Reno, NV HVAC Training Schools & Certification

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Long nicknamed “The Biggest Little City In The World,” Reno, Nevada (NV) “has experienced a strong economic upturn, a boost in tourism, and an emerging food and art scene.”

Although gaming and entertainment continue to make a significant contribution to the economy, Reno has diversified. As the “home to 13 geothermal companies,” the city is regarded as a leader in clean energy and technology. Aviation and R&D companies are among the high-tech industries. Construction, financial services, healthcare, transportation, warehousing, and manufacturing facilities are part of the economic diversification and the resulting increase in population.

Reno lies about 4,400 feet above sea level, at the eastern edge of the Sierra Nevada mountain range. It’s classified as a desert, receiving less than an inch of rain each month as the mountains block moisture flowing from the west. Summers are hot and dry; however, the altitude moderates the desert heat. Daytime temperatures in the summer typically do not exceed the low 90s and summer nights drop into the mid- to upper 50s.

A phenomenon known as the Washoe Zephyr, which is a wind pulled down the mountains, can create summer thunderstorms on occasion. Winter days are often in the mid-40s to low 50s, and temperatures on winter nights frequently drop to below freezing. Up to a foot of snow can fall during the winter months.

Although the mountains and other outdoor areas offer multiple recreational opportunities, Renoites spend many hours indoors. Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) are essential for comfort in their homes and workplaces. Many of the industrial and business facilities, especially hospitality venues, require the addition of large-scale refrigeration (HVAC/R). Businesses that depend on technology often need specialty climate-controlled rooms to keep their equipment operating reliably.

According to data collected by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS May 2019), 430 HVAC mechanics and installers were employed in Reno. Industry organizations such as the following provide training and support to technicians:

  • American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers
  • Associated Builders and Contractors – Nevada Chapter
  • Builders Association of Northern Nevada
  • Nevada Association of Mechanical Contractors
  • Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors Association of Nevada
  • Refrigeration Service Engineers Society
  • Sheet Metal and Air Conditioning Contractors National Association
  • UA Local 350 Plumbers, Pipefitters, & HVAC

Members of these associations coordinate with other industry groups and governmental agencies to establish educational, training, and safety standards designed to protect the environment and the health and safety of workers and the public.

Occupational Demand for HVAC Techs in Reno, NV

The demand for workers in all occupations nationwide is expected to increase by 4 percent between 2019 and 2029, according to the BLS (May 2019). The demand for new HVAC and HVAC/R technicians in the US is expected to increase at the same rate (4 percent). Nevada is outpacing even the most optimistic national expectations.

Projections Central (2021)—a data organization partnered with the US Department of Labor—reported that there would be a 27.9 percent increase in HVAC positions across Nevada between 2018 and 2028. With the predicted addition of 190 fresh HVAC positions in NV and 42,800 openings nationwide, there is ample evidence that this is a promising profession in NV and across the country.

Reno is expanding at a rapid rate. Commercial, industrial, and residential construction are creating job opportunities for HVAC and HVAC/R technicians. Every new structure needs climate-control equipment and systems installed. Massive renovation projects also require new equipment if the existing equipment can’t be retrofitted or upgraded to meet contemporary energy efficiency and pollution reduction standards.

Climate-control systems have become complex and require trained technicians to install and maintain. New technology means that technicians must be proficient with electronics and computerized systems. They are also expected to be skilled at troubleshooting.

Slowdowns are not expected in the growth and construction activity in Reno in the foreseeable future, so technicians specializing in new installations are unlikely to experience seasonal unemployment. Technicians who concentrate on maintenance and repair services also can expect continuous employment as homeowners and businesses need to keep their climate-control systems operating year-round, regardless of the economy.

HVAC Salaries in Reno, NV

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (May 2019), there were 342,040 HVAC mechanics and installers nationwide with an average annual salary (annual mean wage) of $51,420 and 2,600 HVAC mechanics and installers in Nevada with an average annual salary (annual mean wage) of $54,010. It also stated that there were 430 HVAC mechanics and installers in Reno with an average annual salary (annual mean wage) of $56,600 and the following percentiles:

United States Nevada Reno, NV
Number of HVAC professionals employed 342,040 2,600 430
Annual mean wage $51,420 $54,010 $56,600
10th percentile $30,610 $31,500 $32,320
25th percentile $37,660 $41,390 $44,510
50th percentile (median) $48,730 $54,390 $58,010
75th percentile $62,070 $62,800 $70,250
90th percentile $77,920 $76,840 $78,920

 

Salary figures do vary slightly by the source of data. Payscale (2021)—an aggregator of self-reported salaries—found the following percentiles among its HVAC respondents nationwide:

  • 10th percentile: $31,000
  • 50th percentile (median): $47,948
  • 90th percentile: $75,000

The BLS figures are generally considered more reliable due to the organization’s methods of data collection and relatively high sample size. 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 2021) found that Nevada was the 15th most expensive state.

HVAC Apprenticeships in Reno, NV

Employment opportunities for untrained HVAC and HVAC/R workers are scarce. Specialized training is needed to install and maintain the sophisticated climate-control systems now in use. Workers who complete an apprenticeship or obtain formal training typically have the most employment opportunities. Not only are their beginning wages typically higher, but they often enjoy greater earnings throughout their career.

