HVAC Training Schools in Vermont (VT)

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Autumn brings the beauty of fall colors to Vermont (VT) and the beginning of cold and harsh winters. Vermonters cope with several feet of snow and below freezing temperatures. Winter gives way to spring thawing and mud. Summers come early and can be mild until August heat settles in. The overall climate can be humid, and as a result, Vermont residents and businesses need heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) for comfort throughout seasonal extremes. Furthermore, the mainstays of Vermont’s economy are manufacturing, agriculture, and animal products—all of which require year-round refrigeration (HVAC-R).

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS 2017), 930 Vermonters were employed as HVAC installers, mechanics, and maintenance workers. HVAC and HVAC-R contractors and technicians receive local training and support from the Plumbers, Fuel Gas Fitters and HVAC Association of New Hampshire (PGFHVAC), which serves the greater New England area. Additionally, local chapters of national associations can offer networking, advocacy, and even employment expense discounts; these organizations include the Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA), the Air Conditioning Trade Association (ACTA), the Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors Association (PHCC), the Refrigeration Service Engineers Society (RSES), and the Sheet Metal and Air Conditioning Contractors’ National Association (SMACNA).

HVAC and HVAC-R technicians in VT perform a variety of jobs. Each job has specific requirements, and technicians must be able to use an assortment of tools. Some are basic hand tools, such as wrenches or pipe cutters. Other jobs require specialized tools, such as monoxide testers, voltmeters, or combustion analyzers. When equipment needs repair, technicians troubleshoot and test components to find the problem. They may have to remove and replace defective parts. Repairs can require knowing how to weld or braze parts. The HVAC technician job description includes installing, servicing, and repairing systems that control air quality, air flow, and temperature in buildings. They travel from one work site to another, sometimes daily. Work sites include residences, offices, warehouses, factories, hospitals, and stores. Each job has specific requirements. The technicians must be able to read blueprints and be familiar with building codes. They install electrical and water lines for new equipment, and also connect systems to supply lines, air ducts, controls, and other components, then test and calibrate all equipment. Technicians must be proficient in trade math in order to do calculations such as heat loads and losses. They also have a role in educating consumers as to how to conserve energy and reduce pollution. Each customer is provided with a complete written record of all work performed and suggested recommendations. It’s important to note that VT-based technicians are responsible for keeping their licenses and certifications in good standing. All work must be performed in compliance with safety practices.

This article covers accredited HVAC programs in Vermont, including discussions of salary prospects, industry growth, and credentialing requirements.

Career Outlook for HVAC Technicians in Vermont

The demand for HVAC technicians nationwide continues to grow. According to the BLS (2017), the number of openings in HVAC is expected to swell 15 percent nationwide between 2016 and 2026. That’s much faster growth than the U.S. average for all occupations (seven percent). Several factors contribute to the nationwide growth of the HVAC and HVAC industry:

  • New commercial buildings and residences
  • Increasing sophistication of climate control systems
  • Contemporary emphasis on energy efficiency and reducing pollution
  • Replacing, retrofitting, or upgrading older systems

Consumers depend on their HVAC and HVAC-R systems, and technicians able to perform maintenance and repairs typically have stable work regardless of economic conditions. Heating, air conditioning, and refrigeration mechanics and installers held 307,060 jobs nationwide in 2017, according to the BLS (2017). Contractors employed 64 percent of HVAC/R mechanics and installers, and nine percent of technicians were self-employed. The remaining technicians work for schools, wholesale companies, or other businesses.

Vermont technicians may have to service outdoor equipment during adverse weather conditions as repairs cannot wait until the weather improves. Technicians usually work full-time, with overtime hours during peak seasons.

To demonstrate the demand for HVAC workers, one need look no further than online job boards. For example, Indeed (Dec. 2018) posted 72 listings for HVAC positions in Vermont, including jobs with organizations like Champ Mechanical Services, Control Technologies Inc., and Champlain College.

