Baton Rouge, LA HVAC Schools – Certification & Training

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The economic outlook in Baton Rouge, Louisiana (LA) is bright going into 2020. The City is located on the Mississippi River and the Port of Greater Baton Rouge is one of the largest in the United States.

According to a recent analysis, “a new burst of activity is at hand” and the area is expected “start really growing moving forward.” The growth is attributed to “industrial and public construction projects” and the economists are projecting a “new wave of investments.”

Baton Rouge is the state capital and home to Louisiana State University and the historic Southern University. Numerous medical research and training facilities also make a significant contribution to the economy and the tech industry is growing, along with the film industry. The mainstays of the economy continue to be petrochemicals and shipping operations. Also, Baton Rouge residents are culturally diverse and the City boasts numerous historic sites, museums, and entertainment venues that support a thriving tourist trade.

At least four inches of rain falls every month in Baton Rouge, with many months receiving more than five inches of precipitation. Combined with summer temperatures in the 90s during the day and in the 70s at night, this equates to an uncomfortable degree of mugginess. Temperatures are lower during the winter months, but rarely cold enough to turn the rain into snow. Baton Rouge’s southern location places it close enough to the Gulf of Mexico to experience hurricanes. High winds and tornadoes can also occur at any time during the year.

The weather makes heating, venting, and air conditioning (HVAC) essential for the comfort of residents and visitors to Baton Rouge. Some facilities require the addition of large-scale refrigeration (HVAC/R) to keep electronic equipment functioning correctly, and businesses (particularly those that are technology-based or involved in research) need specialized climate control equipment and systems.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS 2019) reports that 720 HVAC mechanics and installers were employed in Baton Rouge, LA as of May 2018. The technicians and their employers receive training and support from industry organizations such as:

  • American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers
  • Associated General Contractors of America, Baton Rouge
  • Home Builders Association of Greater Baton Rouge
  • Louisiana Heat Pump Association
  • Pelican Chapter of Associated Builders and Contractors, Inc.
  • Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors Association of Louisiana
  • Refrigeration Service Engineers Society
  • Sheet Metal and Air Conditioning Contractors’ National Association
  • UA Local 198 Plumbers & Pipefitters

These and similar industry associations establish educational, licensing, and performance standards in cooperation with governmental agencies and authorities.

Occupational Demand for HVAC Technicians in Baton Rouge, LA

Employment opportunities for HVAC and HVAC/R technicians are increasing.

The BLS (2019) expects a 15 percent increase in new positions nationwide between 2016 and 2026. That’s more than double the predicted 7 percent job growth for all occupations during the same decade. The outlook in Louisiana for technicians is slightly lower. Projections Central anticipates an 11.1 percent statewide increase, which is 500 new positions for technicians by the end of 2026.

The growth in the HVAC industry is due primarily to new construction. That is especially true in Baton Rouge as construction is booming. Climate control equipment and systems in existing buildings often must be replaced, retrofitted, or upgraded to comply with contemporary environmental standards. The current emphasis on energy efficiency and pollution reduction also contribute to the installation of newer HVAC systems. “Smart” buildings and industries that depend on electronics create a need for increasingly complex HVAC equipment and systems.

The sophisticated climate control systems require trained technicians to install and maintain. Technicians must understand electronics. They are also expected to have computer skills and proficiency with troubleshooting. Those who specialize in new installations occasionally experience unemployment. Given the rate of construction in Baton Rouge and the City’s favorable economic outlook, a slowdown in climate control installation isn’t expected any time soon. Technicians who specialize in maintenance and repair services can expect employment year round as homeowners and businesses want to keep their systems in good operating condition regardless of the economy. Damage from adverse weather conditions can also generate an additional need for replacement installations or repair services.

HVAC Salaries in Baton Rouge, LA

HVAC mechanics and installers earned a median salary of $47,610 nationally as of May 2018, according to March 2019 BLS reports. Technicians in Baton Rouge, LA earned an annual median salary of $46,600; however, the cost of living in Louisiana is lower than the national index.

The table below compares national, state, and regional salaries of HVAC professionals:

United States Louisiana Baton Rouge, LA
Number of HVAC Professionals Employed 324,310 4,380 720
Average Annual Salary $50,160 $43,640 $46,910
10th Percentile $29,460 $26,770 $29,310
25th Percentile $36,520 $33,760 $36,880
50th Percentile (Median) $47,610 $42,760 $46,600
75th percentile $60,900 $53,730 $57,710
90th percentile $76,230 $61,990 $64,810

HVAC Apprenticeships in Baton Rouge, LA

In times past, many HVAC technicians began their careers as assistants and learned their skills through on-the-job training. Few opportunities exist now for untrained workers. Those who attend classes or participate in an apprenticeship program have the most employment opportunities and the potential for higher earnings throughout their career.

