HVAC Training in New York State

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The Empire State has a long history in heating, air conditioning, ventilation, and refrigeration (HVAC-R or HVAC). In fact, American Weathermakers notes that in 1903, the New York Stock Exchange building was one of the first structures in the world to use an air conditioning system.

With frigid winters and hot, humid summers, it’s no surprise that the people of New York (NY) have become dependent on HVAC systems. Indeed, NYC’s many residential tenants enjoy a Warranty of Habitability, which is a law which makes landlords or property owners responsible for making the building “safe and livable” at all times. Habitability can apply to heating or cooling systems, and this law is one of many factors contributing to a thriving employment climate for HVAC workers in NYC across the great state of New York.

Not only is there evidence of a high demand for these skilled professionals, but there are also a number of professional associations which support these workers in their jobs with legal advocacy, ongoing training, and networking opportunities. For example, the Metropolitan Air Conditioning Contractors (MACC) of New York offer abundant technical information, promote sound business practices and provide targeted influence for public policy. Also, the HVAC Performance Contractors of Upstate New York is an organization that operates out of Rochester, providing support for those in the HVAC-R industry located between Buffalo and Syracuse.

And these are only a few of the organizations available to support skilled HVAC professionals in NY.

So what exactly do HVAC technicians in New York do? The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) indicates that these trained workers install and repair HVAC systems and components (e.g., refrigerant controls, hermetic compressors, filters, belts, split systems, ductless splits, electric motors, heat pumps, unit heaters, electrical wiring, humidifiers, etc.); solder and braze system parts; interpret blueprints & mechanical drawings; calculate heat loads & losses; offer customers advice on maximizing efficiency; and maintain compliance with regional and federal legislation.

Read on to discover the bright employment outlook for HVAC workers in New York, as well as to learn in-depth about the salary prospects (statewide and regionally), accredited HVAC programs, and credentialing in this industry.

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HVAC Occupational Demand In New York (NY)

Luckily for HVAC technicians nationwide and particularly in New York, there is expected to be a growing demand for qualified professionals in this field in the coming decade. By illustration, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS 2019) projected a 13 percent increase in openings for HVAC workers around the country between 2018 and 2028, more than double the average growth expected across all occupations during that time period (5 percent).

The outlook is even brighter for residents of the Empire State. As proof of point, Projections Central (2020) found that demand for HVAC professionals in New York specifically is expected to grow 15 percent between 2016 and 2026, which means an additional 2,100 openings for these professionals.

As mentioned in the introduction, nearly all residential structures in New York are dependent on climate control systems due to seasonally inclement weather. HVAC workers in NY are employed in residences, factories, schools, hospitals, retail areas, restaurants, and more. While some of these workers service specific job sites daily—especially in larger buildings with more complex systems—others may be called upon to travel to different locations to fulfill service contracts. Also, some HVAC techs in NY work normal business hours, although they may be called upon to work evenings, holidays, or weekends during the winter and summer months when services are most in-demand.

The BLS (2019) notes that people in this profession incur a higher than average rate of injury and illness compared to other occupations. This is likely due to the physical nature of the work, as well as the type of equipment and chemicals to which workers may be exposed. These factors can result in muscle strains, burns, electrical shock, and other maladies. Therefore it is essential for HVAC workers to receive the proper training to ensure safety.

The good news is that there’s no shortage of opportunities for qualified HVAC technicians, mechanics, and installers who have the right training under their belts. In fact, Indeed (2020) had 644 job postings for HVAC workers in NY, including openings at JC National Air Conditioning Corp., John Betlem Heating and Cooling, Inc, Triton Mechanical, Inc., Go Green Express Home Services, Superior Air Conditioning & Heating Systems Inc., and Wyndham Hotels & Resorts. In sum, this is expected to be a high-growth career for New Yorkers in the years to come.

New York (NY) HVAC Technician Salary Data

Not only are HVAC occupations among the fastest growing in New York, but the state also employs the fourth most workers in this field relative to other US states. In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS 2018) reported that there were 18,810 HVAC mechanics and installers in the state with a high concentration in NYC. The New York City metropolitan area (which includes parts of New Jersey and Pennsylvania) employs 18,880 HVAC workers–more than any other metropolitan region in the country.

Furthermore, the state boasts higher-than-average wages for HVAC workers. As proof of point, the United States employs 342,040 HVAC workers with an average annual salary of $51,420. In NY, the average salary in this field is $59,660.

In more detailed terms, here is a breakdown of the salary percentiles among all HVAC workers in the country compared with New Yorkers (BLS May 2019):

United States New York
Average $51,420 $59,660
10th percentile $30,610 $34,290
25th percentile $37,660 $42,980
50th percentile $48,730 $56,800
75th percentile $62,070 $75,120
90th percentile $77,920 $93,110

The national figures were slightly different according to another source of data, PayScale (2020), which relies on self-reported salaries. Among the 5,277 HVAC workers reporting their annual salaries, Payscale found these percentiles for the US:

  • 10th percentile: $31,000
  • 50th percentile (median): $46,000
  • 90th percentile: $73,000

The hourly rate across the US is as follows:

  • 10th percentile: $13.50/hr.
  • 50th percentile (median): $19.70hr.
  • 90th percentile: $30.08/hr.

It is important to note that while the wages in New York are higher than national wages, so too is the cost of living. By illustration, the Missouri Economic Research and Information Center (MERIC 2020) reported that NY is the fourth most expensive state in the country, particularly for housing. The Empire State comes in behind only Hawaii, the District of Columbia, and California. A high cost of living means that even higher than average salaries will not go as far as they would in other states, so prospective HVAC workers should keep that in mind while evaluating the state’s salary data.

