HVAC Schools in New Jersey – Degree Programs and Certifications

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As with many states in the northeast, New Jersey (NJ) can have extreme weather in all seasons—from frigid winters where temperatures dip into the 30s and snow falls to hot, humid summers with temperatures climbing into the 90s. This kind of fluctuation means that many residents of the Garden State rely heavily on climate control systems to stay comfortable. Professional HVAC technicians have considerable opportunities in NJ, with the necessary training.

While training as an HVAC technician in New Jersey can launch a lifelong career, there are a few new developments in the space that students considering the career should be aware of. The most notable change in HVAC training and education in New Jersey is the creation of the master HVAC-R contractor license. Examinations, proof of experience, and education are required to obtain this credential. While this does add another step to the process, it helps validate technician competency.

HVAC technicians, mechanics, and installers in New Jersey and beyond take on responsibilities such as installing and calibrating equipment to manufacturer standards; laying piping or wiring for HVAC systems; soldering or brazing parts; performing maintenance on systems and HVAC components; keeping detailed customer service records; interpreting blueprints or mechanical diagrams; checking the chemical compositions of parts; calculating head loads and losses; making recommendations to clients for energy efficiency or upgrades; and ensuring all credentialing and permits are up-to-date.

Some HVAC workers in New Jersey work with various systems while others may specialize in a particular type of equipment such as commercial, residential, or gas systems. Additionally, all HVAC professionals who deal with refrigerants must have an active EPA Section 608 certification, the sole mandatory federal credential in the industry.

Demand for HVAC technicians continues to grow. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS May 2022), 9,300 HVAC maintenance and installation technicians work in New Jersey, and the number is only expected to increase both within New Jersey and nationally in the coming years. Further, several HVAC technician schools in New Jersey can prepare students to begin their new careers in a matter of months.

Keep reading to learn more about how to become an HVAC technician in New Jersey.

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Demand for HVAC Technicians in New Jersey

The New Jersey region has a decent demand for HVAC professionals, making it one of the best places for new HVAC techs to train and work. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS 2022), the number of openings for HVAC technicians is expected to increase by 5 percent nationally between 2021 and 2031, which is as fast as the average rate for all occupations in the U.S. during the same decade (5 percent).

There are various reasons why the HVAC-R industry in New Jersey is strong and is likely to continue growing. For one, HVAC systems must be replaced approximately every decade and require routine servicing and maintenance, meaning a need for technicians to perform these duties. Furthermore, regulations and technologies within the HVAC-R and construction industries constantly change, which necessitates regular system updates.

As an evaluation of the industry and demand, the online job board Monster (2023) has several job postings for HVAC professionals in NJ, including opportunities with Holy Name, Aramark, and MMI Electrical Contractors, Inc., to name just a few. Indeed (2023) showed 611 job opportunities in New Jersey, including those with the PSEG, Zimmer Biomet, Sodexo, Laurel Circle, and many others.

New Jersey HVAC Technician Salary Data

The BLS (May 2022) reported that HVAC mechanics and installers nationally received an annual mean wage of $57,460 as of May 2022. Technicians in New Jersey received an annual mean salary of $68,510.

The table below is a comparison of national, and state salaries of HVAC professionals:

The BLS (May 2022) reported the following salary figures in New Jersey:

United States New Jersey
Number of HVAC Professionals Employed 374,770 9,300
Annual Mean wage $57,460 $68,510
10th Percentile $36,170 $37,600
25th Percentile $44,100 $50,100
50th Percentile (Median) $51,390 $69,260
75th Percentile $65,630 $82,250
90th Percentile $82,630 $99,560

The national figures were a bit different according to another source of data, Payscale (2023), which relies on self-reported salaries. Among the HVAC workers reporting their annual salaries, Payscale found these percentiles for the United States:

  • 10th percentile: $35,000
  • 50th percentile (median): $54,371
  • 90th percentile: $84,000

