HVAC Training Schools in Washington, DC

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For anyone interested in pursuing a new career in the field of heating, air conditioning, and ventilation (HVAC or HVAC-R), the nation’s capital may be a good place to begin. In fact, U.S. Climate Data shows that the average high temperatures in the summer can reach 87 degrees Fahrenheit, while the average lows in the winter dip to 27. This extreme range of weather requires heating and air-conditioning systems to stay comfortable.

There are various unions and professional organizations in Washington DC to provide support to workers in the skilled trades such as HVAC. The UA Steamfitters Local 602 is an organization that represents journeymen, apprentices, and helpers who work in HVAC and the process piping industry. This organization provides education for members, events throughout the year, an apprenticeship program, networking opportunities, political representation and advocacy, and a savings and retirement program.

Washington DC is also home to the Sheet Metal Workers’ Local 100, which serves professionals in the sheet metal, air, rail, and transportation industries, as well as HVAC workers. This organization offers various seminars and meetings throughout the year and access to a hunting and fishing program. These are only two of the many HVAC organizations and unions that operate in the Washington DC area.

HVAC workers in Washington DC and beyond take on a wide range of responsibilities. They:

  • Perform heat load and loss calculations
  • Verify compliance with all local and federal regulations
  • Offer education to customers on energy conservation
  • Read and interpret blueprints
  • Test circuitry and components of HVAC equipment
  • Calibrate equipment to manufacturer specifications
  • Maintain all necessary credentialing
  • Solder and braze parts
  • Travel to job sites
  • Keep detailed service records

It is important to note that all individuals who work with refrigerants must maintain active EPA Section 608 Certification as well.

This guide explores HVAC training programs in Washington DC, including information on job prospects in the area, salary expectations, and an overview of licensure and certification requirements.

Occupational Demand for HVAC Technicians in Washington, DC

In the coming years, the demand for skilled HVAC workers is only expected to rise. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS 2017) reported that 307,060 HVAC professionals were working across the country. That figure is expected to grow significantly in the coming years. In fact, the BLS (2017) predicted that positions in the HVAC industry would swell 15 percent between 2016 and 2026, significantly faster than the 7 percent average growth predicted across all occupations nationwide in the same decade. The addition of 48,800 fresh positions around the U.S. will fuel employment opportunities in coming years.

There are various reasons for the continued growth of this industry. For one, virtually all new construction in Washington, DC includes the installation of a heating or air conditioning system – a process that demands the skills of an HVAC installer. Also, most existing buildings in the area are equipped with some form of climate control and these systems require routine maintenance. Furthermore, the laws and regulations that affect this industry are rapidly evolving, meaning that HVAC professionals must continuously stay abreast of these changes and apply them to their work. Finally, HVAC systems typically must be replaced every 10 to 15 years, ensuring a steady stream of work for HVAC professionals.

Online job postings underscore the wealth of opportunities in this field. By illustration, a search for HVAC jobs in the Washington, DC area on Monster (Oct. 2018) yielded over 1,000 results with companies such as CBRE, the University of Maryland, Quadrant, Inc., Emcor, and Penske Truck Leasing. A similar search on Indeed (Oct. 2018) brought up 1,822 results with organizations including American Construct, Trademasters Service, Inc., Montgomery County Government, and Sears Holdings.

HVAC Worker Salary in Washington DC

According to the BLS (2017), HVAC professionals earn relatively high salaries, especially when compared to occupations of a similar education level. It found the following national salary data:

United States (307.060 HVAC workers): $49,530 annual average salary

  • 10th percentile: $29,120
  • 25th percentile: $36,150
  • 50th percentile (median): $47,080
  • 75th percentile: $60,270
  • 90th percentile: $75,330

In hourly figures, these salaries amounted to:

United States: $23.81/hr. average

  • 10th percentile: $14.00/hr.
  • 25th percentile: $17.38/hr.
  • 50th percentile (median): $22.64/hr.
  • 75th percentile: $28.98/hr.
  • 90th percentile: $36.22/hr.

