Rochester, NY HVAC Training Schools & Certification

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The extremely varied climate of Rochester, NY makes this city an ideal location to begin a new career in the field of heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC). By illustration, the Weather Channel (2020) reported that the average low temperature in Rochester during January is 18 degrees Fahrenheit, while the average high in July is 81. In light of this variation, there is a significant demand for skilled professionals in climate control, including those with training in heating, ventilation, air conditioning, and refrigeration (HVAC).

Rochester is home to (or nearby) various HVAC societies that provide support, member discounts, events, networking, general advocacy, and other resources to professionals in this field. For example, HVAC workers also may choose to affiliate with the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration, and Air Conditioning Engineers – Rochester Chapter. This national society currently has more than 50,000 members across the country, and provides access to chapter meetings, a buyer’s guide, a monthly newsletter, and other information. Additionally, members have access to potential job opportunities. Overall, this society, among others in Rochester and the surrounding areas, provides a slew of membership benefits.

So what should HVAC professionals in Rochester, NY be prepared to do? Here are some typical daily responsibilities in this profession:

  • Educate customers on energy conservation practices
  • Perform heat load and loss calculations
  • Solder and braze parts
  • Maintain all necessary credentialing
  • Verify compliance with all local and federal regulations
  • Calibrate all controls to manufacturer specifications
  • Travel to job sites
  • Read and interpret blueprints
  • Keep service records
  • Test circuitry and components of HVAC equipment

Additionally, all aspiring HVAC workers in Rochester should know that anyone working with environmentally sensitive refrigerants must maintain active EPA Section 608 Certification; failing to do so is a violation of the law.

Ultimately, beginning a new career in the HVAC industry requires a strong understanding of the field, a desire to work in this capacity, and some type of HVAC-related education. For anyone considering a career in the HVAC field, the following provides a brief overview of the steps necessary to break into this industry, as well as other relevant information, including salary expectations, licensure and certification requirements, and a handful of accredited HVAC schools that provide education for prospective HVAC workers in Rochester.

Occupational Demand for HVAC Technicians in Rochester, NY

Aspiring HVAC workers in the Rochester area enjoy a high-growth and relatively lucrative occupation, especially in a position generally requiring only one to two years of postsecondary education. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (May 2019) reported that there were 342,040 HVAC professionals across the country, making an annual average salary (annual mean wage) of $51,420; furthermore, the number of positions nationally was expected to increase 4 percent between 2019 and 2029 (BLS 2020), adding 15,100 fresh jobs.

And the estimates for the state of New York surpass those for the rest of the nation. Projections Central (2020)—a data organization partnered with the US Department of Labor—reported that there would be a 10.7 percent increase in HVAC positions across NY between 2018 and 2028. With the predicted addition of 2,290 fresh HVAC positions in New York and 42,800 openings nationwide, there is ample evidence that this is a promising profession in NY and across the country.

Various factors are propelling the growth of the HVAC industry in New York and beyond. To begin, nearly all buildings in Rochester are outfitted with climate-control technology, and virtually all new construction projects require the installation of an HVAC system. Additionally, routine maintenance is necessary to keep HVAC systems working properly, and these systems must still generally be replaced entirely every 10 to 15 years. Finally, rules and regulations affecting the HVAC industry are constantly evolving—as well as leading HVAC technologies and methods themselves— meaning that systems must continually be updated by talented workers with experience in the field.

One of the most direct ways to observe the strength of the HVAC industry in Rochester is by performing an online search for available jobs through various search engines. For example, Monster (Nov. 2020) yielded 116 Rochester-based jobs in HVAC with companies such as the L3Harris Technologies, DePaul, EMCOR Group, SUNY Polytechnic Institute, and Nesco Resource, among many others. A similar search on Indeed (Nov. 2020) yielded 63 job openings, including opportunities with Kodak, The Betlem Service Corporation, C&W Services, Daikin Applied, Johnson Controls, and many more.

HVAC Worker Salary in Rochester, NY

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (May 2019), HVAC professionals earn relatively competitive salaries, particularly for positions that may require just two years of post-secondary training. BLS (May 2019) reported that there were 342,040 HVAC mechanics and installers nationwide with an average annual salary (annual mean wage) of $51,420 and 18,810 HVAC mechanics and installers (the fourth most among all states in the nation) in New York with an average annual salary (annual mean wage) of $59,660. Rochester had 1,040 HVAC mechanics and installers with an average annual salary (annual mean wage) of $48,750.

