HVAC Schools in Massachusetts

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Working as an HVAC technician in Massachusetts can be a rewarding career with the possibility for great longevity. Frigid winters and humid summers mean that both residential and commercial buildings have an ongoing need for climate control that works. HVAC technicians in the Bay State are currently in demand, with huge growth expected in specialty trade sectors as well as hospitals and educational settings. According to CareerOneStop data, the demand for HVAC technicians is expected to increase in the U.S. by 13 percent through 2028.

In addition to high demand, HVAC technicians in Massachusetts can find professional support from trade organizations and unions like the UA Local 537. Local to Boston, this pipefitter’s union offers professional networking, training (including apprenticeships) and political advocacy.

It is also worth noting that the majority of work an HVAC technician does in Massachusetts does not require a specialized license; it is only working with industrial refrigeration units (over 10 tons in capacity) that requires licensing. A more flexible licensing system means that after completing training, new HVAC technicians in Massachusetts can start working and earning sooner.

Becoming an HVAC technician is an ideal career path for people who like to work with their hands, who are creative problem solvers, and who want to have a great deal of autonomy in their work.

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Occupational Demand for HVAC Technicians in Massachusetts

As mentioned above, occupational demand for HVAC technicians nationwide is quite good. Between 2018 and 2028, there is expected to be a 13 percent growth in job openings. Though the expected growth in Massachusetts is a bit slower (10 percent) than for the nation as a whole, it still outpaces the anticipated growth for all occupations, which sits at just 5 percent for the same decade (BLS May 2019).

There are a few factors contributing to the demand for HVAC technicians in the Codfish State (demand for refrigerated seafood storage is certainly one of them). For instance, the city of Boston is currently in a boom of new construction, as according to local reporting (WBUR). All new buildings must be outfitted with effective climate control systems, which must be installed by trained HVAC professionals.

Further, HVAC systems in existing buildings frequently need repairs and ultimately must be replaced every 10 to 15 years, making for steady work for those professionals that are trained in the process.

Since job boards can offer a peek into the real hiring needs in a region, it is illuminating to look at Indeed (June 2020) for HVAC jobs in Massachusetts. One search found 398 HVAC jobs in the state, including listings from companies such as GEM Plumbing & Heating, Jabil Circuit, Anna Jaques Hospital, and Carl F. Riedell & Son, among others. A similar search on Monster (June 2020) found 777 jobs at companies like CyberCoders, Johnson Controls, Honeywell, and Credence Management Solutions.

HVAC Technician Salaries in Massachusetts

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (May 2019), HVAC professionals earn relatively competitive salaries, particularly for positions that may require just two years of post-secondary training. BLS (May 2019) states, the median salary for HVAC workers nationwide was $48,730 per year, while the median salary for HVAC technicians in MA was even higher at $62,130 per year. In more detail, here were the salary percentiles of HVAC professionals across the US and in Massachusetts specifically:

United States Massachusetts
Number of HVAC professionals employed 342,040 8,420
Annual mean wage $51,420 $63,260
10th percentile $30,610 $40,640
25th percentile $37,660 $51,820
50th percentile (median) $48,730 $62,130
75th percentile $62,070 $75,420
90th percentile $77,920 $88,520

The national figures were slightly different according to another source of data, Payscale (2020), which relies on self-reported salaries. Among the HVAC workers reporting their annual salaries, Payscale found these percentiles:

  • 10th percentile: $31,000
  • 50th percentile (median): $47,097
  • 90th percentile: $74,000

As noted above, the average salary for HVAC workers in Massachusetts is significantly higher than that of the rest of the nation. As with any salary projections, taking into account the cost of living is also important. As such, the Missouri Economic Research and Information Center (MERIC 2019) found that MA was the sixth most expensive state, coming in behind only Oregon, New York, California, the District of Columbia, and Hawaii. For HVAC technicians, this means relatively high salaries may still not go as far as lower salaries in other states, so that is something to keep in mind.

Accredited HVAC Training Programs in Massachusetts

In order to become licensed as an HVAC technician in the state of Massachusetts, a certain number of hours of experience in addition to proof of completion of a program at an approved school is required. HVAC technicians in MA must complete a program that has been approved by the Office of Public Safety and Inspection (OSPI).

A complete list of approved schools is available from that department’s website. There are approved schools for HVAC training in Massachusetts in most parts of the state, including Boston, Upton, and Springfield. Some of the programs are offered at technical schools while others are at community colleges and culminate in an associate’s degree. HVAC schools in MA prepare students for the refrigeration licensing exam, but do not offer the exam themselves.

