HVAC Technical Schools in Fort Wayne, Indiana (IN)

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In Fort Wayne, Indiana (IN), spring and fall bracket summers that are hot and humid and winters that are cold. July is the warmest month with an average high of 84 degrees and an average low of 63 degrees. June and August are slightly cooler, although temperatures can spike into the 90s and top 100 on occasion. May, June, and July each receive rain in excess of four inches, with April and August receiving more than three inches each month.

Record high temperatures and rainfall in Fort Wayne were set in the month of June, with the record high set in June 2012 and June 2015 holding the record for the wettest month. In winter, January is the coldest month on record, with highs barely reaching freezing and lows in the teens. January also receives an average of ten inches of snowfall. In total, winter snowfall in Fort Wayne is about three feet and temperatures in record-setting cold seasons dropped into the minus 20s.

Manufacturing was the mainstay of Fort Wayne’s economy for many years. That began to change with the recession in the 1980s. Although manufacturing continues to contribute significantly to the economy, the city has diversified into defense, distribution and logistics, healthcare, professional, and financial services.

According to Rachel Blakeman, director of the community research institute at Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne, the area reflects the economic strength of the state, with a “healthy labor market, growth in gross domestic product and strong consumer spending.” Ms. Blakeman states that numerous “projects are either recently completed, under construction or under consideration in Fort Wayne’s downtown and adjacent neighborhoods.”

Also, information from City-Data, an aggregator of government and private data sources shows that tourism continues to increase due to “the expansion or the building of new museums, hotels, festival parks, and meeting facilities.”

It is clear to see that these wildly fluctuating weather conditions keep Fort Wayne’s residents and tourists indoors where they rely on heating, venting, and air conditioning (HVAC) for comfort in their homes, workplaces, and community gathering spaces. The expanding economy depends on HVAC technology, which demands climate-controlled facilities. The hospitality and dining industries also require refrigeration (HVAC/R) to store food safely and keep their guests comfortable during their stays.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, (BLS 2019) 710 HVAC mechanics and installers were employed in Fort Wayne during the year that ended May 2019. Industry organizations such as the following provided training and support to the workers and their employers:

  • Air Conditioning Contractors of America
  • American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers Fort Wayne Chapter
  • Associated Builders and Contractors of Indiana/Kentucky
  • Building Contractors Association
  • Indiana Association of Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors
  • Mechanical Contractors Association of Indiana
  • Sheet Metal and Air Conditioning Contractors National Association
  • UA Plumbers and Steamfitters Union Local 166

Organizations such as these coordinate with others in the industry and government agencies to establish educational, licensing, and performance standards. They serve all aspects of the HVAC and refrigeration industry to ensure the safety of technicians, the public, and the environment.

Occupational Demand for HVAC Technicians in Fort Wayne, IN

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS 2019) workforce data indicates an expected 13 percent increase in the demand for new HVAC and HVAC/R technicians nationwide between 2018 and 2028. BLS data for the same time period shows that new jobs for all US occupations will only increase by 5 percent. HVAC technicians in Indiana can expect even more favorable employment opportunities. Projections Central predicts a 17.1 percent increase in new positions statewide between 2016 and 2026.

Growth in the HVAC industry is due primarily to new construction. The contemporary emphasis on energy efficiency and pollution reduction contributes significantly to the growth, as new systems and equipment are frequently needed to meet current environmental standards. If the old equipment and systems in existing buildings are not replaced, they often must be retrofitted or upgraded. On occasion, technological advances or changing regulations require the replacement of equipment in recently-built structures. Businesses that depend on technology often need specialized equipment to keep their electronics operating correctly.

New construction often includes “smart” buildings that require sophisticated climate-control systems and equipment. Trained HVAC and HVAC/R technicians are required for installing, maintaining, and servicing the systems in old and new structures. Technicians who are proficient with computers, understand electronics, and are skilled troubleshooters will have the best job opportunities. Those who specialize in new construction may experience unemployment if construction declines. As previously noted, Fort Wayne has many projects either under construction or planned, and the economy is growing, generating the need for even more workplaces and residences.

A decline in the need for HVAC installers is not anticipated in the foreseeable future. As businesses and homeowners rely on climate control year-round, there’s always a demand for HVAC technicians able to maintain, service, and repair equipment and systems.

HVAC Salaries in Fort Wayne, IN

The BLS (May 2019) reported that HVAC mechanics and installers nationally received a median salary of $47,610 during the year ended May 2018. Fort Wayne technicians earned an annual median salary of $49,160. Their earnings are even more favorable when considering that Indiana has a lower cost of living than some other U.S. states.

National, state, and regional salaries of HVAC professionals are summarized below:

United States Indiana Fort Wayne, IN
Number of HVAC Professionals Employed 342,040 7,180 710
Average Annual Salary $51,420 $51,540 $54,180
10th Percentile $30,610 $33,230 $37,490
25th Percentile $37,660 $39,090 $44,200
50th Percentile (Median) $48,730 $49,040 $52,630
75th Percentile $62,070 $61,720 $62,710
90th Percentile $77,920 $75,940 $75,250

HVAC Apprenticeships in Fort Wayne, IN

Although in the past, workers started their career as helpers and learned the trade through hands-on training, few opportunities for doing so exist today. Most workers now train via an apprenticeship or attend classes. Those with training and previous experience typically have more employment opportunities, higher wages, and earn more during their career as an HVAC or HVAC/R technician.

