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 beneath 20 degrees Fahrenheit, while in July the temperature can exceed 80. Living in these varied conditions requires some form of indoor climate-control system, which are 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, which 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 the HVAC systems
  • Maintain service records
  • Educate customers on system use and energy conservation
  • Travel to different worksites
  • Maintain credentials and licensure
  • Examine and interpret blueprints

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 May 2016) reported that there were 294,730 HVAC professionals currently working across the nation, earning an annual average wage of $48,320. The future for HVAC mechanics and installers looks bright, as well; by illustration, the BLS (Dec. 2015) anticipated that the industry would grow 14 percent between 2014 and 2024, an increase of 39,600 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 12.1 percent in the same timeframe, an addition of 590 new positions.

Of course, 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 (Oct. 2017) for “HVAC jobs in Wisconsin” yielded over 1,000 results with companies like Iron Fireman Management, the Kroger Company, Urban Land Interests, Tradesmen International, Inc., ABM Industries, Agropur, Inc., and EMCOR. A related search on Indeed (October 2017) returned 1,207 results with organizations such as Roundy’s, Aspirus, Johnson Controls, Aramark, AmeriGas, and the Veterans Health Administration. In sum, the industry is booming in Wisconsin.

Wisconsin HVAC Technician Salary Data

The BLS (May 2016) reported that HVAC workers earn relatively generous wages throughout their careers, especially when compared to occupations at a similar level of education. As proof of point, the BLS reported the following detailed wage percentiles for HVAC mechanics and installers across the country:

United States (294,730 HVAC workers): $48,320 annual average salary

  • 10th percentile: $28,440
  • 25th percentile: $35,440
  • 50th percentile (median): $45,910
  • 75th percentile: $58,960
  • 90th percentile: $73,350

In hourly figures, these salaries amounted to:

United States: $23.23/hr. average

  • 10th percentile: $13.67/hr.
  • 25th percentile: $17.04/hr.
  • 50th percentile (median): $22.07/hr.
  • 75th percentile: $28.35/hr.
  • 90th percentile: $35.26/hr.

The national figures were slightly varied according to another source of data, Payscale (Oct. 2017), which relies on self-reported salaries. With 478 HVAC professionals responding, Payscale reported the following percentiles:

United States: 478 HVAC worker respondents

  • 10th percentile: $29,000
  • 25th percentile: $35,000
  • 50th percentile (median): $43,956
  • 75th percentile: $55,000
  • 90th percentile: $69,000

An additional 2,550 HVAC workers gave Payscale their hourly salary figures, yielding the following wage percentiles:

  • 10th percentile: $13.00/hr.
  • 25th percentile: $15.00/hr.
  • 50th percentile (median): $19.27/hr.
  • 75th percentile: $24.00/hr.
  • 90th percentile: $30.00/hr.

The expected salary for HVAC workers in Wisconsin is roughly on par with rest of the nation. Specifically, the BLS (May 2016) found that there were 5,490 HVAC workers in Wisconsin earning an average annual salary of $48,850 with these percentiles:

Wisconsin (5,490 HVAC workers): $48,850 average

  • 10th percentile: $30,180
  • 25th percentile: $37,910
  • 50th percentile (median): $47,520
  • 75th percentile: $58,970
  • 90th percentile: $71,580

In hourly figures, these equated to:

Wisconsin: $23.49/hour average

  • 10th percentile: $14.51/hr.
  • 25th percentile: $18.22/hr.
  • 50th percentile (median): $22.85/hr.
  • 75th percentile: $28.35/hr.
  • 90th percentile: $34.37/hr.

