Cleveland, OH HVAC Schools and Licensing

Find HVAC Programs Now Enrolling Students

Get information on HVAC-R Certified Technician programs by entering your zip code and request enrollment information.

Sponsored Ad

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is one of the many attractions that draw visitors to Cleveland, Ohio. Arts and entertainment services are growing, as are professional and business services, leading to “noteworthy signs of improvement” in Cleveland’s economy, according to Crain’s Cleveland Business. Education and healthcare facilities are the largest employers and construction is the fastest growth area.

U.S. Climate Data reported that the average high in July was 83 degrees Fahrenheit, while the average low in December was 26 degrees, figures which underscore the need for skilled heating, ventilation, air conditioning, and refrigeration (HVAC/R) professionals.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS May 2023) reports that 2,800 HVAC and HVAC/R mechanics and installers were employed in the Cleveland-Elyria area. Local industry organizations such as the following provide training and support to the technicians:

  • Air Conditioning Contractors of Ohio (ACCOHIO)
  • Greater Cleveland Air Conditioning Contractors Association (GCACCA)
  • Mechanical and Plumbing Industry Council – Cleveland (MAPIC)
  • Mechanical Contractors Association of Ohio (MCAO)
  • Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors of Ohio (PHCC Ohio)
  • Sheet Metal and Air Conditioning Contractors’ Association of Cleveland (SMACNA)

Read on to discover the career outlook, salary, licensing standards, and educational opportunities for aspiring HVAC professionals in the Cleveland area.

Occupational Demand for HVAC Workers in Cleveland

The need for HVAC and HVAC/R technicians is growing nationwide. According to the BLS (2023), the demand for technicians is expected to increase by 6 percent between 2022 and 2032—twice as fast as the average 3 percent projected for all occupations in the U.S.

Older data from Projections Central (2024)—a data organization partnered with the US Department of Labor—reported that there would be a 4.7 percent increase in HVAC positions across Ohio between 2020 and 2030. With the predicted addition of 660 fresh HVAC positions in OH and 37,700 openings nationwide, there is ample evidence that this is a promising profession in OH and across the country.

Several factors contribute to the growth of the HVAC and HVAC/R industry. The increasing sophistication of climate control systems and the need to replace, retrofit, or upgrade older systems is a primary factor in continued growth.

Professional services in Cleveland that rely on technology often require specialized climate-controlled facilities. The contemporary emphasis on energy efficiency and reducing pollution, coupled with Cleveland’s thriving construction industry, also contribute to increasing demand for new installations.

The BLS (2023) states that HVAC/R workers incur one of the highest rates of illness and injury among American professions for several reasons: They may be expected to lift heavy equipment, travel to job sites in all weather conditions, occasionally work in cramped conditions, and deal with refrigerants. This can lead to a higher-than-average incidence of electric shock, muscle strains, frostbite, burns, 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 (April 2024) had 101 relevant HVAC openings in Cleveland, including positions with AirForceOne, Inc, Jackson Comfort Services, JDS Mobile Medical, ArzelZoning Technology, Inc, Cleveland Clinic, and more. Monster (April 2024) had three HVAC openings in the Cleveland area with Ohio Machinery Company, Sunbelt Rentals, and United Rentals.

HVAC Salaries in Cleveland, 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 2023), there were 397,450 HVAC mechanics and installers nationwide with an average annual salary (annual mean wage) of $59,620, and 14,450 HVAC mechanics and installers in Ohio with an average annual salary (annual mean wage) of $58,390. Cleveland had 2,800 HVAC mechanics and installers with an annual mean wage of $60,210. In more detail, here are the salary percentiles of HVAC professionals across the US and in Cleveland specifically:

United States Ohio Cleveland-Elyria
Number of HVAC mechanics and installers 397,450 14,450 2,800
Average annual salary (2022) $59,620 $58,390 $60,210
10th percentile $37,270 $37,260 $38,020
25th percentile $46,550 $46,720 $47,800
50th percentile (median) $57,300 $56,960 $58,980
75th percentile $71,120 $65,110 $67,860
90th percentile $84,250 $80,370 $82,970

Another source, Indeed (April 2024), stated that HVAC technicians in Cleveland, OH made $62,402 per year on average. Also, found that HVAC mechanics made an average of $62,800 annually as of April 2024.

