HVAC Schools in Minnesota

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Anyone who has lived in Minnesota (MN) understands the necessity of installing some form of climate-control system to remain protected from the elements. US Climate Data found that the average minimum temperatures in January hover around just 8 degrees while summer averages exceed 80. These temperature extremes in the Land of 10,000 Lakes create a thriving demand for skilled professionals in heating, air conditioning, and ventilation (HVAC).

Lukcily for those who decide to pursure this career in MN, 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 a calendar full 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 may encourage many to pursue a new career in this field. For those considering that route, following 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 is 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. For more details on this and other certification or licensing that may be required in MN specifically, keep reading.

Ultimately, a new career in the HVAC industry can be both 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 of 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 2017) found that there were 307,060 HVAC workers across the country, earning an average annual salary of $49,530. Also, the number of jobs was expected to swell 15 percent between 2016 and 2026, leading to the creation of 48,800 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 7 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 10 percent in the same timeframe, which could mean 350 new jobs every year.

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 requires the skill and expertise of an HVAC worker to plan, install and maintain. 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 (Nov. 2018) yielded over 700 results with companies such as Aerotek, Honeywell, CHI Companies, Randstad and Sodexo. The same search on Indeed (Nov. 2018) yielded 1,344 results with organizations such as TEK Mechanical Services, Bonded Filter Co., General Mills, and AirTech Heating and Cooling.

Minnesota HVAC Technician Salary Data

According to the BLS (2017), 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 in the US is approximately $49,530 per year with the following percentiles:

United States (307,060 HVAC workers): $49,530 annual average salary

Minnesota (3,440 HVAC workers): $55,160 annual average salary

Annual salary Hourly salary
United States Minnesota United States Minnesota
Average $49,530 $55,160 $23.81 $26.52
10th percentile $29,120 $32,710 $14.00 $15.73
25th percentile $36,150 $40,280 $17.38 $19.37
50th percentile $47,080 $53,850 $22.64 $25.89
75th percentile $60,270 $66,870 $28.98 $32.15
90th percentile $75,330 $83,070 $36.22 $39.94

Although average salaries in Minnesota are somewhat higher than national averages, the Missouri Economic Research and Information Center (MERIC 2018) found Minnesota was in the costlier half (ranks 32nd) of states when it comes to affordability, boasting savings in housing but higher costs for groceries and healthcare. High costs of living mean that higher average salaries will not go as far in MN as they would in other states.

Not surprisingly, salaries do vary by region of employment. Duluth and St. Cloud are able to tout the highest salaries in the state. Following is a breakdown of the number of HVAC workers employed, average salaries, and percentile figures among the 9 BLS-designated regions of Minnesota (BLS 2017):

Duluth, MN (160 HVAC workers employed): $58,700 annual average salary

Duluth, MN
Percentile Annual salary Hourly salary
Average $58,700 $28.22
10th percentile $33,220 $15.97
25th percentile $42,380 $20.38
50th percentile $50,010 $24.04
75th percentile $66,580 $32.01
90th percentile $111,420 $53.57

Mankato-North Mankato, MN (number of HVAC workers unreported): $47,900 annual average salary

Mankato-North Mankato, MN
Percentile Annual salary Hourly salary
Average $47,900 $23.03
10th percentile $33,070 $15.90
25th percentile $37,090 $17.83
50th percentile $47,380 $22.78
75th percentile $58,960 $28.34
90th percentile $64,900 $31.20

Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, MN-WI (1,990 HVAC workers): $57,500 annual average salary

Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, MN-WI
Percentile Annual salary Hourly salary
Average $57,500 $27.65
10th percentile $27,220 $13.09
25th percentile $40,330 $19.39
50th percentile $57,390 $27.59
75th percentile $73,250 $35.22
90th percentile $89,830 $43.19

Northeast Minnesota nonmetropolitan area (number of HVAC workers unreported): $49,900 annual average salary

Northeast Minnesota nonmetropolitan area
Percentile Annual salary Hourly salary
Average $49,900 $23.99
10th percentile $35,270 $16.96
25th percentile $41,400 $19.91
50th percentile $50,640 $24.35
75th percentile $58,690 $28.22
90th percentile $63,380 $30.47

Northwest Minnesota nonmetropolitan area (350 HVAC workers): $52,450 annual average salary

Northwest Minnesota nonmetropolitan area
Percentile Annual salary Hourly salary
Average $52,450 $25.22
10th percentile $33,790 $16.24
25th percentile $39,680 $19.08
50th percentile $51,180 $24.61
75th percentile $63,040 $30.31
90th percentile $76,600 $36.83

Rochester, MN (130 HVAC workers): $54,140 annual average salary

Rochester, MN
Percentile Annual salary Hourly salary
Average $54,140 $26.03
10th percentile $36,300 $17.45
25th percentile $43,360 $20.85
50th percentile $54,570 $26.23
75th percentile $62,000 $29.81
90th percentile $74,830 $35.98

Southeast Minnesota nonmetropolitan area (220 HVAC workers): $45,480 annual average salary

Southeast Minnesota nonmetropolitan area
Percentile Annual salary Hourly salary
Average $45,480 $21.87
10th percentile $33,730 $16.22
25th percentile $37,960 $18.25
50th percentile $44,550 $21.42
75th percentile $51,090 $24.56
90th percentile $61,190 $29.42

Southwest Minnesota nonmetropolitan area (240 HVAC workers): $51,650 annual average salary

Southwest Minnesota nonmetropolitan area
Percentile Annual salary Hourly salary
Average $51,650 $24.83
10th percentile $34,750 $16.71
25th percentile $40,820 $19.62
50th percentile $47,950 $23.06
75th percentile $62,960 $30.27
90th percentile $76,190 $36.63

St. Cloud, MN (190 HVAC workers): $58,280 annual average salary

St. Cloud, MN
Percentile Annual salary Hourly salary
Average $58,280 $28.02
10th percentile $44,280 $21.29
25th percentile $52,990 $25.48
50th percentile $59,040 $28.39
75th percentile $65,050 $31.27
90th percentile $74,090 $35.62

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. Hennepin offers three tracks for HVAC students: commercial HVAC-R diploma, HVAC-R associate in applied science (AAS) and residential HVAC diploma. The diploma tracks require 32 technical credits and two general education credits while the AAS program requires 55 technical credits and 17 general education and elective credits. Both Minnesota residents and non-residents should expect to pay around $156.68 per credit (the 2017-2018 tuition rate) to attend. Notably, the programs through both of these campuses have received accreditation through HVAC Excellence.

There is also 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 the US, including 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.