HVAC Schools in Kentucky (KY) – Degrees & Certification

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The varied weather patterns across the Bluegrass State make this an ideal location to begin a career as a heating, ventilation, air conditioning, and refrigeration (HVAC-R) professional. Kentucky (KY) experiences four distinct seasons, with blistering temperatures in the summer, and snowfall in the winter; these temperature extremes lead many residents to turn on the heat or the air conditioning, systems that require installation and routine maintenance by trained mechanics and technicians.

But the climate is not the only reason that HVAC technicians thrive in this state. In fact, these workers also enjoy the support provided by numerous unions and local organizations. The UA Local 502, for example, is affiliated with the Plumbers, Pipefitters & Service Technicians United Association. This local union offers myriad benefits to those in the skilled trade professions, including networking opportunities, education and training, and political representation.

Another organization that offers membership to Kentucky HVAC technicians is the Plumbers & Steamfitters Local 452 of Lexington. This local union has been going strong since 1903, and provides valuable assistance to HVAC workers and other skilled professionals throughout Kentucky. It offers a number of benefits, as well as a pension program to help retirees after they finish working.

Prior to pursuing this line of work, it is important to understand the responsibilities. Following is an overview of typical duties for HVAC mechanics and installers in KY:

  • Perform calculations on HVAC equipment
  • Calibrate and test equipment routinely
  • Keep accurate records
  • Read blueprints
  • Follow all relevant laws and regulations that pertain to the HVAC industry
  • Visit various worksites
  • Offer education on energy conservation to customers
  • Maintain permits and licensure

Additionally, all technicians who work with refrigerants are required by law to maintain active EPA Section 608 Certification, which is covered in detail below.

This guide provides detailed insight into the HVAC industry in Kentucky, including the training programs, salary expectations, and licensure requirements.

Occupational Demand for HVAC Workers in Kentucky

Statistics show that the HVAC industry is currently healthy, both in Kentucky and nationwide, and is slated to grow rapidly in coming years. Specifically, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (May 2019) reported that 342,040 technicians were employed nationwide earning an average annual salary (annual mean wage) of $51,420. The BLS (2020) also projected a 4 percent increase in HVAC positions between 2019 and 2029; to put this in perspective, the average expected growth rate for all U.S. occupations during that same decade was also 4 percent.

Kentucky is predicted to need new technicians at a slightly faster rate. Projections Central (2020)—a data organization partnered with the US Department of Labor—reported that there would be a 4.6 percent increase in HVAC positions across Kentucky between 2018 and 2028, slightly higher than the national average.

There are several reasons for this anticipated growth. For one, as construction continues to rise in Kentucky, so too will buildings that require the installation of heating or air conditioning systems. These systems also require routine maintenance by a trained HVAC technician, and generally need to be replaced every 10 to 15 years. And as regulations governing the HVAC industry evolve, the demand will rise for skilled technicians who can ensure that both businesses and individuals remain in compliance with the law.

Online job boards reinforce this growing demand for HVAC professionals in KY. For example, a search on Indeed (Nov. 2020) for HVAC jobs in Kentucky yielded 384 results with organizations like Jarboe’s Plumbing, Heating & Cooling, Lee Company, Comfort Heating & Air Conditioning, and Eastern Kentucky University, among others. A similar search on Monster (Nov. 2020) brought up 332 jobs with Avery Partners, Penske, Nesco Resource, LLC, Lennox International and more.

HVAC Technician Salary in Kentucky (KY)

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (May 2019), HVAC professionals earn relatively competitive salaries, particularly for positions that may require just two years of post-secondary training. BLS (May 2019) states, the median salary for HVAC workers nationwide was $48,730 per year, while the median salary in this profession in Kentucky is somewhat lower at $41,220 per year.

In more detail, here were the salary percentiles of HVAC professionals across the US and in Kentucky specifically:

United States Kentucky
Number of HVAC professionals employed 342,040 4,290
Annual mean wage $51,420 $42,780
10th percentile $30,610 $26,920
25th percentile $37,660 $32,730
50th percentile (median) $48,730 $41,220
75th percentile $62,070 $50,960
90th percentile $77,920 $62,250

The national figures were slightly different according to another source of data, Payscale (Nov. 2020), which relies on self-reported salaries. Among the HVAC workers reporting their annual salaries, Payscale found these percentiles:

  • 10th percentile: $31,000
  • 50th percentile (median): $47,775
  • 90th percentile: $75,000

It’s important to note that the cost of living in Kentucky is also substantially lower than many states. By illustration, the Missouri Economic Research and Information Center (MERIC 2020) reported that Kentucky had the 19th lowest cost of living in the United States for 2020. Please keep this fact in mind while considering the following data.

