HVAC Trade Schools in Louisville, KY

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Home to the famed Kentucky Derby, Louisville is also known as a center for advanced medical science, specifically in heart surgery and cancer treatments. Other prominent industries in Louisville include care of the aging, restaurants, information technology (IT), manufacturing, and logistics. The mayor has won awards for his innovative programs that combine attracting businesses and workers with real estate development to “present a unified solution for job growth and quality of place.” Coordinated efforts have generated more than $11 billion in infrastructure and project development investments.

One of the primary results (and drivers) of economic growth is construction, and construction creates a demand for heating, venting, air conditioning, and refrigeration (HVAC). What’s more, the hot summer Louisiana days, high humidity, and wet winter season also result in additional demand for HVAC.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that 1,440 HVAC and HVAC/R mechanics and installers were employed in the Louisville and Jefferson County area. Local industry organizations provide training and support to the technicians such as:

  • Associated Builders and Contractors of Indiana/Kentucky (ABC)
  • Building Industry Association of Greater Louisville (BIA)
  • Indoor Comfort Association of Greater Louisville (ICA)
  • Kentucky Association of Master Contractors (KYAMC)
  • Mechanical Contractors Association of Kentucky (MCAKY)

Read on to discover how to become an HVAC mechanic or installer, including information about accredited training programs and credentialing in Louisville.

Occupational Demand for HVAC Techs in Louisville, KY

Demand for HVAC and HVAC/R technicians is growing nationwide. According to the BLS (2018), openings for HVAC mechanics and installers are expected to increase 15 percent nationally between 2016 and 2026. That is much faster than the average 7 percent projected for all occupations in the U.S.

Several factors contribute to the growth of the HVAC and HVAC/R industry. The primary consideration is the increasing sophistication of climate control systems and the need to replace, retrofit, or upgrade older systems. Industries that rely on technology, such as those driving growth in Louisville, often require specialized climate-controlled facilities. The contemporary emphasis on energy efficiency and reducing pollution also contributes to an increased demand for new installations.

Technicians who are computer- and electronics-literate, and those with excellent troubleshooting skills, typically enjoy the best job prospects. Technicians who specialize in new installations may experience seasonal unemployment if construction declines, although that is not anticipated to happen in Louisville in the immediate future. Maintenance and repair work can be more stable, as business owners and homeowners depend on their climate control systems year round and must keep them in good working order regardless of economic conditions.

HVAC Salaries in Louisville, KY

The BLS reports that HVAC and HVAC/R mechanics and installers nationally receive a median annual salary of $47,080. Technicians in the Louisville and Jefferson County area in Kentucky and Indiana receive an annual median pay of $45,520, but the cost of living is significantly lower. In fact, the Missouri Economic Research and Information Center (2018) reported that KY is the 14th most affordable state in the country, boasting particular savings in housing and groceries.

Here is a breakdown of national and local HVAC salaries according to the BLS:

United States Kentucky Louisville/Jefferson County
Number of workers 307,060 3,780 1,440
Average annual salary $49,530 $44,240 $47,110
10th percentile $29,120 $24,610 $29,130
25th percentile $36,150 $32,050 $35,590
50th percentile (median) $47,080 $41,510 $45,520
75th percentile $60,270 $53,250 $57,940
90th percentile $75,330 $65,130 $69,440

Accredited HVAC and HVAC/R Schools in Louisville

In the past, HVAC and HVAC/R technicians began their careers as helpers and learned the trade through hands-on training. It is still possible to do so today, but many workers now attend classes or participate in an apprenticeship program.

The Kentucky Division of Apprenticeship oversees the local apprenticeship system. Registered apprenticeships are voluntary. The role of the Division is to assist in developing programs and standards. Their FAQ contains details of current programs and participants. Certificates of completion are given to apprentices who complete apprenticeships.

The Plumbers, Pipefitters, and Service Technicians of the United Association Local 502 sponsors an apprenticeship program in Louisville. The program takes five years to complete. Students spend a minimum of 246 hours a year in formal classroom training at Ivy Tech Community College. They also spend 1,700 to 2,000 hours on on-the-job training each year. Graduates receive an associate degree in applied science and journey-level status. There is no cost to the student for the program.

Additionally, there are several accredited formal training programs in the Louisville area. When choosing a school, it is essential to determine if it is accredited and by which organization. Accreditation is a process by which an independent agency evaluates the quality of the program, including both the curriculum and the instructors.

Two organizations evaluate and approve HVAC programs. HVAC Excellence has certified two Kentucky schools, one in Louisville and one in Bowling Green. Both programs are profiled below. The other accrediting entity, the Partnership for Air-Conditioning, Heating, Refrigeration Accreditation (PAHRA), has not approved any programs in the state.

Here are some accredited HVAC training programs in the Louisville area and beyond.

Kentucky Community and Technical College

The Kentucky Community and Technical College System includes 16 colleges and 70 campuses throughout Kentucky. Jefferson Community and Technical College is located in Louisville. The HVAC and HVAC/R programs closest to Louisville are at the following schools:

The Bluegrass, Elizabethtown, and South Central colleges offer an associate in applied science (AAS) degree in air conditioning technology, as well as a diploma and certificate programs. Gateway and Jefferson only offer diploma and certificate programs for air conditioning technology.

