HVAC Training Programs in Michigan

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It’s no surprise that in Michigan—the Water Winter Wonderland—there is a wealth of opportunities and resources for heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) professionals available. In fact, ACHR News, a major HVAC media source based in Troy, Michigan (MI), covers not only news in the industry organized by region, but also the numerous forums and events which support these skilled people in their work. For example, Ferris State University in Big Rapids, MI, hosts an annual an HVACR instructors’ workshop focused on rewarding innovation and honoring the various pathways to join this high-growth field.

Michigan HVAC technicians must have a mechanical contractor’s license from the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) in order to perform work beyond the replacement of minor parts or in working with portable units with less than 30,000 BTU/hr. There are numerous professional trade organizations which support HVAC workers in building their skills and promoting local advocacy. For instance, the Michigan Air Conditioning Contractors Association represents mechanical contractors and supports evolving local regulations in the profession, such as Senate Bill No. 963 (the Skilled Trades Act), which was introduced in May 2016 and sought to streamline the licensing, testing, and credential renewals in the HVAC profession.

So what is it that HVAC technicians, mechanics, and installers in Michigan do? HVAC workers monitor the performance of HVAC systems and their components (e.g., motors, electrical wiring, pipes, valves, humidifiers); repair broken equipment; counsel commercial and residential property owners on how to maximize efficiency; perform preventative maintenance on various parts (e.g., wiring fans, pumps, compressors, switches, gauges, controls); read blueprints and install systems; and maintain active credentialing by keeping up-to-date knowledge in the profession. A majority of Michigan’s HVAC employment opportunities call for knowledge of various types of systems such as geothermal, oil-burning, and electric. Additionally, certifications from national credentialing organizations such as NATE can also enhance a Michigan HVAC technician’s job candidacy.

Read on to learn about the promising job outlook for HVAC professionals in Michigan, including the salary prospects (statewide and regionally), accredited training, and how to pursue licensure.

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HVAC Occupational Demand in Michigan

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS 2017), HVAC technicians, mechanics, and installers can expect relatively high job growth in the years to come. In fact, the BLS (2017) projected a 15 percent increase in openings in this field between 2016 and 2026, double the average percent growth anticipated across all occupations (7 percent). To enhance one’s ability to secure a job in this field, many MI HVAC employers call for:

  • Driver’s license
  • Proof of HVAC technical education (certificate, diploma, or degree)
  • Experience on the job (3-5 years preferred)
  • NATE certification(s)
  • Ability to pass a drug test

These professionals work in a range of environments since a majority of structures in Michigan provide some form of climate control. HVAC technicians may work in homes, businesses, hospitals, schools, factories, and other environments. Since many HVAC contracting companies perform regular maintenance on equipment for customers in Michigan and systems generally need to be replaced every ten years, there is a steady stream of employment. Furthermore, there are seasonal spikes in activity for Michigan HVAC workers during summers and winters, and these professionals may be called upon to work evenings, weekends, or holidays to meet client demand.

There are HVAC opportunities available across all of the main job-hunting websites such as CareerBuilder, LinkedIn, and others. As proof of point, Indeed (Oct. 2018) posted more than 800 openings for HVAC workers at Parker-Arntz Plumbing & Heating, Inc., Hoover Electric, Plumbing, Heating and Cooling, LECO Corporation, and the Grand Hotel, to name a few.

Michigan HVAC Technician Salary Data

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (2017), there were 307,060 HVAC workers around the country with an average annual salary of $49,530. Interestingly, Michigan HVAC workers boasted roughly the same mean annual salary ($49,350) despite living in one of the most affordable states in the US.

Following are the more detailed salary percentiles for HVAC professionals nationwide as compared to Michigan (BLS 2017):

United States (274,680 HVAC workers): $47,380 annual average salary

Michigan (8970 HVAC workers): $49,350 annual average salary

Annual salary Hourly salary
United States Michigan United States Michigan
Average $49,530 $49,350 $23.81 $23.73
10th percentile $29,120 $28,580 $14.00 $13.74
25th percentile $36,150 $36,130 $17.38 $17.37
50th percentile $47,080 $47,530 $22.64 $22.85
75th percentile $60,270 $60,990 $28.98 $29.32
90th percentile $75,330 $75,040 $36.22 $36.08

It is important to note that the Missouri Economic Research and Information Center (MERIC 2018) found Michigan was the fourth most affordable state nationwide, boasting particular savings in housing and groceries. While the residents of the Wolverine State enjoy relatively more bang for their buck compared to the rest of the country, its HVAC workers also enjoy relatively high wages.

