Boston, MA HVAC Schools – Certification & Training Programs

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Boston is the largest city in New England, and Massachusetts has one of the strongest economies in the U.S. The city is home to dozens of colleges and universities, leading to extensive medical research and professional activities. Industries such as healthcare, science, and technology are the basis of the flourishing economy. Finance, insurance, and education also contribute to Boston’s strength.

Bostonians live in a humid city. They also experience hot summers and cold winters. Daytime highs in the summer exceed 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Wintertime highs barely make it above freezing. Proximity to the Atlantic coast moderates some of the temperature extremes, but residents and workers rely on heating, venting, and air conditioning (HVAC) for comfort.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that 5,260 HVAC and HVAC/R mechanics and installers were employed in the Boston-Cambridge-Nashua, Massachusetts-New Hampshire area, and 3,180 were employed in the Boston-Cambridge-Newton New England city and town area (NECTA) division. State and local chapters of industry organizations that provide training and support to the technicians include:

  • Massachusetts Chapter of the Associated Builders and Contractors (ABCMA)
  • Builders and Remodelers Association of Greater Boston (BRAGB)
  • Greater Boston Plumbing Contractors Association (GBPCA)
  • New England Mechanical Contractors Association (NEMCA)
  • Plumbing, Heating and Cooling Contractors of Massachusetts (PHCCMA)
  • Sheet Metal and Air Conditioning Contractors’ Association of Boston (SMACNA)
  • UA Local 537

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.

Occupational Demand for HVAC Technicians in Boston, Massachusetts

Demand for HVAC professionals is growing nationwide. According to the BLS (2018), openings for technicians are expected to increase by 15 percent nationally between 2016 and 2026, which is much faster than the average 7 percent projected for all occupations in the U.S. Projections Central predicted a 10.3 percent increase in Massachusetts for the same decade.

Several factors contribute to the growth of the HVAC 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 the growth in Boston, frequently require specialized systems to keep electronic equipment in operation. The contemporary emphasis on energy efficiency and reducing pollution also contributes to the demand for new installations.

HVAC Salaries in Boston, Massachusetts

The BLS (May 2017) reported that HVAC mechanics and installers nationally receive a median salary of $47,080 annually. Technicians in the Boston-Cambridge-Nashua, MA-NH area receive an annual median salary of $59,050, and those in the Boston-Cambridge-Newton, MA NECTA Division receive $61,280 annually.

Here are national, statewide, and municipal salary comparisons for HVAC mechanics and installers, according to the BLS:

United States MA Boston – Cambridge – Nashua, MA-NH Boston – Cambridge – Newton, MA NECTA Division
Number of HVAC workers 307,060 7,230 5,260 3,180
Average annual salary $49,530 $59,100 $58,940 $60,820
10th percentile $29,120 $39,550 $38,670 $41,060
25th percentile $36,150 $47,620 $47,560 $49,900
50th percentile (median) $47,080 $58,620 $59,050 $61,280
75th percentile $60,270 $70,540 $70,800 $72,900
90th percentile $75,330 $80,380 $80,030 $81,040

HVAC Apprenticeships in Boston, Massachusetts

HVAC and HVAC/R 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. Formal training and apprenticeships can open up more employment opportunities.

Apprenticeships typically include at least 2,000 hours of on-the-job training and 144 hours of classroom work annually for three to five years. The Massachusetts Division of Apprentice Standards (DAS) is the regulatory body for apprenticeship programs within the state, and a field representative is assigned to Boston. An air conditioning mechanic apprenticeship program requires 2,000 hours of on-the-job training and 150 hours of formal technical instruction annually. The cost is not disclosed on the website.

Additionally, Local 537 offers a five-year HVAC technician apprenticeship program. Apprentices earn graduated wages while receiving on-the-job training. They attend classroom lectures during the evenings at the union training center located in Norwood, MA. There is no charge for the program.

Workers seeking HVAC and HVAC/R apprenticeship programs can find several available through national industry associations such as:

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

Details are available on their websites.

HVAC School Accreditation

Accreditation is a process by which an independent agency evaluates the quality of an educational institution’s program. It 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 organizations accredit HVAC programs: HVAC Excellence and Partnership for Air-Conditioning, Heating, Refrigeration Accreditation (PAHRA). While there are no Massachusetts programs accredited by the former, PAHRA has accredited Cape Cod Regional Technical High School, located in Harwich, MA, and Shawsheen Valley Technical High School, located in Billerica, MA. Coursework in both those schools is designed for high school students. Please note that Cape Cod is included in the profiles below as their HVAC program is also available through their adult ed services; Shawsheen is excluded as the HVAC classes are not available through their adult ed services. The other options are all accredited by other reputable authorities.

Accredited HVAC Schools in Boston, Massachusetts

Bay State School of Technology

This for-profit technical school offers programs in domestic HVAC and commercial HVAC/R. Both programs require knowledge of electricity and electronics as prerequisites. The school offers an online course in basic electricity as well as on-campus courses in electronics and basic electricity for the convenience of students.

Coursework for both HVAC programs is offered during daytime and evening hours. Students may attend full-time or part-time. Students get a tablet or laptop computer as part of the tuition cost and learn how to use it as a work tool. Graduates of both programs are qualified to take the exams for EPA certification and National Service Certification.

The domestic HVAC program includes classroom and hands-on training in electrical and refrigeration codes, servicing and repairing room air conditioners, refrigerators and freezers, and solid state controls. The curriculum includes job safety, operational theory, soldering and brazing, and troubleshooting. Graduates are qualified for employment as entry-level service technicians.

