HVAC Training Schools & Certification in New York City

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For aspiring HVAC technicians and mechanics in New York City (NYC), there is a bright outlook for both job growth and salary prospects. By illustration, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS 2021) reported that openings in this field are expected to increase 5 percent nationwide between 2020 and 2030, which is just slightly slower than the average growth projected in all occupations during that period (8 percent).

Furthermore, the greater New York City area employs more HVAC techs and installers than any other metropolitan region in the country (BLS 2020). With 17,120 of these skilled professionals and climbing, NYC provides a uniquely promising career outlook in HVAC.

The salaries in this field can be very attractive, particularly in the NYC area. As proof of point, the BLS (May 2020) found that HVAC techs in NYC make an annual average salary of $67,780, higher than the average salary for all occupations at $65,740 (BLS May 2020). Especially for a job that generally requires only one to two years of postsecondary training, this earning potential is impressive.

And for skilled technicians seeking to go the distance, starting one’s own HVAC business is a possibility. NYC’s dense, urban population, will mean that demand for HVAC to keep people cool in the hot, humid summers and warm in the frigid winters will be ever needed. In addition, there’s a huge market for HVAC businesses that are designing and installing HVAC systems that play a role in protecting the health and wellness of those in NYC—particularly in the Covid-19 era.

So what is it that HVAC technicians do? HVAC training programs in NYC teach students how to install, maintain, and repair heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning units. Refrigeration is often part of HVAC training and many programs are designated as HVACR or HVAC/R, the “R” is for “refrigeration,” to signal that the program includes refrigeration training.

In more detailed terms, HVAC professionals can expect to work with light commercial systems, electric motors, circuits, heat pumps, air ducts, tubing joints, boilers, unit heaters, thermostats, split systems, hermetic compressors, burners, furnaces, fans, humidifiers, and more. As the BLS (2020) points out, HVAC systems are continually growing in complexity with evolving technologies, changing environmental legislation, aging buildings, and vast commercial development, especially in the City That Never Sleeps.

There are a variety of paths to join this high-growth career—including completing an apprenticeship—but many are taking on more formal training programs. And fortunately for residents of the Big Apple, there is a wealth of accredited HVAC programs in NYC. There is one mandatory certification for all HVAC professionals who work with refrigerants: the EPA Section 608 credential. Obtaining this necessary certification is part of many NYC HVAC schools.

Read on to discover the occupational outlook for HVAC techs in NYC, as well as the variety of accredited HVAC programs across the city.

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Occupational Demand for HVAC Technicians in New York City (NYC)

As mentioned in the introduction, there is an anticipated explosion in job openings for NYC HVAC technicians and installers for the coming decade. Projections Central (2022)—an affiliate of the US Department of Labor—points out that opportunities for HVAC workers in New York State will swell 10.7 percent between 2018 and 2028. This equates to 2,430 new jobs in this field annually.

These prospects are even brighter for residents of NYC for several reasons. First, NYC boasts the highest number of HVAC workers of any metropolitan region in the country, and the state of New York is the fourth top employer in this profession (BLS May 2020). Second, there’s a wealth of places of employment in this field.

Prospective HVAC workers can find openings in private residences as contractors, building firms, large corporate HVAC operations, and various other types of companies. To improve their employability, some NYC HVAC techs even choose to specialize in a type of equipment such as solar panels, hydronic (i.e., water-based) heating systems, or commercial refrigeration.

Finally, there is an abundance of professional organizations in New York to give people in this field the support they need. One such group is the Sheet Metal and Air Conditioning Contractors of New York City (NYC SMACNA). This trade association was incorporated in 1898 and provides members with industry representation, apprenticeship opportunities, labor relation advocacy, and education. Some of their valued guides available for purchase include training in HVAC duct inspections, roof-mounted outdoor AC systems, and kitchen ventilation standards. NYC SMACNA even provides a free duct leakage tool. Additionally, members have access to informative seminars, publications, meetings, and trace conventions.