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 2024) reported that OH had the 23rd lowest cost of living in the United States.

HVAC Apprenticeships in Cleveland, OH

Many aspiring HVAC workers in Cleveland attend classes or participate in an apprenticeship program. Apprenticeships include around 2,000 hours of on-the-job training and 144 classroom hours annually for three to five years. The Ohio Department of Job and Family Services registers apprentices through the ApprenticeOhio program.

The Ohio Board of Regents and the Sheet Metal Workers’ International Association now have an agreement that allows union apprentices to earn up to 60 percent of credit-hours they need for an associate degree from an accredited state college. The agreement allows apprentices to apply their math and science credits toward the college’s requirements upon completion of their apprenticeship.

Additionally, the Sheet Metal and Air Conditioning Contractors’ National Association (SMACNA-Cleveland) and the Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation (SMART) Local #33 have joined forces to offer five-year apprenticeships, including one in HVAC. Apprentices receive 1,000 hours of classroom instruction and 9,000 hours of on-the-job training at the Cleveland Training Center, located in Parma, Ohio.

HVAC and HVAC/R workers can also find apprenticeship programs through local chapters of national industry associations. These include, but are not limited to:

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

Details are available on their websites.

Accredited HVAC Programs in Cleveland, OH

Another option for prospective HVAC professionals is to complete a formal certificate or degree program. Before enrolling in a school, 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 program’s quality, including both the curriculum and the instructors.

Two organizations evaluate and accredit HVAC programs: HVAC Excellence, which has awarded accreditation to the University of Northwestern Ohio, located in Lima, and the Partnership for Air-Conditioning, Heating, Refrigeration Accreditation (PAHRA), which has accredited eight programs in Ohio.

Here are several accredited HVAC programs in Cleveland and beyond:

Great Oaks Career Campuses

Great Oaks, one of the largest technical and career education districts in the US, has been providing workforce development, economic development, and career development services to businesses, individuals, communities, labor, industry, and other organizations in southwest Ohio since 1970. It offers a program in heating/ventilation & air conditioning that provides students with the knowledge and skills to repair and troubleshoot HVAC equipment. The program prepares students for various certifications such as the NATE Industry Competency Exam (ICE), the U.S. Section 608 EPA Refrigerant Recovery Certification Exam, OSHA 10 Construction, Elevated Work Platform Certification, and many more.

The program is open to students who are 18 years and above. Other than this, students are required to provide a high school diploma and have a workkeys assessment level of four or higher in the following three sections: graphic literacy, workplace documents, and applied math.

This 900-hours program will delve into topics such as concepts of refrigeration, preventive maintenance, concepts of electricity, installing refrigeration and air-conditioning equipment, servicing and repairing, proper usage and maintenance of tools, and fabricate and install duct systems, among others. Students in this program will also learn about employability and entrepreneurship skills, soldering and brazing, installing and troubleshooting heating systems, and indoor air quality.
At the end of the program, graduates can pursue opportunities such as service technician, installation technician, maintenance technician, design and manufacturing, sales and distribution, and energy management.

  • Location: Cincinnati, Ohio
  • Accreditation: COE (the Council on Occupational Education) and PAHRA (Partnership for Air-Conditioning, Heating and Refrigeration Accreditation).
  • Expected Time to Completion: 45 weeks

Polaris Career Center

The Polaris Career Center offers an HVAC/R certificate program through their adult education services. The curriculum is based on the National Center for Construction Education & Research (NCCER) core curriculum and is taught through classroom lectures and hands-on training in the lab. Coursework covers job safety procedures, HVAC installation, reading schematics, troubleshooting, ducting, air flow and balancing, HVAC/R equipment and systems, controls, electrical codes, and customer service. Students also learn employability skills.

Graduates are qualified to seek entry-level employment as HVAC technicians. They receive NCCER certification and are prepared for industry certification exams that include R-410A Safety Training, EPA Section 608, OSHA 10-hour, apprentice PM tech, and the Industry Competency Exam (ICE) for residential HVAC.

