What is now the city of Yonkers, NY, began as a village during the 1600s as part of a Dutch land grant. Its name is derived from Jonkheer, the title given to a local sawmill owner. As well as lumber, the economy of early Yonkers depended on agriculture. Situated on the Hudson River, the city used water power to grow into an industrial center. Otis Elevator Company established the world’s first elevator company on the banks of the river. Alexander Smith and Sons Carpet Company became a premier carpet company. Shortly after Yonkers was incorporated, it became the home of the first golf course in the United States. Bakelite was invented in Yonkers and was manufactured there for years.
Yonkersonians rejected New York City’s 1898 annexation attempt. Although some regard it as a suburb, Yonkers remains an independent city. As such, it’s the fourth-largest city in New York state. It’s still a manufacturing and industrial center, but the economy continues to diversify into businesses that include education, healthcare, recreation, and retail trade.
Rain falls every summer month, and snow falls during the winter months in Yonkers. June, July, and August are the hottest months, with highs exceeding 80 degrees F. Those months experience humidity that often exceeds 60 percent. The temperatures and humidity start dropping in September, and by December, the nighttime lows sink below freezing. The scant snowfall in November increases to more than five inches in December. February averages nearly nine inches of snow. The weather warms slightly in March, and the snowfall begins to decrease.
The residents of Yonkers rely on air conditioning, ventilation, and heating (HVAC) for comfort in their homes and workplaces during the hot summers and cold winters. The manufacturing and industrial facilities require refrigeration (HVAC/R) added to their systems. Refrigeration is also necessary for educational institutions, healthcare facilities, and hospitality venues. Historic sites and museums often need climate control to preserve fragile artifacts. As the electronics and technology industries expand, specialized climate-control systems must keep their equipment operating correctly.
Data compiled by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS May 2021) indicates that 20,730 HVAC and HVAC/R technicians were employed in the New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NY-PA area. The employees and their employers receive resources and support from national, state, and local industry associations such as the following:
These organizations cooperate with others in the industry, regulatory agencies, and businesses to establish and maintain educational, licensing, and performance standards for the safety of technicians, the public, and the environment.
The BLS (2022) reports that the demand for trained HVAC and HVAC/R technicians is expected to increase nationally by 5 percent between 2021 and 2031. That’s an average of 20,200 new jobs.
HVAC industry growth primarily depends on constructing new commercial and residential buildings. The renovation and remodeling of existing structures also stimulate industry growth, especially in older cities such as Yonkers. Technicians must repair, replace, or update obsolete equipment and systems to meet changing requirements. They may also replace climate control systems in newer structures as evolving regulations, technological advances, and the demands of new industries make them obsolete. The contemporary emphasis on energy efficiency and pollution reduction is another significant factor driving industry growth.
Additionally, businesses and homeowners now expect “smart” buildings incorporating sophisticated climate control systems. Those systems require HVAC technicians who are skilled troubleshooters, proficient with computers, and understand electronics and high-tech. Their training and expertise provide the best job opportunities.
Technicians specializing in new construction may occasionally experience unemployment if construction declines. As Yonkers is a prosperous city with an expanding economy, a decline doesn’t seem likely in the foreseeable future. The City of Gracious Living boasts “a healthy mix of retail and commercial business” that create “a thriving and vibrant economy” and “formidable economic expansion.”
Technicians specializing in maintaining, servicing, and repairing equipment and systems can expect continuous employment regardless of the economy, as businesses and homeowners rely on year-round climate control.
According to the BLS (May 2021), HVAC mechanics and installers nationally received a median salary of $48,630. Their data also shows that technicians in the New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA area earned an annual median salary of $71,610. The wage difference isn’t as substantial as it might appear, as the cost of living in New York is significantly higher than in other American states.
The BLS (May 2021) reports the following wages for national, state, and regional HVAC professionals:
|United States||New York State||New York-Newark-Jersey City,NY-NJ-PA|
|Number of HVAC Professionals Employed||356,960||22,240||20,730|
|Average annual salary||$54,690||$66,180||$70,850|
Traditionally, aspiring HVAC technicians obtained employment as helpers and learned the trade through on-the-job training. Few opportunities exist for untrained workers in today’s job market, so most attend classes or participate in an apprenticeship program.
Formal training provides better job opportunities and enables technicians to potentially start at higher wages and earn more throughout their careers. Time invested in classes varies according to the level of expertise sought. Apprenticeships include specified hours of on-the-job training, usually 2,000 hours, and classroom work, usually 144 hours, annually for three to five years.
The New York State Department of Labor offers apprenticeship information and resources. SWBOCES offers pre-apprenticeship training at its Valhalla Campus. The HVAC/R program includes several modules and prepares trainees for EPA Section 608 certification. UA Local 21 offers a five-year HVAC apprenticeship program at the Peekskill, NY, training center.
