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.

HVAC installers and mechanics in Louisville take on varied responsibilities. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (May 2019) reports that these professionals must understand the basic refrigeration cycle; perform heat load calculations; test and repair various system components (e.g., hermetic compressors, humidifiers, heat pumps, water pumps, ductless splits, motors, economizers, air ducts, intake valves, electrical wiring); use blueprints and mechanical drawings; comply with local and federal legislation; make recommendations to clients for energy efficiency; keep detailed customer service records; and maintain active credentialing.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that 1,710 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 (May 2019), openings for HVAC mechanics and installers are expected to increase 4 percent nationally between 2019 and 2029. That is as fast as the average 4 percent projected for all occupations in the U.S.

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.

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.

Also, it’s important to note that HVAC workers incur a higher than average rate of illness and injury than other U.S. occupations (BLS May 2019). This is due to the relatively physical nature of the work, which may expose them to burns, muscle strains, and other maladies. That said, with the proper training and safety equipment, these problems can generally be kept to a minimum.

There’s no shortage of opportunities for qualified HVAC professionals in Louisville. As proof of point, Indeed (Oct. 2020) had 90 relevant job postings in the Louisville area, including openings at Bellarmine University, Sears Home Services, Louisville Metro Government, Lennox International, Walmart, and Conagra Brands, to name a few. Monster (Oct. 2020) also had 165 postings at places such as BrightView, Jones Lang LaSalle, Hertz Corporation, and ALCO Doors. In sum, there’s expected to be a high demand in this field in Louisville in years to come.

HVAC Salaries in Louisville, KY

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (May 2019), there were 342,040 HVAC mechanics and installers nationwide with an average annual salary (annual mean wage) of $51,420 and 4,290 HVAC mechanics and installers in Kentucky with an average annual salary (annual mean wage) of $42,780. It also stated that there were 1,710 HVAC mechanics and installers in Louisville with an average annual salary (annual mean wage) of $42,940 and the following percentiles:

United States Kentucky Louisville, KY
Number of HVAC professionals employed 342,040 4,290 1,710
Annual mean wage $51,420 $42,780 $42,940
10th percentile $30,610 $26,920 $28,570
25th percentile $37,660 $32,730 $34,270
50th percentile (median) $48,730 $41,220 $42,260
75th percentile $62,070 $50,960 $49,730
90th percentile $77,920 $62,250 $59,940

Salary figures do vary slightly by the source of data. Payscale—an aggregator of self-reported salaries—found the following percentiles among its HVAC respondents nationwide in September 2020:

  • 10th percentile: $30,000
  • 50th percentile (median): $47,723
  • 90th percentile: $75,000

The BLS figures are generally considered more reliable due to the organization’s methods of data collection and relatively high sample size. Regardless of the source, HVAC workers in Kentucky had lower salaries than the national averages. That said, it is important to keep in mind that KY is also one of the cheapest states in which to live, and therefore less money goes further. The Missouri Economic Research and Information Center (MERIC 2020) found that KY was the 19th most affordable state in the country.

HVAC and HVAC/R Apprenticeships in Louisville, KY

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 1,800 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.

Accredited HVAC and HVAC/R Schools in Louisville, KY

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 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.

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 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), among others. However, students must note all programs are not 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)
  • Expected Time to Completion: Certificate (six to 12 months); diploma (12 to 18 months); degree (two years)
  • Estimated Tuition: In-State ($179 per credit-hour)

HVAC Licensing and Certification 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 as apprentices, limited HVAC duct mechanic journeymen, limited HVAC installer mechanic journeymen, HVAC journeymen, and master HVAC contractors. 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 the necessary licenses and permits prior to beginning work.

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.