The BLS designated four regions within New Jersey for which employment data is available. Following are the detailed salary data for the four regions within New Jersey:

Atlantic City Ocean City Trenton Vineland
Number of HVAC professionals employed 390 180 370 140
Annual Mean wage $65,650 $58,740 $71,150 $59,370
10th Percentile $45,570 $35,770 $41,080 $38,160
25th Percentile $54,640 $46,140 $56,570 $50,650
50th Percentile (Median) $62,200 $59,410 $67,550 $60,240
75th Percentile $79,390 $68,370 $83,570 $63,410
90th Percentile $91,190 $89,830 $101,780 $81,050

HVAC Apprenticeships in New Jersey

High employment rates and comfortable salaries in New Jersey make it one of the best places to study to become an HVAC technician and quickly start earning a good living. Many aspiring HVAC workers in New Jersey either attend training programs or participate in an apprenticeship program.

To gain work experience, aspiring professionals in this field may pursue an apprenticeship through an organization such as the United Association Of New Jersey Air Conditioning & Refrigeration Division. This apprenticeship offers modern training to applicants who wish to work in the exciting and technical HVAC-R service industry. The apprenticeship lasts five years and is divided into one-year sections. In each of these segments, students receive 1,800 hours of training on the job as well as 200 hours of classroom instruction. Students delve into topics such as basic refrigeration, servicing and electrical troubleshooting, heat pump fundamentals, and natural gas heating.

To apply for this apprenticeship, applicants must be at least 18 years of age and have a valid driver’s license. A copy of a birth certificate and high school diploma or its equivalent (GED), a copy of high school transcripts, and three letters of reference must also be presented.

Accredited HVAC Training Schools in New Jersey

Those who choose not to go the apprenticeship route may look for an accredited HVAC program at a technical school or community college. Accreditation is a process that allows for a thorough assessment of a school’s curriculum and facilities. Finding an HVAC program that has earned accreditation means choosing a program that is committed to providing consistent and relevant education to its students.

HVAC Excellence and the Partnership for Air-Conditioning, Heating, Refrigeration Accreditation (PAHRA) are the only national accrediting bodies specific to HVAC programs.

Schools may also earn accreditation for their educational facilities as a whole. The state generally recognizes institutions of higher learning, including community colleges and universities, accredited through the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE). Colleges join the organization voluntarily and are assessed and reviewed by peer evaluators from similar institutions.

While HVAC training in NJ from an MSCHE accreditation does not guarantee post-education employment as an HVAC technician, it can help to ensure that the facilities and staff meet a certain standard of excellence. HVAC programs that are not colleges or universities may earn accreditation from the Accrediting Council for Continuing Education and Training (ACCET), which is focused on technical education.

To be eligible to apply for an HVAC-R license from New Jersey without apprenticeship experiences, students must graduate from an institution that is accredited by a body recognized by the U.S. Department of Education, such as the programs below.

Lincoln Technical Institute

With two locations in New Jersey—one in Union and one in Mahwah—the Lincoln Technical Institute offers the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) program, ultimately leading to an EPA certification. Students learn about green technology, green alternatives to cooling and heating systems, and geothermal and solar thermal green technologies using modern techniques and technology.

Both HVAC certificates offered at Union and at Mahwah comprise 50 credits. The HVAC curriculum prepares students to confidently enter this vibrant field, providing them with the fundamental skills to troubleshoot, repair, and service commercial and residential indoor HVAC air management systems. The curriculum includes courses such as an introduction to climate control systems; electricity; basic refrigeration systems; heating systems; air conditioning design and energy conservation; commercial air conditioning and refrigeration system troubleshooting; commercial refrigeration systems; and air conditioning systems.

Upon completing this program, graduates can expect to meet the essential entry-level skills and knowledge required of an HVAC technician.

