Newport News, Virginia (VA) HVAC Programs & Certifications

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Newport News, Virginia (VA), located on the tip of the Virginia Peninsula, falls within the humid subtropical climate classification. Accordingly, the humid summers can be hot, and the winters are often cold and windy. June, July, and August are the hottest months, with average temperatures in the high 80s F. August has the most rain, with more than five inches falling during the month, with July a close second with more than four inches. January is the coldest month, with average highs in the 40s and lows dipping to freezing. Measurable snow falls during December, January, and February, for an average annual total of almost four inches.

Newport News has a long history. Originally home to Native Americans, English settlers began arriving in the early 1600s. The city’s location on Chesapeake Bay soon led to industrial growth, particularly shipbuilding. The Newport News Shipbuilding company remains a mainstay of the economy. As the population expanded, other municipalities were established. The metropolitan region is now known as Hampton Roads, which is also the name of the harbor.

Military installations, including Joint Base Langley, defense-related industry, aerospace, and maritime companies, significantly contribute to the economy. Education, healthcare, manufacturing, professional services, research facilities, retail trade, and technology constitute a diverse and prosperous economy. Miles of waterfront, listings on the National Register of Historic Places, and numerous museums and cultural attractions support a thriving tourist trade.

The weather and humidity often keep the residents of Newport News indoors, where they rely on heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) for comfort in their homes and workplaces. Educational institutions, healthcare complexes, manufacturing plants, and research facilities typically add refrigeration (HVAC/R) to achieve adequate climate control. Retail businesses and entertainment and hospitality venues often add refrigeration to their systems to keep their customers comfortable. The military, defense business, and companies that rely on technology frequently require sophisticated climate-control systems to keep their electronics operating correctly. Historic sites and museums also need specialized climate-control systems to protect their structures and artifacts.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS 2023) data shows that 2,790 HVAC mechanics and installers were employed in the Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News, VA-NC Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) as of May 2022. HVAC technicians and their employers receive resources and support from national, state, and local industry associations that include the following:

  • American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE)
  • Associated Builders and Contractors, Inc – Virginia Chapter (ABCVA)
  • Associated General Contractors of Virginia (AGCVA)
  • Plumbing Heating Cooling Contractors of Virginia (PHCCVA)
  • Refrigeration Service Engineers Society (RSES)
  • Tidewater Builders Association (TBA)
  • The International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail, and Transportation Workers (SMART)
  • Virginia Air Duct Cleaners, Inc

These and similar associations coordinate with others in the industry and with government agencies to establish educational, licensing, and performance standards for the safety of technicians, the public, and the environment.

Occupational Demand for HVAC and HVAC/R Technicians in Newport News, VA

The HVAC industry continues growing and presents new job opportunities for HVAC and HVAC/R technicians. BLS (2023) predictions include an average of 37,700 new positions each year between 2022 and 2032. That’s a 6 percent increase in the nationwide demand for trained technicians, which is twice the growth predictions for all other occupations in the same period. Projections Central predicts an annual five percent increase nationwide, but their statistics are for 2020 to 2030 and reflect an average of 38,500 new positions yearly.

The HVAC industry grows primarily by constructing new commercial and residential buildings. The renovation and remodeling of existing buildings, especially in older cities such as Newport News, contribute significantly to new job opportunities. Aging or obsolete climate-control equipment and systems frequently must be replaced, retrofitted, or updated. New industries that rely on technology and evolving regulations can make it necessary to replace systems in recently built structures. Another contributor to industry growth is the increasing emphasis on energy efficiency and pollution reduction.

Many homeowners and businesses insist on “smart” buildings, whether constructing new structures or updating existing ones. Installation of high-tech HVAC and HVAC/R equipment is part of contemporary systems. The increasing complexity of the sophisticated climate-control systems and equipment requires trained technicians. Newport News technicians must have superior troubleshooting skills and proficiency with computers and electronics to obtain the best job opportunities.