Apprenticeships include specified hours of on-the-job training, approximately 2,000 hours, and classroom work, typically 144 hours, annually for three to five years. Several opportunities for apprentices are available in Fort Worth.

Associated Builders and Contractors have numerous apprenticeship programs available throughout Indiana, including HVAC in Fort Wayne. Their training adheres to The National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER) core curriculum guidelines.

The Indiana Association of Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors (PHCC) offers a four-year plumbing apprenticeship in Fort Wayne that includes two years of HVAC training. The cost is $1,425 per year for PHCC members.

Plumbers and Steamfitters Local Union 166 includes HVAC training in their apprenticeship programs. The program takes five years to complete and includes 246 hours of classroom training per year and 850 hours of on-the-job training. Their program is available in many Indiana locations, including Allen County.

Williams Comfort Air, an HVAC company based in Carmel, IN, offers a free HVAC training program. The value of the program may outweigh the commute that would be necessary for Fort Wayne workers. The training includes classroom instruction and practice in labs. Individuals who complete the training are prepared to take the NATE Ready to Work Certificate exam and seek entry-level employment.

Additional HVAC and HVAC/R apprenticeship programs are available through national industry associations such as:

  • Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA)
  • American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE)
  • Mechanical Contractors Association of America (MCAA)
  • Refrigeration Service Engineers Society (RSES)
  • Sheet Metal and Air Conditioning Contractors’ National Association (SMACNA)
  • Sheet Metal Workers International Association (SMWIA)

Accredited HVAC Schools in Fort Wayne, IN

Workers who prefer formal classroom training instead of an apprenticeship are advised to ensure they attend a school that is accredited. Accreditation means an independent agency has evaluated the institution’s curriculum and instructors.

Two industry organizations accredit HVAC programs. HVAC Excellence has awarded accreditation to programs at seven of the Ivy Technical Community College campuses. The Fort Wayne program did not receive accreditation. The program at the Muncie campus is included in the profiles below as it is the closest school to Fort Wayne that has accreditation. The Partnership for Air-Conditioning, Heating, Refrigeration Accreditation (PAHRA) has not accredited an Indiana school.

Fort Wayne Community Schools (FWCS)

FWCS is a public K-12 school district and partnered with ed2go to provide online career training programs, including the following HVAC/R programs:

  • Certified Technician – 12 months, $2,895
  • Simulations for Field Technicians – six months, $495
  • Technician – 12 months, $2,895
  • Controls/Building Automation Systems – six months, $3,695

The HVAC/R technician program does not have a prerequisite. The other programs are for students with work experience or prior education. Each program features a comprehensive curriculum designed to increase technical and workplace skills.

The HVAC/R technician and certified technician programs prepare students to sit for a variety of industry exams, including HVAC Excellence Employment Ready certificates, HVAC Excellence Core and Professional Technician exams, the NATE Ready to Work certificate, the NATE Core and Specialty Test exams, and the EPA 608 certification exam. Students who complete the coursework receive vouchers for at least two exams.

  • Location: Fort Wayne, IN
  • Accreditation: Not disclosed
  • Tuition: As described above
  • Format: Online
  • Program Length: Six to 12 months

Ivy Technical Community College

Ivy Tech offers three levels of HVAC training: certificate, technical certificate, and degree. The coursework for all levels is lab-based to provide hands-on experience for students. Students in the 21-credit certificate program begin with introductory HVAC and electricity coursework, then add refrigeration and electrical circuits and controls.

Students wishing to earn a technical certificate complete the above coursework and 31 additional credit-hours in courses such as workplace communication, technical math, duct fabrication and installation, and heat pumps.

Students seeking a degree must first complete the technical coursework required for the certifications and then select six HVAC electives and complete general education electives. Examples of these courses are chemistry, behavioral science, physics, earth science, energy science, and English composition. A green awareness capstone course completes their studies. Their degree is awarded at the completion of 60 credit hours.

  • Location: Muncie, IN
  • Accreditation: HVAC Excellence; Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
  • Tuition: $145.01 per credit-hour
  • Format: On-campus
  • Program Length: Certificate one year; technical certificate one year; degree two years

Fort Wayne students who find attending an on-campus school difficult may prefer an accredited online institution. For more information on accredited programs available, visit the online HVAC training page.

HVAC Certification and Licensing in Fort Wayne, IN

All technicians who work with refrigerants are required to obtain the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Section 608 Certification. There are four types of certifications based on the size and type of the systems on which technicians work:

  • Type I – small appliances
  • Type II – high-pressure appliances
  • Type III – low-pressure appliances
  • Universal – all types of equipment

Certification requires passing an exam on the safe handling of refrigerants.

In addition, several organizations exist that provide skill-based, employment-ready national certifications. Examples are:

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

Their websites include details about the certifications, costs, and requirements.

The State of Indiana does not require HVAC contractors to obtain a license. The City of Fort Wayne does not require HVAC technicians or contractors to obtain a business license.

As licensing agencies can modify licensing requirements, HVAC professionals are encouraged to ensure that they obtain all necessary licenses before beginning any 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.