HVAC Training Schools in Indiana – Degrees & Certifications

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In the Hoosier State, frosty winters and hot summers contribute to the high value placed on HVAC professionals and equipment. This is excellent news for people looking to start a career in the industry. Indiana boasts a thriving climate to receive HVAC training and pioneer new technologies in the climate control sector.

Not only are there ample opportunities to learn about HVAC systems in Indiana (IN), but there is also a vibrant networking community to keep these workers supported in their professional development and activities. For example, the Indiana HVAC Association is a not-for-profit association of HVAC workers and contracting companies who commit to provide “top-quality expertise and promote the highest level of customer service and business operations throughout the HVAC industry.”

HVAC mechanics and technicians have varied responsibilities including installing, troubleshooting, and repairing HVAC systems and parts (e.g., heat pumps, intake and exhaust fans, ducts, electrical wiring, motors, piping, controls, circuits, furnaces, boilers, starters, unit heaters, economizers, humidifiers); using a manifold gauge set; calculating heat losses and loads; soldering & brazing components; ensuring tools and inventories are well-provisioned; maintaining detailed client records; and keeping all HVAC credentials up to date.

Some HVAC professionals choose to be generalist technicians, while others may specialize in a certain type of system (e.g., commercial refrigeration, oil heating, residential units, etc). Although the Indiana State Government Business Owner’s Guide reports that there is no state licensing for HVAC workers, local permits and credentials vary. Also, all US HVAC workers who handle refrigerants are obligated to pursue the EPA Section 608 certification due to the sensitive nature of those chemicals.

This guide serves as a resource to aspiring HVAC professionals in Indiana, detailing the expected growth in the industry, salary prospects, training programs, and certification procedures. Read on to discover how to join this high-growth career.

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Occupational Demand for HVAC Workers in Indiana

With extreme climate events on the rise in the US and across the world, it is no surprise that the demand for skilled climate control professionals is also growing. As proof of point, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS May 2019) anticipated a 13 percent rise in HVAC openings across the country between 2018 and 2028, significantly higher than the average growth expected across all occupations during that time period (5 percent).

And there is evidence that the employment prospects may be even brighter in Indiana. In fact, CareerOneStop—a data organization partnered with the US Department of Labor—reported that there would be a 17 percent increase in HVAC positions across IN between 2016 and 2026. Overall, with the projected addition of 780 fresh openings in this career field across the state, the employment climate looks very bright for Hoosiers in this line of work.

The BLS (2019) found that around 9 percent HVAC workers nationwide were self-employed in 2018, and 64 percent were in the contractors’ industry. Especially during the cold winters across Indiana, residents depend on climate control systems to keep homes and businesses safe and warm; therefore there is typically a steady stream of work, particularly in regions of the state such as Indianapolis with relatively high population growth and a booming construction industry.

As in other parts of the country, some HVAC workers in IN work normal business hours, while others may be called upon to service equipment on weekends, evenings, or even holidays. Since many systems come with service contracts and HVAC equipment generally needs to be replaced every 10 to 15 years, these skilled professionals can find work throughout the year.

Aspiring HVAC installers and mechanics should be aware that this line of work incurs a relatively high rate of injury compared to other occupations in the US; this is due to the physical nature of the work which carries a higher-than-average risk of muscle strains, tears, electrical shock, and burns. That said, with proper training, prudence, and safety equipment, HVAC workers can usually guard themselves against these maladies.

As a further testament to the thriving employment climate for HVAC workers in IN, Indeed (July 2020) posted 369 relevant jobs across the state, including opportunities at Centrica, Cigna, City of Fishers, ARS-Rescue Rooter, EmployIndy, and Beacon Health System, to name a few. Further, Monster (July 2020) advertised 666 HVAC jobs in IN at places such as Penske, Pep Boys, Wilkinson Asset Management, and Steadfast Companies, among others.

HVAC Salaries in Indiana

Not only is the career outlook very bright for HVAC professionals in IN, but so too are the salary prospects in this field, especially for a career requiring only one-to-two years of postsecondary training.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS May 2019) found that the 342,040 HVAC professionals nationwide earned an average annual salary (mean wage) of $51,420, while the mean salary of Indiana’s 7,180 employed HVAC workers was $51,450.