Technicians specializing in installing new systems may sometimes experience unemployment if construction declines. A decline is unlikely in the foreseeable future as “Strategic planning and a pro-business atmosphere have primed Newport News for a bright economic future in the 21st century and beyond.” Additionally, “The technology sector is one of the fastest growing sectors . . . .” The expanding shipbuilding industry keeps the economy strong in the whole region.

Technicians specializing in maintaining, servicing, and repairing equipment and systems seldom experience unemployment regardless of the economy, as the weather makes year-round climate control essential for businesses and homeowners.

HVAC and HVAC/R Salaries in Newport News, VA

The BLS Occupational Wage Statistics show that HVAC mechanics and installers nationally earned an annual median salary of $51,390 for the period ended May 2022. Technicians in the Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News, VA-NC MSA received an annual median salary of $48,160. The wage difference isn’t as significant as it appears. Although the cost of living in Virginia is higher than the national index, it is significantly lower in Newport News.

BLS (May 2022) data for national, state, and regional salaries of HVAC professionals follows—the latest figures available as of January 2023:

United States Virginia Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News, VA-NC MSA
Number of HVAC professionals employed 374,770 12,640 2,790
Average Annual Salary $57,460 $55,880 $52,180
10th Percentile $36,170 $36,750 $36,380
25th Percentile $44,100 $45,960 $45,660
50th Percentile (Median) $51,390 $53,460 $48,160
75th Percentile $65,630 $62,680 $60,470
90th Percentile $82,630 $78,270 $71,480

HVAC Apprenticeships in Newport News, VA

In times past, workers could begin their careers as helpers and acquire the skills they needed through on-the-job training. Few opportunities for untrained workers exist today. Aspiring technicians now either participate in an apprenticeship program or attend classes. Apprenticeships and formal training open up more employment opportunities. Trained technicians typically start at higher wages and potentially earn more throughout their careers.

Apprenticeships include specified hours of on-the-job training, usually 2,000 hours, and classroom work, typically 144 hours, annually for three to five years. The Virginia Department of Labor and Industry provides information and resources for sponsors and registered apprentices.

The Associated Builders and Contractors, Virginia Chapter (ABCVA) offers trade apprenticeships, including a four-year HVAC program in Dulles, Richmond, and Norfolk, VA. An HVAC company must employ applicants. If an ABCVA member employs them, tuition is $1,775. If their employer is not a member, the tuition is $1,225. The training meets the standards the National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER) set. Apprentices complete 2000 hours of on-the-job training and 150 hours of classroom instruction each year.

Norfolk Technical Center Adult Apprenticeship Program offers several apprenticeships, including HVAC. Applicants must be employed by an HVAC company and registered with the Virginia Department of Labor and Industry. Classes are conducted in the evenings and include hands-on training in the lab.

The University of Virginia offers a four-year Facilities Management apprenticeship program that includes HVAC. Newport News students must be willing to commute to Charlottesville.

Additional HVAC and HVAC/R apprenticeship programs are available through national industry associations such as:

  • Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA)
  • Mechanical Contractors Association of America (MCAA)
  • Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors Association (PHCC)
  • Refrigeration Service Engineers Society (RSES)
  • The International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail, and Transportation Workers (SMART)

Each organization has availability, scheduling, and fee details on its website.

Accredited HVAC and HVAC/R Schools in Newport News, VA

Students who choose to attend a school are advised to select an accredited institution. Accreditation is a process by which an independent agency evaluates the program’s quality, including the curriculum and the instructors. Two industry organizations accredit HVAC programs.

