HVAC Schools in Cincinnati, OH – Programs & Certification

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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 health 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 May 2019) reports that more than 2,200 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

The demand for HVAC technicians is growing nationwide. According to the BLS (2020), job openings for technicians are expected to increase 4 percent nationally between 2019 and 2029—which is as fast as the average 4 percent projected for all occupations in the U.S. Demand for technicians in Ohio exceeds national expectations.

By illustration, Projections Central (2021)—a data organization partnered with the US Department of Labor—reported that there would be a 12.6 percent increase in HVAC positions across Ohio between 2018 and 2028. With the predicted addition of 1,550 fresh HVAC positions in OH and 42,800 openings nationwide, there is ample evidence that this is a promising profession in the state and across the country.

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.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (2020) states that these workers incur one of the highest rates of injury and illness among American professions for various reasons: They may have to lift heavy equipment, deal with refrigerants, travel in all weather conditions to different job sites, and occasionally work in cramped conditions. All this can lead to a higher-than-average incidence of muscle strains, electric shock, burns, frostbite, and other work-related complications. As long as HVAC professionals in OH don proper safety equipment and have rigorous training prior to completing projects in the field, these risks can generally be kept to a minimum.

As proof of the booming industry in HVAC, Indeed (2021) had 207 relevant HVAC openings in Cincinnati, including positions with Hauser Heating & Air Conditioning, Hauser Air, Air Force One, Homee, The Armor Group, and more. Monster (2021) had 292 HVAC openings in Cincinnati with varied employers such as Penske, Jobot, American Cybersystems, and Staffmark, to name a few.

HVAC Salaries in Cincinnati, OH

Not only is HVAC a high-growth profession, but it is also relatively lucrative, especially for a profession requiring only one to two years of postsecondary training. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (May 2019), there were 342,040 HVAC mechanics and installers nationwide with an average annual salary (annual mean wage) of $51,420, and 12,100 HVAC mechanics and installers in Ohio with an average annual salary (annual mean wage) of $48,350.

Cincinnati had 2,250 HVAC mechanics and installers with an annual mean wage of $50,150. In more detail, here were the salary percentiles of HVAC professionals across the US and in Cincinnati specifically:

United States Ohio Cincinnati, OH
Number of HVAC professionals employed 342,040 12,100 2,250
Annual mean wage $51,420 $48,350 $50,150
10th percentile $30,610 $29,600 $28,890
25th percentile $37,660 $36,200 $35,490
50th percentile (median) $48,730 $47,270 $49,190
75th percentile $62,070 $59,510 $63,130
90th percentile $77,920 $70,150 $74,810

Another source, Indeed (2021), stated that HVAC workers in Cincinnati, OH made $$50,601 per year on average. Also, Salary.com found that HVAC mechanics made an average of $41,576 annually as of early 2021.

It is important to note that HVAC professionals in OH enjoy a more affordable cost of living than in most other US states. By illustration, the Missouri Economic Research and Information Center (MERIC 2021) reported that OH had the 16th lowest cost of living in the United States for 2020.

HVAC and HVAC/R Apprenticeships 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 TP Mechanical Contractors offers apprenticeship programs in the HVAC industry, which include at least 8,000 hours of on-the-job training and 576 hours of classroom learning. This apprenticeship program takes 4 years to complete.

Another association offering apprenticeship programs in Ohio is the Associated Builders & Contractors – Central Ohio Chapter. This involves at least 8,000 hours of on-the-job training along with 576 hours of classroom training. This apprenticeship program requires approximately four years of full-time work.

Accredited HVAC and HVAC/R Schools in Cincinnati, OH

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 the 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 Technology and Career Development School offers an HVAC/R program providing training that is specific to the mechanical, chemical, and electrical systems. 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. This allows them to get practical experience while they learn.

Comprising 648 clock hours, the curriculum explores topics such as 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.

Upon successful completion, graduates will have the opportunity to work in a variety of settings including schools, homes, office buildings, factories, and hospitals.

  • Location: Hamilton, OH
  • Accreditation: Council on Occupational Education
  • Expected Time to Completion: 8 to 11 months
  • Estimated Tuition: $11, 247 for the full program

Fortis College

Having four campuses in Ohio (Cincinnati, Columbus, Centerville, and Cuyahoga Falls), Fortis College offers an HVAC/R diploma preparing students for entry-level positions as technicians. This FORTIS HVAC/R program includes units on heat pumps, commercial refrigeration, gas heat, A/C, and more. Students through this program develop the knowledge and skills needed for troubleshooting, servicing, and repairing industrial, residential, and commercial systems. They are also trained in digital or computerized diagnostics. The program delivers its courses through classroom lectures and hands-on training in labs.

