North Dakota HVAC Training (ND)

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Although the plains of North Dakota (ND) may be beautiful, they are also home to frigid winter temperatures that lead residents to rely on in-home heating to stay warm, as well as hot and humid summers that are only bearable with air conditioning. Consequently, the heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) industry is rapidly growing, with the demand rising for skilled technicians who have the requisite training and experience in the Roughrider State.

HVAC technicians in ND can find a wide array of benefits and support specific to the industry. For one, HVAC technicians can pursue membership with a number of unions, such as the Sheet Metal Workers’ International Association Local Union 10, which offers ongoing training and education, a pension plan and health benefits, a calendar of events, and much more. Alternatively, HVAC technicians may choose to join the Plumbers & Pipefitters United Association Local 300, which has locations in Fargo, Sioux Falls, Mandan, and Minot. Members of this organization can receive similar benefits to help them succeed in their career.

So what do these skilled professionals do? HVAC technicians in North Dakota have numerous daily responsibilities, a handful of which are listed below:

  • Calibrating HVAC equipment
  • Performing calculations on heat loads and losses
  • Keeping detailed service records
  • Reading and interpreting blueprints
  • Ensuring that equipment and work is in compliance with the law
  • Traveling to and from worksites
  • Offering education to customers on energy conservation and use
  • Maintaining all required licensure and permits

Furthermore, technicians who work with refrigerants need to maintain an active EPA Section 608 Certification, which is discussed at length below.

Working as an HVAC technician can be a truly rewarding, challenging line of work with a competitive salary and strong industry support. In light of this, the following guide outlines how to get started in ND, with information on training programs and salary expectations, as well as a general overview of the industry in North Dakota.

Career Outlook for HVAC Professionals in North Dakota

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS 2017), there are currently 307,060 HVAC technician working across the country, making an average annual salary of $49,530. The number of openings in the industry is expected to increase substantially in coming years. Specifically, 48,800 jobs are expected to be added to the industry between 2016 and 2026, which amounts to an overall increase of 15 percent. This is a much faster expansion than all fields nationwide, which are only slated to experience a seven percent growth, on average.

The industry in North Dakota should experience a similar boom. Estimates offered by Projections Central show that the demand in ND should grow 12.6 percent over the same decade, meaning an additional 110 jobs.

In general, a number of factors currently contribute to the strength of the HVAC industry in North Dakota and nationwide. For one, nearly all new buildings under construction are being erected with some type of climate-control system; naturally, installation requires the assistance of a skilled technician. Furthermore, these systems need routine maintenance by an HVAC technician, and usually need to be replaced every 10 or 15 years. And it’s also important to note that the laws and regulations governing the HVAC industry are constantly in flux. This means that demand will likely continue to increase for experienced technicians who remain abreast of these changes.

The demand for talented workers can be demonstrated through a simple online job search. A search for “HVAC technician positions in North Dakota” on Monster (Nov. 2018), for example, brought up 143 results, including opportunities with companies such as Johnson Controls, Pilot Flying J, and the US Army. A similar search on Indeed (Nov. 2018) pulled up 58 jobs with organizations like Sungold Foods, Wir3d Electric, Inc., Active Heating, Inc., and McFarlane, Inc.

HVAC Worker Salary in North Dakota

The BLS (2017) showed that the 307,060 HVAC mechanics and installers across the U.S. earned an average of $49,530 per year, or $23.81 per hour. Fortunately for North Dakota residents, HVAC technicians in the Roughrider State actually earn a higher-than-average salary—a special bonus given the relatively low cost of living in the state. The BLS (2017) reports that there were 830 HVAC workers in North Dakota earning an average wage of $57,860 per year. Following is a more detailed comparison of salaries in the US and ND.

Annual salary Hourly salary
United States North Dakota United States North Dakota
Average $49,530 $57,860 $23.81 $27.82
10th percentile $29,120 $34,330 $14.00 $16.51
25th percentile $36,150 $42,620 $17.38 $20.49
50th percentile $47,080 $55,420 $22.64 $26.65
75th percentile $60,270 $66,670 $28.98 $32.05
90th percentile $75,330 $87,720 $36.22 $42.17

The national figures were slightly different according to another source of data, Payscale (Nov. 2018), which relies on self-reported salaries. Among the HVAC workers reporting their annual salaries, Payscale found these percentiles:

United States: 889 HVAC workers responding

  • 10th percentile: $29,000
  • 25th percentile: $36,000
  • 50th percentile (median): $44,532
  • 75th percentile: $56,000
  • 90th percentile: $71,000

An additional 4,873 HVAC workers gave Payscale their hourly salary figures, resulting in these percentile wages:

  • 10th percentile: $13.00/hr.
  • 25th percentile: $15.00/hr.
  • 50th percentile (median): $19.24/hr.
  • 75th percentile: $24.00/hr.
  • 90th percentile: $30.00/hr.

As noted above, the average salary for HVAC workers in North Dakota is significantly higher than that of the rest of the country. As with any salary projections, taking into account the cost of living is also important. The Missouri Economic Research and Information Center (MERIC 2018) found that ND ranked 29th in affordability, putting it close to average. North Dakota residents will find some savings in utilities and housing as compared to the rest of the country. For HVAC technicians this means relatively high salaries should go a long way in ND.

