HVAC Tech Schools in New Orleans, Louisiana – Degrees, Licensing & Salary

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The economy in New Orleans, Louisiana (LA) is diverse. With tourism being a mainstay, the city’s rich history includes the French Quarter, museums, botanical gardens, Mardi Gras, and the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. The Big Easy draws visitors by the thousands. Other strong economic sectors include energy, healthcare, international trade, and manufacturing.

The Port of New Orleans is a base for shipbuilding, shipping, and related maritime industries. Oil refineries and petroleum production facilities in the region contribute to the nation’s gas and oil supplies.

July and August are the hottest months for New Orleanians, with temperatures hitting the 90s with high humidity. The heat, combined with six to seven inches of rain, makes the long summers muggy and oppressive. The rainfall decreases in the shorter winter, and the weather turns cool and windy. Residents need heating, venting, and air conditioning (HVAC) in their homes and workplaces for comfort. Entertainment and tourist venues, as well as businesses and technology, often depend on large refrigeration systems as well.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS May 2020) reports that 1,120 HVAC mechanics and installers were employed in the New Orleans-Metairie area. State and local chapters of industry organizations that provide training and support to the technicians include:

  • American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air Conditioning Engineers New Orleans Chapter (ASHRAE)
  • Home Builders Association of Greater New Orleans (HBAGNO)
  • Plumbers and Steamfitters Local 60
  • Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors of Louisiana (PHCCLA)

These organizations coordinate with others in the industry and with government organizations to establish educational and licensing standards. They serve all aspects of the HVAC and HVAC/R industries, including safety, performance, and promotion.

Read on to discover the occupational outlook for HVAC professionals in New Orleans, as well as the accredited training programs and salary prospects in the area.

Occupational Demand for HVAC Technicians in New Orleans, LA

Demand for HVAC technicians is growing nationwide. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS 2021), job opportunities for technicians are expected to increase 5 percent nationally between 2020 and 2030. That is slightly slower than the average of 8 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 in New Orleans, frequently require specialized systems to keep electronic equipment in operation.

The entertainment and tourist businesses create an increased need for climate control. The contemporary emphasis on energy efficiency and reducing pollution is another factor leading to the installation of new equipment and systems.

Nationwide, approximately 9 percent of HVAC and HVAC/R technicians are self-employed. The remainder generally works for contractors, institutions, and retail or wholesale facilities, among others.

One of the most direct ways to observe the strength of the HVAC industry in Orleans, Louisiana is by performing an online search for available jobs through various search engines. For example, Monster (January 2022) yielded jobs in HVAC with companies such as Jobot, United Rentals, Transform Home Services, Sears Holdings Corporation, and CMS Nextech, among many others. A similar search on Indeed (January 2022) yielded 151 job openings, including opportunities with Marriott International, Inc, Sears Home Services, Delgado Community College, Sunbelt Rentals, and many more.

HVAC Salaries in New Orleans, LA

The BLS (May 2020) reported that HVAC mechanics and installers nationally received a median salary of $50,590 as of May 2020. Technicians in New Orleans, LA received an annual median salary of $55,680.

The table below is a comparison of national, state, and regional salaries of HVAC professionals:

The BLS reported the following salary figures in the New Orleans area, as of May 2020:

United States Louisiana New Orleans-Metairie
Number of HVAC workers employed 344,020 3,990 1,120
Annual mean wage $53,410 $48,140 $52,460
10th percentile $31,910 $28,360 $32,260
25th percentile $39,320 $36,390 $41,150
50th percentile (median) $50,590 $47,120 $55,680
75th percentile $64,350 $59,300 $62,820
90th percentile $80,820 $68,450 $68,730

The national figures were slightly different according to another source of data, PayScale (January 2022), which relies on self-reported salaries. Among the HVAC workers reporting their annual salaries, Payscale found these percentiles:

  • 10th percentile: $32,000
  • 50th percentile (median): $49,916
  • 90th percentile: $80,000

The Missouri Economic Research and Information Center (MERIC 2022) found that Louisiana had the 16th lowest cost of living in the United States for 2021. Aspiring HVAC workers in New Orleans are encouraged to keep this in mind.

HVAC Apprenticeships in New Orleans, LA

HVAC technicians traditionally began their careers as helpers and learned the trade through on-the-job training. It is still possible to do so, but most workers now attend classes or participate in an apprenticeship program.

