Greensboro, North Carolina (NC) residents enjoy four seasons. Although spring and autumn are short-lived, both provide relief from the summer heat and the winter cold. Temperatures during June, July, and August soar into the high 80s. The heat comes with humidity as each month receives rain, with July garnering the most with more than four inches. Temperatures in the winter months range from the high 40s to low 50s during the day and occasionally dips to the low 30s during the nights. Snow falls during January, February, and sometimes in March. Freezing rain occurs frequently during the winter.
Greensboro, High Point, and Winston-Salem comprise a metropolitan area known as the (Piedmont) Triad. The Piedmont Triad International Airport and central location of Greensboro have enabled the economies of the cities to boom. All three traditionally relied on furniture and textile manufacturing combined with a flourishing tobacco industry. These eventually eventually grew into logistics, trucking, and warehousing centers.
Those industries are still crucial in Greensboro’s economy; however, “Greensboro has prospered thanks to timely diversification.” The diversification encompasses outgrowths of the existing logistics and transportation businesses, as well as expansion into new industries that include aviation, biotechnology, distribution, healthcare, and nanotech, among other high-tech companies. Greensboro is also home to numerous attractions, cultural and athletic events, and a thriving arts community—all of which draw in hundreds of visitors annually.
The summer heat and winter cold keep Greensboro residents indoors. Whether relaxing at home, working, or playing, they rely on heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) for year-round comfort. The technology-based businesses that Greensboro is attracting need specialty climate-control equipment and systems as well.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), 1,400 HVAC mechanics and installers were employed in the Greensboro-High Point area in May 2018. State and local chapters of industry organizations provide training and support to the technicians. These include:
These and similar organizations coordinate with others in the industry and with government organizations to establish educational, licensing, safety, and performance standards.
Read on to discover accredited HVAC programs in Greensboro, in addition to information about the career outlook, salaries, and credentialing.
The BLS (2018) reports that the demand for technicians nationally is expected to increase by 15 percent between 2016 and 2026. That is more than twice the average 7 percent increase projected for all occupations in the U.S. The need for technicians in North Carolina is growing at a greater rate than the national average. Projections Central predicted a 16.4 percent statewide increase for the same decade.
The HVAC industry is growing rapidly for several reasons, due in part to contemporary environmental concerns. Older equipment and systems must be replaced, retrofitted, or upgraded to meet newer industry standards. The complexity of modern climate control systems is another factor driving the increased need for HVAC technicians. The current emphasis on energy efficiency and reducing pollution also contributes to the installation of new equipment and systems.
Technicians with superior troubleshooting skills as well as those who are computer- and electronics-literate generally enjoy the best job prospects. Technicians who specialize in new installations may experience seasonal unemployment if construction declines, although that is not anticipated to happen in the foreseeable future in Greensboro. The continued growth of traditional industries and the expansion of businesses that depend on technology has made the construction of sophisticated climate-controlled facilities necessary.
The thriving economy also means that new buildings, warehouses, hospitality venues, and residences are being built. Maintenance and repair work continues all year, as businesses and homeowners must keep their climate control systems in good operating condition.
The BLS (May 2018) reported that HVAC mechanics and installers nationally received a median salary of $47,610 annually. Technicians in the Greensboro-High Point, NC area received an annual median salary of $41,620, but that’s a competitive wage given the relatively affordable cost of living in North Carolina compared to most other states.
Following is a national, state, and regional salary comparison of HVAC professionals:
|United States||North Carolina||Greensboro-HighPoint, NC|
|Number of HVAC Professionals Employed||324,310||14,370||1,400|
|Average Annual Salary||$50,160||$43,190||$44,090|
|50th Percentile (Median)||$47,610||$41,820||$41,620|
In the past, HVAC technicians could start as helpers and learn their skills through hands-on training. Most workers now attend classes or participate in an apprenticeship program. Formal training and apprenticeships can open up more employment opportunities. Apprenticeships generally include around 2,000 hours of on-the-job training and 144 hours of classroom work annually for three to five years.
ApprenticeshipNC is the state agency in North Carolina that is recognized by the U.S. Department of Labor. It is part of the community college system. Although several building trades offer programs, HVAC and HVAC/R apprenticeships are not currently available. Employers may add those programs in the future.
That said, Guilford Apprenticeship Partners (GAP) has an HVAC program available for high school students. Also, the Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors of North Carolina sponsors an approved apprenticeship program. Over the course of four years, participants annually receive 2,000 hours of on-the-job training and complete 146 hours of classwork online. Applicants with two years of HVAC or HVAC/R experience may “test out” of the first year. Annual tuition is $1,395. Graduates are awarded journey-level status.