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

The BLS (May 2019) reported the following salary figures in the Rochester area:

United States New York State Rochester, NY
Number of HVAC professionals employed 342,040 18,810 1,040
Annual mean wage $51,420 $59,660 $48,750
10th Percentile $30,610 $34,290 $32,830
25th Percentile $37,660 $42,980 $37,590
50th Percentile (Median) $48,730 $56,800 $47,230
75th Percentile $62,070 $75,120 $58,840
90th Percentile $77,920 $93,110 $69,830

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

  • 10th percentile: $31,000
  • 50th percentile (median): $47,775
  • 90th percentile: $75,000

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 2020) found that New York is the third most expensive state in the country, behind only Hawaii and the District of Columbia. That is certainly an important consideration.

HVAC Apprenticeships in Rochester, NY

Aspiring HVAC workers in Rochester should be aware of the multiple pathways leading to this career. In general, prospective professionals can obtain education in a formal academic program, complete an apprenticeship, or receive training in another manner.

UA Local #13 Plumbers & Pipefitters (Apprenticeship)

Prospective HVAC workers in Rochester, NY have the option of completing an apprenticeship program, which is possible through the UA Local #13 Plumbers & Pipefitters. This highly-selective apprenticeship program fully prepares apprentices for a career in this field by requiring them to work under a skilled HVAC professional with years in the field. After the completion of the apprenticeship program, which may take up to five years, the HVAC worker will have a comprehensive knowledge of all the tasks required of a professional in this industry.

Apprentices will be able to install HVAC systems, assemble and install piping systems for ammonia, air, gas and water, and work on wiring and installation for HVAC equipment and switches.

  • Location: Rochester, New York
  • Duration: Five years

Sheet Metal Workers’ Local 46 (Apprenticeship)

The Sheet Metal JATC of Rochester of Local #46, Rochester, New York offers this five year apprenticeship program. It consists of practical classroom training, combined with 10,000 hours of on the job training. Apprentices will be required to attend school twice a week, for three hours an evening. The program will make them skilled in all aspects of the sheet metal and HVAC industry.

To qualify for this apprenticeship, the applicant must be at least 18 years old, should be a high school graduate, must be physically able to perform the required work, possess a driver’s license, and must also submit an original birth certificate or social security card.

  • Location: Rochester, New York
  • Duration: Five years

Accredited HVAC Schools in Rochester

Some aspiring HVAC workers in Rochester complete a certificate or degree from an accredited program, which generally takes between six months and two years. Currently, two main organizations offer accreditation for local HVAC programs: the Partnership for Air-Conditioning, Heating, Refrigeration Accreditation (PAHRA) and HVAC Excellence. Prospective HVAC professionals are advised to look at the websites of both of these organizations to develop a thorough understanding of the accreditation process.

There is one PAHRA-accredited program available in Rochester through Isaac Heating and Air Conditioning, which boasts a four-year education program (two years of HVAC education, two years of specialized training) with a state-of-the-art technician lab; 21 education modules; and preparation for various NATE certifications.

HVAC excellence does not accredit any programs in Rochester. However, it has one program in Saratoga Springs and is included in the list below because of its accreditation.

Monroe Community College

Professionals who wish to obtain an education in a formal academic program have the option of pursuing an associate of applied science (A.A.S.) degree through Monroe Community College, which is affiliated with the State University of New York (SUNY) system. The college also offers a heating, ventilating, and air conditioning certificate program.

The certificate program is made up of 31 to 32 credit-hours. It includes courses such as basic refrigeration theory, air conditioning theory, heating systems, commercial air conditioning and heat pumps, electric and motor controls, HVAC workplace training, preparatory physics, mathematics elective, and additional HVAC electives.

The air conditioning technology associate degree consists of 61 to 64 credit-hours. Apart from courses in the certificate program,it includes additional coursework in introduction to technical mathematics, college composition, personal money management, introduction to sociology, and public speaking, among others.

Graduates of these programs will be able to install new HVAC/R equipment, test and adjust HVAC/R equipment, service and maintain HVAC/R equipment, detect malfunctions and also repair equipment, design, and size HVAC/R systems, and interpret electrical wiring diagrams for HVAC/R systems. They will be able to take up roles such as preventative maintenance mechanic, installation or service technician, service representative, construction field estimator, systems detailer or designer, and sales representative.