It is important to note that the cost of living is dramatically lower in IN than in most states. In fact, the Missouri Economic Research and Information Center (MERIC 2020) reported that IN is the seventh most affordable state in the US. Please keep this fact in mind while evaluating both the national and the Indiana-based salaries in HVAC.

Following are the more detailed salary percentiles for HVAC professionals nationwide as compared to Indiana (BLS May 2019):

United States Indiana
Number of HVAC Professionals Employed 342,040 7,180
Annual mean wage $51,420 $51,450
10th Percentile $30,610 $33,230
25th Percentile $37,660 $39,090
50th Percentile (Median) $48,730 $49,040
75th Percentile $62,070 $61,720
90th Percentile $77,920 $75,940


It’s worth noting that these countrywide figures varied by source of data. Payscale (July 2020)—a site which relies on people’s self-reported salaries found the following percentiles:

  • 10th percentile: $30,000
  • 50th percentile (median): $47,128
  • 90th percentile: $74,000

HVAC Apprenticeships in Indiana

Prior to seeking employment in Indiana’s high-growth HVAC industry, it’s crucial to receive the necessary training. Some aspiring HVAC professionals learn the tricks of the trade on the job by enrolling in an apprenticeship. These programs typically last from three to five years, and provide 2,000+ hours of work-related experience, as well as at least 144 hours of technical education.

For example, the Indiana chapter of the Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors Association provides plumbing and HVAC apprentice schools in the South Bend-Elkhart and Evansville areas. These programs last four years, comprising an impressive 576 classroom hours and 7,600 on-the-job hours.

Accredited HVAC Training in Indiana

In addition to apprenticeships, Indiana also is home to a wide array of vocational training programs. There are currently two main organizations which evaluate and accredit schools in HVAC across the country: HVAC Excellence and the Partnership for Air-Conditioning, Heating, Refrigeration Accreditation (PAHRA). To learn how programs are approved, please review the websites for the agencies or the detailed accreditation section of the HVAC programs homepage.

Ivy Tech Community College

There is one school with several campuses across Indiana which has received HVAC Excellence accreditation. The Ivy Tech Community College has campuses in Kokomo, South Bend, Evansville, Bloomington, Lafayette, Terre Haute, and Muncie. Ivy Tech provides a 21-credit-hour certificate, a 31- to 32-credit-hour technical certificate, and a 60-credit associate of applied science (AAS) program in HVAC.

The program includes laboratory-based classes,where students get a chance to work on air conditioning and furnace equipment. The experience allows them to become skilled in installing equipment, charging A/C units and troubleshooting equipment problems. Students also learn about systems that conserve energy such as thermal storage, solar thermal, geothermal, HVAC building automation systems, and air and hot water zoning systems.

The HVAC certificate includes courses such as introduction to HVAC, heating fundamentals, refrigeration I and II, electrical circuits and controls, heating service, basic electricity, and introduction to electricity. The technical certificate includes all of the above courses, with the addition of duct fabrication & installation.

The associate of applied science degree includes all the above-mentioned courses, with the addition of workplace communication, English composition, applied technical mathematics, chemistry, introductory physics, earth science, the science of traditional and alternative energy, green awareness (capstone), and student success in technology.

Students who graduate from this program can work in various settings as HVAC contractors. Some of these include stores, school systems, nursing homes, residential and commercial complexes, and more.

  • Location: Bloomington, Evansville, Fort Wayne, Indianapolis, Kokomo, Lafayette, Muncie, Richmond, Sellersburg, South Bend (Elkhart), Terre Haute, Valparaiso, IN
  • Accreditation: HVAC Excellence
  • Expected Time to Completion: Certificate (two to three semesters); technical certificate (two to three semesters); associate of applied science degree (four semesters)
  • Estimated Tuition: Indiana residents ($149.55 per credit-hour); out-of-state, face-to-face classes ($292.57 per credit-hour); out-of-state, online classes ($175.38 per credit-hour)

FORTIS

Fortis College in Indianapolis, IN offers the HVAC/R program, preparing students for entry-level employment in the HVAC industry. Students in this HVAC/R program are trained in running computerized diagnostics in order to tackle systems such as gas heaters, heat pumps, ventilating systems, commercial refrigerators, and air conditioners.

To qualify for admissions, in most cases students must be high school graduates (or have earned the equivalent) and will be required to complete a personal information sheet.

