HVAC Training Schools in Wisconsin

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In the Badger State, the frigid winters and humid summers provide a host of job opportunities for those interested in the field of heating, air conditioning, and ventilation (HVAC). In fact, U.S. Climate Data found that the winter months bring average low temperatures below 20 degrees Fahrenheit, while in July the temperature can exceed 80 degrees. Living in these varied conditions requires indoor climate-control systems, which are typically installed and maintained by skilled HVAC workers.

To illustrate the strength and importance of the HVAC industry, a number of national organizations and unions operate throughout Wisconsin. For example, the Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors Wisconsin Association (PHCC) and Master Plumbers/Heating Cooling Association of Wisconsin (MP/HC) is one such institution. The group has been in existence for over 120 years and offers a wide array of benefits to members, such as discounts on various educational programs, a quarterly newsletter, legislative and regulatory representation, networking opportunities, and much more.

HVAC workers in Wisconsin may also choose to seek membership with the Plumbers and Steamfitters Local 434, a local union that represents over 1,200 pipe trades workers in Central and Western Wisconsin. These skilled professionals lay the groundwork for many HVAC systems. Benefits available to members include access to a healthcare fund, a retirement plan, and a pension fund, as well as networking opportunities, and training in the form of an apprenticeship program, explored at length below.

Aspiring HVAC workers in Wisconsin should have a thorough understanding of the day-to-day responsibilities of these professionals. In general, these workers:

  • Verify compliance with necessary laws
  • Perform calculations regarding heat load and loss
  • Test equipment to ensure it is working properly
  • Calibrate controls of HVAC systems
  • Maintain service records
  • Educate customers on system use and energy conservation
  • Examine and interpret blueprints
  • Travel to different worksites
  • Maintain credentials and licensure

Furthermore, anyone working with refrigerants in Wisconsin must maintain active EPA Section 608 Certification, as it is required under law.

This guide offers salary statistics, job prospects, and information about various HVAC schools in Wisconsin that offer training, as well as a detailed breakdown of the credentialing required to work in the state.

Occupational Demand for HVAC Technicians in Wisconsin

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS 2017) reported that there were 307,060 HVAC professionals currently working across the nation, earning an annual average wage of $49,530. The future for HVAC mechanics and installers looks bright, as well; by illustration, the BLS (2017) anticipated that the industry would grow 15 percent between 2016 and 2026, an increase of 48,800 jobs nationwide. To put this into perspective, all U.S. industries combined are slated to expand by an average of only seven percent. Additionally, Projections Central predicted that HVAC jobs in Wisconsin would grow by 11 percent in the same timeframe, an addition of 590 new positions.

A number of factors are driving this growth. For one, existing HVAC systems must generally be replaced every 10 to 15 years, a process that requires the skill and expertise of a trained technician. Also, nearly all new buildings in Wisconsin are constructed with some form of climate-control system. And finally, HVAC laws and regulations are undergoing constant change; as a result, equipment routinely needs to be updated to stay in compliance with local ordinances.

For some, the easiest way to conceptualize the demand for HVAC workers is by viewing available jobs. For example, a job search on Monster (Dec. 2018) for “HVAC jobs in Wisconsin” yielded over 700 results with companies like Iron Fireman Management, Northern Lakes Energy, Kohler, and Johnson Controls. A related search on Indeed (Dec. 2018) returned more than 1,300 results with organizations such as Modern Heating & Cooling, Badger Corporation, and the University of Wisconsin.

Wisconsin HVAC Technician Salary Data

The BLS (2017) reported that HVAC workers earn relatively generous wages throughout their careers, especially when compared to occupations at a similar level of education. The 307,060 HVAC workers that were employed in the US as of 2017 earned an average annual salary of $49,530. In Wisconsin, 4,830 HVAC workers earned an average salary that was a bit higher than average at $50,520. The BLS reported the following detailed wage percentiles for HVAC mechanics and installers across the country and in Wisconsin specifically:

Annual salary Hourly salary
United States Wisconsin United States Wisconsin
Average $49,530 $50,520 $23.81 $24.29
10th percentile $29,120 $31,230 $14.00 $15.01
25th percentile $36,150 $39,120 $17.38 $18.81
50th percentile $47,080 $49,070 $22.64 $23.59
75th percentile $60,270 $60,980 $28.98 $29.32
90th percentile $75,330 $74,490 $36.22 $35.81

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.

As noted above, the average salary for HVAC workers in Wisconsin is a bit higher than that of the rest of the nation. As with any salary projections, taking into account the cost of living is also important. As such, the Missouri Economic Research and Information Center (MERIC 2018) found that WI was just about average in terms of cost of living, ranking it 23rd in terms of affordability. Wisconsin residents can specifically expect to see savings in housing costs as compared to the rest of the country. For HVAC technicians this means higher than average salaries will go even further than they would in some costlier states.