Apprenticeships include specified hours of on-the-job training (2,000) and classroom work (144) annually for three to five years. A FAQ for apprentices is available at the Louisiana Registered Apprenticeship Division within the Labor Programs Section of the Office of Workforce Development. The site also includes a list of registered programs. Workers who complete a recognized apprenticeship receive a certificate of completion and national recognition of journey-level status.

The Plumbers and Pipefitters UA Local 198 offers a five-year HVAC apprenticeship program at the Baton Rouge Joint Apprenticeship Training Committee (JATC) Center. Apprentices receive 1,700-2,000 hours of paid on-the-job training annually. They also attend classes two nights a week for a minimum of 216 hours annually. Graduates are awarded journey-level status.

The Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors of Louisiana offer four-year apprenticeship programs in Baton Rouge, Houma, and Shreveport. Students must be employed by PHCCLA members and complete a total of 8,000 hours of on-the-job training, as well as 144 hours of classroom instruction annually. The program costs $900 per semester. Students may also choose online training through the PHCC national academy.

Other industry associations that offer training include:

  • Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA)
  • Mechanical Contractors Association of America (MCAA)
  • Refrigeration Service Engineers Society (RSES)
  • Sheet Metal Workers International Association (SMWIA)

Details are available on their websites.

Accredited HVAC Schools in Baton Rouge, LA

Individuals choosing formal classroom training should select an accredited program or institution. Accreditation is a process by which an independent agency evaluates the quality of an educational institution’s curriculum and instructors. Two industry organizations evaluate and accredit HVAC programs. The Partnership for Air-Conditioning, Heating, Refrigeration Accreditation (PAHRA) has not awarded accreditation to a Louisiana school. HVAC Excellence, howeverm has accredited the following Louisiana schools:

  • Baton Rouge Community College, Baton Rouge, LA
  • Baton Rouge Community College, San Gabriel, LA
  • Central Louisiana Technical Community College, Alexandria, LA
  • Central Louisiana Technical Community College, Natchitoches, LA
  • Delgado Community College, Metairie, LA
  • Delgado Community College, New Orleans, LA
  • Fletcher Technical Community College, Thibodaux, LA
  • ITI Technical College, Baton Rouge, LA
  • Louisiana Delta Community College, West Monroe, LA
  • Northshore Technical Community College, Bogalusa, LA
  • River Parishes Community College, Reserve, LA
  • South Louisiana Community College, Lafayette, LA
  • South Louisiana Community College, Morgan City, LA

Many of the schools are an easy commute for Baton Rouge students.

Louisiana Community and Technical College System

Twelve public two-year schools in Louisiana make up the LCTCS system. They offer adult education programs online as part of the WorkReady-U (WRU). Programs are designed to assist students obtain their HiSET (formerly GED) and prepare for college and career choices. Everything is available online other than testing and placement, which is completed on campus. WRU is available in cities across the state. (Baton Rouge Community College and South Louisiana Community College are included in the profiles below.) Local businesses collaborate with the Workforce Solutions programs to provide students with needed job skills.

Baton Rouge Community College – Acadian Campus and Elayn Hunt Campus

BRCC offers a technical diploma in air conditioning and refrigeration. As students progress, they earn competency certificates and can exit the program. Those seeking a diploma complete the following coursework through hands-on shop experience and classroom lectures: introductory HVAC; refrigeration; electrical fundamentals, components, and motors; applied electricity; domestic refrigeration; room air conditioning; central air conditioning; residential HVAC design; and residential heating and heat pumps.

They also select electives that include computers and special projects to complete a minimum of 45 credit-hours to earn their diploma. Graduates are qualified to seek employment as domestic, residential, and commercial HVAC technicians.

  • Location: Baton Rouge, LA and St. Gabriel, LA
  • Accreditation: HVAC Excellence; Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
  • Tuition: $175.89 per credit-hour
  • Format: On-campus
  • Program length: Certificates vary; diploma 18 months

Fortis College

Fortis is a privately-owned college that offers an HVAC/R program. Students learn via classroom lectures and hands-on training in the lab. The curriculum includes thermodynamics; electricity; controls, motors, and motor controls; refrigerants; controls; residential and commercial HVAC; industrial refrigeration; electric heat and heat pumps; gas heating systems; oil heating systems; HVAC system performance; water-based heating systems; troubleshooting and service calls; and EPA certification preparation.

Graduates are qualified to seek entry-level employment as HVAC and HVAC/R technicians.

  • Location: Baton Rouge, LA
  • Accreditation: Available by request
  • Tuition: $17,073
  • Format: On-campus
  • Program length: 48 weeks

ITI Technical College

ITI offers an air conditioning and electrical technology certificate program and an air conditioning, refrigeration, and electrical associate degree program. Coursework in both programs is presented through classroom lectures combined with hands-on training in a fully-equipped lab.

