HVAC Programs in Virginia Beach, VA

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Virginia Beach, Virginia (VA) is home of miles of coastine. It has grown from a tiny settlement in the early 1600s to Virginia’s biggest and most populous city. Hundreds of hotels, restaurants, and entertainment venues cater to thousands of visitors a year. Although the tourist industry is a significant part of the economy, agriculture is also a prominent industry in the coastal city.

Virginia Beach’s economy is diverse. Not only does it depend on tourists and farmers, but the area is also home to many military and federal facilities. New developments have led to dozens of large corporations establishing their headquarters in Virginia Beach. Contemporary industries include telecommunications, data centers, information technology, biomedicine, and professional services. Manufacturing, logistics, retail, and maritime industries round out the economy.

Residents of Virginia Beach experience typical coastal weather, including hot and muggy summers. June through September highs are in the 80s, and lows range from the 60s to 70s. Winters expose residents to the cold and wind, with some snowfall. January is the coldest month, with an average high of 49 and an average low of 34 F.

Weather, especially the humidity, makes heating, venting, and air conditioning (HVAC) essential for comfort in homes and workplaces. Facilities serving the hospitality industry and businesses that rely on technology require the addition of large-scale refrigeration (HVAC/R) equipment and systems.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS 2018) reported that 3,120 HVAC mechanics and installers were employed in the Virginia Beach–Norfolk–Newport News, VA–NC area. A sampling of the state and local chapters of industry organizations which provide training and support to the technicians includes:

  • Virginia Chapter of the Associated Builders and Contractors (ABCVA)
  • Associated General Contractors of Virginia (AGCVA)
  • Plumbing Heating Cooling Contractors of Virginia (PHCCVA)
  • Tidewater Builders Association (TBA)

National industry organizations sponsor local and online training opportunities. The industry groups coordinate with others to establish educational, licensing, safety, and performance standards.

Discover what to expect from an accredited HVAC training program in Virginia Beach.

Occupational Demand for HVAC Technicians in Virginia Beach, VA

The BLS (2018) predicted a 15 percent increase in opportunities for HVAC and HVAC/R technicians for the decade ending in 2026. That is more than twice the average 7 percent increase projected for all occupations in the U.S. The need for technicians in Virginia is growing slightly slower than the national average. In line with the BLS projections, Projections Central predicted an 11.5 percent statewide increase for the same decade.

Contemporary environmental concerns have been fueling the rapid growth of the HVAC industry. Aging equipment and systems must be replaced, retrofitted, or upgraded to meet new standards. The current emphasis on energy efficiency and reducing pollution also contributes to industry growth as new equipment and systems are often required. Modern climate control systems are complex and require trained technicians to install, maintain, or repair.

Technicians have always needed excellent troubleshooting ability. Today, computer literacy and skills with electronics are also prerequisites for the best job prospects. Generally, technicians who specialize in new installations may experience seasonal unemployment if construction declines, although that is unlikely in Virginia Beach.

A slowdown in demand for climate control is not expected as the city continues to attract new business, especially in the technology sector, defense industry, and subsidiary sectors. Maintenance and repair work continues all year, as companies and homeowners must keep their climate control systems in good operating condition regardless of the economy.

HVAC and HVAC/R Salaries in Virginia Beach, VA

The BLS (2018) reported that HVAC mechanics and installers nationally received a median salary of $47,610. Technicians in the Virginia Beach area received an annual median salary of $49,740. Higher-than-average pay is due in part to the fact that Virginia has a higher cost of living when compared to the national cost of living index.

Following is a national, state, and regional salary comparison of HVAC professionals:

United States Virginia Virginia Beach – Norfolk – Newport News
Number of HVAC professionals employed 324,310 12,690 3,120
Average Annual Salary $50,160 $50,210 $49,280
10th Percentile $29,460 $28,660 $31,450
25th Percentile $36,520 $38,470 $40,060
50th Percentile (Median) $47,610 $49,970 $49,740
75th Percentile $60,900 $60,960 $58,430
90th Percentile $76,230 $73,650 $66,920

HVAC Apprenticeships in Virginia Beach, VA

Aspiring HVAC and HVAC/R technicians need to attend classes or participate in an apprenticeship program before obtaining a full-time position. Formal training and apprenticeships can open up the best employment opportunities including higher wages in the immediate future and throughout one’s career.

Apprentices will complete about 2,000 hours of on-the-job training and 144 hours of classroom work every year for three to five years. The Virginia Department of Labor and Industry oversees registered apprentices and sponsors, including four-year HVAC apprenticeships. Apprentices who complete the program are recognized as journey-level technicians.

Seven Virginia HVAC companies are listed as sponsors as of May 2019. Not all companies are accepting apprentices at all times, and there may be other sponsors not included on the list. Apprentices may work for any company that is willing to register as a sponsor.

The Virginia Chapter of the Associated Builders and Contractors (ABCVA) offers trade apprenticeships, including a four-year HVAC program in Norfolk, VA. Applicants must be at least 18 years old, employed by an HVAC company, physically able to do the work, and proficient in English.

The training meets the standards set forth by the National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER). Fees are not disclosed on the website. Introductory coursework covers, but is not limited to, the following subjects:

  • Trade math
  • Soldering and brazing
  • Air distribution systems
  • Commercial airside systems
  • Hydronic systems
  • Air quality
  • Installation and maintenance practices
  • Retail, commercial, and industrial refrigeration systems
  • Steam systems
  • Planned maintenance
  • Water treatment
  • Reading blueprints and drawings
  • System design, startup, and shutdown
  • Water treatment
  • Heating and cooling system design

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)
  • Sheet Metal Workers International Association (SMWIA)

Accredited HVAC Schools in Virginia Beach, VA

When choosing a school, it is essential to determine if it is accredited. Accreditation means that an independent agency has evaluated the quality of the program, including both the curriculum and the instructors.