Apprenticeships include specified hours of on-the-job training (~2,000 hours) and classroom work (~144 hours) annually for three to five years. The Louisiana Registered Apprenticeship Division within the Labor Programs Section of the Office of Workforce Development maintains an FAQ for apprentices that 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 Steamfitters UA Local 60 offers a Certified Apprenticeship Training Program in New Orleans. The program takes five years to complete. Apprentices receive paid on-the-job training in addition to coursework, which is completed two nights a week. Graduates are recognized as journey-level HVAC/R Service Technicians.

Apprentices who complete the program may apply up to 32 college credits of their training to an associate degree in a construction-related field. If they take other coursework required by the college, they can earn their associate degree by the time they finish their apprenticeship. The only cost for the program is the tuition charged by the college for the additional coursework.

Workers seeking HVAC and HVAC/R apprenticeship programs can find several available through national industry associations. For example, the Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors of Louisiana offer four-year apprenticeship programs in Baton Rouge, Houma, and Shreveport.

Students must be employed by PHCC members and complete a total of 8,000 hours of on-the-job training. They must also complete 144 hours of classroom instruction annually. The cost is $900 per semester. There is also an online option 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 New Orleans, LA

Another option is to pursue more formal classroom training, ideally provided by an accredited program or institution. Accreditation is a process by which an independent agency evaluates the quality of an educational institution’s program. The evaluation includes both the curriculum and the instructors. When choosing a school, it is essential to determine if it is accredited and which organization granted accreditation.

Two main organizations accredit and evaluate HVAC programs: HVAC Excellence and the Partnership for Air-Conditioning, Heating, Refrigeration Accreditation (PAHRA). While the Partnership for Air-Conditioning, Heating, Refrigeration Accreditation (PAHRA) has not awarded accreditation to a Louisiana school, HVAC Excellence has approved the following Louisiana schools:

  • Baton Rouge Community College, Baton Rouge, 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
  • River Parishes Community College, Reserve, LA
  • South Louisiana Community College, Lafayette, LA
  • South Louisiana Community College, Morgan City, LA

Due to their accreditation, a selection of these schools is included in the profiles below, although attending them would require New Orleans students to commute.

Delgado Community College

Delgado offers a nine-month HVAC/R certificate program and an 18-month HVAC/R technician diploma program. Both programs are taught through hands-on training in a lab combined with classroom lectures. Day and evening classes are available.

Students in the certificate program begin with building codes and licensing. They then learn tubing fabrication and fitting, the principles and fundamentals of refrigeration and electricity, electrical components and motors, and residential system design. They also learn technical skills through the NCCER Technical Core, computer applications, internet literacy, and first aid. The program takes 30 credits to complete.

Students enrolled in the diploma program complete all the certificate program coursework, then continue with building science, hydronics, residential air conditioning & gas heating, heat pumps, and commercial air conditioning and refrigeration. They also take accounting and other business-related courses. The program takes 57 credits to complete.

The primary goal of both programs is to prepare students for a successful career in HVAC/R. Students in the HVAC/R technician diploma program are trained to be HVAC technicians in a hands-on lab environment and are offered the opportunity to earn the EPA 608 license.

  • Location: New Orleans, LA
  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC), HVAC Excellence
  • Expected Time to Completion: Nine months for the certificate; 18 months for the diploma
  • Estimated Tuition: $194.96 per credit

ITI Technical College

ITI Technical College offers an air conditioning and electrical technology certificate program and an air conditioning, refrigeration, and electrical technology associate degree program. Both programs include hands-on training in fully-equipped labs combined with formal classroom work. Students learn HVAC fundamentals, such as heat transfer, refrigerants, electricity, load calculations, and troubleshooting. They also learn job safety practices.

Those enrolled in the degree program complete additional coursework that includes electrical circuitry, motor controls, programmable logic controllers, computer networking, technical writing, and workplace communications. Students may qualify for relevant certification exams and may take optional elective courses.

Graduates are prepared to take up roles such as heating and air conditioning mechanics and installers, refrigeration mechanics and installers, electrician, security and fire alarm systems installers, and heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration engineering technology/technician.

  • Location: Baton Rouge, LA
  • Accreditation: Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC), HVAC Excellence
  • Expected Time to Completion: Associate in occupational studies degree (24 months); certificate (12 months)
  • Estimated Tuition: Contact the college for details

L. E. Fletcher Technical College

L. E. Fletcher Technical College offers an HVAC diploma and several certificate programs, which are awarded as specified portions of the diploma curriculum are completed. The full curriculum includes courses such as introduction to HVAC, principles of refrigeration I, II, and III, electrical fundamentals, components, and motors, applied electricity, domestic refrigeration, room air conditioning, central air conditioning, residential HVAC design, residential heating & heat pumps, and career preparation.

