First settled by Puritans in the 1600s, Newark, New Jersey (NJ) is one of the oldest cities in the US. It’s now a county seat and the largest city in the state. The City is strategically located “at the center of air, sea, road, and rail transportation networks for economic growth.” Initially a manufacturing center, Newark has now expanded into transportation- and telecommunications-related industries. Financial institutions and numerous insurance companies, including Prudential, call Newark home. Notably, Port Newark is the largest shipping facility on the East Coast and a significant contributor to the economy. Universities, arts and cultural centers, and sports venues also contribute to Newark’s diverse economy.
The weather in Newark is hot in the summer and cold in the winter. Average high temperatures during June through August are in the low- to mid-80s though temperatures can occasionally spike much higher; the record high was 108 degrees during July 2011. Average lows during the summer months are in the mid- to upper 60s. Cooler weather begins in September and drops 20 degrees by October. November through March are the coldest months; daytime highs from December through February hover in the high 30s and low 40s, and nights dip below freezing. The record-setting low in February 1934 dropped to -14 degrees. Every month receives precipitation. July receives close to five inches of rain, and January and February traditionally receive the most snow, at eight inches and nine inches, respectively. However, snowfall can occur as late as April.
Newarkers rely on heating, venting, and air conditioning (HVAC) to keep them comfortable during the hot, humid summer days and cold, snowy winter nights. Businesses, manufacturing plants, university and medical research centers, and hospitality venues often require the addition of commercial-scale refrigeration (HVAC/R). Specialized climate-control systems are necessary for many facilities, especially those housing the growing telecommunications and technology-dependent industries.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS 2019) as of May 2018, 19,250 HVAC mechanics and installers were employed in the New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA area. Industry organizations such as the following provided support and services to the technicians and the companies that employ them:
These and other industry associations work with local groups and governmental agencies to establish educational, licensing, and performance standards to ensure the safety of technicians and the public.
According to the BLS (2019), job openings for new HVAC and HVAC/R technicians nationwide is expected to swell 13 percent between 2018 and 2028. That’s more than twice the 5 percent average growth expected among all U.S. occupations during the same decade. The job market is even more favorable for New Jersey HVAC technicians. Projections Central predicts a 17.8 percent statewide increase in new positions between 2016 and 2026.
Newark is a prosperous city with a diverse economy in which businesses are thriving. The construction industry remains strong, and new structures require the installation of HVAC and HVAC/R. As older buildings are remodeled and given new life, the obsolete equipment and systems must be replaced, retrofitted, or upgraded to meet contemporary energy efficiency and pollution reduction standards. On occasion, technological advances or changes in regulations mean that new equipment must be installed even if the structure was recently built.
Climate-control systems and equipment have become increasingly sophisticated, especially in the contemporary “smart” buildings. The technology requires trained HVAC and HVAC/R technicians to install, maintain, and service.
The best job opportunities are available to technicians with computer skills and who understand electronics. Technicians are also expected to be proficient troubleshooters. Those who work only on new installations may sometimes experience unemployment if construction declines. As Newark has diversified its economy into growth industries like telecommunications, a decline isn’t likely in the foreseeable future.
Technicians who focus on maintenance and service can expect full employment as businesses and homeowners want to keep their systems in good operating condition year round regardless of the economy.
According to the BLS (2019), HVAC mechanics and installers nationwide received a median salary of $47,610 as of May 2018. Technicians in the New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA area received an annual median salary of $61,920 during the same year. The difference in earnings is less significant than it appears as the cost of living in New Jersey is higher than most other US states.
The table below compares national, state, and regional salaries of HVAC professionals:
|United States||New Jersey||New York-Newark-Jersey City,NY-NJ-PA|
|Number of HVAC Professionals Employed||324,310||9,510||19,250|
|Average Annual Salary||$50,160||$59,630||$63,830|
|50th Percentile (Median)||$47,610||$57,640||$61,920|
Although the traditional route to becoming an HVAC technician was to obtain employment as a helper and learn the trade via on-the-job training, few opportunities for doing so exist in today’s job market. Contemporary climate-control equipment and systems are complex, and workers must be skilled technicians.
Participating in an apprenticeship or attending formal classes gives workers the expertise needed to seek employment. Training also potentially means they will start at higher wages and earn more throughout their career.
Apprenticeship programs vary, but apprentices can generally expect to receive about 2,000 hours of on-the-job training combined with an average of 144 hours of classwork each year during a three- to five-year commitment. New Jersey workers seeking training will find information and resources at the New Jersey Pathways Leading Apprentices to a College Education (NJ PLACE).
UA Pipefitters Local 274 offers a five-year HVAC apprenticeship that includes 1,700-2,000 hours of on-the-job training and a minimum of 160 hours of classroom instruction each year. The training center is located in Parsippany, NJ.
Newark workers who are unable to attend a local apprenticeship program may obtain training from industry associations such as the following:
Each organization includes details of their programs, schedules, and fees on their website.
Aspiring technicians opting for formal classroom training instead of an apprenticeship should first ensure that the school of their choice is accredited. Accreditation is the process by which an institution’s curriculum and instructors are evaluated by an independent agency.