Workers seeking HVAC and HVAC/R apprenticeship programs can find several available through national industry associations such as:
Details are available on their websites.
When choosing an HVAC training school in North Carolina, it is essential to determine if it is accredited and by which organization. Accreditation is a process by which an independent agency evaluates the quality of the program, including both the curriculum and the instructors.
Two organizations evaluate and approve HVAC programs: HVAC Excellence has awarded accreditation to Guilford Technical Community College (Greensboro Campus) and the Partnership for Air-Conditioning, Heating, Refrigeration Accreditation (PAHRA) has accredited Pitt Community College. Although attending Pitt would require Greensboro students to commute, it is included in the profiles provided below due to its accreditation.
The North Carolina Community College System has 58 campuses throughout the state. Guilford Technical College is located in Greensboro. The community colleges offering HVAC and HVAC/R programs that are the closest to Greensboro are:
Not all programs are available at all colleges at all times.
Specific credits earned in a certificate program may be applied to the diploma or degree program, and some credits earned in the diploma program may be applied to the degree program.
Coursework for all programs may be completed during the day or evening. Students may attend part-time or full-time. Because participating in labs is required, the technology courses are on-campus. After consulting with their advisor, students may be able to complete some general education coursework online.
Several types of certificates are available. The types offered and curriculum details vary from school to school and are available as demand warrants. A sampling includes:
The certificate programs are designed to prepare students for entry-level positions. Students take introductory courses in refrigeration, electricity, and HVAC, and job safety, as well as courses specific to their chosen certificate. Coursework is divided between classroom lectures and hands-on training in labs. Certificate programs require 12 to 18 credit-hours to complete.
The air conditioning, heating, and refrigeration technology diploma program builds on the certificate programs with additional coursework in the basics of HVAC and HVAC/R, electronics, reading blueprints and schematics, math, building codes, air quality, and energy management. Students attend classroom lectures and receive hands-on training in labs. They also complete coursework in customer relations and general education electives for a total of 36 to 48 credit-hours to graduate.
General education courses in the associate of applied science (AAS) in HVAC/R technology program include oral and written communication and electives from the humanities, behavioral sciences, and natural sciences. The technical coursework includes the basics covered in the certificate and diploma programs, with the addition of HVAC and HVAC/R technology, system design, controls, hydronics, thermodynamics, computers, and ducting.
Students attend classroom lectures and receive hands-on training in labs. The degree program requires the completion of 62 to 76 credit-hours. Graduates are prepared to take the EPA Section 608 exam and other industry exams.
Students who are unable to attend on-campus schools may find that distance-based, or online, institutions can better meet their needs. Several accredited online schools offer HVAC programs. For more information on programs available, visit the online HVAC training page.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requires technicians who work with refrigerants to obtain EPA Section 608 Certification. Certification requires passing an exam on the safe handling of refrigerants. There are four types of certifications according to the systems on which technicians work:
Practice exams are available online.
Technicians may obtain additional training and certifications from industry organizations, which also offer Section 608 testing and certification. These include, but are not limited to:
Details are available on their websites.
HVAC technicians are regulated by North Carolina State Board of Examiners of Plumbing, Heating and Fire Sprinkler Contractors. The three types of licenses are:
Applicants seeking a technician’s license need to pass an exam, submit a background report, complete an application form, and pay a fee. To qualify to take the exam, applicants must have 18 months (3,000 hours) of full-time, onsite experience.
To qualify for a contractor’s license, applicants must have two years (4,000 hours) of full-time experience in the category of license sought. Up to 2,000 of those hours can be from technical or academic training. All licenses expire on the last day of December each year and must be renewed. Continuing education is encouraged but not required.
Anyone contracting to provide construction services, including HVAC installations, in excess of $30,000 must apply for a license from the North Carolina Licensing Board for General Contractors. Obtaining a license requires completing an application form, paying a fee, and submitting any required documents. Licenses expire on December 31 of each year.
In addition, anyone who installs, repairs, or maintains any refrigeration equipment must be licensed (or supervised by a licensed person). The North Carolina State Board of Refrigeration Contractors licensing requirements were updated effective January 1, 2018, to include systems using ammonia as the refrigerant, and the servicing of refrigeration equipment. Applicants must have 4,000 hours experience working on refrigeration equipment (2,000 of which can be from education), pass an exam, and pay a fee. Licenses expire on December 31 of each year.
Finally, the County of Guilford does not require a business license or additional contractor licensing. The City of Greensboro also does not require a business license or additional contractor licensing.
Prior to beginning any project, HVAC professionals in Greensboro are strongly encouraged to verify with city and county authorities to ensure they have all necessary credentialing.