Other organizations that may interest graduates of HVAC schools in NYC include:

  • Air Conditioning Contractors of America – Greater New York Chapter
  • American Society of Heating, Refrigeration, and Air Conditioning Engineers – Central New York Chapter (ASHRAE CNY)
  • Mechanical Contractors Association of New York (NYMCA)
  • New York State Association of Plumbing, Heating and Cooling Contractors (NYSPHCC)

Many other state and nationwide HVAC organizations may be available and able to provide technicians and mechanics with educational and networking support and to grow their training through outreach and advocacy.

HVAC Technician Salary in New York City (NYC)

While HVAC mechanics and installers across the country stand to make relatively high salaries, those working in NYC have an even greater advantage. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS May 2020), the 344,020 HVAC mechanics and installers nationwide make an annual average salary of $53,410.

For the 16,730 HVAC professionals in the state of New York, however, this average annual salary jumped to $63,080, much higher than the national average for HVAC technicians. In granular terms, here is a comparison of HVAC technician salaries and employment figures in the country versus New York (BLS May 2020):

United States New York State New-York NY; Newark, PA; Jersey City, NJ
Number of HVAC professionals employed 344,020 16,730 17,120
Average annual salary $53,410 $63,080 $67,780
10th percentile $31,910 $36,860 $37,340
25th percentile $39,320 $45,060 $49,930
50th percentile (median) $50,590 $59,250 $66,370
75th percentile $64,350 $78,460 $84,680
90th percentile $80,820 $97,550 $100,970

The national figures were slightly different according to another source of data, PayScale (January 2022), which relies on self-reported salaries. Among the HVAC workers reporting their annual salaries, Payscale found these percentiles:

  • 10th percentile: $32,000
  • 50th percentile (median): $49,895
  • 90th percentile: $80,000

As noted above, the average salary for HVAC workers in New York is much higher than that of the rest of the nation. 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 2022) found that New York is the fourth most expensive state in the country, 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.

Accredited HVAC Schools In New York City (NYC)

Aspiring students in this field are encouraged to check the accreditation status of their HVAC programs in NYC.

Although getting a career diploma, certificate, or degree from an accredited program may not be a prerequisite to employment, it can be important for several reasons.

First, accreditation agencies such as the Partnership for Air-Conditioning, Heating, Refrigeration Accreditation (PAHRA) and HVAC Excellence have established standards for curricula, quality of instruction, school finances, student outcomes, and other measures of HVAC program efficacy. Second, some employers may prefer graduates of established HVAC training programs in NYC, and it can even enhance one’s earning potential and networking.

To learn more about accreditation, please check out the main HVAC programs page.

WSWHE BOCES / Meyers Education Center

The sole program in New York state accredited by HVAC Excellence is available at WSWHE BOCES / Meyers Education Center in Saratoga Springs, three hours north of NYC. Combining hands-on training with classroom lectures, this two-year HVAC-R program trains students to install, maintain, repair, and service HVAC/R systems and equipment in both commercial and residential applications.

The program includes coursework in blueprint reading, piping principles & practices, commercial refrigeration, electric motors, residential wiring, electrical principles, residential plumbing, air conditioning principles & practices, and commercial plumbing, among others. The curriculum also includes the Home Performance ENERGY STAR program and an internship.

Graduates will be prepared to take several certification exams such as the mandatory EPA Section 608 in refrigeration, various HVAC Excellence credentials, and OSHA 10 & 30-hour certificates.

Upon successful completion, students will qualify to work as entry-level electricians, HVAC installers, HVAC technicians, plumbers, commercial technicians, job estimators, and service managers.

  • Location: Sarasota Springs, New York
  • Accreditation: HVAC Excellence
  • Expected Time to Completion: Two years
  • Estimated Tuition: Contact center for details

Isaac Heating & Air Conditioning University

The only PAHRA-accredited program in NY state is in Rochester at Isaac Heating & Air Conditioning University. This school has a 3,000-sq-ft. training lab for technicians boasting state-of-the-art equipment, advanced training with all Isaac products, and education in 21 specialized training modules such as industry codes and gas furnaces.

The employee program involves two years of education followed by two additional years of specialty training. Issac also offers a 12-week boot camp program to get new HVAC techs started in the field. Most impressively, Isaac has more than 75 NATE-certified technicians across more than 400 specialties—more than any company in the country.

