Manchester, NH HVAC Programs – Schools & Certification

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Manchester, New Hampshire (NH) has undergone many changes since it was established in the 1700s. The founding fathers envisioned it as an industrial center, and at one time it was home to the largest cotton mill in the world. Manufacturing a variety of products kept the area affluent. The city has continued to grow and change. It’s now a “multi-industry city, home to high-tech, communications, financial services, healthcare, and manufacturing firms.” Historical sites, notable Victorian architecture, cultural events, and sports teams draw visitors.

Winters in Manchester are frigid, snowy, and linger from November through March. The highs hover in the upper 30s and lower 40s F, and the lows consistently drop below freezing. January and February lows don’t make it above the teens. April and May bring springtime warmth, accompanied by several inches of rain each month. The rain continues through the months of June, July, and August, creating a hot and humid summer. The highs those months are in the 70s to mid-80s, with the lows averaging about 20 degrees F cooler. Temperatures start dropping in September, but there are still close to four inches of precipitation.

Manchester residents frequently stay indoors to escape the summer heat and humidity and the cold winters. They rely on heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) all year for comfort in their homes and workplaces. Many of the businesses, especially those that rely on advanced technology and those catering to the tourist industry, often require the addition of refrigeration (HVAC/R). Companies engaged in the high-tech and communication industries, as well as the healthcare facilities, frequently need specialized equipment and systems to keep the electronics operating correctly.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS 2020) reports there were 350 HVAC and HVAC/R technicians were employed in Manchester as of May 2019. Industry associations such as the following provided support and resources to the technicians and their employers:

  • American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE)
  • Associated Builders and Contractors of Connecticut, Inc. (CTABC)
  • Associated General Contractors of New Hampshire (AGC)
  • Indoor Air Quality Association, Manchester Chapter
  • New England Mechanical Contractors Association (NEMCA)
  • New Hampshire Home Builders Association (NHHBA)
  • Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors Association (PHCCA)
  • Refrigeration Service Engineers Society (RSES)
  • Sheet Metal and Air Conditioning Contractors’ National Association (SMACNA)
  • UA Plumbers & Steamfitters Local Union 131

These organizations and other industry groups coordinate with each other and government agencies to establish educational, licensing, and performance standards for the safety of technicians, the public, and the environment.

Occupational Demand for HVAC and HVAC/R Technicians in Manchester, NH

The demand for trained HVAC and HVAC/R technicians continues to increase according to BLS (May 2019) data. They indicate a 4 percent increase in new employment opportunities for technicians nationwide between 2019 and 2029. The statewide growth forecast is even more favorable for HVAC professionals. Projections Central (2020) anticipates 6.8 percent growth in new positions for technicians in New Hampshire between 2018 and 2028.

The construction of new commercial structures and residences account for most of the growth of the HVAC industry. Preservation of Manchester’s historic sites requires the installation of specialized climate-control equipment. Renovation of older structures necessitates replacement or repair of aging systems. Occasionally, equipment in newer structures is replaced to meet changing environmental standards or technological advances. An additional factor contributing to the growth of the HVAC industry is the contemporary emphasis on pollution reduction and energy efficiency.

Whether new or modernized, structures are frequently expected to be “smart.” Smart buildings incorporate sophisticated climate-control systems that require trained technicians to install, maintain, and service. Technicians who understand electronics and have developed their troubleshooting and computer skills will have the best job opportunities.

Those who specialize in new installations may occasionally experience unemployment if construction declines. A decline in Manchester is not anticipated in the foreseeable future due to the diversity and strength of its economy. Technicians who maintain, service, and repair equipment typically enjoy full-time employment as businesses and homeowners depend on year-round climate control regardless of the economy.

HVAC and HVAC/R Salaries in Manchester, NH

The BLS (May 2019) reported that HVAC mechanics and installers nationally received a median salary of $48,730. Technicians in Manchester received an annual median salary of $55,970, as per the BLS. The difference in income isn’t as great as it seems, as the cost of living in New Hampshire is higher than in other American states.

According to the BLS (May 2019), national, state, and regional salaries of HVAC professionals are as follows:

United States New Hampshire Manchester, NH
Number of HVAC Professionals Employed 342,040 2,040 350
Average Annual Salary $51,420 $54,270 $55,970
10th Percentile $30,610 $34,940 $35,400
25th Percentile $37,660 $42,990 $42,240
50th Percentile (median) $48,730 $54,650 $55,970
75th Percentile $62,070 $63,700 $67,710
90th Percentile $77,920 $75,740 $77,940

HVAC Apprenticeships in Manchester, NH

Traditionally, untrained workers could find employment as helpers, which allowed them to learn their skills via on-the-job training. While that’s still possible, it has become increasingly difficult to do so. Workers are now expected to obtain training either by participating in an apprenticeship program or by attending classes. Trained technicians have more job opportunities, potentially start at higher wages, and typically earn more throughout their career.

The average apprenticeship encompasses specified hours of on-the-job training, usually 2,000, combined with classroom work, usually 144 hours, annually for three to five years.

Apprenticeship NH, in cooperation with the Community College System of NH, has information and resources for job seekers and employers that want to sponsor apprentices. The New Hampshire Employment Security department has information on registered apprenticeships. UA Plumbers & Steamfitters Local Union 131 offers a five-year apprenticeship program that includes HVAC/R training at their training facility in Hooksett, NH.

Industry associations that include the following also provide HVAC and HVAC/R apprenticeship programs:

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

Consult each organization’s website for information on available programs, schedules, and fees.

Accredited HVAC Schools in Manchester, NH

Students should ensure that they choose an accredited school. Accreditation is the process by which an independent agency evaluates the curriculum and instructors of the institution. HVAC programs are accredited by HVAC Excellence and the Partnership for Air-Conditioning, Heating, Refrigeration Accreditation (PAHRA). To date, neither has accredited a New Hampshire program.