Not surprisingly, salaries do vary by region of employment. Bay City and Ann Arbor enjoyed the highest salaries in the state. Following is a breakdown of the number of HVAC workers employed, average salaries, and percentile figures among the 19 BLS-designated regions of Michigan (BLS 2017):

Ann Arbor, MI (260 HVAC workers employed): $59,840 annual average salary

Ann Arbor, MI
Percentile Annual salary Hourly salary
Average $59,840 $28.77
10th percentile $39,920 $19.19
25th percentile $47,490 $22.83
50th percentile $64,440 $30.98
75th percentile $73,370 $35.27
90th percentile $78,930 $37.95

Balance of Lower Peninsula of Michigan nonmetropolitan area (680 HVAC workers): $39,810 annual average salary

Balance of Lower Peninsula of Michigan nonmetropolitan area
Percentile Annual salary Hourly salary
Average $39,810/td>

$19.14
10th percentile $26,060 $12.53
25th percentile $31,940 $15.35
50th percentile $38,130 $18.33
75th percentile $48,070 $23.11
90th percentile $57,800 $27.79

Battle Creek, MI (120 HVAC workers): $49,230 annual average salary

Battle Creek, MI
Percentile Annual salary Hourly salary
Average $49,230 $23.67
10th percentile $31,360 $15.08
25th percentile $36,100 $17.36
50th percentile $45,790 $22.02
75th percentile $58,890 $28.31
90th percentile $77,260 $37.14

Bay City, MI (30 HVAC workers): $66,630 annual average salary

Bay City, MI
Percentile Annual salary Hourly salary
Average $66630 $32.03
10th percentile $37,240 $17.90
25th percentile $53,780 $25.86
50th percentile $58,550 $28.15
75th percentile $63,330 $30.45
90th percentile $77,060 $37.05

Detroit-Dearborn-Livonia, MI Metropolitan Division (1660 HVAC workers): $51,850 annual average salary

Detroit-Dearborn-Livonia, MI Metropolitan Division
Percentile Annual salary Hourly salary
Average $49,590 $23.84
10th percentile $28,190 $13.55
25th percentile $36,630 $17.61
50th percentile $48,490 $23.31
75th percentile $59,860 $28.78
90th percentile $73,370 $35.27

Detroit-Warren-Dearborn, MI (4340 HVAC workers): $50,220 annual average salary

Detroit-Warren-Dearborn, MI
Percentile Annual salary Hourly salary
Average $50,220 $24.15
10th percentile $27,230 $13.09
25th percentile $35,470 $17.05
50th percentile $48,180 $23.16
75th percentile $62,430 $30.01
90th percentile $79,090 $38.02

Flint, MI (300 HVAC workers): $48,170 annual average salary

Flint, MI
Percentile Annual salary Hourly salary
Average $48,170 $23.16
10th percentile $27,510 $13.23
25th percentile $35,790 $17.21
50th percentile $46,990 $22.59
75th percentile $59,940 $28.82
90th percentile $74,160 $35.66

Grand Rapids-Wyoming, MI (1310 HVAC workers): $51,070 annual average salary

Grand Rapids-Wyoming, MI
Percentile Annual salary Hourly salary
Average $51,070 $24.55
10th percentile $32,210 $15.49
25th percentile $38,560 $18.54
50th percentile $49,630 $23.86
75th percentile $62,830 $30.21
90th percentile $74,790 $35.96

Jackson, MI (80 HVAC workers): $49,200 annual average salary

Jackson, MI
Percentile Annual salary Hourly salary
Average $49,200 $23.65
10th percentile $32,970 $15.85
25th percentile $37,230 $17.90
50th percentile $46,050 $22.14
75th percentile $60,610 $29.14
90th percentile $73,350 $35.26

Kalamazoo-Portage, MI (260 HVAC workers): $50,510 annual average salary

Kalamazoo-Portage, MI
Percentile Annual salary Hourly salary
Average $50,510 $24.28
10th percentile $29,530 $14.20
25th percentile $36,480 $17.54
50th percentile $53,250 $25.60
75th percentile $62,780 $30.18
90th percentile $72,820 $35.01

