Accredited HVAC Programs in Spokane, WA
In the past, HVAC and HVAC/R technicians began their careers as helpers and learned the trade through hands-on training. It is still possible to do so, but these days, most workers attend classes or participate in an apprenticeship program. Formal training and apprenticeships can open up more employment opportunities.
Apprenticeships typically include at least 2,000 hours of on-the-job training and 144 hours of classroom work annually. Apprentices are paid for the hours worked, and many programs do not charge tuition for the classroom work.
The Washington Apprenticeship and Training Council (WSATC) establishes state regulations in compliance with the federal rules. Apprentices must register with WSATC. Employees who are not are regarded as journey-level workers and must be paid journey-level wages. Apprentices are paid based on their accumulated hours of training. There are currently 12 active HVAC or HVAC/R apprenticeship programs, one of which is located in Spokane and another within a 90-minute commute.
The Plumbers and Steamfitters Local 44 offers HVAC and HVAC/R training through the joint apprenticeship committee. Applicants must contact their Spokane training director for information, as details are not provided on their website.
For formal degree and certificate programs, it is essential to determine if a school is accredited and by which organization. Accreditation is a process by which an independent agency evaluates the quality of the program, including both the curriculum and the instructors. Two organizations evaluate and certify HVAC programs: HVAC Excellence, which has not yet accredited a Washington state program, and Partnership for Air-Conditioning, Heating, Refrigeration Accreditation (PAHRA), which has accredited Bates Technical College, a public post-secondary school located in Tacoma. Despite the five-hour drive from Spokane, Bates is included in the profiles below due to its accreditation status. Furthermore, there are other programs within Spokane and surrounding areas which boast other reputable forms of accreditation.
Northwest HVAC/R Association and Training Center
Northwest Center is a private vocational college that offers an HVAC/R service technician certificate of completion program. Coursework includes classroom lectures and hands-on training in a modern lab about HVAC/R fundamentals, job safety, trade math, electricity fundamentals, gas codes, installation preparation for the heating mechanics license exam, and much more. Students also complete an internship and take industry exam preparation classes. Upon graduation, they receive 900 hours of electrical state credit.
- Location: Spokane, WA
- Accreditation: Commission of the Council on Occupational Education (COE)
- Tuition: $9,936
- Program length: Eight and one/half months
Spokane Community College
SCC offers an HVAC/R degree program that prepares students for entry-level positions as technicians. Coursework includes classroom lectures and hands-on training in a fully-equipped lab. Students learn the fundamentals of electricity, heating systems, refrigeration, and air conditioning. They also study heat transfer theory, sheet metal layout and fabrication, system performance, servicing, and troubleshooting, heat pumps, and controls. Students may complete an optional internship. Graduates are prepared for industry exams and are qualified to receive their electrical trainee license.
- Location: Spokane, WA
- Accreditation: NWCCU
- Tuition: $4,027 per year
- Program length: Two years
Bates Technical College
Bates offers an HVAC/R support technician certificate of competency program and an HVAC/R technician associate degree program. Both programs require students to pass the Air Conditioning, Heating, & Refrigeration Institute (AHRI) industry competency exams to graduate. Coursework includes exam preparation classes and graduates are qualified to take other industry exams that increase their employability. They receive 1,100 hours of credit toward the Washington State O6A electrical certificate.
The certificate program requires 99 credit-hours to complete. The program begins with training in HVAC fundamentals, job safety, and tools and equipment. Students progress to learning HVAC/R science, refrigeration systems, electrical components and systems, cooling tower basics, thermal storage, and troubleshooting. They also study heat pumps, hydronics, chilled water systems, and cooling systems, and learn skills such as soldering and brazing, drafting, and reading blueprints. They are also required to take industry math, communication, and humanities electives.
The degree program has two concentration options: welding or sheet metal. Coursework covers the same areas as the certificate program, with additional classes in the chosen option. Additional electives include practical applications and independent projects. The degree program requires 103 credit-hours to complete.
- Location: Tacoma, WA
- Accreditation: PAHRA; Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU)
- Tuition: $125.53 per credit-hour; $1,832 for books and supplies
- Program length: Certificate (60 weeks); degree (two years)