If you are interested in becoming a HVAC technician in Richmond, VA, the time to complete your education and training in the industry is right now. Not only are there open positions for entry-level and experienced HVAC technicians across the Richmond area, but the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics reports excellent job growth for this industry in the coming years. That is an indication of continued opportunities for advancement in the industry and increased salaries.
Specifically, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that the HVAC industry, as a whole, will grow by 14% before 2024. While this percentage represents opportunities throughout the United States, the market in Richmond, VA continues to expand, with employers in the area continuing to hire HVAC technicians. A HVAC technician is responsible for the installation, repairs, and replacement of air conditioning, heating, and refrigeration systems in both residential and commercial buildings. To perform these tasks, a HVAC technician needs good problem solving skills, an interest in working with his or her hands, and attention to detail. While these natural inclinations and interests are helpful, most of the skills required to work as a HVAC technician are learned through education and training programs.
Richmond HVAC Education & Training
Knowledge of wiring, piping, and other systems is absolutely necessary to be a HVAC technician in Richmond, Virginia. Understanding the various temperature control equipment and knowing how these systems work can be learned at various institutions and training schools in Richmond.
• Tidewater Tech: Located in nearby Norfolk, Tidewater Tech offers a 48-week, full-time program for HVAC and HVACR technicians. The program covers all basic information on heating, air conditioning, and refrigeration in both residential and light commercial capacities. The majority of the coursework is provided through an in-class setting, but practical experience is included in the program. Tuition and fees for Tidewater Tech’s 48-week program are $15,887 for 2017. The technical college does offer opportunities for scholarship and financial aid for students enrolled in their full-time or part-time classes.
o Address: 5301 E. Princess Anne Road, Norfolk, VA 23502
o Phone Number: (757)-858-8324
o Email: Via contact request form on their website:
• Centura College: Centura College offers courses and degrees in the fields of business, health sciences, technology and skilled trades. Their HVAC course falls within their skilled trades department, and is offered on their Richmond, VA campus. It is a 12-month course, amounting to 36 total credit hours. These credit hours are comprised of classroom study and some practical experience. Centura College is a fully accredited community college that offers HVAC education and training as either a degree program or certificate. Earning a degree in this skilled trade can be helpful in finding employment and eventually advancing in the field.
o Address: 7914 Midlothian Turnpike, Richmond, VA 23235
o Phone Number: (804)-330-0111
• Fortis: This fully accredited community college offers a wide range of degree and certificate programs in Richmond, VA. Among the available programs on the Richmond campus are nursing, medical, dental, massage therapy, and skilled trades. The HVAC program is 48 weeks long, if courses are taken on a full-time basis, and students graduate with an associate degree in HVAC. As a full-time program the 48-week HVAC technician course costs $13,896 in tuition and fees. The college does provide opportunity for financial aid to students enrolled in their HVAC program.
o Address: 2000 Westmoreland Street, Richmond, VA 23230
o Phone Number: (804)-232-1020
• Penn Foster: Penn Foster is an accredited career school located in Richmond, VA, but the unique aspect of this institution is the HVAC training program is offered online. Students are able to take all coursework and examinations online and at their own pace. The minimum time to complete this online HVAC program is five months. The courses at Penn Foster are designed to prepare students for certification in HVAC. It is not a degree program. However, the basics of residential and commercial HVAC are included in the eight separate courses that are required for completion of the program. The HVAC program cost varies depending on how you chose to pay, but the most cost effective option is full payment at the start of the course, which is $729 per month.
o Address: 925 Oak Street, Scranton, PA 18515
o Phone Number: (1-800)-275-4410
Licensing for HVAC Technicians in Richmond, VA
The Commonwealth of Virginia maintains a standardized licensing program that is implemented by the state’s licensing department. There are three levels of licensing, which are based on experience and examination. An HVAC technician doesn’t need to obtain licensing to start work, and in fact one of the requirements of licensure is a minimum two years as a HVAC technician or similar position. However, after a few years in the profession, it is expected that an individual will obtain the necessary prerequisites for licensure.
The first level of licensing in Virginia is journeyman. To become a journeyman a newly trained HVAC technician needs to obtain approval from the state board to sit for the necessary examination. Approval for examination requires two years of practical experience and completion of coursework in HVAC training from a two-year college or technical school. If a HVAC technician in Richmond doesn’t have the required educational pre-requisite it is necessary to compensate for this fact by a longer term of practical experience in the profession. Without any certifications, a HVAC technician must work for 10 years before being able to sit for the journeyman examination.
The second level of licensing is a master license. To sit for examination for a master license in HVAC, an individual must have 10 years of verified, practical experience or one year of practical experience as a journeyman. The third level of licensing is a contractor license. This allows a HVAC technician to own a business that provides HVAC services and work directly with clients regarding proposal for work and development of plans for installation, maintenance, and repairs.
Associations for HVAC Technicians in Richmond, VA
HVAC technicians in Richmond are offered ample opportunity to connect with other professionals in the industry through local, state, and national associations. These associations provide opportunities for networking, continuing education, and access to industry-specific information. The Plumbing Heating Cooling Contractors of Virginia are a statewide association that connects HVAC professionals, those who work in refrigeration, and plumbing professionals throughout the state. As these trades are interrelated in terms of employers and skills, this association provides good opportunities for referrals and career advancement. There is also a focus on management skills, development of techniques in the trades, and community service. The Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA) is a national association with a Richmond, VA chapter. The focus of ACCA is providing HVAC professionals with resources and networking opportunities that can lead to employment opportunities and business growth. This is an association for leaders in the HVAC industry. The membership fee is $39.00.
HVAC Employment & Salary
There are opportunities to work in either commercial or residential HVAC positions in Richmond, VA, with small and large employers hiring in both sectors. Employers that currently or recently hired HVAC technicians in Richmond, VA include Southern Goodman Mechanical, F.H. Furr Plumbing, Heating, Air Conditioning, and Electric, and Southern Trust Home Services.
As well, there is a need for technicians certified in EPA and other specialties, such as refrigeration and technology. In particular, Richmond has available positions for HVAC technicians that work or are trained in the sheet metal sector. The hourly wage and annual salary for a HVAC technician is largely dependent upon education, certification, and practical experience in the field. Therefore, entry-level HVAC technicians in Richmond, VA must expect to make less than those who have worked in the industry for two years or more.
Statistics say that the HVAC average hourly wage, which takes into account both entry-level and experienced positions, is $20.94 in Richmond, VA. This is essentially equal to the national average of $42,000 per year. The average hourly rate for an experienced HVAC technician in Richmond, VA is $23.80.
The number of institutions that have started to offer degree, certification, and training programs in the area exemplify the continued growth of the HVAC industry in Richmond, VA. Within the last two years, multiple institutions and associations have started or expanded their HVAC technician programs, such as employer Michel & Son starting a new skilled trades academy in the area and Centura College offering their full-time HVAC program as of late 2016.