The Partnership for Air-Conditioning, Heating, Refrigeration Accreditation (PAHRA) has yet to accredit a Virginia program. HVAC Excellence has awarded accreditation to the following schools:

  • Academies of Loudoun, Leesburg, VA
  • Advanced Career Education Center at Highland Springs, Highland Springs, VA
  • Bridging Communities Regional Career and Technical Center, New Kent, VA
  • Chesapeake Career Center, Chesapeake, VA
  • Chesterfield Career and Technical Center, Chesterfield, VA
  • Edison Academy, Alexandria, VA
  • Franklin County High School, Rocky Mount, VA
  • Greene County Technical Education Center, Stanardsville, VA
  • Massanutten Technical Center, Harrisonburg, VA
  • New Horizons Regional Education Centers, Newport News, VA
  • Norfolk Technical Center, Norfolk, VA
  • Northern Virginia Community College, Woodbridge, VA
  • Southside Virginia Community College, Alberta, VA
  • The Hanover Center for Trades and Technology, Mechanicsville, VA
  • Valley Career and Technical Center, Fishersville, VA
  • Virginia Beach Technical and Career Education Center, Virginia Beach, VA

New Horizons and Norfolk Technical Center are included in the schools profiled below. Other reputable agencies have accredited the remaining profiled schools.

Centura College

Centura has five campuses in Virginia. Currently, the HVAC diploma program is available only at the Newport News and North Chesterfield campuses. Students may attend during the daytime or evening hours. The coursework is divided between hands-on practice in the lab and classroom instruction and qualifies students for entry-level employment as technicians.

The curriculum includes air conditioning and refrigeration, HVAC/R controls, heating systems, commercial HVAC/R, comfort and psychometrics, heat pumps, and advanced troubleshooting and service. Students also have the opportunity to take industry certification exams, including the 10-hour OSHA safety and the EPA Section 608 exams. Students complete a total of 36 credit hours to earn their diploma.

  • Location: Newport News, VA
  • Accreditation: Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges
  • Estimated Program Length: 12 months

Fortis College

Fortis, a privately owned institution, has campuses nationwide, including Norfolk and Richmond, VA, that offer an HVAC/R diploma program. The Norfolk campus is a branch campus of Fortis College in Foley, AL. Coursework is divided between classroom lectures and hands-on practice in a fully equipped lab. Students may choose daytime or evening classes.

The curriculum includes an introduction to skilled professions, thermodynamics, electricity, HVAC/R controls, motors and motor controls, refrigerants, residential air conditioning, commercial air conditioning, industrial refrigeration, electric heat, heat pumps, gas heating systems, regional systems, HVAC system performance, water-based heating, HVAC troubleshooting and service calls, and EPA Section 608 certification preparation. Graduates are qualified to seek entry-level employment.

  • Location: Norfolk, VA
  • Accreditation: Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools
  • Estimated Program Length: 48 weeks

New Horizons Career & Technical Education Center

New Horizons is owned and operated by the six Peninsula School Divisions, one of which is Newport News. The HVAC program takes four years to complete. It begins with instructions for apprentices. The curriculum is based on the National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER) standards. The coursework is primarily classroom instruction, with students expected to obtain hands-on training from a sponsoring employer. Graduates are qualified to take the journeyman licensing exam.

The curriculum for the first year includes an introduction to HVAC, trade mathematics, basic electricity, an introduction to heating, cooling, air distribution systems, basic copper and plastic pipe practices, brazing and soldering, and basic carbon steel piping practices. The second-year curriculum includes alternating current, compressors, refrigerants and oils, leak detection, evacuation, recovery, and charging, metering devices, heat pumps, basic maintenance, chimneys, vents, and flues, sheet metal duct systems, fiberglass and fabric duct systems, commercial airside systems, air quality equipment, and introduction to hydronic systems.

The curriculum for the third year includes fasteners, hardware, and wiring terminations, control circuit and motor troubleshooting, troubleshooting cooling, heat pumps, gas heating, oil heating, accessories, zoning, ductless, and variable refrigerant flow systems, commercial hydronic systems, steam systems, retail refrigeration systems, and customer relations.

The year-four curriculum includes water treatment, indoor air quality, energy conservation equipment, building management systems, system air balancing, system startup and shutdown, construction drawings and specifications, heating and cooling system design, commercial and industrial refrigeration systems, alternative and specialized heating and cooling systems, and fundamentals of crew leadership.