Lansing-East Lansing, MI (490 HVAC workers): $48,850 annual average salary

Lansing-East Lansing, MI
Percentile Annual salary Hourly salary
Average $48,850 $23.49
10th percentile $32,500 $15.63
25th percentile $36,740 $17.66
50th percentile $47,010 $22.60
75th percentile $60,760 $29.21
90th percentile $71,380 $34.32

Midland, MI (80 HVAC workers): $42,970 annual average salary

Midland, MI
Percentile Annual salary Hourly salary
Average $42,970 $20.66
10th percentile $28,490 $13.70
25th percentile $33,510 $16.11
50th percentile $39,530 $19.00
75th percentile $51,430 $24.73
90th percentile $62,720 $30.15

Monroe, MI (60 HVAC workers): $52,920 annual average salary

Monroe, MI
Percentile Annual salary Hourly salary
Average $52,920 $25.44
10th percentile $34,220 $16.45
25th percentile $37,800 $18.17
50th percentile $49,880 $23.98
75th percentile $68,660 $33.01
90th percentile $77,320 $37.17

Muskegon, MI (160 HVAC workers): $46,570 annual average salary

Muskegon, MI
Percentile Annual salary Hourly salary
Average $46,570 $22.39
10th percentile $29,550 $14.21
25th percentile $35,790 $17.21
50th percentile $46,660 $22.43
75th percentile $57,490 $27.64
90th percentile $63,810 $30.68

Niles-Benton Harbor, MI (70 HVAC workers): $48,160 annual average salary

Niles-Benton Harbor, MI
Percentile Annual salary Hourly salary
Average $48,160 $23.16
10th percentile $31,360 $15.08
25th percentile $37,880 $18.21
50th percentile $46,760 $22.48
75th percentile $58,960 $28.34
90th percentile $69,130 $33.23

Northeast Lower Peninsula of Michigan nonmetropolitan area (150 HVAC workers): $42,650 annual average salary

Northeast Lower Peninsula of Michigan nonmetropolitan area
Percentile Annual salary Hourly salary
Average $42,650 $20.51
10th percentile $27,400 $13.17
25th percentile $30,790 $14.80
50th percentile $40,770 $19.60
75th percentile $53,250 $25.60
90th percentile $62,200 $29.91

Northwest Lower Peninsula of Michigan nonmetropolitan area (250 HVAC workers): $45,790 annual average salary

Northwest Lower Peninsula of Michigan nonmetropolitan area
Percentile Annual salary Hourly salary
Average $45,790 $22.02
10th percentile $38,060 $18.30
25th percentile $42,190 $20.28
50th percentile $46,300 $22.26
75th percentile $50,370 $24.22
90th percentile $57,640 $27.71

Saginaw, MI (80 HVAC workers): $53,530 annual average salary

Saginaw, MI
Percentile Annual salary Hourly salary
Average $53,530 $25.74
10th percentile $33,990 $16.34
25th percentile $39,060 $18.78
50th percentile $55,260 $26.57
75th percentile $65,350 $31.42
90th percentile $75,330 $36.22

Upper Peninsula of Michigan nonmetropolitan area (230 HVAC workers): $48,270 annual average salary

Upper Peninsula of Michigan nonmetropolitan area
Percentile Annual salary Hourly salary
Average $48,270 $23.20
10th percentile $31,310 $15.05
25th percentile $36,230 $17.42
50th percentile $48,110 $23.13
75th percentile $58,080 $27.92
90th percentile $64,020 $30.78

Warren-Troy-Farmington Hills, MI Metropolitan Division (2680 HVAC workers): $50,620 annual average salary

Warren-Troy-Farmington Hills, MI Metropolitan Division
Percentile Annual salary Hourly salary
Average $50,620 $24.34
10th percentile $26,380 $12.68
25th percentile $34,910 $16.78
50th percentile $47,950 $23.05
75th percentile $64,530 $31.03
90th percentile $80,520 $38.71

Accredited HVAC Schools in Michigan

In order to become an HVAC mechanic, installer, or repairer in Michigan, it’s important to receive the proper training in the profession. Not only is this important to ensure the proper functioning of machines, but HVAC work incurs a higher average rate of injury than other professions. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (2017) points out that relatively common problems for HVAC technicians include burns, electric shocks, and muscle strains. Handling refrigerants can be especially hazardous since contact with the skin can produce frostbite or even blindness. Therefore it is imperative to learn about the best practices and procedures in handling equipment safely.