As apprentices, workers receive paid-on-the-job training while attending school for a specified number of hours each year. Apprenticeships usually take four to five years to complete. A list of registered apprenticeships is maintained by the State of Nevada Department of Business & Industry.

Four-year HVAC apprenticeships are offered by Plumbers, Pipefitters & HVAC UA Local 350. Apprentices complete 144 hours of classroom work each year along with on-the-job training. They begin with daytime classes and switch to evening classes during the last portion of their apprenticeship.

Industry organizations such as the following offer various HVAC and HVAC/R training programs:

  • 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)

Their websites contain the details of curriculum, availability, and fees.

Accredited HVAC Schools in Reno, NV

Aspiring technicians should ensure that the school they select for training is accredited. Accreditation is a process of evaluating the school’s curriculum and instructors for the purpose of verifying that students are receiving the education they expect. The evaluation is conducted periodically by independent agencies.

HVAC and HVAC/R programs are evaluated by two industry organizations. HVAC Excellence has accredited the Advanced Training Institute in Las Vegas and the College of Southern Nevada in Henderson. The Partnership for Air-Conditioning, Heating, Refrigeration Accreditation (PAHRA) has also accredited the College of Southern Nevada. These schools are included in the profiles below, due to their accreditation, although Reno students would have to relocate to attend as the commute is too long to be practical.

Advanced Training Institute

An HVAC/R technician diploma program is offered at ATI (Advanced Training Institute). Coursework is presented in classroom lectures followed by hands-on training in a modern lab. Students in this program will learn electrical and mechanical troubleshooting and will also learn to repair residential as well as light commercial systems. They will also learn to repair light commercial and residential gas heating systems.

The program will also train them in servicing and repairing hydronic and electric heating systems. Upon completion, graduates will be able to calculate and measure airflow on air conditioning equipment, as well as repair and service walk-in freezers or coolers, ice machines, and reach-ins.

The program is made up of 840 clock hours. The curriculum includes the principles of mechanics, electricity, HVAC systems, gas-fired heating, heat pumps, boilers, commercial refrigeration and ice machines, troubleshooting, and start-up and installation. The coursework also encompasses preparation for industry exams such as the EPA Section 608, 410A, and OSHA. The cost of taking the exams is included in the tuition, as is the cost of the uniforms that students are expected to wear.

After successfully completing this program, graduates will be fully prepared for entry-level work with heating or air conditioning companies, hospitals, manufacturers, hotels, schools, and mechanical contractors. Graduates are qualified to seek employment as entry-level residential HVAC and commercial HVAC/R technicians.

  • Location: Las Vegas, NV
  • Accreditation: HVAC Excellence; Accrediting Council for Continuing Education & Training (ACCET)
  • Expected Time to Completion: 10.5 months
  • Estimated Tuition: $14,855

Career College of Northern Nevada

CCNN is a private college that offers an HVAC/R service technician program. Classroom lectures are coordinated with hands-on practice in the lab. The program introduces and prepares students for entry-level HVAC employment.

Students develop the essential knowledge and skills required by today’s demanding HVAC industry. Students will also be introduced to the basic functions, practical applications, and principles of light commercial and residential HVAC/R.

The program comprises 44.5 credits. The technical curriculum includes the foundations of HVAC/R, electrical theory and application, refrigeration theory and application, heating systems, HVAC systems, airflow and distribution, and preparation for and testing for EPA Section 608 certification. Students also complete coursework in technical writing, computer fundamentals for the trades, and customer relations.

Graduates develop the skills needed to install, service, and repair residential and light commercial HVAC equipment.

  • Location: Sparks, NV
  • Accreditation: Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC)
  • Expected Time to Completion: Nine months
  • Estimated Tuition: $12,700

College of Southern Nevada

Students enrolled at the college may choose from four HVAC technology certificate programs:

  • Air Conditioning Technology – 40.5 credits
  • Air Conditioning Technology: Central Plant – 41 credits
  • Air Conditioning Technology: Critical Systems – 40 credits
  • Air Conditioning Technology: Food Service Refrigeration – 42.5 credits

The curriculum includes HVAC electrical and mechanical theory and application, residential gas heating, heat pumps, copper, ductwork, HVAC controls, chiller and boiler operations, commercial refrigeration, how to read blueprints and specifications, workplace safety.

Students are not required to take every technical course. Instead, they take only those that pertain to the certificate they are seeking. For example, only students seeking the foodservice certificate take the commercial refrigeration class. Additional coursework includes customer service, core computing competency, and information systems, as well as general education electives. Students may also serve an internship to earn their certificate.

Students seeking an associate of applied (AAS) degree also have four programs from which to choose:

  • Air Conditioning Technology – 60 credits
  • Air Conditioning Technology: Central Plant – 60 credits
  • Air Conditioning Technology: Critical Systems – 60 credits
  • Air Conditioning Technology: Food Service Refrigeration – 61.5 credits

Degree students complete the same technical coursework as those in the certificate programs. They also meet additional general education requirements that may include math, composition, human relations, science, humanities, history, and electives.