Lastly, the BLS has designated 16 regions within WI. Notably, the HVAC workers Sheboygan municipal area enjoyed the highest average salary at $65,910 annually. Here is a detailed breakdown of the numbers of HVAC workers, average wages, and salary percentiles across all regions of the state:

Appleton, WI (300 HVAC workers): $55,150 annual average salary

  • 10th percentile: $34,090
  • 25th percentile: $42,100
  • 50th percentile (median): $50,990
  • 75th percentile: $68,820
  • 90th percentile: $80,220

Eau Claire, WI (160 HVAC workers): $55,300 annual average salary

  • 10th percentile: $33,920
  • 25th percentile: $44,110
  • 50th percentile (median): $56,300
  • 75th percentile: $68,670
  • 90th percentile: $78,320

Fond du Lac, WI (190 HVAC workers): $49,760 annual average salary

  • 10th percentile: $34,740
  • 25th percentile: $41,710
  • 50th percentile (median): $48,500
  • 75th percentile: $57,850
  • 90th percentile: $66,600

Green Bay, WI (630 HVAC workers): $38,170 annual average salary

  • 10th percentile: $21,560
  • 25th percentile: $29,790
  • 50th percentile (median): $39,040
  • 75th percentile: $46,950
  • 90th percentile: $53,860

Janesville-Beloit, WI (120 HVAC workers): $46,000 annual average salary

  • 10th percentile: $21,700
  • 25th percentile: $29,440
  • 50th percentile (median): $45,380
  • 75th percentile: $61,150
  • 90th percentile: $74,360

La Crosse-Onalaska, WI-MN (210 HVAC workers): $44,150 annual average salary

  • 10th percentile: $31,520
  • 25th percentile: $36,350
  • 50th percentile (median): $43,850
  • 75th percentile: $51,540
  • 90th percentile: $59,890

Madison, WI (840 HVAC workers): $51,230 annual average salary

  • 10th percentile: $32,510
  • 25th percentile: $38,850
  • 50th percentile (median): $50,120
  • 75th percentile: $60,930
  • 90th percentile: $74,810

Milwaukee-Waukesha-West Allis, WI (1,150 HVAC workers): $52,110 annual average salary

  • 10th percentile: $33,830
  • 25th percentile: $41,440
  • 50th percentile (median): $50,480
  • 75th percentile: $60,790
  • 90th percentile: $75,940

Northeastern Wisconsin Nonmetropolitan Area (440 HVAC workers): $50,640 annual average salary

  • 10th percentile: $30,350
  • 25th percentile: $39,460
  • 50th percentile (median): $47,010
  • 75th percentile: $69,950
  • 90th percentile: $75,540

Northwestern Wisconsin Nonmetropolitan Area (90 HVAC workers): $45,700 annual average salary

  • 10th percentile: $32,600
  • 25th percentile: $35,020
  • 50th percentile (median): $39,390
  • 75th percentile: $53,990
  • 90th percentile: $72,580

Oshkosh-Neenah, WI (220 HVAC workers): $52,470 annual average salary

  • 10th percentile: $39,740
  • 25th percentile: $45,620
  • 50th percentile (median): $53,400
  • 75th percentile: $59,620
  • 90th percentile: $64,120

Racine, WI (150 HVAC workers): $49,930 annual average salary

  • 10th percentile: $40,310
  • 25th percentile: $43,460
  • 50th percentile (median): $49,060
  • 75th percentile: $56,750
  • 90th percentile: $61,330

Sheboygan, WI (70 HVAC workers): $65,910 annual average salary

  • 10th percentile: $40,930
  • 25th percentile: $51,950
  • 50th percentile (median): $63,080
  • 75th percentile: $81,460
  • 90th percentile: $94,970

South Central Wisconsin Nonmetropolitan Area (360 HVAC workers): $42,560 annual average salary

  • 10th percentile: $26,750
  • 25th percentile: $30,590
  • 50th percentile (median): $40,460
  • 75th percentile: $53,960
  • 90th percentile: $61,950

Wausau, WI (210 HVAC workers): $46,510 annual average salary

  • 10th percentile: $30,630
  • 25th percentile: $36,410
  • 50th percentile (median): $47,240
  • 75th percentile: $56,740
  • 90th percentile: $62,610

Western Wisconsin Nonmetropolitan Area (170 HVAC workers): $41,060 annual average salary

  • 10th percentile: $28,610
  • 25th percentile: $34,390
  • 50th percentile (median): $41,100
  • 75th percentile: $47,760
  • 90th percentile: $53,780

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 of 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 $146 per credit for Wisconsin residents, bringing the total cost of this 55-credit-hour program to $8,030, not including additional fees.

Please note that it’s 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. 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 October 2017, 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).

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, 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.