Aspiring HVAC workers are encouraged to seek out accredited training programs. The process of accreditation takes into consideration various aspects of a training program or school, including the quality of facilities, the comprehensiveness of curricula, and various student outcome measures (e.g., average student debt, post-program employment rates). There are two esteemed program-approval entities in HVAC: HVAC Excellence and the Partnership for Air-Conditioning, Heating, Refrigeration Accreditation (PAHRA).

As of 2018 there is one PAHRA-accredited HVAC training program in Michigan: Grand Rapids Community College. GRCC boasts affordable tuition, flexible class scheduling (day or evening), quality job placement assistance, and a focus on the practical applications of all knowledge imparted. There are several HVAC programs available, including a certificate and a two-year associate of applied arts and sciences (AAS) degree in heating, ventilation, air conditioning, and refrigeration technology. The AAS program features hands-on coursework in heating & cooling controls; HVACR electronic controls; commercial refrigeration; metallic & non-metallic joining; duct construction & design; mechanical codes; and basic boiler operation. Notably, this program costs $114 per credit hour for residents, $244 for non-GR residents, and $362 for those living out of state.

There is one training school accredited by HVAC Excellence at Washtenaw Community College of Ann Arbor. Similarly, Washtenaw boasts both a certificate program (“accelerated training in HVACR”) and an associate of applied science (AAS) in sustainable HVACR technologies. Notably, parts of the AAS coursework are available online, allowing for an optimally flexible schedule. Both programs feature courses such as HVAC sheet metal fabrication; residential & light commercial heating systems; and soldering & brazing. The distance-based AAS program—ideal for journey-level technicians ready to complete a degree—prepares students to take the Green Energy Awareness certification test offered by the Green Mechanical Council, providing additional instruction in advanced electrical & direct digital controls; air system layout & design; residential HVAC competency exams & codes; hydronic systems; energy audits; and commercial industry standards with competency exams. This online HVAC program costs $108 per credit for those living in the district, $115 for out-of-district, and $119 for people living out of state.

Finally, the Dorsey Schools campus at Wayne-Westland also offers an HVAC systems technician diploma, providing hands-on instruction in HVAC systems (residential and commercial), electricity, and refrigeration. This program includes preparation for the mandatory EPA 608 Certification (type II) for those who work with refrigerants. Classes in this skilled trades program include controls; blueprinting, weatherization & sustainability; and industry safety standards.

For those who live in more rural regions of Michigan or have other time commitments preventing them from attending an on-campus program, there are other distance-based HVAC training programs available in addition to the aforementioned AAS (Washtenaw Community College). To learn about the range of web-based learning available in this field, check out the online HVAC programs page.

Michigan HVAC Certification & Licensing

In order to work as an HVAC technician, mechanic, or installer in Michigan, it’s essential to get the proper credentialing. There is one mandatory national certification for anyone who works with refrigerants: the EPA Section 608 Certification. There are four subtypes which vary by equipment: type I (small appliances), type II (high-pressure refrigerants), type III (low-pressure refrigerants), and type IV (universal).

Additionally, many job postings for HVAC techs in MI call for three to five years of experience in the field, as well as a competency-based certification. These credentials are available through various organizations such as the Refrigeration Service Engineers Society (RSES), North American Technician Excellence (NATE), and HVAC Excellence. To learn in-depth about each of these credentialing entities, check out the HVAC certification page.

Finally, there is requisite state licensing for this profession as well. In the state of Michigan, HVAC technicians must have mechanical contractor’s license from the MI Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA). To qualify for the MI mechanical contractor’s license, candidates must have:

  • At least three years of experience (6,000 hours) in each of the work classifications for which he or she is applying (e.g., hydronic heating & cooling; HVAC equipment; refrigeration; ductwork, etc.), one year of which can be from an educational program
  • Detailed application with all qualifying work performed
  • Application fee ($75) and exam fee ($100)
  • Passing score (at least 70 percent) on an exam

The MI mechanical contractor’s license exam comprises written tests for each work classification sought, as well as 20 questions on general laws & rules, the construction code, and basic safety rules. The exam is offered four times annually, and the licenses are valid for one year, expiring annually on December 31st. Permits and licensure are not required to install portable equipment, self-contained refrigeration systems, or window-mounted air conditioners.

Finally, there are six types of specialty licenses available for those in MI with more advanced experience in the following areas: solar, solid fuel, LP tank & pipe, underground tank & pipe, gas piping, and gas piping & venting. To learn in depth about the laws regulating HVAC workers in Michigan, please visit the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) page.