HVAC Professional Salary in Vermont

The BLS (2017) reported that nationally, HVAC-R mechanics and installers receive a median annual salary of $49,530. Vermont technicians received a median salary $49,670, which is virtually the same as the national average. Of course, the cost of living in VT is higher than that of many states. By illustration, the Missouri Economic Research and Information Center (MERIC 2018) indicated that Vermont was the twelfth most expensive state in the country, with housing being particularly costly. This analysis indicates that an average salary in Vermont will not go quite as far as it would in a more affordable state like Pennsylvania or even New Hampshire.

According to the BLS (2017), these were the national salary percentiles as compared to those of Vermont technicians:

Annual salary Hourly salary
United States Vermont United States Vermont
Average $49,530 $49,670 $23.81 $23.88
10th percentile $29,120 $35,650 $14.00 $17.14
25th percentile $36,150 $42,020 $17.38 $20.20
50th percentile $47,080 $48,040 $22.64 $23.10
75th percentile $60,270 $56,640 $28.98 $27.23
90th percentile $75,330 $66,320 $36.22 $31.88

The national figures were slightly different according to another source of data, Payscale (Dec. 2018), which relies on self-reported salaries. Among the HVAC workers reporting their annual salaries, Payscale found these percentiles:

United States: 881 HVAC workers responding

  • 10th percentile: $29,000
  • 50th percentile (median): $44,606
  • 90th percentile: $72,000

An additional 4,892 HVAC workers gave Payscale their hourly salary figures, resulting in these percentile wages:

  • 10th percentile: $12.94/hr.
  • 50th percentile (median): $19.33/hr.
  • 90th percentile: $29.55/hr.

The BLS designated three regions within Vermont for which employment data is available. Following are the detailed salary data for the state of Vermont:

Burlington-South Burlington, VT (450 HVAC workers): $53,160 annual average salary

Burlington-South Burlington, VT
Percentile Annual salary Hourly salary
Average $53,160 $25.56
10th percentile $37,310 $17.94
25th percentile $44,110 $21.21
50th percentile $51,940 $24.97
75th percentile $61,680 $29.65
90th percentile $73,500 $35.34

Northern Vermont nonmetropolitan area (190 HVAC workers): $48,050 annual average salary

Northern Vermont nonmetropolitan area
Percentile Annual salary Hourly salary
Average $48,050 $23.10
10th percentile $36,720 $17.65
25th percentile $41,710 $20.05
50th percentile $46,170 $22.20
75th percentile $50,550 $24.30
90th percentile $61,370 $29.50

Southern Vermont nonmetropolitan area (300 HVAC workers): $45,400 annual average salary

Southern Vermont nonmetropolitan area
Percentile Annual salary Hourly salary
Average $45,400 $21.83
10th percentile $34,160 $16.42
25th percentile $39,730 $19.10
50th percentile $45,440 $21.85
75th percentile $50,540 $24.30
90th percentile $58,540 $28.14

Accredited HVAC Schools in Vermont

It is possible to join the workforce and learn how to be an HVAC technician through hands-on training, but this route has become more difficult over the years. Most workers in Vermont now participate in an apprenticeship program or attend classes. Training opens up more employment opportunities. Workers also may start at higher wages and earn more during their career.

The Vermont Department of Labor registers apprentices. Applicants first find an approved employer who will sponsor them for on-the-job training, then enroll in classroom coursework. Many HVAC apprentices in Vermont attend Vermont Technical College, although some companies provide in-house classes. Students can also attend classes at union training centers.

The Department of Labor also maintains a list of potential sponsors for those interested in pursuing an apprenticeship in any trade. At the time of this writing (Dec. 2018), four HVAC companies are willing to sponsor apprentices, located in Bradford, Morrisville, Williston, and South Burlington. Apprentices can also find apprenticeship opportunities through the Vermont Job Link or local chapters of the industry associations mentioned in the introduction to this page.

