HVAC Schools in Cincinnati, OH

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Cincinnati has become the largest metropolitan economy in Ohio (OH) enjoying GDP growth of 2.5 percent. The average metropolitan economy grew by only 1.7 percent. Many Fortune 500 companies (e.g., Procter & Gamble) have established their headquarters in the city. The area boasts technological and manufacturing industries such as energy supply, automotive, aerospace, and agricultural products. Local companies are also leaders in pharmaceutical, medical, and other biohealth research and products. Additionally, financial and IT services contribute significantly to the economy. All of these industries and every city resident depend on heating, ventilation, air conditioning, and refrigeration (HVAC/R) services.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS 2017) reports that more than 2,300 HVAC mechanics and installers are employed in Cincinnati. Local industry organizations such as the following provide training and support to the technicians:

  • Air Conditioning Contractors of Greater Cincinnati (ACCGC)
  • Allied Construction Industries (ACI)
  • Mechanical Contractors Association of America (MCAA)
  • UA Local 392

These organizations collaborate with industry leaders and government organizations to establish educational and licensing standards, across safety, performance, and promotion.

Read on to learn about the career outlook for HVAC professionals in Cincinnati, as well as the accredited training programs in the area.

Occupational Demand for HVAC Workers in Cincinnati, OH

Demand for HVAC technicians is growing nationwide. According to the BLS (2018), job openings for technicians are expected to increase 15 percent nationally between 2016 and 2026—much faster than average 7 percent projected for all occupations in the U.S. Demand for technicians in Ohio matches the national rate. By illustration, Projections Central predicted a 15 percent statewide increase for the same decade ending in 2026.

Several factors contribute to the growth of the HVAC/R industry. The primary consideration is the increasing sophistication of climate control systems and the need to replace, retrofit, or upgrade older systems. Industries, including those driving growth in Cincinnati, rely on HVAC technology often require specialized climate-controlled facilities. The contemporary emphasis on energy efficiency and reducing pollution also contributes to an increased need for new installations.

HVAC Salaries in Cincinnati, OH

The BLS (2017) reports that HVAC mechanics and installers nationally receive a median annual salary of $47,080. Technicians in Cincinnati earn an annual median wage of $46,930, but the cost of living in Ohio is significantly less than most states. In fact, the Missouri Economic Research and Information Center (2018) reported that Ohio was the 16th most affordable state in the country, enjoying particular savings in housing and utilities relative to the rest of the country.

Below are the hourly and annual pay comparisons as calculated by the BLS in May 2017:

United States Ohio Cincinnati metropolitan area
Number of workers 307,060 11,480 2,320
Average annual salary $49,530 $47,240 $46,930
10th percentile $29,120 $28,120 $28,130
25th percentile $36,150 $35,400 $35,790
50th percentile $47,080 $46,150 $46,530
75th percentile $60,270 $58,260 $57,170
90th percentile $75,330 $68,070 $65,300

Accredited HVAC and HVAC/R Schools in Cincinnati, OH

In the past, HVAC and HVAC/R technicians began their careers as helpers and learned the trade through hands-on training. It is still possible to do so, but these days, most aspiring HVAC workers attend classes or participate in apprenticeship programs. Formal training and apprenticeships can open up more employment opportunities.

HVAC apprenticeships generally include 2,000 hours of on-the-job training and 144 hours of classroom work annually for three to five years. The Ohio Department of Job and Family Services registers apprentices through the ApprenticeOhio program, and the state government details a list of Ohio HVAC apprenticeship sponsors.

Local Union 392 sponsors two programs in Cincinnati. One is for HVAC apprentices, and the other is for HVAC/R apprentices. The HVAC program requires 8,000 hours to complete. The HVAC/R program requires 10,000 hours to complete. Students are also full-time employees and receive on-the-job training from a training provider. Graduates of both programs receive the Ohio State Apprenticeship Council Certificate of Completion of Apprenticeship. Both programs also offer a non-credit certificate option. Industry demands and training providers determine openings in all programs. Tuition is determined by the training provider.