  • Location: Mahwah and Union, New Jersey
  • Accreditation: HVAC Excellence; Accrediting Commission of Career School and Colleges (ACCSC)
  • Expected Time to Completion: 52 weeks
  • Estimated Tuition: $29,370 total

Mercer County Community College

Mercer County Community College students can earn an associate of applied science (AAS) degree in HVAC-R. The MCC program is offered in conjunction with Mercer County Technical Schools. Applicants must have a high school diploma (or equivalent) and at least one semester of algebra or applied mathematics to be eligible for the program.

The AAS program comprises 60 credits, including courses such as the principles of refrigeration and air conditioning; refrigeration and air conditioning electrical controls; domestic heating and air conditioning systems; and electronics fundamentals.

Students learn how to determine air distribution, the laws of thermodynamics, the laws of physics, and the principles of heat flow applicable to HVAC.

At the end of the program, graduates can pursue opportunities such as service supervisors, service representatives, system designers, laboratory technicians, and estimators.

Mercer County Community College also offers a certificate of proficiency in HVAC-R that comprises 31 credits. This certificate program is part-time only and most courses are offered only during the evening.

  • Location: West Windsor Township, New Jersey
  • Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE)
  • Expected Time to Completion: AAS (two years); certificate (one year)
  • Estimated Tuition: Mercer Resident ($211.75 per credit); non-Mercer resident ($268.05 per credit); out-of-state ($372.60 per credit)

Monmouth County Vocational School District

Monmouth County Vocational School District offers an HVAC program, targeted at high school students to prepare them for employment upon graduation. Students who complete the program can earn college credits to apply for a future degree, an MCVSD program certificate and the EPA 608 certification.

The 40-credit program trains students in basics such as reading pressure; drawing a basic refrigeration system and its components; using equipment such as a voltmeter and ammeter; and charging an A/C system.

Graduates of the program can have various opportunities. They can take up roles such as heating and air conditioning systems designer or installer, residential heating and air conditioning systems service and maintenance contractor, commercial refrigeration systems repair technician, and certified heat pump technician.

  • Location: Freehold, New Jersey
  • Accreditation: PAHRA; Middle States Association of Schools and Colleges (MSCHE)
  • Expected Time to Completion: 40 credits
  • Estimated Tuition: Contact the school for a customized tuition assessment

Eastwick College

Eastwick College offers a diploma program in heating, ventilation, air conditioning, and refrigeration (HVAC-R). Successful graduates from Eastwick can be eligible for the universal EPA and R-410A certifications, and can earn recognition from the New Jersey Association of Plumbing – Heating & Cooling Contractors (NJPHCC) as second-year apprentices.

Students learn the basics of electricity, A/C installation and service, boiler and furnace installation and service, and piping and ductwork sizing and installation. They are also trained in troubleshooting and diagnosing malfunctions in appliances.

Students who successfully complete the program can take up roles in heating and air conditioning, installation, and service companies. Past graduates from the program have been hired by PSE&G in various utility fields, and have also secured jobs at companies such as A&E.

The program comprises 90 credits, including courses such as basic electrical and electronic concepts; refrigeration; heat pumps; air distribution and balancing; circuit systems operation; and control devices and motors.

  • Location: Nutley, New Jersey
  • Accreditation: Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC)
  • Expected Time to Completion: Full-time day (12 months); part-time evening (16 months)
  • Estimated Tuition: $275 per credit

Pennco Tech

Pennco Tech is a premier trade school with Blackwood, NJ, and Bristol, PA campuses. Pennco Tech offers a 35-week HVAC-R program where students will be able to practice and learn HVAC-R repair, installation, basic design, troubleshooting, and maintenance. Students will be trained in several HVAC-R aspects such as repairing, electrical wiring, controls, brazing, and soldering techniques.

As part of this 1,200-clock-hour program, students receive specialized soldering, pipefitting, and system circuits training. In addition, they will be offered instruction on basic principles of electricity, heat pump systems, oil and gas, installation, and maintenance practices in the classes. Course topics include basic refrigeration; commercial refrigeration; air conditioning; and heating systems.

