Greensboro, NC HVAC Schools, Degrees & Certifications

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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 the 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 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 2019), 1,370 HVAC mechanics and installers were employed in the Greensboro-High Point area in May 2019. State and local chapters of industry organizations provide training and support to the technicians. These include:

  • American Industrial Contractors
  • Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) Carolinas Chapter
  • Carolinas Association of General Contractors (CAGC)
  • Greensboro Builders Association

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.

Occupational Demand for HVAC Technicians in Greensboro, NC

The BLS (May 2019) reports that the demand for technicians nationally is expected to increase by 13 percent between 2018 and 2028. That is more than twice the average 5 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. By illustration, CareerOneStop—a data organization partnered with the US Department of Labor—reported that there would be a 16 percent increase in HVAC positions across NC between 2016 and 2026.

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.

HVAC Salaries in Greensboro, NC

The BLS reports that HVAC mechanics and installers nationally receive a median salary of $48,730 annually. Technicians in the Greensboro-High Point area receive an annual median salary of $42,950, but the cost of living in NC is substantially less than the national average. In fact, the Missouri Economic Research and Information Center (2020) reported that NC was the 22nd most affordable state in the country, enjoying particular savings in housing and transportation.

Here are the HVAC salary comparisons of the U.S., North Carolina, and the Greensboro-High Point area as reported by the BLS (May 2019):

United States North Carolina Greensboro, NC
Number of HVAC professionals employed 342,040 13,800 1,370
Annual mean wage $51,420 $43,990 $44,750
10th percentile $30,610 $27,430 $29,900
25th percentile $37,660 $34,360 $35,570
50th percentile (median) $48,730 $43,150 $42,950
75th percentile $62,070 $52,260 $51,500
90th percentile $77,920 $62,810 $64,030

HVAC Apprenticeships in Greensboro, NC

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.

Guilford Apprenticeship Partners (GAP) has an HVAC program available for high school students. Over the course of four years, participants annually receive 2,000 hours of on-the-job training and complete classwork online. Tuition is approximately $10 to $15 per hour. Graduates are awarded journey-level status.

Workers seeking HVAC and HVAC/R apprenticeship programs can find several available through national industry associations such as:

  • Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA)
  • Mechanical Contractors Association of America (MCAA)
  • Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors Association (PHCC)
  • Refrigeration Service Engineers Society (RSES)
  • Sheet Metal Workers International Association (SMWIA)

Details are available on their websites.

Accredited HVAC Schools in Greensboro, NC

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.

Guilford Technical Community College

The North Carolina Community College System has 59 campuses throughout the state. Guilford Technical Community College located in Greensboro is one of them. It offers various HVAC programs for North Carolina students. It must be noted that this is the only HVAC Excellence-accredited college in the state. It offers the following HVAC programs:

  • Air conditioning, heating, and refrigeration technology; basic air conditioning certificate (17 credit-hours): This certificate program includes courses such as HVAC/R electricity, introduction to refrigeration, comfort cooling, refrigerant certification, and heat pump technology
  • Air conditioning, heating, and refrigeration diploma (46 credit-hours): Courses in the diploma include all the courses mentioned above, with the addition of HVAC/R building code, heating technology, writing and inquiry, HVACR customer relations, HVAC/R electronics, residential system design, advanced comfort systems, introduction to computers, and HVAC controls
  • Associate of applied science (AAS) in air conditioning, heating and refrigeration technology (67 credit-hours): The curriculum of the AAS program includes all courses from the certificate and the diploma program. In addition, students also have to complete coursework in hydronic heating, indoor air quality, refrigeration design, and commercial system design

All three programs offered by Guilford Technical Community College prepare students for the EPA certification examinations and train them in performing preventive maintenance on HVAC/R systems, repairing electrical controls and components in HVAC systems, applying the refrigeration principles and practices to HVAC/R systems, and demonstrating knowledge of basic hydronic heating principles.