  • Location: Middleburg Heights, OH
  • Accreditation: Council on Occupational Education
  • Program length: Day 20 weeks; Evening 36 weeks

Remington College

Although Remington has offered an HVAC diploma program and an HVAC associate degree program in the past at the Cleveland campus, neither program is currently (February 2024) available. Students should consult the school administration as to when/if the programs will resume in Cleveland, as both programs are still available at other campuses.

  • Location: Cleveland, OH
  • Accreditation: Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC)
  • Format: On-campus
  • Program length: 48 weeks for the diploma; two years for the degree

Belmont College

Belmont College offers an AAS degree program and a certificate in HVAC technology. These programs prepare students to install, repair, and maintain residential and commercial HVAC systems. Upon completion, graduates can take up roles such as maintenance technician, service technician, ventilation, heating, and air conditioning technician, controls technician, furnace equipment installer, and heat pump installer or mechanic.

The HVAC certificate program comprises 34 credit-hours including courses such as AC systems maintenance, basic electricity, heating & cooling fundamentals, power systems & motors, welding fundamentals, forced air systems & sheet metal, and piping and installation fundamentals. All courses in this program are applicable to the AAS degree. Students are also prepared for an on-campus certification test in refrigeration-handling.

The associate in applied science degree consists of 64 to 65 credit-hours. Sample some of the coursework in the curriculum: A/C system maintenance, workplace safety, A/C and heating troubleshooting, refrigeration service and repair, work sequence, hydronics and steam, assignments & clients, and heating and cooling fundamentals.

The AAS program prepares students for a 160-hour internship with a local HVAC contractor, the refrigerant-handling License (EPA), and similar credentials. Graduates can expect to learn how to analyze effective and efficient systems, create schematic diagrams and blueprints, and test, analyze, repair, and troubleshoot components, basic industrial systems, and circuits.

  • Location: St. Clairsville, Ohio
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission
  • Expected Time to Completion: Certificate (12 months); AAS degree (24 months)

Columbus State Community College

Columbus State Community College offers an associate of applied science degree in HVAC technology, preparing students for a wide variety of occupations in the HVAC industry. The program provides students with the training needed to develop technical proficiency and the ability to work independently.

Comprising 77 credit-hours, the program provides instruction in load calculations, the principles of refrigeration,hand tools & safety, automatic controls, the instrumentation & combustion process, business communications, and piping systems, among other subjects.

Students will learn how to create designs for industrial and commercial piping systems, create manual and computer graphic representations of HVAC projects, test and calculate airflow through system equipment, assist in designing preventative maintenance programs for various HVAC systems, and calculate heat loss and heat gain loads for residential and commercial structures.

Columbus State Community College also offers the following HVAC certificates: controls (13 credit-hours), high-pressure boiler license training program (12 credit-hours), large commercial (20 credit-hours), residential & light commercial (21 credit-hours), and test & balance (15 credit-hours).

  • Location: Columbus, OH
  • Accreditation: The Higher Learning Commission
  • Expected Time to Completion: Degree four semesters, certificates vary

HVAC Certification and Licensing in Cleveland, OH

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, many offering 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.

Ohio does not require HVAC and HVAC/R technicians to obtain licensing. However, 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 of experience immediately before the date of application as a tradesperson under a licensed contractor in the field on projects that require a permit or be a registered engineer with at least three years of business experience working with HVAC. They must also pass an examination and a background check and submit proof of a minimum $500,000 contractor liability coverage and payment for applicable fees.

Also, contractors must take eight hours of continuing education annually for their licenses. If late, they must take ten hours of continuing education. Please note that Ohio contractors have HVAC reciprocity with Kentucky, Louisiana, Tennessee, and South Carolina.

Any contractor who performs an aggregate of $10,000 or more of business with Cuyahoga County must be registered with the county. Registrants must watch an ethics training video, sign an Ethics Certification form, submit a completed application form, and pay a $100 fee.

Finally, the City of Cleveland requires HVAC and HVAC/R contractors to be bonded, insured, licensed with the State and registered with the city. Applicants must submit a copy of their State HVAC license, a $25,000 bond, an insurance certificate for minimum coverage of $200,000, a notarized registration application, and a fee of $150.

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).