Fortunately for aspiring HVAC workers in Washington DC, the salary prospects were even brighter. The BLS (2017) reported that the 350 DC-based HVAC professionals earned an average annual salary for $67,920, which is 37 percent more than the national average. In more detailed terms, they enjoyed the following wage percentiles:

Washington, District of Columbia (350 HVAC workers): $67,920 average annual salary

  • 10th percentile: $47,750
  • 25th percentile: $59,390
  • 50th percentile (median): $67,450
  • 75th percentile: $76,550
  • 90th percentile: $88,800

In hourly figures, these equated to:

Washington, District of Columbia (350 HVAC workers): $32.65 average hourly wage

  • 10th percentile: $22.96/hr.
  • 25th percentile: $28.55/hr.
  • 50th percentile (median): $32.43/hr.
  • 75th percentile: $36.80/hr.
  • 90th percentile: $42.69/hr.

Accredited HVAC Schools in Washington, DC

Anyone who is considering a career as an HVAC professional in Washington, DC should note that there are a variety of educational pathways. In general, proper training includes the completion of a formal degree or an apprenticeship program.

For example, the UA Steamfitters Local 602 offers an apprenticeship program. This is specifically for individuals pursuing a career as a steamfitter – a worker who fabricates, installs, and services piping systems underlying the installation of HVAC systems. Courses include soldering and brazing, general piping, advanced A/C, energy management, residential A/C, boilers, steam, and industrial refrigeration, among others. Notably, apprentices are paid during this five-year program.

For those interested in a classroom training program, Lincoln Tech offers HVAC training at its campus in Columbia, Maryland, about an hour outside of DC. Students take courses on basic refrigeration systems, electricity, air conditioning systems, commercial refrigeration, and energy efficiency. Students receive a certificate in HVAC upon the completion of 45 credit hours. Students can complete this program in approximately 40 weeks studying during the day, while students may take up to 74 weeks while studying in the evening.

The DC Department of Employment Services also offers apprenticeships for residents through local unions and groups in the nation’s capital. Those interested in specific programs are asked to contact the Office of Apprenticeship Information and Training for more information on how to apply.

As an added note, it is now common for aspiring HVAC professionals to enroll in an accredited certificate or degree program, which may take between six months to two years to complete. As of this writing, two main organizations offer accreditation for local HVAC programs: the Partnership for Air-Conditioning, Heating, Refrigeration Accreditation (PAHRA) and HVAC Excellence. As of October 2018, there were no programs accredited by either organization in Washington, DC, although nearby Alexandria, VA offers accredited training through the Edison Academy.

Washington, DC HVAC Certification and Licensing

As mentioned in the introduction, all people who work with refrigerants in the US (including DC) must have the EPA Section 608 Certification; there are four types available:

  • type 1 (small appliances)
  • type 2 (high-pressure appliances)
  • type 3 (low-pressure appliances)
  • type 4 (universal)

A majority of HVAC programs include training for this certification in their curricula.

A handful of other skill-specific, employment-ready certifications are available in Washington DC through HVAC Excellence (e.g., Heating, Electrical, Air Conditioning Technology Plus); North American Technician Excellence (NATE) (e.g., Industry Competency Exams or ICE); the Refrigerating Engineers and Technicians Association (RETA) (e.g., entry-level Certified Assistant Refrigeration Operator); and more. These certifications can be useful when searching for employment, as they demonstrate mastery of specific skills. To examine the range of credentials available, visit the HVAC certifications page.

It is also important to mention that all HVAC workers in Washington, DC must obtain the proper licensure from the government in order to perform any work related to the installation, maintenance, repair, or replacement of a heating or air conditioning system. In DC, this means applying for licensure from the District of Columbia Board of Industrial Trades. Four types of licenses are available to HVAC-R workers in DC:

  • Apprentice (no experience required)
  • Journeyman by Waiver (at least 4 years or 8,000 of apprenticeship training required)
  • Journeyman by Exam (3 years experience required)
  • Master (5 years experience required)

All licenses require employment verification signd by a master-level licensee

Ultimately, aspiring HVAC workers in Washington DC should make sure they are in compliance with all local licensure requirements before starting a job.