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Georgia needs new people excited about a career in HVACR, and the Peach State has everything you need to make diving into this challenging and essential career possible and profitable.
The growing demand for these skilled tradespeople in Georgia means you can feel confident that the time you put into training will pay off. Ten states in the United States collectively account for 61% of the entire U.S. construction market, according to Research and Markets, and Georgia is one of them.
In addition, the U.S. Department of Labor’s job search website, CareerOneStop, projects a 12% growth rate in Georgia for Heating, Air Conditioning and Refrigeration Mechanics and Installers from 2020 to 2030, compared with 5% nationwide.
There’s definitely evidence to support this on job boards. There are more than 1,000 HVAC installer jobs in Georgia posted on Indeed.com and more than 6,000 on Zip Recruiter.
Another reason HVACR professionals can feel confident they’ll remain in demand in Georgia is that the state’s climate demands climate control. It’s hot and humid in the summer and can get very chilly in the winter.
So how can you find your place in this burgeoning profession? Read on to find out.
Table of Contents
Accredited Georgia HVAC Training Programs
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS), “Because HVACR systems have become increasingly complex, employers generally prefer applicants with post-secondary education or those who have completed an apprenticeship.”
Formal education is not required by law in Georgia for entry-level HVAC workers, but it can help you land a job in the field. Also, in general, there’s a direct correlation between a degree and higher long-term earnings, so though it’s not required to go to HVAC school to get started in the field it could pay off in the long run.
Georgia has quite a few accredited programs. Some states don’t have any schools that are accredited by either of the two main organizations that approve HVAC programs and schools nationwide: HVAC Excellence and the Partnership for Air-Conditioning, Heating, Refrigeration Accreditation (PAHRA). These organizations evaluate the programs based on the facilities, the faculty, and whether the curriculum meets or exceeds industry standards.
HVAC Excellence has accredited eight programs in Georgia, and PAHRA has accredited four.
HVAC Excellence Accredited Programs
Coastal Pines Technical College in Waycross
Coastal Pines Technical College – Golden Isles in Brunswick
Coastal Pines Technical College – Jessup in Jessup
North Georgia Technical College in Clarksville
Southern Crescent Technical College in Griffin
Southern Regional Technical College in Thomasville
Southern Regional Technical College — Moultrie Campus in Moultrie
PAHRA accredited programs
West Georgia Technical College in Carrollton
Georgia Piedmont Technical College in Clarkston
Georgia Piedmont Technical College in Covington
Gwinnett Technical College in Lawrenceville
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HVACR Degrees & Certificates
As you weigh the benefit of getting some formal training at a technical or community college, you may want to speak with people in the field in your state. The licensing requirements vary from state to state, and some insist on a minimum amount of education. Other states have no educational requirements, as in Georgia. If the return on investment is not there in your state, it may make more sense to simply get an entry-level position and get on-the-job training.
Regardless of the educational requirements by state, anyone who maintains, services, repairs, or disposes of equipment that could release refrigerants into the atmosphere needs Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) certification. More on that later.
In terms of college education for HVACR techs, typically you’ll have a range of degree and certificate programs from which to choose. The time it takes to complete them and the cost of each are the most significant differences. The most common HVAC programs are:
Certificate Program – three to six months
Diploma Program – one year
Associates Degree – two years
Bachelor’s Degree – four years
Obviously, the longer the program, the more it costs. Most HVAC professionals have some post-secondary training because the systems used to regulate our homes and businesses are becoming increasingly complex and technical. However, very few HVACR professionals choose to get a four-year bachelor’s degree unless they’re seeking an engineering degree to design and develop those complex heating and air conditioning systems. If this is a path that interests you, you may want to explore the Mechanical Engineering Bachelor of Science degree at the University of Georgia. Among the courses in that degree is an HVAC Systems for Buildings and Industry course. Both Georgia Tech and Georgia Southern University also have Bachelor’s degrees in Mechanical engineering including HVAC coursework. In many cases, formal education pays off in the form of higher wages.
Typical Courses in Technical College Programs
HVAC programs at technical colleges are all intended to prepare students for careers in the refrigeration, air conditioning and heating industries. All combine theory and the practical skills needed to do the job. Most encourage students to work in their field of interest while attending school if pursuing a longer degree, and many are designed with that in mind. One-semester programs typically prepare students to find entry-level work upon completion.