The BLS designated five regions within North Dakota for which employment data is available. The Fargo, ND-MN area had the most HVAC workers at 430 as well as the highest average salary in the state ($63,940). Following are the detailed salary data for the state of North Dakota:

Bismarck, ND (120 HVAC workers): $39,660 annual average salary

Bismarck, ND
Percentile Annual salary Hourly salary
Average $39,660 $19.07
10th percentile $23,110 $11.11
25th percentile $31,510 $15.15
50th percentile $38,560 $18.54
75th percentile $49,130 $23.62
90th percentile $59,350 $28.54

Far East North Dakota nonmetropolitan area (number of HVAC workers unreported): $54,760 annual average salary

Far East North Dakota nonmetropolitan area
Percentile Annual salary Hourly salary
Average $54,760 $26.33
10th percentile $37,890 $18.22
25th percentile $52,210 $25.10
50th percentile $56,720 $27.27
75th percentile $61,240 $29.44
90th percentile $63,950 $30.75

Fargo, ND-MN (430 HVAC workers): $63,940 annual average salary

Fargo, ND-MN
Percentile Annual salary Hourly salary
Average $63,940 $30.74
10th percentile $35,760 $17.19
25th percentile $45,290 $21.78
50th percentile $58,370 $28.06
75th percentile $77,730 $37.37
90th percentile $108,280 $52.06

Grand Forks, ND-MN (100 HVAC workers): $49,310 annual average salary

Grand Forks, ND-MN
Percentile Annual salary Hourly salary
Average $49,310 $23.71
10th percentile $31,960 $15.37
25th percentile $38,540 $18.53
50th percentile $51,440 $24.73
75th percentile $60,110 $28.90
90th percentile $64,230 $30.88

West Central North Dakota nonmetropolitan area (140 HVAC workers): $57,700 annual average salary

West Central North Dakota nonmetropolitan area
Percentile Annual salary Hourly salary
Average $57,700 $27.74
10th percentile $40,950 $19.69
25th percentile $45,180 $21.72
50th percentile $56,630 $27.23
75th percentile $71,580 $34.41
90th percentile $78,150 $37.57

Accredited HVAC Programs in ND

In order to start working as an HVAC technician, it’s necessary to obtain some type of education and hands-on training to develop the requisite skills. In general, HVAC training takes the form of an apprenticeship, degree, or certificate program, all of which can help an aspiring HVAC technician become prepared for work.

For those interested in an apprenticeship, the Sheet Metal Workers’ International Association Local Union 10 offers an apprenticeship program, which lasts four years. It consists of 8,000 hours of work and approximately 180 hours of related instruction each year. Apprentices are paid for their work and are often eligible for periodic raises throughout the course of the apprenticeship program.

Aspiring HVAC technicians who are interested solely in classroom education, however, may be interested in pursuing either a certificate or associate of applied science degree (AAS) in heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration technology through the North Dakota State College of Science, located in Wahpeton and Fargo. The certificate program includes 36 credits, while the associate degree includes 73; these programs cover courses on refrigeration technology, electrical theory, refrigeration systems, heat pumps, hydronic heating systems, and building system controls, among others. Tuition is set at $127.53 per credit-hour for North Dakota residents although a reduced rate of $74.49 is available to high school students who enroll in NDSCS courses taught through their ND school.

For students in the Bismarck area, Bismarck State College also offers a diploma, certificate, and AAS programs in HVAC, as well. Students must complete 60 credits for the associate degree and the diploma, but only 44 for the certificate. Classes include those on sheet metal, air conditioning theory, heating theory, light commercial refrigeration, domestic refrigeration, and more. Tuition for the 2018-19 school year ranged from $133 to $160 per credit-hour for ND residents, depending on the course level.

It should also be mentioned that many aspiring HVAC technicians are choosing to enroll in accredited programs, which generally last between six months and two years. Currently, two main organizations offer accreditation for HVAC programs: HVAC Excellence and the Partnership for Air-Conditioning, Heating, Refrigeration Accreditation (PAHRA). As of this writing, however, there are no programs recognized by either entity in North Dakota.

HVAC Certification and Licensing in North Dakota

HVAC technicians in all states who work with refrigerants must maintain active EPA Section 608 Certification. This certification has four specific categories:

  • Type 1 (small appliances)
  • Type 2 (high-pressure appliances)
  • Type 3 (low-pressure appliances)
  • Type 4 (universal)

In addition, technicians can obtain a number of skill-specific HVAC certifications to enhance their knowledge and increase their earning potential. These certifications are offered through a number of organizations, including the Refrigerating Engineers and Technicians Association (e.g., entry-level Certified Assistant Refrigeration Operator); North American Technician Excellence (e.g., Industry Competency Exams or ICE); HVAC Excellence (e.g., Heating, Electrical, Air Conditioning Technology Plus); and more. To learn about certification options and requirements around the country, visit the HVAC certification page.

As a final note, HVAC technicians should always ensure that they retain the necessary licensure before beginning any projects. Currently, employees of a contractor or of another business are not required to obtain a license. However, anyone working as a contractor or who wishes to start their own HVAC business completing projects in excess of $4,000 must apply for licensure through the North Dakota Secretary of State. To do so, this requires submission of the following:

  • Proof of registration with the Secretary of State
  • A contractor’s application with a statement of the applicant’s experience and qualifications as a contractor signed under oath
  • A certificate of insurance
  • Proof of worker’s’ compensation insurance and verification from Workforce Safety & Insurance in Bismarck
  • A filing fee, ranging from $100 to $450, depending on the size of the contract

Furthermore, the Secretary of State asserts that in addition to a contractor’s license, HVAC technicians may also be required to obtain other license or permits as required by law, depending on the nature of the job. It is imperative that all technicians remain in compliance with state and local laws.