  • Location: Rochester, New York
  • Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education
  • Expected Time to Completion: Certificate (two semesters); AAS (four semesters)
  • Estimated Tuition: New York State resident ($196 per credit-hour); non-resident ($392 per credit-hour)

Monroe 2-Orleans BOCES Center for Workforce Development

Those interested in a new career in HVAC (but don’t wish to commit to a full undergraduate degree) can take up training at the Monroe 2-Orleans BOCES Center for Workforce Development. This institute provides a 20-week (600-hour) training program for aspiring HVAC workers. The program requires students to take courses Monday through Friday from 8:30 to 3:00. This program also prepares graduates for the EPA Section 608 examination, among other credentialing exams.

Students through the program learn to properly and safely install, repair, troubleshoot, and service both, residential and light commercial HVAC systems. Upon completion, students can take up opportunities such as an HVAC salesperson, air conditioning technician, HVAC installer, HVAC service technician, or HVAC mechanic.

For admission, students require a high school diploma or its equivalent, the ability to lift 50 pounds of weight, and a valid driver’s license.

  • Location: Rochester, New York
  • Accreditation: Commission of the Council on Occupational Education
  • Expected Time to Completion: 20 weeks
  • Estimated Tuition: $7,700

WSWHE BOCES

A division of the WSWHE BOCES – Career and Technical Education offers an HVAC program at par with industry standards and requirements. Students are trained in areas such as installing, maintaining, repairing, and servicing of HVAC/R systems and equipment in both residential as well as commercial applications. The program also prepares students for the EPA section 608 certification.

The curriculum consists of topics such as blueprint reading, safety and environment, electrical principles, piping principles and practices, electric motors, refrigeration principles and practices, air conditioning principles and practices, heating principles and practices, commercial refrigeration, commercial plumbing, residential plumbing, residential wiring, and trade-related carpentry, among others.

Upon successful completion, students will qualify to work as entry-level electrician, HVAC installer, HVAC technician, plumber, commercial technician, job estimator, and service manager.

Students will also have the opportunity to participate in an internship program. It will help them apply their knowledge to real world problems and gain valuable skills.

  • Location: Saratoga Springs, NY
  • Accreditation: HVAC Excellence
  • Expected Time to Completion: Two years
  • Estimated Tuition: Not available

Rochester, NY HVAC Certification and Licensing

As mentioned, all HVAC professionals who handle refrigerants in their job must possess the EPA Section 608 Certification. Four subtypes of this certification are available: type 1 (small appliances), type 2 (high-pressure appliances), type 3 (low-pressure appliances), and type 4 (universal). However, virtually all training programs will prepare graduates to successfully complete this examination.

Furthermore, a number of additional skill-specific certifications are offered in New York through HVAC Excellence (e.g., Heating, Electrical, Air Conditioning Technology Plus); North American Technician Excellence (e.g., Industry Competency Exams, ICE); the Refrigerating Engineers and Technicians Association (e.g., entry-level Certified Assistant Refrigeration Operator); and a number of others. These credentials document that the possessor retains specific qualifications, which can be beneficial when searching for a new job or negotiating for higher compensation.

To discover more information about the national certifications offered for HVAC workers, visit the main HVAC certification page.

Future HVAC workers in Rochester should also note that while not all work in New York demands a specific certification, some regional licensure restrictions exist. To sit for the licensure examination to become registered as a refrigeration operator in Rochester, applicants must submit the following information:

  • Name and address
  • Name and additional information about previous employers
  • An exam fee of $60
  • An additional fee for licensure, which depends on a number of factors

Here, HVAC workers should note, however, that a license is not explicitly required to perform any type of work in this industry. Instead, according to the city code, an individual must obtain licensure if they need to work with the equipment necessary to perform a refrigerating process that circulates refrigerants, or if they intend on operating a boiler or steam plant.

In short, before working in HVAC, these professionals are still advised to perform thorough research regarding any potential licensure requirements to ensure they are staying within the regional bounds of the law.

Farheen Gani

Farheen is a freelance writer, marketer, and researcher. She writes about technology, education, and marketing. Her work has appeared on websites such as Tech in Asia and Foundr, as well as top SaaS blogs such as Zapier and InVision. You can connect with her on LinkedIn and Twitter (@FarheenGani).