The following programs help students prepare for eventual licensing:

The Peterson School

The Peterson School, with locations in West Boylston, Westwood, and Woburn, offers a range of specialized programs in HVAC/R. Those who are pursuing a well-rounded education can take one of the school’s combo programs that includes training in HVAC, refrigeration, oil and/or gas heat, and basic electricity. The program at the Peterson School is approved by the state for preparation for refrigeration licensing.

The different courses preparing students for EPA certification are:

HVAC/R commercial and industrial refrigeration prep – This beginner class is designed for individuals who do not have any prior experience in the trade, or for individuals who work in the field and want to complete their education requirements in order to obtain an HVAC/R license.

HVAC/R electrical code prep – This course prepares students for the State Refrigeration exam. It is designed for teaching students the fundamentals of HVACR. They take 150 hours of HVAC-related electrical code or 150 hours of journeyman electrical course for satisfying state requirements.

HVACR refrigeration code prep – Prior to taking the HVAC/R license exam, it is recommended to complete this 30-hour class. It is the last class that students must take in order to sit for the licensing exam.

HVAC controls and energy management – Through this course, students will gain practical skills to become effective troubleshooters and installers of HVAC equipment.

  • Location: Woburn, Westwood, and Worcester, MA
  • Accreditation: N/A
  • Expected Time to Completion: HVAC/R commercial & industrial refrigeration prep (15 weeks); HVAC/R electrical code prep (20 weeks); HVAC/R refrigeration code prep (10 weeks); HVAC controls and energy management (17 weeks); three-course program “A” (15 weeks); three-course program “B” (15 weeks)
  • Estimated tuition: HVAC/R commercial & industrial refrigeration prep ($4,350); HVAC/R electrical code prep ($1,370); HVAC/R refrigeration code prep ($540); HVAC controls and energy management ($2,060); three-course program “A” ($6,000); three-course program “B” ($6,220)

New England Institute of HVAC

The New England Institute of HVAC offers both day and evening classes for its HVAC program. The 13-week course covers both residential and commercial systems, in addition to basic electrical knowledge and EPA certification prep. This program has also been approved by Massachusetts.

The New England Institute of HVAC’s curriculum components are as follows:

Basic electricity – This includes topics such as Ohm’s law, circuit components and wiring, troubleshooting, low voltage wiring, use of multimeter, series and parallel wiring, schematic symbols, and more.

Oil heat – Explores topics such as sequence of events, primary controls, venting basics, sequence of events, troubleshooting oil systems, basic oil system wiring, and oil tune-up & efficiency testing, among others.

Gas heat – Topics here include direct venting, gas furnace wiring, condensing furnaces, testing individual components, basic components of a gas system, and more.

Miscellaneous heating – This includes topics such as hydronic, zone controls, wiring various systems, and forced hot air.

EPA certification and testing – This covers universal certification preparation, official epa test proctored, vacuum pump operation, and system recovery and charging.

Residential refrigeration – Some of the topics included here are metering devices, latent and sensible heat, component functions, introduction to refrigeration trainer, and window A/C.

Commercial refrigeration – Topics here include pressure and temperature controls, pump down cycle in-depth, superheat and subcooling, and commercial system troubleshooting.

Central A/C and heat pumps – This includes topics such as basic A/C wiring, recovery, evacuation, charging, superheat and subcooling applied, installation procedures, the heat pump, and introduction to heating/cooling loads.

  • Location: Lowell, Massachusetts
  • Accreditation: N/A
  • Expected Time to Completion: 13 weeks
  • Estimated Tuition: Day class ($6,975); night class ($5,975)

Springfield Technical Community College

Springfield Technical Community College offers a certificate of completion in heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning. Offering hands-on experience in energy systems and technology, this program opens up employment for students in avenues such as (HVAC) systems design, power plants operation, and HVAC equipment troubleshooting and repair.

Students are prepared for entry-level jobs in the HVAC industry. Graduates of this program will be qualified to take the test for the EPA certification, a fireman’s license, and the oil burner technician license.

Comprising 29 credit-hours, this program includes courses such as theory of controls, principles of refrigeration, power plant operations, heating system design, combustion control circuits, fund of air conditioning, and HVAC electrical applications, among others.

  • Location: Springfield, MA
  • Accreditation: New England Commission of Higher Education
  • Expected Time to Completion: 12 months
  • Estimated Tuition: $321 per credit-hour

Benjamin Franklin Institute of Technology

Benjamin Franklin Institute of Technology offers a certificate in HVAC/R providing students with practical expertise and the required knowledge needed to become established HVAC/R technicians. It prepares students for the EPA certification, and also offers the 10-hour OSHA Safety certificate and an R-410 A certificate, upon completion.

