water boilers, hydronics, preparation for EPA 608 certification, and steam boiler operations.

Students seeking a degree complete most of the certificate coursework. In addition, they choose an additional technical course and complete specific general education coursework. Their degree is awarded at the completion of 60 credit-hours.

Graduates of Oakton’s programs have the skills and knowledge to install and service HVAC/R systems. They are qualified to seek entry-level employment as technicians.

  • Location: Des Plaines, IL
  • Accreditation: PAHRA, Higher Learning Commission
  • Estimated Program Length: Degree two years; certificates vary

Waubonsee Community College

Waubonsee offers an HVAC certificate of achievement program and an HVAC associate of science program. Students in both programs learn from experienced and knowledgeable instructors, enhanced by hands-on practice in the well-equipped lab and real-world systems.

Curriculum for the certificate program includes introduction to HVAC/R, electrical systems, residential HVAC systems, basic sheet metal fabrication, blueprint reading, EPA 608 refrigerant certification, safety, and troubleshooting, for a total of 21 credit-hours.

Students in the degree program complete the same coursework as the certificate program. They then complete additional technical coursework that includes sheet metal fabrication/installation, residential/commercial heat pumps, commercial HVAC systems, commercial HVAC controls, load calculations, duct designs, residential hydronic technology, and commercial refrigeration. They also choose three technical electives and complete specified general education coursework. They are awarded their degree after 60 credit-hours.

Graduates of both programs are qualified to seek entry-level employment as HVAC technicians who can install and repair climate-control equipment.

  • Location: Sugar Grove, IL
  • Accreditation: HVAC Excellence, Higher Learning Commission
  • Estimated Program Length: Degree two years; certificates vary

HVAC Certification & Licensing in Aurora, IL

One of the prerequisites for employment is Section 608 certification from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The EPA has established safety standards for the handling of refrigerants. Technicians must pass exams based on those standards. There are four types of certification according to the systems on which technicians work as follows:

  • 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 is available on the EPA website.

Technicians may obtain Section 608 testing and certification as well as other training and certifications from industry organizations that increase their employment opportunities. These include, but are not limited to:

  • Refrigeration Service Engineers Society (RSES)
  • North American Technician Excellence (NATE)
  • HVAC Excellence

Each organization includes details of schedules, fees, and requirements on its website. Further information is also available on the HVAC certifications page.

Although the State of Illinois currently does not require HVAC technicians or contractors to be licensed, anyone conducting business within the state must be registered.

The City of Aurora requires contractors to register. They must submit proof of their state license with the application. HVAC contractors may also be required to obtain current certifications from the International Code Council for the categories of National Standard Master Mechanical in lieu of municipal testing. HVAC technicians and contractors are not required to obtain business licenses in Aurora

As licensing regulations and guidelines are subject to change, HVAC professionals must ensure they have all necessary licenses before beginning any projects.

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.

Related posts

hvac thumb

May 14, 2024

Heating, venting, air conditioning, and refrigeration (HVAC and HVAC/R) technicians and installers are in high demand in cities. Climate control is requisite for businesses, industries, institutions, and homeowners. It’s needed for comfort, preservation of food, and medical and research facilities. What are the top cities for HVAC professionals?


April 24, 2024

The title of HVAC project manager can mean different things depending on the hiring party. In most cases, an HVAC project manager is someone with experience in the HVAC field who oversees new projects for an HVAC construction company, or as a consultant for a contractor.