Students may choose from electives that include solar fundamentals and applications, commercial air conditioning, or special projects. Graduates must complete a minimum of 45 credits to receive their diploma. Students earning certificates are qualified to seek employment as helpers. Those who earn a diploma are qualified to seek employment as HVAC technicians.

Students who successfully complete this program will be thorough in their understanding of the refrigeration process, be able to install and troubleshoot electrical circuits and devices and install and troubleshoot domestic A/C and refrigeration systems. They will also know about designing and troubleshooting residential air conditioning systems, electric heat, gas heat, heat pumps systems according to industry practices and standards.

  • Location: Thibodaux, LA
  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC), and HVAC Excellence (Thibodaux campus only)
  • Expected Time to Completion: Certificate (varies); diploma (18 months)
  • Estimated Tuition: $219.96 per credit

Northshore Technical Community College

Northshore has several HVAC options providing students with specialized instruction and practical experience, preparing them for employment as entry-level air conditioning and refrigeration technicians. Students completing the minimum introductory courses may receive a certificate as a helper. If they complete additional specific courses, they may receive a certificate as a commercial, residential, or refrigeration technician. They may apply the certificate credits toward an air conditioning and refrigeration technical diploma.

The curriculum begins with an introduction to the principles of HVAC. Students may then take courses in commercial refrigeration and controls; residential and domestic equipment and systems; or commercial air conditioning. Additional coursework to earn a diploma includes electrical fundamentals, components, and motors, as well as troubleshooting. Students may choose to complete one or more special projects, a practicum, or cooperative education. They must complete a minimum of 45 credits to earn a diploma.

On successful completion of the program, graduates will be able to evaluate refrigerant temperatures and pressure in an A/C system, measure the performance of residential A/C systems, troubleshoot residential heating systems, and adjust commercial A/C units.

  • Location: Bogalusa, Hammond, Lacombe, LA
  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
  • Expected Time to Completion: Certificate (varies); Diploma (18 months)
  • Estimated Tuition: $231.96 per credit

Nunez Community College

Nunez Community College offers a certificate of technical studies in heating, ventilation, and air conditioning preparing students to take the EPA exam and apply for entry-level employment as HVAC technicians.

Consisting of 18 credits, the certificate provides students with practical experience, as well as theoretical knowledge of HVAC principles. Courses in this program include an introduction to construction, NCCER HVAC level 1, and NCCER HVAC level 2.

Students will be able to demonstrate an understanding of the basic principles of HVAC, demonstrate the ability to effectively and safely use equipment and tools required for installation and repairing of HVAC systems, and demonstrate an understanding of components used in refrigeration systems.

  • Location: Chalmette, LA
  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
  • Expected Time to Completion: 12 months
  • Estimated Tuition: $138.96 per credit

South Louisiana Community College

SOLA Community College offers an AAS degree in HVAC/R and an HVAC/R diploma program on two of its nine campuses. Students start with introductory coursework, math, and the fundamentals of HVAC and electricity. On completion of these, students can opt to receive a certificate as a helper. The remaining curriculum includes electric motors, troubleshooting, domestic refrigeration, room air conditioning, and residential air conditioning, heating, and system design. Students must complete a minimum of 45 credits to earn a diploma.

The AAS degree program includes all courses from the diploma with the addition of general education coursework in areas such as college algebra, rhetoric & composition, social or behavioral science, and natural or physical science.

The program provides students with the technical skills and knowledge for installing, servicing, repairing, and maintaining equipment used in residential HVAC/R systems. They develop knowledge about the refrigeration cycle, learn about the physics of heat, and how it is applied to the HVAC/R field, and also learn to diagnose and repair a variety of HVAC/R equipment.

  • Location: Lafayette and Morgan City, LA
  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC), HVAC Excellence
  • Expected Time to Completion: Diploma (three semesters); AAS (24 months)
  • Estimated Tuition: $188.96 per credit

Central Louisiana Community College

Central Louisiana Community College offers a technical diploma in air conditioning (A/C) and refrigeration. Providing special instruction as well as a hands-on learning experience, this program prepares students to work in a wide range of positions in the HVAC/R field. They learn about installing, diagnosing, repairing, and maintaining a satisfactory condition of residential, commercial, and domestic HVAC/R systems.

Students pursuing this program have the opportunity to complete each semester with the following competency certificates:

  • Career and Technical Certificate – Helper I
  • Career and Technical Certificate – Helper II
  • Certificate of Technical Studies – Domestic A/C Refrigeration Technician

Courses in this 45-credit program include HVAC introduction, principles of refrigeration I, II, and III, electrical fundamentals, electrical components, electric motors, applied electricity and troubleshooting, domestic refrigeration, residential central air conditioning I, and II, residential system design, residential heating I, and II, residential heat pumps, and room air conditioners.