Students in both the certificate and the degree programs attend classroom lectures and receive hands-on training in the lab. The college is located in Henderson; however, the HVAC programs are taught at the Western Center in Las Vegas, in their new HVAC Center of Excellence facility. The college also offers an Entry-Level Air Conditioning Technician which consists of 18.5 credits.

  • Location: Henderson, NV; Las Vegas, NV; North Las Vegas, NV
  • Accreditation: PAHRA; HVAC Excellence; Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU)
  • Expected Time to Completion: Certificates (12 months each); Degrees (24 months each)
  • Estimated Tuition: Lower-division courses ($106.75 per credit); Upper-division courses ($175 per credit)

Truckee Meadows Community College

TMCC offers a variety of degrees and certificates in the HVAC/R field. Preparing students for a host of job opportunities, these programs provide classroom instruction along with hands-on experience through best-in-class labs where they work on innovative HVAC/R training systems. Students are prepared for systematically approaching, analyzing, troubleshooting, and solving HVAC/R problems.

Truckee Meadows Community College offers the following programs:

  • Construction Technologies AAS Degree, HVAC/R (60 credits)
  • Construction Technologies AAS Degree, HVAC/R Critical Systems (60 credits)
  • Certificate of Achievement: Air Conditioning, Critical Systems (42 credits)
  • Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning/Refrigeration (HVAC/R), Certificate of Achievement (31 credits)
  • Skills Certificate: HVAC/R (24 credits)
  • Skills Certificate: Commercial Refrigeration (24 credits)

The curriculum includes courses such as refrigeration theory, electrical and controls for HVAC, heat pumps, schematic reading for HVAC/R, sheet metal I, basic refrigeration servicing, HVAC automatic controls, chiller operations, and maintenance, and general industry safety, among others.

The AAS programs also include general education coursework such as communications, human relations, and mathematics. Students also select technical electives from the following: heat pumps, sheet metal, commercial refrigeration, and boiler operation and maintenance.

Students are not required to take every course. Instead, they take only those that pertain to the degree or certificate they are seeking.

  • Location: Reno, NV
  • Accreditation: Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU)
  • Expected Time to Completion: Skills certificates and HVAC/R COA (two semesters each); air conditioning critical systems COA (three semesters); AAS degrees (four semesters each)
  • Estimated Tuition: In-state lower-division courses ($106.75 per credit); upper-division courses ($175 per credit)

Reno students who are unable to attend on-campus schools may find that an online institution will best meet their needs. Check out more information on accredited online HVAC training programs.

HVAC Certification & Licensing in Reno, NV

Federal law mandates that HVAC and HVAC/R technicians obtain the Section 608 certification before beginning work with refrigerants. The certification is governed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and requires passing an exam on the safe handling of refrigerants. Four types of certification are available:

  • Type I – small appliances
  • Type II – high-pressure appliances and motor vehicle air conditioning
  • Type III – low-pressure appliances
  • Universal – all types of equipment

Practice exams are available on the website.

Industry organizations, including the following, offer training, 608 certifications, and additional certifications that are designed to increase a technician’s knowledge and career advancement:

  • Refrigeration Service Engineers Society (RSES) – Comprehensive, cutting-edge education and certification
  • North American Technician Excellence (NATE) – Certification tests that represent real-world working knowledge
  • HVAC Excellence – Validation that an individual has retained knowledge in a specific area of the HVAC/R industry

There is more information on the HVAC certifications page.

The Nevada State Contractors Board requires all contractors, including those in HVAC, to obtain a license if they work on projects valued at $1,000 or more. The Board classifies licenses as follows:

  • Class A – general engineering
  • Class B – general building
  • Class C – specialty (includes 36 specialties among which are the trades, each of which requires a separate license)

Applicants must meet several requirements, which include submitting proof of a combined four years of experience and education, passing the business and law exam, passing a trade exam, submitting financial statements and a bond, completing an application, and paying the relevant fees. Additional information may be required for some applicants.

The license fee is $600, and it expires in two years. A “recovery fund assessment” fee that varies from $200 to $1,000 may be due from contractors working on residences.

Washoe County requires anyone doing business in unincorporated areas of the county to obtain a business license. Applicants pay a fixed fee the first year, and fees in successive years are based on gross receipts. Individuals doing business in the county and in the incorporated areas of Reno may qualify for a multi-jurisdictional license.

Finally, the City of Reno requires businesses that do not have a multi-jurisdictional license to apply for a Reno business license. Applicants must have a state business license and submit proof of workers’ compensation insurance.

Licensing agencies have the option of modifying their requirements at any time. HVAC technicians are encouraged to ensure they are in compliance with current guidelines before working on any project.

Sandra Smith

Sandra Smith was introduced to the HVAC industry when she worked as a bookkeeper and secretary for a small air-conditioning contractor. She eventually became a CPA and started her own practice specializing in small business taxes and accounting. After retiring from business, she began writing articles for newspapers, magazines, and websites. She also authored four books. Sandra makes her home in the mountains with a rescue dog that naps on her lap as she writes.