Aspiring HVAC and HVAC/R professionals in Ohio can also elect to attend a formal training program. Prior to enrollment, it is essential to determine if a school 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 accredit HVAC programs. HVAC Excellence has awarded accreditation to the University of Northwestern Ohio, located in Lima. The Partnership for Air-Conditioning, Heating, Refrigeration Accreditation (PAHRA) has accredited eight programs in Ohio, including Great Oaks Institute of Technology in Cincinnati.

All of the following programs are accredited by HVAC Excellence, PAHRA, or other reputable entities.

Butler Technology and Career Development School

Butler offers an undergraduate certificate in HVAC/R. Students learn how to service residential and commercial equipment and systems via a combination of classroom lectures and hands-on training in an up-to-date lab.

The curriculum explores equipment installation, systems troubleshooting and repair, how to read schematics, electrical theory, wiring, controls, and refrigerant safety. Students are prepared for several industry exams, including the EPA 608, the R410a, the OSHA 30, and the Industry Competency Exam (ICE). The program is intended for full-time attendance, so the school has made evening classes available for students unable to attend during the day.

  • Location: Hamilton, OH
  • Accreditation: Council on Occupational Education
  • Tuition: $10,180 for the full program
  • Program length: 26 weeks

Fortis College

This school offers an HVAC certificate program that prepares students for entry-level positions as technicians. Students learn the skills needed to troubleshoot, service, and repair commercial, industrial, and residential systems. They also receive training in computerized diagnostics. Coursework is presented in classroom lectures and as hands-on training in labs.

  • Location: Cincinnati, OH
  • Accreditation: Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC)
  • Format: On-campus
  • Tuition: $17,438 for the full program
  • Program length: 48 weeks

Great Oaks Institute of Technology

The Great Oaks Institute of Technology offers an HVAC certificate program. The curriculum covers classroom lectures and hands-on training in labs. Students begin with learning how to use, care for, and maintain tools. They progress to studying electrical and refrigeration concepts, preventive maintenance, and how to solder and braze parts. They study refrigeration, air conditioning, and heating equipment installation, servicing, troubleshooting, and repairing. Students also complete coursework in indoor air quality, fabricating and installing duct systems, refrigerant safety, and employability skills.

Graduates are prepared to take industry exams and apply for certifications such as EPA Section 608, Industry Competency Exam, Elevated Work Platform certification, OSHA 10 Construction, and first aid, CPR, and AED safety training.

  • Location: Cincinnati and Milford, OH
  • Accreditation: PAHRA and the Council on Occupational Education
  • Tuition: $7,470 for the full program
  • Program length: 45 weeks

Interactive College of Technology

This school offers an HVAC diploma program that prepares students for entry-level positions. The curriculum focuses on residential HVAC and does not include training for commercial or industrial equipment and systems. Coursework covers theory but relies on hands-on training to teach proficiency in the repair and maintenance of residential equipment and systems.

The program also features a 135-hour externship that gives students real-life experience. Graduates are prepared to sit for the EPA Section 608 exam and North American Technician Excellence (NATE) certifications.

  • Location: Newport, KY
  • Accreditation: Council on Occupational Education
  • Tuition: $17,833 for the full program
  • Program length: 45 weeks

Miami Valley Career Technology Center

The Miami Valley Career Technology Center offers an HVAC/R engineering technology certificate program. Students learn how to install, maintain, and repair commercial, industrial, and residential HVAC/R systems.

The curriculum is based on the National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER) core standards. Coursework involves health and safety practices; reading blueprints, design specifications, and manufacturer instructions; fabricating ducts; soldering and brazing; heat load calculations; using specialized tools; and troubleshooting. Information is presented through classroom lectures and hands-on training in an up-to-date lab. Students also learn CPR and graduates are prepared to take industry exams such as EPA Section 608 and OSHA 30.

