HVAC Schools in Minnesota

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Anyone who has lived in Minnesota understands the necessity of installing some form of climate-control system to remain protected from the elements. The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources found that the average maximum temperatures in the summer months can exceed 85 degrees Fahrenheit, while the average minimum temperatures in January can dip below 10 degrees. These temperature extremes in the Land of 10,000 Lakes create a thriving demand for skilled professionals in heating, air conditioning, and ventilation (HVAC).

Additionally, there are many professional HVAC organizations and unions across the state that provide benefits for members. For example, Minneapolis is home to the Pipefitters Local 539, which has been in operation since the early 1900s. Union members have access to high-quality training and education, including an apprenticeship program outlined at length in a section below. Other benefits for union members include networking opportunities and calendar of events throughout the year.

Another group for HVAC professionals in the state is the Minnesota Mechanical Contractors Association, which is headquartered in St. Paul. This professional organization offers services to members such as labor negotiations, government affairs education, high-quality training, and other information useful in the industry. Members also enjoy discounted gas prices through Holiday Gas Stations throughout the state as a result of a collaboration between the two organizations.

Overall, the growing industry and the support offered for HVAC professionals encourages many to pursue a new career in this field. Here is a brief outline of typical responsibilities for HVAC mechanics and installers in Minnesota:

  • Provide education to customers on energy conservation
  • Verify compliance with necessary laws
  • Test HVAC equipment
  • Perform calculations regarding heat load and loss
  • Keep records of service
  • Braze and solder parts
  • Travel to various job locations
  • Calibrate all controls to manufacturer specifications
  • Retain all required credentials
  • Interpret blueprints

It’s important to add that workers who handle refrigerants need to maintain active EPA Section 608 Certification in order to stay in compliance with the law.

Ultimately, a new career in the HVAC industry can be extremely lucrative and fulfilling, although those interested in this field should have a thorough understanding of the work required, as well as the requisite training. This guide provides an overview the HVAC industry in Minnesota, including salary expectations, various training programs, and the required credentials.

Occupational Demand for HVAC Technicians in Minnesota

There’s much evidence that the HVAC industry nationwide is thriving. In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS May 2016) found that there were 294,730 HVAC workers across the country, earning an average annual salary of $48,320. Also, the number of jobs was expected to swell 14 percent between 2014 and 2024, leading to the creation of 39,600 new positions overall. This is in stark contrast to the expected average growth rate for all jobs in the country in that same decade, which sits at just 6.5 percent. And although the industry is slated to expand slower in Minnesota specifically, the future is still promising; Projections Central reported that the HVAC industry would increase its openings 7.1 percent in the same timeframe.

There are many reasons that the HVAC industry is thriving. First, virtually all new construction in Minnesota contains some form of climate-control system, which in turn requires the skill and expertise of an HVAC worker. Furthermore, heating and air conditioning systems often need to be replaced every 10 to 15 years, requiring routine maintenance in the interim. And finally, the laws governing the HVAC industry are constantly in flux, and because of this, talented workers are always in demand to ensure compliance with relevant regulations.

A simple yet effective way to understand the demand for HVAC workers in Minnesota is by performing an online job search. For example, a simple search for “HVAC jobs in Minnesota” on Monster (Oct. 2017) yielded over 1,000 results with companies such as Gary Richards, Davis Comfort Systems, Tecta America, Cameron Craig Group, Summit Commercial Facilities Group, Total Comfort, and Pronto Heating & Air Conditioning. The same search on Indeed (Oct. 2017) yielded 1,272 results with organizations such as Metropolitan Council, LHB, Honeywell, Gyrus ACMI, JLL, Cintas, and the State of Minnesota.