The certificate program includes HVAC fundamentals such as heat transfer, refrigerants, electricity, load calculations, job safety, and troubleshooting. Enrollees in the degree program will complete additional coursework that includes electrical circuitry, motor controls, programmable logic controllers, computer networking, technical writing, and workplace communications. All students will complete relevant certification exams and may take optional elective courses.

  • Location: Baton Rouge, LA
  • Accreditation: HVAC Excellence; Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC)
  • Tuition: Certificate $20,550; degree $29,500
  • Format: On-campus
  • Program length: Certificate 18 months: degree two years

Remington College

Remington offers an HVAC diploma program. Coursework is presented through a combination of classroom lectures and hands-on training. Students who do not have a high school diploma or GED can prepare for GED testing while completing their HVAC classes. The curriculum includes the following: career development fundamentals and principles, an introduction to HVAC/R, HVAC maintenance, automated HVAC controls, motors and motor controls, residential and commercial HVAC systems, commercial refrigeration, domestic appliances, and cold water AC.

Students qualify to take the EPA Section 608 exam before graduation and the cost of taking the exam is included in the tuition.

  • Location: Baton Rouge, LA
  • Accreditation: Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC)
  • Tuition: $14,000
  • Format: On-campus
  • Program length: 48 weeks

South Louisiana Community College

SLCC offers an HVAC/R diploma program on two of its nine campuses. Students start with introductory coursework, math, and the fundamentals of HVAC and electricity for a total of 17 credit hours. When these are completed, students can opt to receive a certificate as a helper. Students preferring to earn a diploma complete additional coursework as follows: electric motors, applied electricity and troubleshooting, domestic refrigeration, room air conditioning, residential central air conditioning, residential system design, and residential heating.

The diploma requires the completion of 45 credit-hours. Graduates are qualified to seek employment to install, service, and maintain residential HVAC/R systems.

  • Location: Lafayette, LA; Morgan City, LA
  • Accreditation: HVAC Excellence; Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC)
  • Tuition: $188.96 per credit-hour
  • Format: On-campus
  • Program length: One year

An online institution may better fit the needs of some Baton Rouge students. More information on accredited programs is available about online HVAC training here.

HVAC Certification and Licensing in Baton Rouge, LA

Technicians who work with refrigerants are required by Federal law to obtain U.S. Environmental Agency (EPA) Section 608 certification. There are four types of certifications based on the size and type of equipment. Each has a specific exam on the safe handling of refrigerants. The types are:

  • For servicing small appliances (Type I)
  • For servicing or disposing of high-pressure appliances, except small appliances and motor vehicle air conditioning (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, but are not limited to:

  • Refrigeration Service Engineers Society (RSES): They offer comprehensive, cutting-edge education and certification to the HVAC/R industry.
  • North American Technician Excellence (NATE): They focus real-world working knowledge of HVAC/R systems.
  • HVAC Excellence: They validate that an individual has retained knowledge in a specific area of the HVAC/R industry.

Further information may be found on each website. There is also more information on the HVAC certifications page.

Employed HVAC technicians are not required to be licensed by the State of Louisiana. Self-employed technicians are classified as contractors and must obtain licensing as described below.

The Louisiana Licensing Board for Contractors regulates licenses for commercial and residential contractors.

HVAC commercial subcontractors must be licensed for projects exceeding $10,000. Contractors working on commercial projects that exceed $50,000 must be licensed and their subcontractors must also be licensed. Applicants for a commercial license must:

  • Document a minimum net worth of $10,000 with current financial statements
  • Take a business and law course and pass the exam
  • Pass a trade exam
  • Submit any other documents as determined by the Board upon review
  • Complete an application
  • Pay the required fee

The initial license expires in one year. Subsequent renewal periods vary.

Residential HVAC contractors must be licensed for projects exceeding $75,000. Residential subcontractors must be licensed for projects exceeding $7,500. Applicants must meet the same requirements as the commercial applicants, and additionally provide proof of general liability and workers compensation insurance coverage. The initial license expires in one year. Renewal periods vary and require six hours of continuing education.

Contractors must also obtain business licenses for commercial construction projects, on public or private contracts that exceed $50,000 and on projects that include more than two single residential home or residential duplexes, triplexes, or fourplexes. Applicants must pass the Business, Law, and Trade exam and licenses must be renewed annually. Four hours of continuing education are required for renewal.

The City of Baton Rouge requires all businesses to register. A completed form and a fee based on gross receipts are required. Businesses less than 30 days old pay a minimum $50 fee.

Licensing requirements are always subject to change. HVAC technicians are encouraged to ensure they comply with state, parish, and city licensing agencies before working on any project.

Barry Franklin

Before co-founding Sechel Ventures Partners LLC, Barry Franklin was a VP at a Silicon Valley software company, and is an investor in and advisor for Impellia. Barry believes that education and lifelong learning are paramount. Barry met his wife at Carnegie Mellon University and they have two beautiful daughters. He also volunteers for various committees at his kids’ high school.