For the certificate programs, the coursework is very specialized. For example, an Air Conditioning Electrical Technician certificate program would focus on competencies in electricity related to installation, service, and maintenance of electrical systems in air conditioning systems and would include coursework like HVACR electrical fundamentals, electrical motors, and electrical components and controls.
Broader programs of study for lengthier diploma programs would incorporate classes on blueprint reading, gas heat, heat pumps and related systems, refrigeration fundamentals, principles and practices and system components. Air Conditioning certificates or diploma programs would also include classes on air conditioning systems application and installation and troubleshooting air conditioning systems.
Students pursuing an associate degree in Applied Science will need to fulfill general education coursework in addition to the specialized HVACR classes to meet the more rigorous requirements for that associate degree.
School Selection Criteria
There are a lot of things to consider when picking the right school and program
Cost is, of course, at the top of the list. Tuition at each of the schools listed above is pretty uniform: $100 per credit hour for in-state students and $200 for out-of-state students. There will be some variations in fees at each school, though, so be sure to review all of the costs involved.
There are also always costs for books and tools, but those tools are yours to keep as you enter your chosen occupational field. All students who are interested in receiving federal (Pell Grant) and state (HOPE Career Grant) apply by completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form online at fafsa.ed.gov.
You can choose from a highly specialized certificate or a broader diploma or associate degree. The certificates are predominantly 12 credit hours and will take one semester to complete. There are a couple offered that are 20 credits and will take a little longer. Diploma or associate degree programs typically take two years.
There are many benefits to getting some kind of formal education if you want to join the HVACR profession. Though in Georgia there is no educational requirement to get started in the field, many employers will choose an applicant with a certificate or degree over one without credentials. Having some basic knowledge helps you to hit the ground running and secure your place in a shop full of professionals. Technical training is also usually rewarded with higher starting pay and lifelong earnings.
Online vs in-person
People living in rural areas of Georgia or who have commitments that make it difficult to travel to a school campus may choose to get HVAC training through an online certificate program. Only you know if this type of independent curriculum will work for you.
Online programs are ideal for people looking for entry-level HVAC jobs or for entry-level workers who are looking to increase their salary. HVACClasses.org gives a detailed description of some of the top online programs nationwide. If you know your learning style relies on personal instruction, more traditional in-person classes are pretty accessible throughout the state. The accredited programs listed above are located as far north as Clarkesville, as far south as Thomasville, as far east as Brunswick and as far west as Carrollton, with other campuses all in between.
Level of difficulty
HVACR programs are designed to prepare graduates for entry-level positions in the HVAC industry in commercial, industrial, or residential sectors. Curriculum includes an understanding of mathematics and physics.
HVAC technicians have to learn to do a lot of different things to be successful, including how to follow blueprints or other design specifications to install or repair HVAC systems, connect systems to fuel and water supply lines and air ducts, install electrical wiring and controls, proper techniques of refrigerant recovery, reclaiming and recycling, and so much more.
The BLS describes the many duties of a HVAC mechanics and installers this way: Install, clean, and maintain HVACR systems; Install electrical components and wiring; Inspect and test HVACR systems and components; Discuss system malfunctions with customers; Repair or replace worn or defective parts; Recommend maintenance to improve system performance; Keep records of work performed. And, of course, especially in residential HVAC work, customer service is key.
School Comparison: At a Glance
The accredited training schools listed below are part of the Georgia Technical College System. They all offer students financial aid in the form of grants and loans and have a 100% acceptance rate.
Coastal Pines Technical College offers Air Conditioning Technology degrees and certificates at three locations in Waycross, Brunswick, and Jessup.
Air Conditioning Technology | Diploma | 51 credits Air Conditioning Repair Specialist | Certificate | 20 credits Residential Air Conditioning Technician | Certificate | 16 credits Air Conditioning Technician Assistant | Certificate | 12 credits Air Conditioning Electrical Technician | Certificate | 12 credits
Again, these programs are accredited by HVAC Excellence and can be accomplished in one to four semesters. Tuition is $100 per credit hour for in-state students and $200 for out-of-state students.
