In today’s job market it is important to get schooling if you want to enter the HVAC field. Rarely will employers even consider you for a position without this schooling. There are basically 3 types of HVAC schools: 1) those that offer a certificate, 2) those that offer a 2-year associates degree, and 3) those that offer a 4-year bachelor’s degree. The training that they offer is commensurate with the certificate or degree offered.
The minimum requirements to get into an HVAC technician program may vary between states and schools but in general they are:
- High school diploma or equivalency
- Placement testing
- Demonstration of readiness/desire
- Graduation requirements
Some certificate and 2-year programs may require that you take the COMPASS examination before acceptance. The COMPASS is a test designed to evaluate an applicant’s reading, writing, and mathematics ability. Without basic proficiency in these three areas, it would be difficult for anyone to get through college-level and trade school courses.
Most schools will have you fill out an application and part of this will be to write a short essay that will be used to evaluate your desire and maturity for completing a course of instruction. This is the place where you should also tell about any high school vocational classes or prior on-the-job training you have had that would benefit you in the HVAC trade.
Just as there are minimum requirements to get into a school, there are also the same to graduate. You will have a specific course path to follow and need to maintain around a 2.8 grade point average. Four-year schools and some two-year programs will probably want you to take core classes such as English composition, social science, or whatever other course needed to fulfill this requirement.
How to Choose an HVAC School
Choosing the right HVAC school is a decision that can be made by evaluating three broad categories:
- Professional needs
- Performance record
Any school you are considering should be one that will meet your professional needs today and in the distant future. This means that you must first ask yourself what it is that you want to do. Do you want to enter in the field as a technician working in installation, service, and repair or do you want to achieve additional specialization? Do you want to get into engineering disciplines associated with HVAC? You must first determine this for yourself.
Once you have made the decision with regard to your professional needs, evaluate the school that you are considering to see if it can provide you education beyond the basics. For example, is the course selection such that it will prepare you for an HVAC certification exam? Is there a wide variety in the course selection? Does the school have a continuing education program so that you can advance to other specialties such as installation and retrofitting for green and sustainable technology? Furthermore, does the school have apprenticeship and job placement programs?
Also look at the resources that the school has available to provide quality HVAC training to students. Do instructors have real-life experience in the field? Does the school utilize computer technology for course delivery? Is the HVAC equipment modern and up-to-date?
Lastly, you want to look at the school’s performance record. How many students have found jobs after graduation? How many have achieved certification or passed licensing exams? How popular is the school in the community?
Tuition Costs for HVAC Training Programs
The cost of tuition will vary depending on the length of the program, the school, and if the program is on-campus or on-line. Thus, the range varies starting at around $2,000 to as much as $35,000. Six-month certificate on-line programs will be at the lower end of the spectrum while two-year programs will be around the middle. Four-year programs will cost the most. This is only tuition. Expect to pay around $4,500 for books and other additional fees.
Financial assistance can usually be found through Federal loans and grants if you qualify. Usually those in the low income tax brackets will meet this qualification. You may also be able to get financial assistance through your state’s job re-training program.