Graduates will receive intensive, hands-on training to prepare them for the different avenues in the HVAC-R field. Pennco Tech also provides certification testing for Section 608 (EPA) as part of this program.

Graduates can take up roles such as refrigeration technicians, HVAC installers, HVAC specialists, HVAC mechanics, and HVAC technicians.

  • Location: Blackwood, NJ
  • Accreditation: Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC)
  • Expected Time to Completion: 35 weeks
  • Estimated Tuition: $23,316 total

Raritan Valley Community College

Raritan Valley Community College offers an associate of applied science program in environmental control technology preparing students for employment as service technicians, designers, installers, supervisors, contractors, or salespersons of residential and commercial equipment in HVAC-R industries.

Providing instruction in manipulative skills, estimating, design, instrumentation, theory, control systems, and electricity, this 60-credit program offers courses such as electricity for environmental control technology; refrigeration; air conditioning systems design; energy, the environment, and climate change; heating systems design; residential HVAC controls and instrumentation; and commercial HVAC controls and instrumentation.

  • Location: Branchburg, NJ
  • Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE)
  • Expected Time to Completion: Two years
  • Estimated Tuition: In-county ($174 to $180 per credit); out-of-state ($254 to $260 per credit)

Bergen County Technical Schools

Bergen County has an HVAC-R maintenance technology program that prepares graduates to maintain, repair, and install HVAC-R equipment ranging from room air conditioners to refrigeration systems. Teaching students about commercial, residential, industrial, and institutional HVAC-R systems, the program helps students in developing specialized skills in soldering, brazing, piping, testing equipment, using hand and power tools, and installation and servicing of refrigeration, electrical, comfort cooling, solar thermal and photovoltaic (PV) equipment.

This 1,053 clock-hour program includes courses such as basic heating & cooling theory/applications; HVAC/R safety & procedures; electricity for HVAC/R; brazing, soldering, and piping; basic air conditioning & refrigeration; commercial air conditioning & refrigeration; gas & oil heating systems; and electric heat pump & solar energy. As part of this program, students will also participate in a six-week internship program comprising 144 hours of fieldwork.

  • Location: Hackensack, NJ
  • Accreditation: Council on Occupational Education (COE) National Accreditation
  • Expected Time to Completion: 10 months
  • Estimated Tuition: $13,635

HVAC Certification and Licensing in New Jersey

Before looking for a job, all New Jersey HVAC-R professionals must obtain the necessary certification and licensing.

As referenced earlier, one specific certification is required for all individuals who handle environmentally sensitive refrigerants: the EPA Section 608 Certification. This certification is broken down into four types:

  • Type 1 (small appliances)
  • Type 2 (high-pressure appliances)
  • Type 3 (low-pressure appliances), and
  • Type 4 (universal)

Most HVAC-R programs will include preparation for the certification exam as part of the curriculum.

In addition, other entities nationwide provide skill-based, employment-ready trade certifications. A handful of these organizations are listed below:

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

For more information regarding the extent of available national credentials, visit the HVAC certifications page.

Finally, all HVAC-R professionals in New Jersey have to obtain the required local licensure before beginning work through the State Board of Examiners of Heating, Ventilating, Air Conditioning, and Refrigeration Contractors. License applications must be submitted online along with a $100 application fee, proof of requisite experience, and any other required documentation.

Because licensure requirements vary by municipality, HVAC-R professionals must perform due diligence before beginning any work to ensure adequate credentialing for the task at hand.

Jocelyn Blore

Jocelyn Blore is the chief content officer of Sechel Ventures and the co-author of the Women Breaking Barriers series. She graduated summa cum laude from UC Berkeley and traveled the world for five years. She also worked as an addiction specialist for two years in San Francisco. She’s interested in how culture shapes individuals and systems within societies—one of the many themes she writes about in her blog, Blore’s Razor (Instagram: @bloresrazor). She has served as managing editor for several healthcare websites since 2015.