Workers seeking HVAC and HVAC/R apprenticeship programs who are unable to attend a local program can find several available through national industry associations such as:
Each organization has details of programs and fees on its website.
The curriculum and the instructors of an accredited school have been evaluated for quality by an independent agency. Students choosing to attend a school should select one that has been accredited. HVAC Excellence and the Partnership for Air-Conditioning, Heating, Refrigeration Accreditation (PAHRA) accredit HVAC programs.
HVAC Excellence has not accredited a New York school. They have, however, accredited two nearby Lincoln Technical Institute campuses in NJ. PAHRA has accredited Isaac Heating and Air Conditioning Inc., Rochester, NY. Other reputable agencies have accredited the remaining schools.
Eastwick offers an HVAC/R diploma program. Students may attend classes during the day or in the evenings. The curriculum is the same for both tracks, and each takes 89 credit hours to complete. Graduates are qualified to seek employment as HVAC/R technicians.
The curriculum includes basic electrical and electronic concepts, hand tool safety, EPA 608 fundamentals, electric and forced air heating, oil and hydronic heat, heat pump, HVAC/R, installation, air distribution and balancing, circuit systems operation, control devices and motors, and professional development. Each technical course includes a review of EPA 608 to prepare students for EPA 608 and R-410A certification.
Fortis, a private institution, offers an HVAC/R diploma program that prepares graduates for entry-level positions as residential and commercial technicians.
Coursework is divided between classroom lectures and hands-on practice in the lab. The curriculum includes an introduction to craft skills, trade mathematics, electrical theory and essentials, thermodynamics, HVAC/R controls, motors and motor controls, refrigerant, HVAC, commercial refrigeration, electric and gas heating systems, oil heating systems, heat pumps, water-based heating systems, HVAC system design, HVAC troubleshooting and service calls, EPA certification preparation, and career development.
Isaac Heating and Air Conditioning Inc.
Isaac University is a training program developed by an HVAC contractor, Isaac Heating and Air Conditioning. The company maintains a 30,000-square-foot, fully equipped state-of-the-art lab. Students complete two years of education and two additional years of specialized training.
Coursework includes basic and advanced electricity, gas heat, air conditioning, oil heating systems, hydronics, troubleshooting, heat pump installation and service, and high-efficiency systems.
Lincoln Tech is a for-profit institution with numerous campuses. The two closest to Yonkers with HVAC programs are located in Mahwah and Union, NJ. Both offer an HVAC/R technology certificate program. Mahwah students may attend classes during the day or the evening. Union students have an additional afternoon program option.
The coursework is the same at both campuses and for the attendance options. The curriculum includes an introduction to climate control systems, electricity, heating systems controls and mechanical, basic refrigeration systems, hermetic systems, air conditioning systems, air conditioning design and layout, commercial refrigeration controls and design, energy efficiency, and green technology systems. Graduates will have the skills and knowledge to seek entry-level positions as HVAC/R technicians.
SUNY Westchester Community College
The college has a Yonkers campus, but it currently does not offer an HVAC program. The nearest campus is in Valhalla, which offers an online HVAC/R technician certificate program. The program is non-credit. Students are prepared to seek employment in entry-level positions.
The curriculum includes an introduction to HVAC/R, safety, tools and equipment, shop practices, automatic controls, electric motors, commercial refrigeration, heating and humidification, air conditioning, all-weather systems, commercial air conditioning and chilled-water systems, domestic appliances, and soft skills, such as communication and problem-solving. Students are prepared for industry certifications, including EPA 608, HVAC Excellence Employment Ready certificates, and the NATE Ready to Work certificate.
Aspiring technicians in Yonkers who are unable to attend one of the above schools may find that online HVAC training at an accredited online school will better meet their needs.
The refrigerants used in climate control systems can harm the environment if mishandled. Accordingly, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requires all HVAC and HVAC/R technicians who handle refrigerants to obtain Section 608 certification. Four certification levels are available based on the type and size of equipment on which a technician works. Certification requires technicians to pass a specific exam on refrigerant safety for each:
Details of the criteria for each certification are available on the EPA website.
Technicians may obtain their Section 608 certification, as well as other certifications that can increase their employability, from industry organizations such as the following:
Each organization includes availability, scheduling, and fees on its website. There is also more information on the HVAC certifications page.
The State of New York does not require HVAC professionals to obtain a license. The County of Winchester requires home improvement contractors (which includes residential HVAC/R) to be licensed. Applicants must submit:
Licenses must be renewed every two years.
The City of Yonkers requires home improvement contractors to submit documentation similar to the county’s requirements. In addition, the City requires background checks, proof of work history for the past five years, and sales tax certificate of authority or capital improvements documents. The fee is $400, and the license must be renewed in two years. Contractors must also use specific signage on their work vehicles.
As licensing agencies reserve the right to change their guidelines, HVAC professionals are encouraged to ensure that they are in compliance before starting a project.