Minnesota HVAC Technician Salary Data

According to the BLS (May 2016), HVAC professionals earn relatively high salaries, particularly when compared to occupations at the same level of education. In fact, the median salary for HVAC workers was approximately $45,910 per year with the the following percentiles:

United States (294,730 HVAC workers): $48,320 annual average salary

  • 10th percentile: $28,440
  • 25th percentile: $35,440
  • 50th percentile (median): $45,910
  • 75th percentile: $58,960
  • 90th percentile: $73,350

In hourly figures, these salaries amounted to:

United States: $23.23/hr. average

  • 10th percentile: $13.67/hr.
  • 25th percentile: $17.04/hr.
  • 50th percentile (median): $22.07/hr.
  • 75th percentile: $28.35/hr.
  • 90th percentile: $35.26/hr.

The national figures were somewhat different according to Payscale (Oct. 2017), a site which relies on self-reported wage data. Among the HVAC workers responding, Payscale found these percentiles:

United States: 478 HVAC workers responding

  • 10th percentile: $29,000
  • 25th percentile: $35,000
  • 50th percentile (median): $43,956
  • 75th percentile: $55,000
  • 90th percentile: $69,000

An additional 2,550 HVAC workers offered their hourly wages, resulting in these percentiles:

  • 10th percentile: $13.00/hr.
  • 25th percentile: $15.00/hr.
  • 50th percentile (median): $19.27/hr.
  • 75th percentile: $24.00/hr.
  • 90th percentile: $30.00/hr.

The figures were even more promising for aspiring HVAC workers in Minnesota. Specifically, the BLS (May 2016) reported that there were 2,770 HVAC workers in the state with an average annual salary of $53,130 and these percentiles, notably higher than national figures:

Minnesota (2,770 HVAC workers): $53,130 average

  • 10th percentile: $34,150
  • 25th percentile: $41,060
  • 50th percentile (median): $51,230
  • 75th percentile: $62,240
  • 90th percentile: $77,030

In hourly terms, these equated to:

Minnesota: $25.54/hour average

  • 10th percentile: $16.59/hr.
  • 25th percentile: $19.74/hr.
  • 50th percentile (median): $24.63/hr.
  • 75th percentile: $29.93/hr.
  • 90th percentile: $37.04/hr.

Finally, the BLS designated nine regions within the state. Not surprisingly, the 1,680 HVAC workers in the Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, MN-WI district boasted the highest average annual salary ($54,990). Here were the detailed salary data across the state:

Duluth, MN-WI (150 HVAC workers): $47,910 average

  • 10th percentile: $34,670
  • 25th percentile: $41,170
  • 50th percentile (median): $47,070
  • 75th percentile: $54,810
  • 90th percentile: $62,550

Mankato-North Mankato, MN (80 HVAC workers): $51,410 average

  • 10th percentile: $33,820
  • 25th percentile: $38,840
  • 50th percentile (median): $50,630
  • 75th percentile: $61,320
  • 90th percentile: $73,900

Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, MN-WI (1,680 HVAC workers): $54,990 average

  • 10th percentile: $34,670
  • 25th percentile: $41,450
  • 50th percentile (median): $53,050
  • 75th percentile: $64,650
  • 90th percentile: $80,890

Northeast Minnesota Nonmetropolitan Area (unknown number of HVAC workers): $53,280 average

  • 10th percentile: $37,290
  • 25th percentile: $44,070
  • 50th percentile (median): $51,880
  • 75th percentile: $60,720
  • 90th percentile: $71,860

Northwest Minnesota Nonmetropolitan Area (250 HVAC workers): $52,320 average

  • 10th percentile: $37,360
  • 25th percentile: $43,470
  • 50th percentile (median): $51,720
  • 75th percentile: $61,250
  • 90th percentile: $71,530

Rochester, MN (80 HVAC workers): $52,480 average

  • 10th percentile: $34,330
  • 25th percentile: $40,210
  • 50th percentile (median): $52,580
  • 75th percentile: $62,300
  • 90th percentile: $74,710

Southeast Minnesota Nonmetropolitan Area (250 HVAC workers): $48,980 average

  • 10th percentile: $34,430
  • 25th percentile: $41,270
  • 50th percentile (median): $47,980
  • 75th percentile: $57,400
  • 90th percentile: $64,560