  • Location: Clayton, OH
  • Accreditation: PAHRA and the Council on Occupational Education
  • Tuition: $12,820 for the full program
  • Program length: 50 weeks

RETS College

RETS is now part of Fortis Colleges. The school’s HVAC/R diploma program prepares students for entry-level positions as climate control technicians. Coursework is presented in classroom lectures and hands-on training in labs. The curriculum incorporates HVAC/R mechanical and electrical topics, furnaces and heat pumps, and air conditioning. Students also complete coursework in certification and exam preparation as they are required to obtain EPA Refrigerant Transition and Recovery Certification and pass the Industry Competency Exam (ICE) to graduate.

  • Location: Centerville, OH
  • Accreditation: PAHRA and the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC)
  • Tuition: $14,250 for the full program
  • Program length: 48 weeks

University of Northwestern Ohio

The University of Northwestern Ohio offers an HVAC/R technician diploma program and an HVAC/R technology degree program. Both programs include classroom lectures in theory and working knowledge from hands-on training in labs, computer-generated simulation programs, and equipment that features the latest technology. Real-life experience is gained by installing systems with the local Habitat for Humanity organization.

Students in the diploma program gain entry-level skills through coursework that covers electrical and electronics, HVAC/R systems and controls, heat pumps, services and procedures, and special topics. The technical curriculum requires a capstone. Students must also complete general education subjects such as digital documents, communication, and technical math.

Students in the degree program will complete the same coursework as those in the diploma program, with the addition of general education coursework on composition, politics, psychology, earth science, diversity issues, and customer relations.

  • Location: Lima, OH
  • Accreditation: HVAC Excellence, PAHRA, and the Higher Learning Commission
  • Format: On-campus
  • Tuition: $1,700 per six-week session
  • Program length: 16 months for the diploma; 20 months for the degree

Warren County Career Center

The Warren County Career Center offers an HVAC certificate program that prepares students for entry-level positions working with light commercial and residential equipment and systems.

Coursework is divided between classroom sessions and hands-on training. The curriculum instructs students in electrical systems and electric motors, automatic controls, and chilled water, cooling, heating, and refrigeration systems. Students also learn safety procedures, tool use, communication skills, and career preparation. They finish with a capstone project and industry exams and certifications.

  • Location: Lebanon, OH
  • Accreditation: Council on Occupational Education
  • Tuition: $8,850 for the full program
  • Program length: 38 weeks

HVAC Certification and Licensing in Cincinnati, OH

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requires refrigerant technicians to be EPA Section 608-certified, which includes 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)

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) whose 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) whose certification tests represent real-world working knowledge of HVAC/R systems.
  • HVAC Excellence whose 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.

Ohio does not require HVAC and HVAC/R technicians to obtain licensing. Self-employed technicians are usually considered to be contractors, and contractors must be licensed. Licenses are issued by the Ohio Construction Industry Licensing Board (OCILB). Applicants must be at least 18 years of age and a citizen of the U.S. or submit proof of being in the country legally. Additionally, they must:

  • Submit documentation of at least five years experience immediately prior to the date of application as a tradesperson under a licensed contractor in the field on projects that required a permit, or be a registered engineer with at least three years of business experience working with HVAC
  • Never have been convicted of specified offenses
  • Pass an examination
  • Submit proof of a minimum $500,000 contractor liability coverage
  • Undergo background checks
  • Pay applicable fees

Contractors must take eight hours of continuing education annually if their renewal if made timely; if late, they must take ten hours of continuing education. Ohio contractors have HVAC reciprocity with Kentucky, Louisiana, Tennessee, and South Carolina.

As a final note, the City of Cincinnati requires all contractors performing work within city limits to obtain a city license. Applicants must pay a fee and submit proof of liability insurance in the amount of $100,000 for damages to a single person—a total of at least $300,000 for single occurrence—as well as workers’ comp insurance.

Barry Franklin

Barry is the Editor in Chief of HVACClasses.org, operated by educational web publisher Sechel Ventures, which he joined as partner in 2013 after almost 20 years in the financial software industry.