The BLS designated 16 regions within Wisconsin for which employment data is available. The 70 HVAC workers in the Sheboygan, WI earned the highest average salary in the state at an impressive $66,040 while the 590 HVAC workers in Green Bay, WI had the lowest average salary at $41,200. Following are the detailed salary data for the state of Wisconsin:

Appleton, WI (300 HVAC workers): $53,930 annual average salary

Appleton, WI
Percentile Annual salary Hourly salary
Average $53,930 $25.93
10th percentile $33,350 $16.03
25th percentile $40,080 $19.27
50th percentile $51,060 $24.55
75th percentile $66,310 $31.88
90th percentile $80,240 $38.58

Eau Claire, WI (150 HVAC workers): $51,320 annual average salary

Eau Claire, WI
Percentile Annual salary Hourly salary
Average $51,320 $24.68
10th percentile $24,610 $11.83
25th percentile $39,340 $18.92
50th percentile $51,500 $24.76
75th percentile $64,850 $31.18
90th percentile $78,030 $37.52

Fond du Lac, WI (number of HVAC workers unknown): $52,770 annual average salary

Fond du Lac, WI
Percentile Annual salary Hourly salary
Average $52,770 $25.37
10th percentile $36,080 $17.35
25th percentile $43,860 $21.09
50th percentile $52,210 $25.10
75th percentile $61,900 $29.76
90th percentile $71,540 $34.40

Green Bay, WI (590 HVAC workers): $41,200 annual average salary

Green Bay, WI
Percentile Annual salary Hourly salary
Average $41,200 $19.81
10th percentile $24,050 $11.56
25th percentile $33,070 $15.90
50th percentile $42,090 $20.24
75th percentile $50,090 $24.08
90th percentile $58,430 $28.09

Janesville-Beloit, WI (80 HVAC workers): $49,850 annual average salary

Janesville-Beloit, WI
Percentile Annual salary Hourly salary
Average $49,850 $23.97
10th percentile $29,820 $14.34
25th percentile $41,070 $19.75
50th percentile $49,900 $23.99
75th percentile $59,480 $28.59
90th percentile $72,510 $34.86

La Crosse-Onalaska, WI-MN (180 HVAC workers): $46,370 annual average salary

La Crosse-Onalaska, WI-MN
Percentile Annual salary Hourly salary
Average $46,370 $22.30
10th percentile $30,620 $14.72
25th percentile $36,800 $17.69
50th percentile $45,270 $21.77
75th percentile $56,230 $27.04
90th percentile $66,350 $31.90

Madison, WI (650 HVAC workers): $50,980 annual average salary

Madison, WI
Percentile Annual salary Hourly salary
Average $509,80 $24.51
10th percentile $33,000 $15.86
25th percentile $39,780 $19.12
50th percentile $50,040 $24.06
75th percentile $60,940 $29.30
90th percentile $72,950 $35.07

Milwaukee-Waukesha-West Allis, WI (910 HVAC workers): $59,010 annual average salary

Milwaukee-Waukesha-West Allis, WI
Percentile Annual salary Hourly salary
Average $59,010 $28.37
10th percentile $38,630 $18.57
25th percentile $46,130 $22.18
50th percentile $56,420 $27.13
75th percentile $70,020 $33.66
90th percentile $86,960 $41.81

Northeastern Wisconsin nonmetropolitan area (410 HVAC workers): $52,920 annual average salary

Northeastern Wisconsin nonmetropolitan area
Percentile Annual salary Hourly salary
Average $52,920 $25.44
10th percentile $32,890 $15.81
25th percentile $41,420 $19.92
50th percentile $48,880 $23.50
75th percentile $69,380 $33.36
90th percentile $77,490 $37.26

Northwestern Wisconsin nonmetropolitan area (70 HVAC workers): $52,880 annual average salary

Northwestern Wisconsin nonmetropolitan area
Percentile Annual salary Hourly salary
Average $52,880 $25.42
10th percentile $31,900 $15.34
25th percentile $38,720 $18.62
50th percentile $49,410 $23.76
75th percentile $69,830 $33.57
90th percentile $78,110 $37.55

Oshkosh-Neenah, WI( (240 HVAC workers): $48,410 annual average salary

Oshkosh-Neenah, WI(
Percentile Annual salary Hourly salary
Average $48,410 $23.27
10th percentile $25,010 $12.02
25th percentile $38,680 $18.60
50th percentile $50,310 $24.19
75th percentile $59,430 $28.57
90th percentile $65,430 $31.45

Racine, WI (170 HVAC workers): $51,280 annual average salary

Racine, WI
Percentile Annual salary Hourly salary
Average $51,280 $24.66
10th percentile $40,870 $19.65
25th percentile $44,490 $21.39
50th percentile $50,380 $24.22
75th percentile $58,400 $28.08
90th percentile $63,210 $30.39