Rather than becoming apprentices, other aspiring HVAC professionals in VT may choose to enroll in an academic program. When choosing a school to attend, it is important for applicants to make sure that the institution is accredited, which means a third-party organization has evaluated either the specific program or the institution as a whole for its curriculum, faculty, and learning outcomes. A wide range of independent organizations grants accreditation to institutions of higher learning. For HVAC programs specifically, the most prominent program accreditation entities are the Partnership for Air-Conditioning, Heating, Refrigeration Accreditation and HVAC Excellence, although there were no programs in VT approved by either organization as of December 2018.

That said, there are other regionally accredited training options available. For example, the Vermont Technical College offers an HVAC course at the Randolph Center campus as part of the architectural engineering technology program. The HVAC course focuses on system design, rather than installation, maintenance, or service. Classes and labs include:

  • Basic HVAC calculations
  • Design conditions
  • Load estimating
  • Duct and piping sizing
  • HVAC equipment selection
  • Energy conservation
  • Mechanical codes

Students are required to have completed classwork in environmental systems, the fundamentals of fluids and thermodynamics, and mechanical/electrical codes and loads as before taking the HVAC course. The cost of the course is $15.00. Students may also take online courses through the college. Vermont Technical College offers two degree programs at the Randolph Campus, which may be of interest to students wanting to know more about HVAC system design and engineering. The first is an associate of applied science (AAS) degree in architectural & building engineering technology that requires 65 credit hours and includes coursework in HVAC and energy-conscious design. Students may also earn a bachelor of science (BS) degree in architectural engineering technology, which requires 124 credit-hours and expands on the coursework described above. Notably, both programs are accredited by the Engineering Technology Accreditation Commission of the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET). The 2017-18 tuition was set at $563 per credit hour. Students are responsible for additional fees. All amounts are subject to change without notice.

Several other schools in Vermont offer courses useful to individuals wanting to become an HVAC or HVAC-R technician, including:

Green Mountain Technology and Career Center in Hyde Park offers two separate one-year programs for high school students. Students who choose to enroll spend one year on heating systems and one year on air conditioning and refrigeration. Graduates will be eligible for the Bronze Oil Heat Technician Certificate as well as the EPA Section 608 certification.

River Bend Career and Technical Center in Bradford offers a Construction Academy and Residential Energy program to introduce students to the operation of HVAC systems. There are two levels of the program available to students, who are also eligible to earn college credit in these technical school courses.

These and similar programs are accredited through their respective school districts. Tuition and fees are determined by the school districts, but many are free to current high school students. Programs change from time to time to meet the needs of the various trades. Adult courses and continuing education courses are also available at some centers.

HVAC Certification & Licensing in Vermont

Federal law requires all HVAC technicians who work with refrigerants to obtain Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Section 608 certification. Certification requires passing an exam on the safe handling of refrigerants. Four levels of certifications are available based on the size and type of equipment. The Type IV universal certification allows technicians to work on all equipment. Various organizations offer classes and administer the exam.

Technicians may obtain additional training and certifications from industry organizations. These include the Refrigeration Service Engineers Society (RSES); North American Technician Excellence (NATE); and the aforementioned HVAC Excellence. Each organization has information on certifications offered, fees, and expiration dates available on their website.

The State of Vermont Division of Fire Safety is the agency responsible for licensing the trades. HVAC and HVAC-R technicians are licensed as Type S (Speciality) electricians. Type S licenses don’t require the general licensing process for electricians. Applicants for Type S licensing must have completed an accredited training and experience program or had acceptable training and experience, within Vermont or outside. Applicants must also pass an examination on refrigeration or air conditioning. Fees are charged for the exam and issuance of the license. Licensees are required to obtain continuing education credits to renew their licenses.

Lastly, different cities have varying laws on HVAC credentials. To ensure that one remains in compliance with the law, all VT-based technicians in this field are strongly encouraged to reach out to local government offices to ensure they have all necessary permits and certifications.