HVAC Apprenticeships in Kentucky

Before finding a job in the HVAC industry, an aspiring technician must first complete hands-on training and often some classroom education to develop the necessary skills. This may involve the completion of an apprenticeship, an associate degree, or a certificate program.

Apprenticeships are generally the most competitive option, allowing participants to work for a wage while simultaneously earning a salary and completing a degree or certificate.

For example, through the UA Local 502 of Louisville, apprentices complete a five-year program and concurrently complete an associate degree in applied science (AAS) from Ivy Tech Community College. This program is divided into one-year segments, each of which includes between 1,800 to 2,000 hours of on-the-job training and at least 246 hours of related classroom instruction.

Workers who are unable to participate in a local apprenticeship program can find HVAC and HVAC/R programs through national industry associations such as:

  • Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA)
  • Associated Builders and Contractors, Inc. (ABC)
  • Mechanical Contractors Association of America (MCAA)
  • Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors Association (PHCC)
  • Refrigeration Service Engineers Society (RSES)

Details are available on their websites.

Accredited HVAC Schools in Kentucky

It is important to note that many aspiring HVAC technicians are choosing to pursue degrees or certificates through accredited programs. Accreditation from a recognized entity may serve as a proxy for program quality, as these programs have been evaluated by an external authority for their facilities, student resources, curriculum, student outcomes, and other measures.

Two organizations evaluate and approve HVAC programs. HVAC Excellence has certified one Kentucky school. The program has been profiled below. The other accrediting entity, the Partnership for Air-Conditioning, Heating, Refrigeration Accreditation (PAHRA), has not approved any programs in the state. Please note that all programs below have been approved by reputable regional accreditation organizations.

Here is a guide to accredited HVAC training programs in Kentucky.

Southcentral Kentucky Community & Technical College

Aspiring HVAC technicians who wish to develop industry-specific skills may consider the HVAC programs offered at Southcentral Kentucky Community & Technical College of Bowling Green. The program prepares students for employment in the HVAC/R industry and is designed to provide training in repair, installation, and maintenance. They learn about designing, building, and maintaining climate control systems. Along with technical knowledge, they will receive ample hands-on training to supplement their learning.

The college offers the following programs:

Environmental system repair helper certificate (nine to ten credit-hours): This certificate includes courses such as refrigeration fundamentals, refrigeration fundamentals lab, HVAC electricity and lab, electrical components, and electrical components lab.

Environmental control system repair certificate (24 to 25 credit-hours): This certificate involves all the above courses with additional coursework in cooling and dehumidification, cooling and dehumidification lab, heating and humidification, and heating and humidification lab.

Domestic air conditioner and furnace installer certificate (35 to 36 credit-hours): All courses from the two certificates mentioned above are included in this certificate with additional coursework in heat load/duct design, heat pump application, heat pump application lab, and journeyman prep.

Heating ventilation, and air conditioning mechanic diploma (47 to 56 credit-hours): This diploma program involves courses such as digital literacy, intro to industrial safety, basic blueprint reading, blueprint reading for construction, and general education 1 and 2, along with all courses mentioned above.

Air conditioning technology associate degree (60 to 66 credit-hours): All the above courses are involved in this air conditioning technology associate degree with additional courses such as quantitative reasoning, natural science, social/behavioral sciences, heritage/humanities, written communications, and oral communications.

  • Location: Bowling Green, KY
  • Accreditation: HVAC Excellence
  • Expected Time to Completion: Associate degree (16 months); certificate or diploma (four months)
  • Estimated Tuition: Environmental system repair helper certificate ($1,740); environmental control system servicer certificate ($4,350); Domestic air conditioner and furnace installer certificate ($6,264); heating ventilation, and air conditioning mechanic diploma ($9,744); air conditioning technology associate degree ($11,484)

Sullivan University

Formerly known as the Sullivan College of Technology and Design, this university offers an HVAC/R technology certificate program. The program combines practical training with classroom lectures, preparing students for multiple licensure and certification exams.