Not surprisingly, the wages for HVAC workers tended to vary by region within the state of New York as well. The 18,880 HVAC techs in New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA earned the highest average salary of $63,210.

HVAC Apprenticeships in New York (NY)

In order to prepare for employment in heating, ventilation, air conditioning, and refrigeration, it’s crucial to receive the proper training. Some workers receive their training on the job through apprenticeships, which last from three to five years and comprise 2,000 hours of on-the-job learning; others choose to attend a diploma, certificate, or degree program. Luckily, there are several accredited schools throughout New York to prepare people for this high-growth career.

Accredited HVAC Schools in New York (NY)

One way to distinguish between programs is by examining a program’s accreditation status. Accreditation indicates that an objective accrediting body has evaluated its program for its curriculum, faculty, facilities, and learning outcomes. The two main accreditation organizations for HVAC training schools are HVAC Excellence and the Partnership for Air-Conditioning, Heating, Refrigeration Accreditation (PAHRA).

There is one HVAC Excellence-accredited program in NY available at the WSWHE BOCES / Meyers Education Center of Saratoga Springs. This two-year school provides competence-based certification training in the installation, service & repair, and routine maintenance of HVAC equipment. With a unique emphasis on shop operations, customer service, and business ethics, coursework covers wide-ranging topics such as blueprint reading; planning & estimating jobs; refrigeration principles & practices; electrical motors; and trade-related carpentry. Various skill-based credentials can be earned through this school, including multiple HVAC Excellence certifications, Fork Truck Licensure, and OSHA 10 & 30-hour certificates. The available HVAC specializations include:

  • Electricity
  • Oil Heat
  • Gas Heat
  • Hydronics I & II
  • Air Conditioning
  • Commercial Air Conditioning
  • R-410A
  • Mobile AC
  • Fork Truck (OSHA Standard)
  • Duct Work
  • EPA 608 (type I-IV)

There is also one PAHRA-accredited program in New York at Isaac Heating and Air Conditioning Inc. of Rochester. Hosted in a state-of-the-art 1,800 sq. ft. lab, aspiring HVAC technicians receive hands-on training in various NATE certification specialties. The program comprises two years of HVAC education and an additional two years of specialized training. Notably, this is the sole contractor-run training program with PAHRA certification, and the faculty includes 90 NATE-certified technicians with 460 specialities, more than any other program in the country. Furthermore, Isaac received the 2003 Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA) “Excellence in Training” Award.

The Electrical Training Center Inc. of Long Island offers an HVAC certificate program with coursework in trade electricity; basic refrigeration theory; commercial air conditioning systems; system installation air distribution & balance; commercial refrigeration systems; system diagnostics & troubleshooting; EPA 608 certification exam training; and career development. This program costs $12,950 total.

Additionally, Suffolk Community College provides an associate of applied science (AAS) degree and certificate in HVAC-R. This competitive program includes internships, laboratory sessions, and didactic coursework in refrigeration & air conditioning systems; electricity for HVAC-R; technical writing; HVAC-R control systems; and interpersonal communication. Please note that tuition varies by several factors and can be determined by using SCC’s tuition calculator.

Monroe Community College of Rochester also offers a certificate and an AAS degree in HVAC technology. In addition to general education coursework, aspiring HVAC techs take courses such as electric & motor controls; technical mathematics; heating systems; and HVAC workplace training. This program costs $2,190 per semester for residents of New York. To learn more about training available specifically in New York City, check out the NYC HVAC programs page.

Lastly, on-campus programs may not be convenient for everyone, particularly those with unbreakable time commitments or those who live in more rural regions of the state. Luckily there are some high-quality, accredited online HVAC programs as well. Please visit the online HVAC programs page to learn more about these options.

HVAC Certification & Licensing in New York (NY)

There is one mandatory certification for all HVAC professionals who work with refrigerants in NY and nationwide: the EPA Section 608 certification. Due to the difficulty and environmentally sensitive nature of handling refrigerants, these workers must be specially trained and nationally credentialed. There are four categories of this certification: type I (small appliances), type II (high-pressure refrigerants), type III (low-pressure refrigerants), and type IV (universal).

In addition to the North American Technician Excellence (NATE) and HVAC Excellence certification programs discussed above, the Refrigeration Service Engineers Society (RSES) also provides professional credentialing. To learn in-depth about these options, check out the main HVAC certifications page.

Finally, prior to seeking work as an HVAC technician in NY, it’s crucial to receive the proper local license or permit. Although there is currently no requisite state license for HVAC professionals in NY, cities may require a municipal license.

For example, in NYC, HVAC contractors are required to get a Home Improvement Contractor (HIC) license through the NY Department of Consumer Affairs to work on residential or commercial properties. Also, NYC Buildings offers a mechanical/HVAC (MH) work permit for HVAC work within the city. Please visit the Department of Consumer Affairs to learn more about the local laws and necessary credentials in NYC.

Other cities have differing legislation and license-granting bodies. Here is a list of a few municipal organizations which issue HVAC credentialing and permits:

Ultimately, HVAC professionals who want to work in any area of NY should be sure to verify any licensing or certification requirements for that specific area before beginning work.

Becca Brewer

Becca Brewer is building a better future on a thriving earth by fostering healing, human wholeness, and next-world building through storytelling help, one-on-one self-awareness workshops, and customized team-alignment sessions. She offers these services at a rate of $0.00 to anyone interested (contact her at rkbrewer@gmail.com for more information). Previously to her journey as an adventurer for a just, meaningful, and regenerative world, Becca was a formally trained sexuality educator with a master of education.