Students complete 144 credit hours each year.

  • Location: Newport News, VA
  • Accreditation: HVAC Excellence, Virginia Department of Education
  • Estimated Program Length: Four years

Norfolk Technical Center

NTC is part of the Norfolk public school system and was designed as an extension of the high schools. It is intended to prepare students for entry-level employment.

The curriculum includes the fundamentals of HVAC/R, tools and materials, basic refrigeration systems, installation, troubleshooting, service, repair, air conditioning maintenance, pipe tubing, soldering, basic electricity, and math. Graduates are qualified to sit for various industry certification exams, including EPA Section 608 and workplace readiness.

NTC also offers a four-year adult apprenticeship program in the evenings. The curriculum follows the same course outline described in the New Horizons program.

  • Location: Norfolk, VA
  • Accreditation: HVAC Excellence, Virginia Department of Education
  • Estimated Program Length: High school students program two years, adult apprenticeship program four years

Tidewater Tech

Tidewater Tech offers an HVAC diploma program that prepares students for entry-level employment. The coursework is divided between classroom lectures and hands-on practice in the lab. Students can take industry exams that include OSHA 10-hour safety, EPS 608, Industry Competence (ICE), and preparation for HVAC journeyman certification.

The curriculum includes HVAC/R, HVAC/R controls, heating systems, commercial HVAC/R, comfort and psychometrics, heat pumps, and advanced troubleshooting and service. Students complete a total of 36 credit hours to earn their diploma.

  • Location: Norfolk, VA
  • Accreditation: Council on Occupational Education
  • Estimated Program Length: 12 months

Virginia’s Community Colleges

Virginia’s Community Colleges offer HVAC certificate, diploma, and degree programs at several campuses. Students wishing to commute away from the Newport News area will find information on the programs at campuses not included in the profiles in this article.

Virginia Peninsula Community College (Formerly Thomas Nelson Community College)

The college offers an HVAC career studies certificate and an HVAC certificate program. The career studies certificate coursework includes circuits and controls, HVAC, heat pumps, and heating systems. It takes 16 credit hours to complete, and the credits may be applied to the HVAC certificate.

The HVAC certificate curriculum includes the career studies coursework. It adds college composition, first aid and safety, mechanical codes, refrigeration, college success skills, basic technical mathematics, heating systems, air conditioning, and planning and estimating. Students are awarded their certificate after 35 credit hours.

  • Location: Hampton, VA
  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
  • Estimated Program Length: Career studies certificate four months, HVAC certificate twelve months

Newport News workers who cannot attend on-campus schools may find that online institutions can better meet their needs. More information on accredited programs is available at online HVAC training.

HVAC and HVAC/R Certification and Licensing in Newport News, VA

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has established safety standards for the handling of refrigerants. Accordingly, the EPA requires HVAC and HVAC/R technicians who work with refrigerants to pass safety exams. Those who pass are awarded Section 608 certification, a prerequisite for employment. There are four types of certification according to the systems on which technicians work as follows:

  • 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)

Further information is available on the EPA website.

Technicians may obtain Section 608 testing and certification as well as other training and certifications from industry organizations. These include, but are not limited to:

  • Refrigeration Service Engineers Society (RSES)
  • North American Technician Excellence (NATE)
  • HVAC Excellence

Each organization includes details of schedules, fees, and requirements on its website.

The Commonwealth of Virginia requires HVAC technicians to obtain licensing as journey-level technicians, master technicians, or contractors. Applicants must submit proof of education and experience relevant to the license they seek, pass an exam, and pay the required fees. They renew their license every two years by submitting proof of at least three hours of continuing education and paying relevant fees.

The City of Newport News requires all persons or entities doing business within the city limits to obtain a business license. Fees are based on gross receipts and may vary according to the business. Licenses must be renewed annually.

As licensing regulations and guidelines are subject to change, HVAC professionals must ensure they have all necessary licenses before beginning any projects.

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.