Made up of 39 credit-hours, the program includes courses such as blueprint reading, introduction to HVAC/R systems, principles of refrigeration, heating systems, air-conditioning, building automation I, computer applications I, HVAC-R electrical applications, information literacy, advanced mathematics, and other core courses.

Graduates of the program will gain the required skills and knowledge to work in several areas in the field of HVAC/R, such as service installation, facilities operation, HVAC/R sales, and energy auditing.

  • Location: Louisville, Lexington, Fort Knox, Louisa, and Mayfield, KY
  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
  • Expected Time to Completion: Nine months
  • Estimated Tuition: $375 per credit-hour

Interactive College of Technology

The HVAC residential training program offered at the Interactive College of Technology provides training in many different aspects of residential HVAC systems. Students in this program are also prepared for EPA as well as NATE certifications. The program provides hands-on training to students preparing them for junior positions in the HVAC industry.

Comprising 36 credit-hours, the program includes courses such as residential heating systems, residential air conditioning systems, applied residential air conditioning systems, applied residential heating systems, principles of electrical circuits, applied principles of electrical circuits, and HVAC/R computer fundamentals among others.

Along with industry-required certifications, the program also provides students the opportunity to participate in an externship program. Graduates can take up positions such as maintenance technicians or residential HVAC technicians.

  • Location: Newport, KY
  • Accreditation: Commission of the Council on Occupational Education (COE)
  • Expected Time to Completion: 45 weeks
  • Estimated Tuition: $15,600

Maysville Community and Technical College

Maysville Community and Technical College offers an HVAC mechanic diploma program preparing students for designing, building, and maintaining climate control systems or a career as an HVAC technician. The program offers plenty of practical training in installing and servicing air conditioning, heating, and refrigeration equipment.

Consisting 47 to 56 diploma credit-hours, the program includes courses such as refrigeration fundamentals and lab, HVAC electricity, electrical components and lab, cooling and dehumidification, and lab, heating and humidification and lab, heat pump application and lab, commercial HVAC systems.

Students through this program will have the opportunity to take up jobs as air conditioning or refrigeration contractors and eventually start their own HVAC business. Other than this, they can also take up jobs in areas such as appliance repair, duct installation, facilities air conditioning maintenance, and general servicing.

The college also offers several certificates such as environmental control system servicer certificate, environmental system repair helper certificate, domestic air conditioning and furnace installer certificate, refrigeration mechanic certificate, chiller maintenance certificate, and boiler maintenance certificate.

  • Location: Maysville, KY
  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
  • Expected Time to Completion: Four months
  • Estimated Tuition: $179 per credit-hour

HVAC Certification & Licensing in Kentucky

All technicians who handle refrigerants in Kentucky must have the EPA Section 608 Certification, which has four subtypes varying by equipment serviced: type 1 (small appliances), type 2 (high-pressure appliances), type 3 (low-pressure appliances), and type 4 (universal). Most HVAC training programs include EPA certification as part of the curriculum.

Furthermore, a handful of skill-specific certifications are available to HVAC technicians who wish to demonstrate their various areas of expertise. These certifications are offered through the Refrigerating Engineers and Technicians Association (e.g., entry-level Certified Assistant Refrigeration Operator); North American Technician Excellence (e.g., Industry Competency Exams or ICE); HVAC Excellence (e.g., Heating, Electrical, Air Conditioning Technology Plus); and others.

To learn in-depth about these national certifications, please visit the main HVAC credentialing page.

Finally, it is important to note that all aspiring HVAC professionals in Kentucky are required to have a license to perform work in this field. The various licenses offered by the Kentucky Department of Housing, Buildings & Construction for HVAC technicians include the following:

  • Apprentice
  • Limited journeyman HVAC duct mechanic
  • Limited journeyman HVAC installer mechanic
  • Journeyman HVAC mechanic
  • Master HVAC contractor

In order to apply for any of these licenses, the applicant must submit proof of experience; pass an examination on business and law, and have general liability insurance of at least $500,000. Because the additional requirements for each type of license may vary, aspiring technicians are encouraged to research the criteria carefully before submitting an application to begin working in this capacity.

Lastly, municipal permitting and credentialing requirements may vary, and all HVAC workers should contact local city offices prior to beginning any HVAC work to ensure compliance with all regulations.

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).