  • Location: Alexandria and Natchitoches, LA
  • Accreditation: Accrediting Commission of the Council on Occupational Education (COE); HVAC Excellence
  • Expected Time to Completion: 24 months
  • Estimated Tuition: $8,532 for the program

Louisiana Delta Community College

Louisiana Delta Community College offers the following programs:

  • Technical Diploma in Commercial Refrigeration Technician – 45 credits
  • Technical Diploma in Residential A/C and Refrigeration – 45 credits
  • Certificate of Technical Studies in HACR Energy Systems Technician – 33 credits
  • Certificate of Technical Studies in Domestic A/C & Refrigeration Technician – 28 credits
  • Certificate of Technical Studies in Helper II – 24 credits

These programs provide students with practical experience and classroom instruction. Students learn how to install, diagnose, and repair commercial, residential, and domestic HVAC/R systems.

Some of the courses involved in these programs include an HVAC introduction, principles of refrigeration I, II, and III, electrical fundamentals, electrical components, electric motors, applied electricity and troubleshooting, domestic refrigeration, residential central air conditioning I, and II, residential system design, residential heating I, and II, residential heat pumps, room air conditioners, job-seeking skills, commercial refrigeration I and II, commercial refrigeration controls I, solar fundamentals, and solar thermal applications.

Graduates of these programs will be well-prepared to install and troubleshoot HVAC systems, handle refrigerants properly, install electrical devices, troubleshoot residential air conditioners, heat pump systems, and gas and electrical heating systems, at par with industry best practices.

  • Location: Monroe, LA
  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC), HVAC Excellence
  • Expected Time to Completion: Varies by program
  • Estimated Tuition: $209.96 per credit

HVAC Certification & Licensing in New Orleans, LA

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requires technicians who work with refrigerants to obtain an EPA Section 608 Certification. Certification requires passing an exam on the safe handling of refrigerants. 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 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)
  • North American Technician Excellence (NATE)
  • HVAC Excellence

Details are available on their websites or this site’s HVAC certification page.

Louisiana does not require HVAC/R workers to be licensed; however, self-employed technicians are regarded as contractors.

The Louisiana Licensing Board for Contractors regulates licenses for commercial and residential contractors. HVAC subcontractors must be licensed for projects exceeding $10,000. Commercial contractors must hire subcontractors who must be licensed for projects exceeding $50,000.

Applicants for commercial licensure must submit financial statements showing a net worth of at least $10,000; successfully pass the Business, Law, and Trade exam; pass relevant trade exams; undergo a financial background check; and pay the appropriate fees. The initial license expires in one year and must be renewed. Subsequent renewal periods vary.

Residential contractors must be licensed for projects exceeding $75,000, and subcontractors for projects exceeding $7,500. Applicants for residential licensure must submit financial statements showing a net worth of at least $10,000; successfully pass the Business, Law, and Trade exam; pass relevant trade exams; undergo a financial background check; provide proof of general liability insurance with a minimum amount of $100,000 and proof of workers’ compensation coverage; and pay the appropriate fees. The initial license expires in one year and must be renewed. Six hours of continuing education is required to renew. Subsequent renewal periods vary.

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

An occupational or general business license is required for contractors conducting business in the Orleans Parish, which includes the city of New Orleans. Applicants must submit a certificate of occupancy, state and federal tax ID numbers, a completed application, and applicable fees. Licenses must be renewed annually.

As a final note, the City of New Orleans requires a certificate of occupancy for a business conducted from a home. The residence must be inspected and approved by the Department of Safety and Permits. HVAC contractors must obtain a Class A mechanical contractor license. Applicants must have a state license or pass the International Code Council National Standard Master Mechanical Exam or a comparable exam, as well as submit two photos, a drivers license, and proof of the following:

  • General liability insurance for not less than $500,000 and workers compensation insurance
  • Louisiana state sales tax number
  • New Orleans Parish occupational or business license
  • Federal ID number

Applicable fees must also be paid. Licenses are renewed annually. Renewal requires submitting the same information as when applying for a license.

Jocelyn Blore

Jocelyn Blore is the chief content officer of Sechel Ventures and the co-author of the Women Breaking Barriers series. She graduated summa cum laude from UC Berkeley and traveled the world for five years. She also worked as an addiction specialist for two years in San Francisco. She’s interested in how culture shapes individuals and systems within societies—one of the many themes she writes about in her blog, Blore’s Razor (Instagram: @bloresrazor). She has served as managing editor for several healthcare websites since 2015.