The summers in Nashville, Tennessee (TN) are hot, with temperatures approaching 90 degrees. The days are frequently cloudy and humid, and night times average about 20 degrees cooler. Winters are also colder and wetter with daytime highs rarely greater than 50 degrees and most nights dropping to below freezing. December through March typically brings light snowfall, and thunderstorms are frequent in the spring and fall. Many types of vegetation find Nashville’s climate favorable and consequently, residents are no strangers to allergic reactions.
Nashville has long been known as Music City for its many entertainment and music-related businesses. The entertainment venues support a thriving tourist industry, and technology and education are also significant sources of revenue. An even more substantial contributor to the economy is the healthcare industry.
Until recently, the city experienced explosive growth and “frenzied development” that led to a shortage of workers. According to the Chamber of Commerce, “Nashville was the first city out of the recession. Jobs grew. In-migration grew. Now we hit a point in the cycle where a lot of economic aspects are coming back into balance. We’re going to be in a steady period earlier than other cities. Then the growth is likely to resume.”
The weather, especially during the spring allergy season, keeps many Nashville residents indoors. Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) are essential for their comfort whether working, playing, or relaxing. Commercial and industrial facilities often require the addition of large-scale refrigeration (HVAC/R) equipment, as well as specialized climate control systems.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), 2,770 HVAC mechanics and installers were employed in the Nashville-Davidson-Murfreesboro-Franklin area. The technicians receive training and support from state and local chapters of industry organizations such as the following:
These organizations work with professionals in the industry and government organizations to establish educational and licensing standards for the HVAC and HVAC/R industries.
Read on to discover the career outlook, salaries, and accredited training programs for aspiring HVAC professionals in Nashville.
The BLS (2018) reports that the demand for technicians in the U.S. is expected to increase by 15 percent between 2016 and 2026. That is more than twice than the average 7 percent increase expected for all occupations nationwide. The demand for technicians in Tennessee is growing at an even greater rate than the national average. By illustration, Projections Central predicted a 22.1 percent statewide increase for the same time period.
The HVAC industry is growing rapidly for several reasons, including the complexity of modern climate control systems. Older equipment and systems must be replaced, retrofitted, or upgraded to meet industry and environmental standards. Economies that rely on technology, such as those that are a big part of Nashville growth, increase the need for sophisticated climate control equipment and systems. The contemporary emphasis on energy efficiency and reducing pollution is another reason for the increased installation of new equipment and systems.
Technicians with superior troubleshooting skills as well as those who are computer- and electronics-literate typically have the best job prospects. Workers who specialize in new installations may experience seasonal unemployment if construction declines, although that is unlikely in Nashville. The economy is expanding, and the city attracts nearly 100 new residents daily. Development projects result in continuous construction of new office buildings, warehouses, hospitality venues, and residences. Maintenance and repair work continues all year, as businesses and homeowners depend on keeping their climate control systems in good operating condition regardless of the economy.
The BLS (May 2017) reported that HVAC mechanics and installers nationally received a median salary of $47,080 annually. Technicians in the Nashville-Davidson-Murfreesboro-Franklin area receive an annual median salary of $46,480. That is regarded as a competitive wage due to the relatively lower cost of living in Tennessee.
Following is a comparison of national, state, and regional salaries of HVAC professionals:
|United States||Tennessee||Nashville – Davidson – Murfreesboro – Franklin, TN|
|Number of HVAC professionals employed||307,060||7,760||2,770|
|Average annual salary||$49,530||$44,170||$47,010|
|50th percentile (median)||$47,080||$42,160||$46,480|
Historically, HVAC technicians began as helpers and learned the trade through on-the-job training. It is still possible to do so, but most workers now attend classes or participate in an apprenticeship program.
Apprenticeships include around 2,000 hours of paid on-the-job training and 144 hours of classroom work annually for three to five years. Apprentices are often awarded journey-level status at the completion of their training.
The Tennessee Department of Labor and Workplace Development oversees the registered apprenticeship programs. They maintain a list of training providers. Trainees that meet specific requirements are eligible for grants to help meet the costs of becoming employable. Go Build Tennessee has compiled a list of training programs filtered by location and trade.
Additionally, the Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) Greater Tennessee Chapter offers a four-year HVAC apprenticeship program. Apprentices attend classes two nights a week while working full-time. Tuition is $2,675 annually, with a discount of $400 if an ABC member employs the apprentice.
Additionally, workers seeking HVAC and HVAC/R apprenticeship programs can find several available through national industry associations such as:
Information as to coursework offered and the cost is available on their websites.
Alternatively, workers may choose to complete an accredited training program. Accreditation involves an evaluation of the quality of an educational institution’s program by an independent agency. The evaluation includes both the curriculum and the instructors and when choosing a school, it is essential to determine if it is accredited and which organization granted accreditation.
Two organizations are responsible for evaluating and accrediting HVAC programs. HVAC Excellence has accredited several campuses of Tennessee College of Applied Technology, including the Nashville campus. The Partnership for Air-Conditioning, Heating, Refrigeration Accreditation (PAHRA) has not currently accredited a school in Tennessee.
Please note that all of the following schools are regionally accredited.
Remington College offers an HVAC diploma program. Coursework and lab practice give students training in residential, commercial, and industrial HVAC systems. The curriculum includes instruction in:
Graduates are qualified to seek entry-level jobs as HVAC technicians. The college emphasizes the importance of obtaining EPA 608 certification and prepares students for taking the exam. The cost of the exam is included with the tuition fees.
TCAT Nashville offers an HVAC/R technician diploma program and the following certificate programs:
Students learn how to troubleshoot, repair, and maintain residential and commercial equipment and systems. The curriculum includes instruction in basic HVAC/R, soldering and brazing, heat load calculations, and duct sizing, as well as training in electrical devices, compressors, system evacuation, and schematic wiring diagrams.
Students wear uniforms consisting of light blue industrial work shirts and navy work pants.
TCAT Murfreesboro offers HVAC certificate programs in assistant installer and maintenance assistance and an HVAC technical studies diploma program. Coursework includes refrigerants, the fundamentals of electricity, gas heating, HVAC electrical motors, HVAC troubleshooting, electrical components, and heat pumps.
The programs are self-paced, and graduates are qualified to seek entry-level employment.
Nashville students who are unable to complete an on-campus program may want to consider online HVAC training. For more information on programs available in an online format, visit the online HVAC training page on this site.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requires technicians who work with refrigerants to obtain EPA Section 608 Certification. The four certifications are:
Certification requires passing an exam on the safe handling of refrigerants.
Technicians may obtain additional training and certifications from industry organizations. These include the Refrigeration Service Engineers Society (RSES), North American Technician Excellence (NATE), and HVAC Excellence. These organizations and others offer Section 608 testing and certification.
Finally, the Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance requires contractor licensing for projects of $25,000 or more. All contractors must pass a business and law exam, and HVAC contractors must pass a trade-specific exam. The exams are $55 each. In addition, the state requires contractors to submit the following: financial statements, letters of reference, proof of insurance, registration documents from the Secretary of State, a notarized application, and a $250 fee. Licenses are renewed every two years.
The County of Davidson requires all contractors to obtain a business license. Licenses for businesses located within Nashville cost $30, and businesses located in the greater county pay $15 for their license. The City of Nashville also requires all contractors to have a county business license, submit proof of insurance, and post a surety bond. Contractors working on projects $25,000 or greater must have a state contractors license.
Please note that all HVAC professionals are encouraged to verify that they have all necessary credentialing and permits prior to beginning any project.