The commercial HVAC/R program incorporates classroom and hands-on training on central and roof-top air conditioning systems, heat pumps, and commercial equipment such as reach-in refrigerators, freezers, and ice machines. The curriculum includes coursework similar to the domestic basics, with the addition of courses such as air-cooled and water-cooled systems, wiring, EPR valves, and temperature systems. Training includes 100 hours each of Massachusetts refrigeration code and electrical code instruction, which can be counted toward qualifying for a refrigeration technician license.

  • Location: Canton, MA
  • Accreditation: Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges
  • Tuition: $8,190 for the full program
  • Program length: Four months to one year

Benjamin Franklin Institute of Technology

In the HVAC/R certificate program at Benjamin Franklin Institute of Technology, students may attend daytime or evening classes. Classroom lectures and hands-on training include the principles of refrigerants, how to solder and braze pipes and fittings, tubing, pressure testing, leak detection, and troubleshooting commercial and residential equipment.

Students in the program earn credit toward the refrigeration and electrical code training that is needed for a refrigeration technician license. They are also qualified for industry exams such as EPA certification, as well as R-410A and OSHA safety certificates.

  • Location: Boston, MA
  • Accreditation: New England Commission of Higher Education
  • Tuition: $16,950 for the full program
  • Program length: Nine months

Cape Cod Regional Technical High School

This school’s adult education services offers an HVAC certificate. The program is divided into two sessions. The first is an introductory program emphasizing servicing systems designed for students with little to no understanding of HVAC. The curriculum includes basic electricity, wiring, circuitry, and the components of HVAC systems. Students learn how to bend, cut, and solder copper tubing, pressure testing, gauges, and leak detection. As the program is new for the school, curriculum details for the second session are not yet available, other than preparing students for EPA certification.

  • Location: Harwich, MA
  • Accreditation: PAHRA
  • Tuition: $995
  • Program length: Ten weeks

Massasoit Community College

Massasoit Community College offers a certificate and an associate degree program in HVAC technology. Both combine classroom lectures on theory with hands-on practice in modern labs. Part of the coursework for the degree program may be completed online.

The 27-credit certificate program prepares students for entry-level positions as service and installation technicians. The curriculum includes basic electricity, system controls, principles and applications of HVAC/R, and service procedures. Students also prepare for the EPA certification exam.

The degree program includes the basics, as well as drafting, heat load calculations, hydronics, piping and duct system design, and cost estimating. Students must also take general education courses in communications, science, humanities, and liberal arts for a total of 68 credits.

Degree-seeking students may opt for HVAC technology program that specializes in building systems energy management. That program includes architectural and diesel technology coursework in addition to HVAC.

  • Location: Brockton, MA
  • Accreditation: New England Association of Schools and Colleges
  • Tuition: $195 per credit
  • Program length: Two years

New England Tractor Trailer Training School of Massachusetts

NETTTS offers an HVAC/R technician training program, which includes classroom lectures and hands-on training in their lab. Students may attend daytime or evening classes to learn how to install and repair residential and commercial HVAC/R equipment. Coursework covers oil, electric, and gas heating systems, hydronics, balancing air flow, central and rooftop air conditioning equipment, commercial refrigeration systems, principles of electricity, and troubleshooting systems and equipment. Graduates are qualified to receive EPA certification and credit-hours toward their refrigeration technician license.

  • Location: North Andover, MA
  • Accreditation: Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges
  • Format: On-campus
  • Tuition: $22,345 for the full program
  • Program length: One year

Southeastern Technical Institute

Southeastern Technical offers an HVAC/R program that can be completed through evening classes, either part-time or full-time. Coursework is divided between classroom lectures and hands-on training in state-of-the-art labs. Students learn HVAC/R theory and equipment components, electricity and electrical circuits, controls and accessories, equipment installation and servicing, and troubleshooting. Graduates are awarded a certificate of completion and are qualified to take industry exams such as EPA certification, R410 safety certification, and oil burners license.

  • Location: South Easton, MA
  • Accreditation: Council on Occupational Education
  • Tuition: $11,875 for the full program
  • Program length: Nine months

HVAC Certification and Licensing in Boston, Massachusetts

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requires technicians who work with refrigerants to obtain 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 or Type IV)

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): 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.

Massachusetts requires HVAC/R apprentices to obtain an apprentice refrigeration technician license. Applicants must submit a copy of their high school diploma or equivalent, a personal photo, a copy of their Division of Apprentice Standards ID card, proof that they are at least 18 years of age, an application form, and pay a $40 fee.

HVAC/R technicians who perform refrigeration work having a capacity more than 10 tons in the aggregate are required to have a refrigeration technician license. Applicants must submit a copy of their high school diploma or equivalent, a personal photo, a copy of the certificate of completion of apprenticeship, a copy of 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 a refrigeration course at an approved school, which must include 100 hours of refrigeration theory and 150 hours of electrical code training, and 6,000 hours employment in Massachusetts as a refrigeration apprentice
  • 500 hours in a refrigeration course at an approved school, which must include 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 jurisdiction and work experience and certification equal to the above prerequisites

HVAC/R contractors are required to obtain a refrigeration contractor license. A contractor must have a place of business and may work alone or employ licensed technicians. Applicants must submit a photo, proof of a technician’s license, proof of a minimum of 2,000 hours of employment, proof of completion of 100 hours of refrigeration training at an approved school, and an application. They must also pass a written exam and pay a fee of $150.

As a final note, the city of Boston requires all businesses to obtain a business certificate. HVAC/R contractors must submit a copy of their state contractor’s license, complete an application, and pay a fee of $65. The certificate must be renewed every four years.