Sheboygan, WI (70 HVAC workers): $66,040 annual average salary

Sheboygan, WI
Percentile Annual salary Hourly salary
Average $66,040 $31.75
10th percentile $42,080 $20.23
25th percentile $52,250 $25.12
50th percentile $63,650 $30.60
75th percentile $78,750 $37.86
90th percentile $97,970 $47.10

South Central Wisconsin nonmetropolitan area (310 HVAC workers): $43,090 annual average salary

South Central Wisconsin nonmetropolitan area
Percentile Annual salary Hourly salary
Average $43,090 $20.72
10th percentile $27,770 $13.35
25th percentile $31,280 $15.04
50th percentile $40,860 $19.64
75th percentile $54,870 $26.38
90th percentile $61,070 $29.36

Wausau, WI (260 HVAC workers): $44,060 annual average salary

Wausau, WI
Percentile Annual salary Hourly salary
Average $44,060 $21.18
10th percentile $28,410 $13.66
25th percentile $34,350 $16.51
50th percentile $41,260 $19.84
75th percentile $55,000 $26.44
90th percentile $62,630 $30.11

Western Wisconsin nonmetropolitan area (170 HVAC workers): $42,260 annual average salary

Western Wisconsin nonmetropolitan area
Percentile Annual salary Hourly salary
Average $42,260 $20.32
10th percentile $28,820 $13.85
25th percentile $34,710 $16.69
50th percentile $43,130 $20.74
75th percentile $49,290 $23.70
90th percentile $55,100 $26.49

Accredited HVAC Schools in Wisconsin

In order to begin working in this field, aspiring HVAC workers must complete some type of training or formal education. There are both degree programs and apprenticeships available in Wisconsin.

As mentioned above, the Plumbers and Steamfitters Local 434 offers a competitive apprenticeship program for aspiring HVAC workers in the state, which includes training to become a steamfitter—the professionals who lay the foundations for many HVAC systems. The apprenticeship lasts five years, during which participants must complete 8,124 work hours, as well as 624 hours of day school and 300 hours of night school. At the outset, apprentices in this program earn a salary between 40 and 65 percent of the wage earned by the journey-level professionals, and increases over time.

Aspiring workers who simply wish to complete a degree without the committing to the rigors of an apprenticeship program may instead pursue a technology associate degree in HVAC offered by Northeast Wisconsin Technical College in Green Bay. This two-year program includes 65 credit-hours of classes such as HVAC systems and service, design applications, motor control applications, heating systems, control circuits, and heating fundamentals, among many others. The approximate cost of the program is $15,000, although interested students are encouraged to reach out to program administrators for a customized assessment.

Finally, those looking for formal education may consider a technical diploma available through Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College located in Shell Lake. This includes courses on alternative energy, principles of AC/DC, air conditioning fundamentals, refrigeration applications, applied information resources, and electronic energy management, among others. Tuition is estimated to be around $9,000 for Wisconsin residents and $11,500 for non-residents, although applicants may be eligible for financial aid or scholarships.

It is becoming increasingly common for aspiring HVAC workers to obtain training in six-month or two-year programs that have received accreditation. Currently, two main organizations offer accreditation for local HVAC programs: the Partnership for Air-Conditioning, Heating, Refrigeration Accreditation (PAHRA) and HVAC Excellence. Details about the accreditation process for either organization is available on their respective websites. Anyone interested in enrolling in an HVAC program in Wisconsin should research these organizations to learn more about the benefits offered by graduating from an accredited school. There are currently four PAHRA-accredited programs in WI:

As of December 2018, there were no HVAC Excellence-accredited programs in the state.

Wisconsin HVAC Certification and Licensing

As mentioned in the introduction, all workers who handle refrigerants in Wisconsin must maintain the EPA Section 608 Certification. There are four types of this certification available: type 1 (small appliances), type 2 (high-pressure appliances), type 3 (low-pressure appliances), and type 4 (universal). Most HVAC educational programs will include section 608 certification as part of the training program since it is so critical.

There are other skill-based, employment-ready national certifications for HVAC workers to pursue, which are available through HVAC Excellence (e.g., Heating, Electrical, Air Conditioning Technology Plus); North American Technician Excellence (e.g., Industry Competency Exams or ICE); the Refrigerating Engineers and Technicians Association (e.g., entry-level Certified Assistant Refrigeration Operator); and other organizations. For a detailed breakdown of the national credentials, please check out the HVAC certifications page.

As a final note, all aspiring HVAC workers should understand that a license is required in order to perform work of a certain scope. The Wisconsin Department of Safety and Professional Services requires HVAC workers to register with the state, submitting a completed application along with $160. At the county or municipal level, governments can require HVAC workers to obtain additional local licensure as set forth in their regulations. It’s worth noting that the state government allows HVAC workers to become certified as HVAC qualifiers, allowing them to perform work anywhere throughout the state. In order to obtain this title, the worker must complete an application and successfully pass an exam, as well.

Above all, anyone intent on working in HVAC in WI is advised to research all state and local regulations to ensure they remain within the law.