The faculty of the program includes experienced instructors, teaching students how to apply their learnings to real-world problems. In order to be accepted for the program, students must be high school graduates or possess the recognized equivalent.

Consisting of 64 credits, courses in the program include thermodynamics, HVAC/R controls, refrigerants, residential and commercial air conditioning, EPA certification preparation, oil heating systems, gas heating systems, and industrial refrigeration, among others.

After completing the program, students will be well-equipped to maintain HVAC systems of all kinds. They will develop the skills necessary to develop, test, and operate HVAC equipment. Graduates will also be eligible to take the EPA Universal Certification Exam. They will be ready to take up roles such as service technician, apprentice heating technician, and installation technician, to name a few.

  • Location: Cincinnati, OH
  • Accreditation: Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES)
  • Expected Time to Completion: 48 weeks
  • Estimated Tuition: $17288

Great Oaks Institute of Technology

The Great Oaks Institute of Technology offers an HVAC certificate program. The program provides students with the skills needed for installing, maintaining, troubleshooting, and repairing a wide range of HVAC systems. Students learn to install and service oil, electric, and gas furnaces, air conditioners, heat pumps, and boilers. They are also prepared for certifications mandatory in the HVAC industry.

Made up of 900 clock hours, 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. Graduates can take up jobs in design and manufacturing, sales and distribution, and energy management.

  • Location: Cincinnati and Milford, OH
  • Accreditation: PAHRA and the Council on Occupational Education
  • Expected Time to Completion: 45 weeks
  • Estimated Tuition: $7,695

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 the latest technology equipment. Real-life experience is gained by installing systems with the local Habitat for Humanity organization.

The diploma is made up of 61 credit-hours. Students in this diploma program gain entry-level skills through coursework that covers electronics and electrical, 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.

The AAS degree in HVAC/R technology consists of 88 credit-hours. Students in this 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
  • Expected Time to Completion: Diploma (16 months); AAS degree (20 months)
  • Estimated Tuition: $1,700 per six-week session

Warren County Career Center

The Warren County Career Center offers an HVAC certificate program that prepares students for entry-level employment working with residential and light commercial equipment and systems. They learn about the basics of installing, operating, troubleshooting, and servicing HVAC/R systems.

For admission to the program, students require a High school diploma or GED. They need to complete the WorkKeys assessment and should be able to perform heavy lifting.

This program is made up of 600 clock hours. 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
  • Expected Time to Completion: 38 weeks
  • Estimated Tuition: $8,850

Belmont College

Belmont College offers a certificate and an AAS degree program in HVAC technology. These programs prepare students for installing, maintaining, and repairing residential as well as commercial HVAC systems.

This certificate program consists of 35 credit-hours including courses such as heating & cooling fundamentals, AC systems maintenance, power systems & motors, basic electricity, welding fundamentals, piping and installation fundamentals, and forced air systems & sheet metal, among others. All courses earned in this certificate are applicable toward the AAS degree. Students are also prepared for an on-campus certification test in refrigeration-handling.

The associate of applied science degree consists of 63 to 64 credit hours. Sample some of the courses in the curriculum: A/C and heating troubleshooting, A/C system maintenance, refrigeration service and repair, workplace safety, hydronics and steam, heating and cooling fundamentals, and work sequence, assignments, and clients.

This program prepares graduates for a 160-hour internship with a local HVAC contractor, the EPA License, and similar credentials. Students in this program can expect to learn to analyze effective and efficient systems, test, analyze, repair, and troubleshoot circuits, components, and industrial systems, and how to create schematic diagrams and blueprints.

  • Location: St. Clairsville, Ohio
  • Accreditation: The Higher Learning Commission
  • Expected Time to Completion: Certificate (12 months); AAS degree (24 months)
  • Estimated Tuition: $169.75 per credit

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.

Contractors must take eight hours of continuing education annually if their renewal is 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 a single occurrence—as well as workers’ comp insurance.

Sandra Smith

Sandra Smith was introduced to the HVAC industry when she worked as a bookkeeper and secretary for a small air-conditioning contractor. She eventually became a CPA and started her own practice specializing in small business taxes and accounting. After retiring from business, she began writing articles for newspapers, magazines, and websites. She also authored four books. Sandra makes her home in the mountains with a rescue dog that naps on her lap as she writes.