Although it is possible to work in some entry-level HVAC/R positions without formal training, most companies in Iowa and beyond prefer to hire those who have completed an apprenticeship or formal course of study. Ideally, coursework should be completed through an accredited program, meaning that the school has met certain standards as established by the accrediting agency. For institutions offering HVAC/R training, accreditation from the following industry organizations may be important:
- HVAC Excellence
- Partnership for Air Conditioning, Heating, Refrigeration Accreditation (PAHRA)
Information on the accreditation process is available on the organizations’ websites.
The Associated Builders and Contractors, Inc. (ABC) offers an HVAC apprenticeship through their Iowa chapter. The program takes four years to complete. It includes 8,000 hours of on-the-job training and 576 hours of technical instruction. Applicants with experience may “pass-through” the first two levels of training. Students learn the basics as well as how to install and service specialized equipment. The program is recognized by the United States Department of Labor Office of Apprenticeship and the Veterans Administration.
Some of the topics in this curriculum include basic electricity, basic safety, heat pumps, metering devices, water treatment, steam systems, indoor air quality, troubleshooting heat pumps, soldering and brazing, and troubleshooting oil heating. Fees are not disclosed on the website; however, qualifying students may be eligible for financial aid.
Eastern Iowa Community Colleges
The Scott Campus of Eastern Iowa Community Colleges, located in Bettendorf, offers an HVAC diploma. This diploma program provides students with the skills and knowledge necessary for gaining useful employment as entry-level HVAC technicians. They receive extensive high-quality hands-on training in repairing, maintaining, and installing a wide range of HVAC/R systems. Students are provided with hands-on skills through classroom lectures and laboratory experiences. The program will also provide students with the opportunity to complete several competency exams.
The program requires 39 total credits and includes courses such as HVAC trade skills I and II, refrigeration fundamentals, basic electricity for HVAC tech, domestic heating, HVAC controls and circuitry, advanced domestic heating and air conditioning, HVAC/R industry safety, computer literacy, and interpersonal communication. The curriculum has been awarded accreditation by HVAC Excellence, making it the only accredited program in the state.
- Location: Bettendorf, IA
- Accreditation: HVAC Excellence
- Expected Time to Completion: Three semesters
- Estimated Tuition: In-state ($175 per credit); online and nearby Illinois counties ($195 per credit); out-of-state ($242 per credit)
Des Moines Area Community College
Des Moines Area Community College offers both, an associate of applied science degree and a diploma in HVAC/R. The program provides students with the theory, skills, and knowledge of HVAC/R equipment (both light commercial as well as residential structures). Combining classroom lectures with laboratory experiences, students in this program are prepared for satisfactory advancement and entrance in this HVAC/R field.
The diploma is made up of 41 credits and can be earned by successfully finishing the first three semesters. The AAS degree is made up of 73 credits and can be earned by completing all semesters. Some of the courses in the curriculum include HVAC trade skills I, fundamentals of refrigeration, electricity, residential heating and AC, electrical controls and circuits, sheet metal fabrication, and applied heating and AC.
Students learn about the basics of installing, servicing, and repairing HVAC/R systems, putting together and installing ductwork and other related parts, checking the system and ensuring that everything is working properly, and connecting motors and compressors to control panels. Most graduates of this program go on to become service and installation technicians, while some might go into sales or start their own businesses.
- Location: Ankeny, IA
- Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools
- Expected Time to Completion: Diploma (three semesters); AAS (five semesters)
- Estimated Tuition: $170.00 per credit
Hawkeye Community College
The HVAC diploma program offered by Hawkeye Community College prepares students for entry-level employment in this industry. They learn to install, maintain, and repair commercial and residential HVAC/R equipment. Students in this program train in HVAC labs on equipment such as air conditioners, heat pumps, furnaces, boilers, air exchangers, and more.
The program provides them with 192 hours of practical real-world experience ensuring that they have the required skills needed for succeeding in their future career. Students may take exams such as the EPA Section 608 and the 410A High-Pressure Refrigerant national certification exam.
Comprising 48 credits, the program includes courses such as introduction to HVAC/R, boiler fundamentals, operation strategies, controls for HVAC/R, hydronic heating systems, applied electricity for HVAC/R, and residential forced-air heating systems, among others.
Upon completion, graduates will have several career options such as working for distributors, commercial businesses, and dealers as service installers and technicians.
- Location: Waterloo, Iowa
- Accreditation: The Higher Learning Commission
- Expected Time to Completion: Three semesters
- Estimated Tuition: Resident ($192 per credit); non-resident ($217 per credit)
North Iowa Area Community College
North Iowa Area Community College offers an associate of applied science (AAS) degree and a diploma in HVAC preparing students for entry-level employment in the commercial, industrial, and residential HVAC industry.
The diploma consists of 30 credits includes courses such as residential heating systems, troubleshooting heating systems, skills and safety in the industry, applied math A, B, and C, residential air-conditioning systems, troubleshooting air-conditioning systems, communications I, maintenance shop operations, college essentials, and Ag and industrial welding.
All courses from the diploma are included in the AAS degree which consists of 60 credits. Additional courses in this program include an introduction to entrepreneurship, workplace professionalism, commercial heating systems, control systems for HVAC, Commercial air-conditioning systems, sheet metal fabrication, technical graphics, systems design, and network essentials.
At the end of the program, graduates can pursue opportunities such as commercial HVAC controls technician, HVAC lab technician, HVAC sales manager, HVAC parts manager, and commercial HVAC service technician.
- Location: Mason City, IA
- Accreditation: The Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools
- Expected Time to Completion: Diploma (two semesters); AAS (four semesters)
- Estimated Tuition: Iowa residents ($165.75 per credit); non-residents ($248.63 per credit)
Other schools that offer various levels of training include:
Complete information about the curriculum and fees are available on their websites. Both the schools listed above have institutional accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission but have not earned programmatic accreditation for their HVAC programs specifically.