The faculty of the program includes experienced instructors, who teach students to manage and troubleshoot ventilation systems. Practical skills students gain in the lab will help them operate with a wide range of heating, ventilation, and cooling systems.

As an HVAC/R technician, graduates maintain a comfortable and healthy environment in residential and commercial buildings of all kinds. They will be able to apply principles and theory learned in lab and class settings to develop, select, operate, and test HVAC equipment.

  • Location: Indianapolis, IN
  • Accreditation: Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC)
  • Expected Time to Completion: Contact FORTIS for a customized assessments
  • Estimated Tuition:$19,957

AC/C TECH

AC/C TECH is also located in Indianapolis and offers a technical certificate in HVAC maintenance technology with career-ready preparation in five areas: gas furnace maintenance, electric furnace maintenance, air conditioning maintenance, EPA technician certification, and heat pump maintenance.

This hybrid program (i.e., online and in-person) comprises 200 hours of technical training; 110 hours of online coursework; 40 hours of hands-on training with experienced HVAC instructors; and 50 hours of on-the-job experience through a matched employer.

Additionally, AC/C TECH offers an AAS degree in residential and apartment technology. Consisting of 28 courses and three workshops, the program includes 1,144 hours of specialized technical training. It folds in all courses from the above certificate program, as well as courses such as range maintenance, refrigerator maintenance, dishwasher maintenance, washer maintenance, dryer maintenance, general wiring maintenance, gas furnace maintenance, general plumbing maintenance, and mold remediation.

  • Location: Indianapolis, IN
  • Accreditation: Indiana Board for Proprietary Education
  • Expected Time to Completion: AAS (1,144 hours); certificate (400 hours)
  • Estimated Tuition: AAS ($7,225); certificate ($1,500)

For some residents of Indiana, attending an HVAC program may be difficult due to time or distance restrictions. Luckily, residents of Indiana may qualify for one of the many online training programs in this field. To learn more about the web-based options, please check out the online HVAC training page.

HVAC Licensing & Certification in Indiana

In addition to completing a qualifying apprenticeship or training program, HVAC professionals in Indiana must pursue all necessary credentialing prior to seeking employment in this field. As mentioned above, there is one mandatory credential for all people nationally who work with refrigerants: the EPA Section 608 certification. There are four categories of this certification:

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

There are a number of other organizations that offer competency-based certifications in HVAC. To qualify for these certification exams, candidates typically need to have at least one-to-two years of experience and 144+ hours of technical education. Other certifications may call for letters from employers or additional prerequisites. The HVAC certification agencies across the country include:

  • North American Technician Excellence (e.g., Industry Competency Exam or ICE)
  • HVAC Excellence (e.g., Heating, Electrical, Air Conditioning Technology Plus, Carbon Monoxide Safety, Fuel Oil Combustion, Light Commercial Air Conditioning, Systems Diagnostics & Troubleshooting)
  • National Occupational Competency Testing Institute
  • Refrigerating Engineers and Technicians Association (e.g., Certified Assistant Refrigeration Operator, Certified Industrial Refrigeration Operator)
  • Refrigeration Service Engineers Society (RSES)

To explore the range of national HVAC credentials available, please visit the HVAC certification page.

Lastly, aspiring HVAC workers in Indiana must ensure that they have the appropriate local credentialing as well. According to the Indiana State Government Business Owner’s Guide, the only construction contractors who are licensed by the state of Indiana are plumbers. That said, the HVAC licensing among municipalities within IN varies widely.

As proof of point, the City of Indianapolis issues HVAC/R Contractor Licenses to individuals, contracting companies, and LLCs. According to local legislation (Sec. 875-301), there are three main types in HVAC:

  • Air Conditioning “A” – Unrestricted
  • Air Conditioning “B” – Restricted (i.e., 25 tons cooling, 500,000 BTUs heating, boiler pressures not exceeding 15 PSIG steam, and 30 PSIG water)
  • Air Conditioning “D” – Five tons cooling / 300,000 BTUs heating, refrigeration, and high-pressure steam)

To qualify for a contractor license, a person must have at least five years of experience and three signed customer reference letters. These local licenses are valid for two years, and they can be renewed following the submission of a fee and a renewal application.

Above all, since local legislation regarding HVAC credentials varies between regions of the state, interested workers and contracting businesses in Indiana are encouraged to reach out to their local government officials for details.

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).