Two industry organizations are responsible for accrediting HVAC programs. The Partnership for Air-Conditioning, Heating, Refrigeration Accreditation (PAHRA) has awarded accreditation to Monmouth County Vocational School, in Freehold, NJ. HVAC Excellence has accredited Lincoln Technical Institute’s Mahwah and Union NJ campuses.
The New Jersey Council of County Vocational–Technical Schools includes 21 schools. They offer programs, including HVAC and HVAC/R, that provide the training that qualifies high school students to seek employment in a trade when they graduate. They also offer programs, including HVAC and HVAC/R, designed to help adults improve their workplace skills and qualify for certifications that improve their employability.
The participating school districts closest to Newark that offer an adult HVAC/R program include:
Programs take six months to two years to complete and may be offered at one or more schools within each district. Not all programs are available at all schools at all times. Students may attend most schools during the day or in the evening, full- or part-time. Each district sets its own fees and curricula.
Fortis has two campuses in New Jersey. The closest one to Newark is in Wayne, and it offers an HVAC/R diploma program. Classroom lectures are supplemented with hands-on practice in a fully equipped lab.
The curriculum includes an introduction to craft skills, trade math, electricity, thermodynamics, controls and motors, refrigerants, advanced air conditioning, commercial refrigeration, electric and gas heating, oil heating, heat pumps, water-based heating, HVAC system design, troubleshooting, service calls, and career development. Students are also prepared to take the Section 608 certification exam. Graduates are qualified to seek entry-level employment as residential and commercial HVAC and HVAC/R technicians.
Lincoln Tech, a private school, offers an HVAC/R certificate program at various locations. The two closest to Newark are at the Mahwah and Union campuses. The coursework at both campuses includes hands-on training in a “Green House,” where students practice on HVAC equipment. Students attending the Mahwah campus can take classes during the day, in the afternoon, or in the evening. Classes at the Union campus are available only during the day and in the afternoon.
The curriculum at both campuses includes an introduction to HVAC, electricity, controls, mechanics, refrigeration, hermetic systems, commercial refrigeration design, energy efficiency, and green technology systems. Graduates have the skills to troubleshoot, service, and repair commercial and residential HVAC systems.
Monmouth County Vocational School
Monmouth is part of the New Jersey Council of County Vocational–Technical Schools system described above. It is profiled separately, as it is the only one with PAHRA accreditation.
The school offers an HVAC certificate program designed to prepare high school students for entry-level employment. The coursework is presented through classroom lectures followed by hands-on training. Students learn HVAC and HVAC/R fundamentals and how to use diagnostic tools. They also prepare for and take the exam for Section 608 certification.
Certain credits may be transferred to the Pennsylvania College of Technology. The details of the adult program curriculum are not disclosed on the website; prospective students must contact the school directly for that information.
NCI offers an HVAC certificate program that includes classroom lectures and hands-on training via externships. Students complete 400 hours of contact to develop the skills and knowledge needed to seek employment as entry-level technicians. Details of the curriculum are available only by direct contact with the school and are not disclosed on their website.
Raritan Valley Community College
The college offers an HVAC/R technician and installer certificate program and a degree program in environmental control technology. Coursework for both programs includes classroom lectures and practice in the lab. The lab experience includes a focus on troubleshooting.
The curriculum for the certificate program includes refrigeration, electricity, HVAC systems design, HVAC controls, energy and the environment, and English composition. Students earn their certificate at the completion of 31 credits. Graduates are qualified for entry-level positions as HVAC/R technicians.
Students in the degree program build on the curriculum presented in the certificate program by completing additional coursework in technical math, physics, computer-aided drafting, HVAC/R controls, interpersonal communication, organizational and technical communication, and cooperative education. Students complete 62 credits to earn their degree. Graduates acquire the skills for employment as commercial and residential HVAC/R technicians.
Newark workers unable to attend a local school may find that an online HVAC program at an accredited online school to be the best option for their training needs.
The refrigerants used in HVAC systems can be hazardous to the environment. Accordingly, technicians are required by federal law to pass an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Section 608 certification exam on the safe handling of refrigerants. These exams encompass four levels of certification which are based on the size and type of equipment on which the technician works. A technician who works on all types of HVAC and HVAC/R equipment should obtain Universal certification. Practice exams and additional information are available on the EPA website.
Various industry organizations offer Section 608 certification and other certifications designed to increase the employability of technicians. These include, but are not limited to, the following:
Each organization’s website contains details on the certifications available and fees.
Further information is available on the HVAC certifications page.
The New Jersey State Board of Examiners of Heating, Venting, Air Conditioning and Refrigeration Contractors requires HVAC and HVAC/R contractors to obtain a license. Applicants must submit proof of education, which may be a specified combination of formal classwork, apprenticeship, or journey-level work experience under the supervision of a licensed contractor. The initial licensing fee is $100.
Licenses are renewed bi-annually, and renewal requires proof of five credits of continuing education, along with a $160 fee. Additionally, all businesses are required to register with the State.
The City of Newark requires businesses to register. Applicants must submit proof of their State registration, organization documents, proof of identity, a background check, and pay the relevant fee.
As licensing agencies can change their guidelines, HVAC professionals are encouraged to confirm that they are in compliance with current requirements before starting a project.