HVAC Tech Schools in New Orleans, Louisiana

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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. The economy is expanding, and “big wins in the technology and industrial construction sectors will help that growth more than double over the next two years,” according to the New Orleans Advocate.

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 home 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 reports that 1,490 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 BLS, the market for technicians is expected to increase by 15 percent between 2016 and 2026. That is much faster than average of 7 percent projected for all occupations in the U.S. Demand for technicians in Louisiana is growing at a slightly lower rate. Projections Central predicted an 11 percent statewide increase for the same decade.

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 work for contractors, institutions, and retail or wholesale facilities, among others.

HVAC Salaries in New Orleans, LA

The BLS reports that HVAC mechanics and installers nationally receive a median salary of $47,080 annually. Technicians in the New Orleans-Metairie area receive an annual median wage of $41,810. Data compiled by the Missouri Economic Research and Information Center indicates a cost of living index for Louisiana of 93.1 during the third quarter of 2018, indicating a lower-than-average cost of the living in the state compared to other regions.

Here are the numbers of HVAC professionals and salary data per the BLS (2017):

United States Louisiana New Orleans-Metairie
Number of workers 307,060 4,130 1,490
Average annual salary $49,530 $43,890 $41,920
10th percentile $29,120 $27,730 $24,320
25th percentile $36,150 $34,420 $34,530
50th percentile (median) $47,080 $42,790 $41,810
75th percentile $60,270 $53,150 $49,410
90th percentile $75,330 $62,360 $59,560

Accredited HVAC Schools in New Orleans, LA

HVAC technicians traditionally began their career 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 during 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 PHCCLA members and complete a total of 8,000 hours of on-the-job training. They must also complete 144 hours of classroom instruction annually. 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.

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 industry organizations evaluate and accredit HVAC programs. 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
  • 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
  • Northwest Louisiana Technical College, Shreveport, 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.

Louisiana Community and Technical College System

The LCTCS system includes the twelve public two-year schools in Louisiana. Their WorkReady-U (WRU) adult education program provides online classes to help students get their HiSET (formerly GED) and prepare for college and career choices. Testing and placement are completed on campus, and everything else is online. WRU is available at several locations in the New Orleans area. The Workforce Solutions program collaborates with businesses to provide the skilled worker training they need. The schools profiled below are part of the LCTCS system.

Delgado Community College

Delgado offers a one-year HVAC/R certificate program and a two-year HVAC/R technician diploma program. The certificate program is administered at the Sidney Collier site in New Orleans. The certificate and diploma programs are available at the Jefferson site in Metairie. 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 credit-hours to complete.

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

  • Location: Metairie and New Orleans, LA
  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC), HVAC Excellence
  • Tuition: $169.96 per credit
  • Program length: Nine months for the certificate, 18 months for the diploma

ITI Technical College

ITI offers an air conditioning and electrical technology certificate program and an air conditioning, refrigeration, and electrical 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. Students also learn job safety practices.

Enrollees 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.

  • Location: Baton Rouge, LA
  • Accreditation: Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC), HVAC Excellence
  • Tuition: Not disclosed on the website
  • Program length: Contact program for customized estimate

Baton Rouge Community College

BRCC offers a technical diploma in air conditioning and refrigeration designed so that students may earn certificates as helpers as they complete portions of the curriculum. Students 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
  • Residential heating and heat pumps

Students finish with electives including computers and special projects for 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
  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC), HVAC Excellence
  • Tuition: $175.89 per credit
  • Program length: Varies by certificate, 18 months for the diploma

L. E. Fletcher Technical College

Fletcher offers an HVAC diploma and several certificate programs, which are awarded as specified portions of the diploma curriculum are completed. The full curriculum includes:

  • Introduction to HVAC
  • Refrigeration
  • Electrical fundamentals, components, and motors
  • Applied electricity
  • Domestic refrigeration
  • Room air conditioning
  • Central air conditioning
  • Residential HVAC design
  • Residential heating and heat pumps
  • 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 credit-hours 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.

  • Location: Houma, Schriever, and Thibodaux, LA
  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC), and HVAC Excellence (Thibodaux campus only)
  • Tuition: $204.96 per credit
  • Program length: Varies by certificate, 18 months for the diploma

Northshore Technical Community College

Northshore has several HVAC options. 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 credit-hours toward an air conditioning and refrigeration technical diploma.

The curriculum begins with an introduction to and 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 credit-hours to earn a diploma.

  • Location: Bogalusa, Greensburg, Hammond, Lacombe, and Pearl River, LA
  • Accreditation: Council on Occupational Education (COE), and HVAC Excellence (Bogalusa campus only)
  • Tuition: $181.96 per credit
  • Program length: Varies by certificate, 18 months for the diploma

Nunez Community College

Nunez created an HVAC certificate program that includes math, basic refrigeration and electricity, electrical schematics, installation of residential equipment and systems, service techniques and troubleshooting, and participation in the industrial cooperative work program. Students must complete 33 credits to receive their certificate. Graduates are qualified to take the EPA exam and apply for entry-level employment as HVAC technicians.

  • Location: Chalmette, LA
  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
  • Tuition: $184.96 per credit
  • Program length: 33 weeks

South Louisiana Community College

SOLA Community College 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. When these are completed, 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 credit-hours to earn a diploma.

  • Location: Lafayette and Morgan City, LA
  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC), HVAC Excellence
  • Tuition: $188.96 per credit
  • Program length: 33 weeks

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, 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.