  • Location: Rochester, New York
  • Accreditation: PAHRA
  • Expected Time to Completion: 12 weeks to four years
  • Estimated Tuition: Participants are paid as they complete the program

Luckily for aspiring HVAC technicians in NYC, there are other, high-quality training options within NYC.

APEX Technical School

The APEX Technical School offers an air conditioning, refrigeration, and appliance/controls program to prepare graduates to work in residential and commercial HVAC. The program includes 450 hours of classroom learning and 450 hours of hands-on training, as well as preparation to sit for the EPA section 608 certification exam.

Coursework in this 900clock-hour program includes major home appliances, domestic refrigeration/air conditioning, commercial refrigeration, basic refrigeration/air conditioning, advanced commercial refrigeration/air conditioning, and commercial air conditioning.

Students will learn the knowledge and skills required to maintain and repair commercial and domestic HVAC/R systems, as well as major home appliances, gas-fired heating systems, and electrical controls. At the end of the program, graduates will be able to evaluate and troubleshoot the performance of air conditioners, appliance equipment, and refrigerators.

  • Location: Long Island City, NY
  • Accreditation: Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges
  • Expected Time to Completion: Eight months
  • Estimated Tuition: $18,379 for the program

Suffolk County Community College

Just 50 miles from Manhattan, and part of the SUNY system, Suffolk County Community College offers an associate of applied science (AAS) and a certificate program in heating, ventilation, air conditioning, and refrigeration. Preparing students to become HVAC/R technicians, this program helps students develop skills and learn about basic refrigeration, fabrication & joining techniques, air conditioning, heating, commercial refrigeration, HVAC/R controls, design of HVAC/R systems, and electrical fundamentals.

The 64 to 66-credit-hour AAS provides students with a well-rounded education to prepare them for the ever-changing field of HVAC, while the 34-credit-hour certificate may be best suited to those who are already employed, already have an associate degree, or are looking to change careers.

Coursework in the programs includes electricity for HVAC/R, technical writing, HVAC/R control systems, interpersonal communication, HVAC/R commercial system, HVAC/R system design, heating systems, refrigeration & air conditioning systems, and HVAC/R diagnostics and servicing.

  • Location: Brentwood, NT
  • Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE)
  • Duration: AAS (two years); certificate (one year or less)
  • Tuition: Residents ($2,735 per semester); non-residents ($5,470 per semester)

HVAC Licensing & Certification in New York City (NYC)

Many different types of certifications are available for graduates of HVAC schools in NYC. These certifications demonstrate a technician’s or mechanic’s competence through successful written or hands-on testing and may lead to improved chances for employability or better pay.

The aforementioned EPA 608 certification is required by law for those planning to work with refrigerants, which were historically ozone-depleting substances. Four EPA certification types are offered, one of which is universal and includes the other three.

HVAC Excellence, founded in 1994 to improve competency and validation in HVAC education, offers specialized certifications in fields such as green awareness, duct testing, and system performance. Also, North American Technician Excellence (NATE), a non-profit certification organization founded in 1997, has certification in varied areas such as air conditioning, air distribution, and others.

For a detailed exploration of the credentials available, please visit the HVAC certifications page.

While not all work in NYC requires specific certification, there are some regional licensure restrictions regarding the installation and maintenance of HVAC systems. HVAC workers in NYC must obtain a Home Improvement Contractor (HIC) license before making certain changes on residential and commercial properties. The NY Department of Consumer Affairs controls licensure in this field. To apply for a HIC license, applicants must submit the following:

  • Application
  • Proof of business and home addresses
  • Sales tax ID number or a Certificate of Authority Application confirmation number
  • Workers’ compensation insurance information
  • Proof of enrollment in a DCA Trust Fund ($200) or a copy of a Surety Bond
  • Contractual compliance agreement
  • Home Improvement Exam ($50)
  • Fingerprints and a processing fee
  • A list of employees (if applicable)
  • Granting Authority to Act (if applicable)
  • Licensure fee

Finally, NYC Buildings provides a mechanical/HVAC (MH) work permit for specific types of HVAC work within the city. For the most up-to-date permitting information, please contact the Department of Consumer Affairs or NYC Buildings.

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.