This 28 credit-hour program includes courses such as fundamentals of electricity as applied to HVAC/R, refrigeration fundamentals, electrical and mechanical for refrigeration, commercial refrigeration and ice machines, commercial air conditioning and heat pumps, gas heating and residential air conditioning, oil furnaces and hydronic heating, and EPA refrigerants (recovery, recycle, and reclaiming).

Upon successful completion of this HVAC/R certificate, graduates will be able to demonstrate the principles of air conditioning and refrigeration; identify principles of different refrigerants; and show a knowledge of air conditioning and refrigeration components, including evaporators, compressors, condensers, and metering devices. They will also be able to solder, braze, and zoomlock pipes and fittings, as well as troubleshoot mechanical and electrical malfunctions of residential and commercial units.

Graduates will be ready to work for cooling and heating contractors, air conditioning and refrigeration repair and service shops, hospitals, schools, a variety of food industries, office buildings, and local, state, or federal government facilities.

  • Location: Boston, MA
  • Accreditation: New England Commission of Higher Education
  • Expected Time to Completion: Nine months
  • Estimated Tuition: $8,495 per semester

Although approval from the state is the most important factor in choosing an HVAC school in MA, applicants may also want to consider programmatic accreditation. There are two organizations in the US that accredit HVAC programs: HVAC Excellence and the Partnership for Air-Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Accreditation (PAHRA).

As of 2020, there are no programs in Massachusetts that have earned accreditation from HVAC Excellence. Two programs in MA are accredited by PAHRA, but they are technical high school-level programs, which are outside of the scope of this page. For more information on the programmatic accreditation process, interested technicians may visit the sites for either organization or the main HVAC programs page on this site.

Additionally, some schools undergo third-party institutional accreditation processes that are not specific to HVAC programs. For instance, the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC) offers evaluation and accreditation to many continuing education and technical schools. ACCSC evaluates schools based on rates of student achievement, student graduation, and graduate employment. While this type of accreditation is not endorsed by the state of Massachusetts, it can be helpful when comparing HVAC schools in MA.

HVAC Certification and Licensing in Massachusetts

There are various types of credentials available for HVAC mechanics and installers in Massachusetts. First, all of these professionals who work with environmentally sensitive refrigerants must obtain the EPA Section 608 certification from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). There are four types:

  • Type I: For servicing small appliances
  • Type II: For servicing or disposing of high-pressure appliances, except small appliances and motor vehicle air conditioning
  • Type III: For servicing or disposing of low-pressure appliances
  • Type IV, Universal: For servicing all types of equipment

There is a range of other HVAC certifications available from the following national entities, which can provide employment-ready credentialing:

  • Refrigeration Service Engineers Society (RSES)
  • North American Technician Excellence (NATE)
  • HVAC Excellence

Check out the HVAC certification guide for more information on offerings from these organizations.

Finally, the state of Massachusetts requires HVAC/R apprentices to obtain an apprentice refrigeration technician license. Applicants must provide:

  • A completed application
  • A copy of their high school diploma (or the equivalent)
  • A photo
  • A copy of their Division of Apprentice Standards ID card
  • Proof that they are at least 18 years old
  • A $40 fee

As mentioned in the introduction, HVAC/R techs who perform refrigeration work with a capacity more than 10 tons (commercial-level systems) are required to have a refrigeration technician license. Candidates must send in a copy of their high school diploma (or the equivalent), a photo, a copy of a certificate of completion of an apprenticeship program, a copy of one’s CFC certification, and an application form. They must also pass a written exam and pay a $75 fee.

Additional requirements include one of the following:

  • 250 hours in an approved refrigeration course (including 100 hours of refrigeration theory and 150 hours of electrical code training, as well as 6,000 hours employment in Massachusetts as a refrigeration apprentice)
  • 500 hours in an approved refrigeration course (including 250 hours of shop-related work, 100 hours of refrigeration theory, and 100 hours of electrical code training, and 4,000 hours employment in Massachusetts as a refrigeration apprentice)
  • A refrigeration technician, master technician, or equivalent license from another area and work experience and certification equal to the above prerequisites

Additionally, HVAC/R contractors are required to have a refrigeration contractor license. Candidates must submit proof of a technician’s license, a photo, proof of at least 2,000 hours of employment, proof of completion of 100 hours of refrigeration training at an approved school, and an application. Also, they must pass a written exam and pay a $150 fee.

There may be additional permits or credentials required within specific municipalities. All HVAC professionals are encouraged to verify they have all necessary licensure prior to beginning a project.

Farheen Gani

Farheen is a freelance writer, marketer, and researcher. She writes about technology, education, and marketing. Her work has appeared on websites such as Tech in Asia and Foundr, as well as top SaaS blogs such as Zapier and InVision. You can connect with her on LinkedIn and Twitter (@FarheenGani).