North Dakota (ND) HVAC Schools, Training & Certifications

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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 several 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 at Fargo, Sioux Falls, Mandan, and Minot. Members of this organization can receive similar benefits to help them succeed in their careers.

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 complies 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 and 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 2021), the number of openings in the industry is expected to increase substantially in the coming years. Specifically, 15,100 jobs are expected to be added to the industry between 2019 and 2029, which amounts to an overall increase of 4 percent which is as fast as the average for all occupations (4 percent).

The industry in North Dakota should experience a similar boom. Estimates offered by Projections Central show that the demand in ND should grow 13.8 percent for the decade ending in 2028., meaning an additional 150 jobs.

In general, many 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 (July 2021), brought up opportunities with companies such as Johnson Controls, Trane Technologies, and EMCOR Group. A similar search on Indeed (July 2021) pulled up 61 jobs with organizations like HVAC Elements, Trinity Health System, Recruit4HVAC, and Pearce Services.

HVAC Worker Salary in North Dakota

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS May 2020), there were 344,020 HVAC workers across the country with an average annual salary(mean wage) of $53,410. Fortunately for North Dakota residents, HVAC technicians in the Roughrider State earn a higher-than-average salary—a special bonus given the relatively low cost of living in the state.

The BLS reports that there were 1,100 HVAC workers in North Dakota earning an average wage of $55,630 per year. It’s important to note that the cost of living in ND is also substantially lower than in many states. By illustration, the Missouri Economic Research and Information Center (MERIC 2020) reported that ND had the 25th lowest cost of living in the United States for 2020. Please keep this fact in mind while considering the following data.

The BLS (May 2020) found the following percentiles among all HVAC technicians and installers around the country:

United States North Dakota
Number of HVAC Professionals Employed 344,020 1,100
Annual Mean Wage $53,410 $55,630
10th Percentile $31,910 $35,040
25th Percentile $39,320 $41,680
50th Percentile (Median) $50,590 $52,090
75th Percentile $64,350 $67,680
90th Percentile $80,820 $83,050

Salary figures do vary slightly by another source of data. PayScale (2021)—an aggregator of self-reported salaries—found the following percentiles among its HVAC respondents nationwide:

  • 10th percentile: $32,000
  • 50th percentile (median): $49,126
  • 90th percentile: $78,000

HVAC Apprenticeships in North Dakota

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 apprenticeship program.

Accredited HVAC Programs in North Dakota

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.

North Dakota State College of Science

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. These programs provide students with a solid foundation of the principles of HVAC/R combined with extensive lab experience.

The certificate program is made up of 36 credits including courses such as refrigeration technology, blueprint reading & estimating, refrigeration systems, electrical theory, heating equipment theory, and electrical lab, among others.

The associate degree consists of 73 credits including all courses from the certificate program. This associate degree covers additional courses on commercial components, building system controls, air conditioning design, heat pumps, hydronic heating systems, and advanced systems, among others.

At the end of the program, graduates can pursue opportunities at commercial, residential, or industrial installation and service; designing, selling, or maintaining HVAC systems, or even self-employment.

  • Location: Fargo, ND
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
  • Expected Time to Completion: Certificate (one year); AAS degree (two years)
  • Estimated Tuition: $5,340.58 per year

Bismarck State College

For students in the Bismarck area, Bismarck State College also offers a diploma, certificate, and AAS programs in HVAC, as well. These programs prepare students in handling the latest technology in this rapidly growing field. Students in these programs learn in well-equipped labs, mastering installation and repairing procedures.

Students must complete 60 credits for the associate degree and the diploma, but only 44 for the certificate. Classes include sheet metal, air conditioning theory, heating theory, light commercial refrigeration, domestic refrigeration, and more.

Graduates of these programs can expect to find positions in installation, service, sales, controls & testing, building maintenance, and balancing. Positions are also available in marketing, bidding, estimating, and controls.

  • Location: Bismarck, ND
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission
  • Expected Time to Completion: 10.5 months
  • Estimated Tuition: Minnesota resident ($224.97 per credit); non-resident ($301.30 per credit)

University of North Dakota

University of North Dakota’s 100 percent online certified HVAC/R technician training program prepares students to earn HVAC Excellence or NATE certification in less than a year. They’ll master core skills such as accurate measurement, heat-carrying capacity, air weight & value, and condensation & vaporization.

The curriculum includes topics such as automatic controls, electric motors, commercial refrigeration, all-weather systems, commercial air-conditioning, and chilled-water systems, safety, tools and equipment, and shop practices, and domestic appliances, among others.

Graduates will have a complete understanding of the basic components of the vapor-compression and refrigeration cycles and the EPA laws related to the safe handling and transportation of refrigerants. They will also learn about proper operation and installation of HVAC systems, and proper recovery, recycling, and retrofitting of refrigerants.

  • Location: Grand Forks, ND
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
  • Expected Time to Completion: 12 months
  • Estimated Tuition: $2,895

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 several skill-specific HVAC certifications to enhance their knowledge and increase their earning potential. These certifications are offered through many 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 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 over $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 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 licenses or permits as required by law, depending on the nature of the job. All technicians must remain in compliance with state and local laws.

Jocelyn Blore

Jocelyn Blore is the chief content officer of Sechel Ventures and the co-author of the Women Breaking Barriers series. She graduated summa cum laude from UC Berkeley and traveled the world for five years. She also worked as an addiction specialist for two years in San Francisco. She’s interested in how culture shapes individuals and systems within societies—one of the many themes she writes about in her blog, Blore’s Razor (Instagram: @bloresrazor). She has served as managing editor for several healthcare websites since 2015.

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