Note: The information in this article was compiled in August 2020 during the “shelter-in-place” and “social distancing” restrictions. The schools profiled below have temporarily suspended classes or are transitioning to online options to comply with the restrictions. Questions as to timing and format should be directed to the school administration.

Manchester Community College

MCC offers HVAC students the following choices:

  • Heating services certificate – 26 credit-hours
  • Air conditioning/refrigeration certificate – 26 credit-hours
  • Advanced HVAC certificate – 24 credit-hours
  • HVAC degree – 67 credit-hours

The coursework for all programs is divided between classroom lectures and hands-on training in the lab. Credits earned in the air conditioning/refrigeration certificate and the heating services certificate programs may be applied to the degree program. Credits earned in the degree program may be transferred to bachelor programs at four-year institutions.

The curriculum for the heating services certificate program includes electricity, fundamentals of heating, gas heating, and piping installation, hydronic systems, and warm air and steam systems. They receive the training needed for the State of NH Gas Fitters Piping Installers License and are prepared to take the Piping Installers Exam. They additionally are prepared for NORA (National Oilheat Research Alliance) Bronze certification.

Graduates are qualified to seek employment as heating systems technicians. The air conditioning/refrigeration certificate program curriculum includes electricity, fundamentals of refrigeration, commercial refrigeration, residential and commercial air conditioning, and heat pumps. They also take coursework that prepares them to take the EPA Section 608 exam. Graduates are qualified to seek employment as air conditioning and refrigeration technicians.

The curriculum for the advanced HVAC certificate program includes testing and balancing, gas equipment installation and service, direct digital and building automation controls, and advanced HVAC. Graduates have the knowledge and skills to seek employment as HVAC/R technicians. Students in the HVAC degree program complete all the coursework listed for the certificate programs. They also complete general education electives in college composition, math, liberal arts, science, social science, and foreign language/fine arts/humanities.

As well as preparation for industry exams and certifications as described in the certificate programs, graduates of the degree program receive credit for 500 hours towards the 1000 hours of on-the-job training required for the gas fitters license.

  • Location: Manchester, NH
  • Accreditation: New England Commission of Higher Education
  • Tuition: $215 per credit-hour
  • Program Length: Advanced HVAC certificate, one year; other certificates and degree program, two years

Granite State Trade School

Granite State, a private school, offers an HVAC certificate course. Classes are presented during the evenings. The curriculum, which takes 300 hours to complete, includes an introduction to HVAC/R and fundamentals, energy efficiency, systems and components, troubleshooting, installation techniques, psychometrics, sizing, servicing, testing, adjusting and balancing, cooling towers, evaporative condensers, commercial air conditioning and refrigeration, indoor air quality, heat pumps, and customer service.

  • Location: Raymond, NH
  • Accreditation: Training approved by New Hampshire Mechanical Licensing Board
  • Tuition: $6,800
  • Program Length: Two years

New Hampshire School of Mechanical Trades

Students at the New Hampshire School of Mechanical Trades, a private school, can choose from the following certificate programs:

  • Air conditioning technician, evening program – 15 weeks ($2,300)
  • Air conditioning technician, day program – 8 weeks ($2,300)
  • Oil heat technician – evening program – 15 weeks ($2,300)
  • Oil heat technician – day program – 8 weeks ($2,300)
  • Air conditioning and oil heat technician combo – evening program – 25 weeks ($4,200)
  • Air conditioning and oil heat technician combo – day program – 14 weeks ($4,200)

The coursework is presented via classroom lectures and hands-on practice in the lab.

The curriculum for the air conditioning program focuses on residential and light commercial air conditioning. Students learn equipment installation, and how to service, maintain, and repair equipment, as well as how to troubleshoot. They are also prepared to take the EPA Section 608 exam.

Students in the oil heat program learn cleaning and tune-up procedures, wiring, servicing, and troubleshooting equipment. The curriculum is based on national standards provided by NORA, the National Oilheat Research Alliance. Students are prepared to take the NORA certification exam.

  • Location: Hampton, NH; Manchester, NH
  • Accreditation: Training approved by New Hampshire Mechanical Licensing Board
  • Tuition: As noted above
  • Program Length: As noted above

Manchester workers who are unable to attend on-campus or local schools may find that online institutions can better meet their needs. More information on accredited programs is available at online HVAC training.

HVAC and HVAC/R Certification and Licensing in Manchester, NH

Technicians who handle refrigerants are required by federal law to obtain Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Section 608 certification. Four levels of certification are available based on the type and size of equipment on which technician works. The levels are:

  • Type I – for servicing small appliances
  • Type II – for servicing or disposing of high-pressure appliances, except small appliances and automotive air conditioning
  • Type III – for servicing or disposing of low-pressure appliances
  • Universal – for servicing all types of equipment

Additional information and details are available on the EPA website.

Technicians may obtain additional training and certifications from industry organizations, including the following:

  • HVAC Excellence
  • North American Technician Excellence (NATE)
  • Refrigeration Service Engineers Society (RSES)

Their certifications include Section 608. Further information may be found on each website. There is also more information on the HVAC certifications page.

The New Hampshire Department of Fire Safety Mechanical Safety and Licensing Board does not require HVAC technicians to obtain licenses. The Board does have in place voluntary certification of oil heating technicians. Applicants must submit proof of 4,000 hours of appropriate field experience, certification from the National Oilheat Research Alliance (NORA) or North American Technician Excellence (NATE), and pay the stipulated fees.

The City of Manchester does not currently require HVAC technicians to obtain a license.

HVAC professionals are encouraged to confirm with city and state agencies that they are in compliance with current guidelines before starting a 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.