  • Location: Greensboro, North Carolina
  • Accreditation: HVAC Excellence
  • Expected Time to Completion: AAS (Five semesters); diploma (three semesters); certificate (two semesters)
  • Estimated Tuition: In-state ($76 per credit-hour); out-of-state ($268 per credit-hour)

Pitt Community College

Pitt Community College offers the only PAHRA-accredited HVAC program in North Carolina. It offers a total of three HVAC programs: heating and refrigeration service diploma, efficiency & performance diagnostics diploma, and a heating and refrigeration service certificate. All these programs provide basic courses in HVAC technology, with the diploma programs offering more in terms of hands-on experience and general education.

The air conditioning, heating, and refrigeration services diploma is made up of 36 credit-hours. It includes courses such as introduction to refrigeration, HVACR electricity, heating technology, comfort cooling, heat pump technology, HVAC controls, HVAC servicing, refrigerant certification, and construction safety.

The efficiency and performance diagnostics diploma is made up of 44 credit-hours. The curriculum explores topics such as advanced comfort systems, residential system design, HVAC/R building code, introduction to sustainability, basic PC literacy, and energy use analysis. Students in this program will also have to complete all courses from the air conditioning, heating, and refrigeration services diploma.

The heating and refrigeration service certificate consists of 16 credit-hours. Sample some of the courses: HVAC/R electricity, introduction to refrigeration, comfort cooling, and heating technology.

Students in each of these programs receive training in the servicing and repairing of HVAC systems, troubleshooting and diagraming electrical systems, and also learn about sheet metal fabrication, energy audits, and conservation. Graduates of the program can pursue roles such as refrigeration technician, air conditioning technician, and HVAC/R control technician.

  • Location: Greenville, North Carolina
  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges, PAHRA
  • Expected Time to Completion: Two semesters
  • Estimated Tuition: Resident ($76 per credit-hour); non-resident ($268 per credit-hour)

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 and HVAC/R programs, one of which is profiled below.

Penn Foster College

Penn Foster College’s online HVAC technician career diploma provides students with online HVAC training and prepares them for HVAC certification, which includes an EPA certification preparatory manual, a test voucher, and exam registration. The faculty of the program includes renowned professionals who are certified instructors, success coaches, and teaching assistants.

This online HVAC technician program consists of eight courses, helping students gain the knowledge and skills for performing HVAC/R repair jobs in a variety of settings. They can work as HVAC/R technicians in the residential and light construction field. The curriculum includes courses such as orientation to HVAC/R, math for the trades and nature of electricity, fundamentals of HVAC/R, refrigeration systems, electrical systems, residential and light commercial HVAC/R systems, HVAC/R system design and installation, and commercial refrigeration and HVAC/R maintenance.

Students will gain an understanding of the usage and composition of HVAC/R equipment, tools, and materials that are required for installing and diagnosing tasks, recognize safety procedures, understand the refrigeration cycle, understand processes and theories for installing and evaluating electrical systems and controls, and comprehend procedures to install, inspect, test, repair, and maintain HVACR systems.

  • Location: Scottsdale, Arizona
  • Accreditation: Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC)
  • Expected Time to Completion: Five months
  • Estimated Tuition: $799

For more information on programs available, visit the online HVAC training page.

HVAC Certification & Licensing in Greensboro, NC

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:

  • For servicing small appliances (Type I)
  • For servicing or disposing of high-pressure appliances, except small appliances and motor vehicle air conditioning (Type II)
  • For servicing or disposing of low-pressure appliances (Type III)
  • For servicing all types of equipment (Universal or Type IV)

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:

  • Refrigeration Service Engineers Society (RSES): Their mission is to provide opportunities for enhanced technical competence by offering comprehensive, cutting-edge education and certification to the HVAC/R industry.
  • North American Technician Excellence (NATE): Their certification tests represent real-world working knowledge of HVAC/R systems.
  • HVAC Excellence: Their exams and certifications are intended to validate that an individual has retained knowledge in a specific area of the HVAC/R industry.

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:

  • Heating Group 1 (water-based climate control systems)
  • Heating Group 2 (forced air heating and cooling systems with capacity in excess of 15 tons)
  • Heating Group 3 (forced air heating and cooling systems with capacity of less than 15 tons)

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 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 of 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.

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).