HVAC programs are accredited by two organizations. The Partnership for Air-Conditioning, Heating, Refrigeration Accreditation has not yet accredited a Virginia program. HVAC Excellence has awarded accreditation to five Virginia programs, including Virginia Beach Technical and Career Education Center.

Centura College

Centura has several Virginia campuses and offers an HVAC diploma program at its Chesapeake and Newport News campuses. Students receive extensive practice with HVAC troubleshooting. Coursework includes classroom lectures and hands-on training totaling 36 credits. Classes are available during daytime and evening hours. The curriculum covers air conditioning and refrigeration fundamentals, HVAC controls, heating systems, commercial HVAC and HVAC/R, comfort and psychometrics, and heat pumps.

The coursework prepares students for industry certification exams including OSHA 10 and EPA Section 608. Graduates are qualified to seek entry-level employment as technicians.

  • Location: Chesapeake, VA, Newport News, VA
  • Accreditation: Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC)
  • Tuition: $636 per credit-hour
  • Format: On-campus
  • Program Length: 48 weeks

Thomas Nelson Community College

The Thomas Nelson Community College offers two HVAC/R certificate programs and a degree program. The HVAC/R career studies certificate includes instruction in circuits and controls, heating systems, refrigeration, air conditioning, and heat pumps. Students complete 22 credits, which may be applied to the HVAC/R certificate program. The 35-credit certificate program comprises the above coursework, with the addition of college composition, first aid and safety, mechanical codes, technical math, and planning and estimating.

The HVAC/R technical studies degree prepares students for managerial and supervisory positions. The coursework combines technical and theoretical topics, including the fundamentals of reasoning, calculus, wellness, social science, information systems, information literacy, the principles of supervision and leadership development, small business management, technical writing, HVAC/R analysis, cooperative education, and the humanities. Students complete a minimum of 67 credit and may transfer their credits to Old Dominion University after consultation with an academic advisor.

  • Location: Hampton, VA
  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCC)
  • Tuition: $160.20 per credit
  • Format: On-campus
  • Program Length: Four months for the career studies certificate; eight months for the certificate; two years for the degree

Tidewater Community College

TCC offers an HVAC/R certificate and degree program. The certificate program prepares students for entry-level positions as residential or commercial technicians. They are also qualified for positions as sales representatives or control services technicians. The curriculum includes HVAC/R controls, fundamentals, and calculations, as well as college composition, heating systems, technical math, duct construction and maintenance, hydronics, psychometrics, HVAC systems, and more. Students complete a minimum of 35 credits to earn their certificate. Their credits may be transferred to the degree program.

The degree program has three specialties: commercial, residential, and supervision and management. The curriculum covers the certificate coursework and adds indoor air quality, computer applications and concepts, customer service, safety and health codes and regulations, social science, system startup and commissioning, and humanities to all the specialties. Students then choose from HVAC and other electives relevant to their specialty to complete the minimum 68 credit required to earn their degree.

  • Location: Portsmouth, VA
  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCC)
  • Tuition: $185.35 per credit-hour
  • Format: On-campus
  • Program Length: 18 months for the certificate; two years for the degree

Virginia Beach Technical and Career Education Center

The Virginia Beach Technical and Career Education Center is part of the Virginia Beach City Public School System and offers an HVAC training program for high school students. The curriculum is designed to prepare attendees for employment and includes instruction in safety, soldering and brazing, piping, electrical circuits, central and window air conditioning units, ice makers and refrigerators, oil and gas furnaces, and heat pumps.

Students have the opportunity for hands-on training with an optional internship with a local company. Graduates are prepared to sit for the EPA 608 certification and R410A Reclamation Safety industry exams.

  • Location: Virginia Beach, VA
  • Accreditation: HVAC Excellence; Virginia Board of Education
  • Tuition: Not disclosed on the website, determined by the public school district
  • Format: On-campus
  • Program Length: Two years

Students who are unable to attend on-campus schools may find that online institutions can better meet their needs. For more information on accredited programs available, visit the online HVAC training page on this site.

HVAC Certification & Licensing in Virginia Beach, VA

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requires technicians who work with refrigerants to obtain EPA Section 608 Certification. There are four types of certifications according to the systems on which technicians work:

  • Type I – small appliances
  • Type II – high-pressure appliances
  • Type III – low-pressure appliances
  • Universal – all types of equipment

Certification requires passing an exam on the safe handling of refrigerants.

Several organizations provide skill-based, employment-ready national certifications. These include the Refrigeration Service Engineers Society (RSES), North American Technician Excellence (NATE), and HVAC Excellence. Their websites offer details about the certifications, cost, and requirements.

The Commonwealth of Virginia requires HVAC technicians to be licensed as a journey-level technician, master technician, or contractor. Licensing requires professionals to submit proof of education and experience, pass an exam, and pay a fee. Licenses must be renewed every two years, and renewal applicants must complete a minimum of three hours of continuing education.

Finally, the City of Virginia Beach requires all businesses to register for a business license. The fee is based on gross receipts. All HVAC professionals should ensure that they have all necessary state and local licensure before beginning any projects.

Barry Franklin

Barry is the Editor in Chief of HVACClasses.org, operated by educational web publisher Sechel Ventures, which he joined as partner in 2013 after almost 20 years in the financial software industry.