The certificate programs are designed to prepare students for entry-level positions. Several types of certificates are available. These include boiler maintenance (20 credits), chiller maintenance (19 credits), domestic air conditioner and furnace installer (35 to 36 credits), environmental system repair helper (9 to 10 credits), environmental control system servicer (24 to 25 credits), and refrigeration mechanic (27 to 28 credits). Not all programs are available at all colleges at all times. Credits earned in a certificate program may be applied to the diploma or associate program.

The certificate curriculum includes classroom lectures and hands-on labs in HVAC, HVAC/R, and electricity fundamentals, as well as coursework relevant to the individual certificate and may consist of general education requirements.

The goal of the diploma program in air conditioning technology is technical-level employment as an HVAC mechanic. The curriculum includes general education classes as well as the fundamentals of HVAC, HVAC/R, and electricity, heat load calculations, duct design, heat pumps, commercial HVAC systems, and special problems. Coursework is completed with selections from an extensive list of HVAC-related electives. Students attend classroom lectures and receive hands-on training in labs for a total of 47 to 56 credits to graduate. Credits earned in the diploma program may be applied to the associate program.

General education courses in the degree program include oral and written communication. The technical coursework includes the basics of HVAC and HVAC/R, electricity and electrical motors and components, heat pump applications, and digital literacy. Electives include blueprint reading, thermodynamics, fluid flow and heat transfer, mechanical design, welding, sheet metal fabrication, electronics, special problems, and dozens of others. Students may also choose journey-level prep coursework. The degree program requires the completion of 60 to 66 credits.

  • Location: Lexington, Elizabethtown, Covington, and Bowling Green, KY
  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges; HVAC Excellence (South Central Kentucky Community and Technical College only)
  • Tuition: $169 per credit
  • Program length: Six to 12 months for the certificate; 12 to 18 months for the diploma; two years for the degree

Sullivan University

Formerly the Sullivan College of Technology and Design, this school offers a certificate program and an AAS degree in HVAC/R technology. Classroom lectures are combined with hands-on training in a new industry-standard lab and externships with a partnership HVAC company.

The certificate program includes HVAC and HVAC/R principles, blueprint reading, math, equipment and system safety practices, fundamentals of electricity, math, building automation, and computer fundamentals. Students also complete an externship and need 43 credits to graduate.

The AAS degree program starts with the same coursework but continues with advanced math and physics coursework, electro-mechanical devices, air and water distribution, heat load calculations, procedures and practices in conducting energy audits, and troubleshooting and systems repairs. Students complete an externship and journey-level preparation as a capstone project for a total of 102 credits to earn their degree.

  • Location: Louisville, KY
  • Accreditation: Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools; HVAC Excellence
  • Tuition: $320 per credit
  • Program length: Nine months for the certificate; 18 to 24 months for the degree

HVAC Credentialing in Louisville, KY

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requires technicians who work with refrigerants to obtain EPA Section 608 Certification, which includes passing an exam on the safe handling of these environmentally destructive chemicals. There are four types of certifications according to the systems on which technicians work:

  • For servicing small appliances (Type I)
  • For servicing or disposing of high-pressure appliances, except small appliances and motor vehicle ACs (Type II)
  • For servicing or disposing of low-pressure appliances (Type III)
  • For servicing all types of equipment (Universal)

Practice exams are available online.

Technicians may obtain additional training and certifications from industry organizations, which also offer Section 608 testing and certification. These include:

  • Refrigeration Service Engineers Society (RSES): Their mission is to provide opportunities for enhanced technical competence by offering comprehensive, cutting-edge education and certification to the HVAC/R industry.
  • North American Technician Excellence (NATE): Their certification tests represent real world working knowledge of HVAC/R systems.
  • HVAC Excellence: Their exams and certifications are intended to validate that an individual has retained knowledge in a specific area of the HVAC/R industry.

Details are available on their websites.

As a final note, the Commonwealth of Kentucky Department of Housing, Buildings & Construction requires HVAC professionals to obtain a license. These professionals can be at any stage in their career, including apprentice, limited HVAC duct mechanic journeyman, limited HVAC installer mechanic journeyman, HVAC journeyman, and master HVAC contractor. All applications must include a recent photo of the applicant, and journeymen must certify that they have not defaulted on a school loan.

Apprentice registration requires the signatures of the supervisory master technician and licensed contractor. Licensing for journeymen requires proof of experience and a passing score on the business and law exam. Master contractors must submit evidence of work experience, a passing score on the business and law exam, and proof of liability insurance for $50,000. Other requirements may vary for each category. Apprentices are not charged a fee for registration. All other licensees must pay a fee. Licenses are renewed annually.

Additionally, anyone conducting business in Louisville must pay an occupational license tax. The fee is based on percentages charged by the city and the county on gross business receipts. Applicants must comply with state licensing requirements.

All HVAC professionals in the Louisville area are advised to check with local government offices to ensure they have all necessary licenses and permits prior to beginning work.