Southeast Minnesota Nonmetropolitan Area (150 HVAC workers): $50,720 average

  • 10th percentile: $34,850
  • 25th percentile: $39,970
  • 50th percentile (median): $47,420
  • 75th percentile: $58,800
  • 90th percentile: $74,250

St. Cloud, MN (110 HVAC workers): $51,430 average

  • 10th percentile: $34,200
  • 25th percentile: $38,640
  • 50th percentile (median): $53,590
  • 75th percentile: $61,970
  • 90th percentile: $70,510

Accredited HVAC Schools in Minnesota

In order to begin working in this industry, aspiring HVAC professionals must receive training to develop the requisite skills. This typically includes completing a degree or an apprenticeship program.

For example, the aforementioned Pipefitters Local 539 offers a competitive apprenticeship program for those interested in a career in HVAC and/or construction. This four-year training program consists of 8,750 hours on the job and 1,080 hours of related classroom instruction. Participants must pay for the cost of tuition, which is set at $540 per year plus books, although they do earn a salary during the course of the program.

Aspiring HVAC workers who are interested in a formal education with a shorter timeframe may wish to consider the program offered through Hennepin Technical College in either Brooklyn Park or Eden Prairie. This program includes 72 credit-hours on subjects such as residential heat pumps, hydronic heat systems, commercial ice making machines, electrical circuits, and sheet metal, among others. Completion leads to an associate of arts (A.A.) degree in HVAC. Yearly tuition for the 2015-16 school year was approximately $5,147, although interested students should contact the school directly for a customized assessment. Notably, the programs through both of these campuses have received accreditation through HVAC Excellence.

Finally, there’s a diploma program in HVAC and refrigeration through Dakota County Technical College of Rosemount. This 39-credit-hour program covers courses on basic electricity, indoor air quality, alternative heating and cooling methods, and refrigeration principles and applications, among others. The total cost of tuition is $7,424.82 with fees, excluding the cost of textbooks.

As a final note, it is important to mention that currently, many aspiring HVAC workers choose to complete six-month to two-year programs that have received accreditation. As of this writing, two main organizations offer accreditation for local HVAC programs: the Partnership for Air-Conditioning, Heating, Refrigeration Accreditation (PAHRA) and HVAC Excellence. There are no PAHRA-accredited programs in MN, although there are three schools which have received accreditation from HVAC Excellence. In addition to Hennepin Technical College above, check out accredited training through these campuses:

Minnesota HVAC Certification and Licensing

As mentioned in the introduction, anyone who works with refrigerants in Minnesota has to obtain the EPA Section 608 Certification. There are four types, which vary by type of appliance serviced: type 1 (small appliances), type 2 (high-pressure appliances), type 3 (low-pressure appliances), and type 4 (universal). Virtually all degree and certificate programs will ensure graduates are prepared to sit for one of these examinations.

Additionally, a number of skill-specific national certifications are accessible to HVAC workers in Minnesota. These include ones through HVAC Excellence (e.g., Heating, Electrical, Air Conditioning Technology Plus); North American Technician Excellence (e.g., Industry Competency Exams or ICE); the Refrigerating Engineers and Technicians Association (e.g., entry-level Certified Assistant Refrigeration Operator); and other organizations. To learn more about national certifications, check out the HVAC credentialing page.

Finally, anyone interested in a career in this industry should understand the local licensure requirements to perform HVAC-related work. While the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry (DLI) does not specifically require individuals to hold a license in order to perform HVAC work, all professionals must file a $25,000 bond with the DLI in order to contract to perform gas, heating, ventilation, cooling, air conditioning, fuel burning, or refrigeration work in the state. As mentioned on the DLI website, the bond must be on a form approved by the DLI and written by a surety company licensed to do business in Minnesota. Additionally, various municipalities may have individual requirements for HVAC workers; for example, the Minneapolis Department of Community Planning & Economic Development issues various types of HVAC permits for professionals, depending on the nature of the work being performed. As such, it is important for all aspiring HVAC workers in the state to perform due diligence with licensure requirements to ensure they stay in compliance with the law.