Lanier Technical College in Gainesville, GA offers three HVAC Excellence accredited program paths.
Air Conditioning Technology | Diploma | 51 credits Basic Residential A/C Systems Design | Certificate | 16 credits Basic Residential Gas Heat Systems Design | Certificate | 16 credits
The Air Conditioning Technology Diploma can be accomplished in four semesters. The certificates require only one semester. Tuition is $100 per credit hour for in-state students and $200 for out-of-state students.
North Georgia Technical College offers the HVAC Excellence accredited programs at its Clarksville campus.
Air Conditioning Technology | Associate Degree | 70 credits Air Conditioning Technology | Diploma | 53 credits Heating & Air Conditioning Installation Technician | Certificate | 16 credits Advanced Commercial Refrigeration | Certificate | 12 credits Air Conditioning Electrical Technician | Certificate | 12 credits Air Conditioning Technician Assistant | Certificate | 12 credits
The Associate of Applied Science Degree will take four semesters, the Diploma program will take three terms, and the Certificates each take one term to complete. Tuition is $100 per credit hour for in-state students and $200 for out-of-state students. The estimated cost of books and supplies for the Associate Degree program is approximately $850. The Diploma program estimate is $625, and each of the others is about $200.
EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) and other ESCO (Energy Service Company) certification exams will cost an additional $100. All of the certificate programs are eligible for 100% tuition coverage through federal grants.
Southern Crescent Technical College offers HVAC Excellence accredited Air Conditioning Technology degrees and certificates in Griffin, Ga.
Air Conditioning Technology | Associate Degree | 66 credits Air Conditioning Technology | Diploma | 51 credits Air Conditioning Repair Specialist | Certificate | 20 credits Residential Air Conditioning Technician | Certificate | 16 credits Air Conditioning Electrical Technician | Certificate | 12 credits Air Conditioning System Maintenance Technician | Certificate | 12 credits Air Conditioning Technician Assistant | Certificate | 12 credits Heating & Air Conditioning Installation Technician | Certificate | 12 credits Light Commercial Air Conditioning Specialization | Certificate | 12 credits
Tuition is $100 per credit hour for in-state students and $200 for out-of-state students. The Air Conditioning Technology Diploma program qualifies for the HOPE Career Grant, which makes the program tuition-free.
Southern Regional Technical College has campuses in Thomasville and Moultrie, Ga., with HVAC Excellence accredited programs.
Air Conditioning Technology | Diploma | 54 credits Air Conditioning Repair Specialist | Certificate | 20 credits Air Conditioning System Maintenance Technician | Certificate | 12 credits
The school breaks the cost down by semester. For all four semesters combined of the Diploma program, the cost is about $8,000. The total cost for the Air Conditioning Repair Specialist Certificate two terms is about $1,600, and the cost of the one term Air Conditioning System Maintenance Technician Certificate is about $850.
West Georgia Technical College offers the PAHRA accredited HVAC programs at its Carrollton campus.
Air Conditioning Technology | Diploma | 51 credits Air Conditioning Repair | Certificate | 20 credits Air Conditioning Electrical Technician | Certificate | 12 credits Air Conditioning Technician Assistant | Certificate | 12 credits Heating & Air Conditioning Installation Technician | Certificate | 12 credits
Tuition is $100 per credit hour for in-state students and $200 for out-of-state students.
Georgia Piedmont Technical College offers PAHRA accredited HVAC courses in Clarkston and Covington, Ga.
Air Conditioning Technology | Associate Degree | 66 credits Air Conditioning Technology | Diploma | 51 credits Air Conditioning Electrical Technician | Certificate | 12 credits Air Conditioning Technician Assistant | Certificate | 12 credits
Tuition is $100 per credit hour for in-state students and $200 for out-of-state students.
Gwinnett Technical College in Lawrenceville, Ga., offers five PAHRA accredited HVAC programs of varying lengths.
Air Conditioning Technology | Associate Degree | 65 credits Air Conditioning Technology | Diploma | 51 credits Refrigeration System Service Technician | Certificate | 20 credits Air Conditioning Electrical Technician | Certificate | 12 credits Air Conditioning System Maintenance Technician | Certificate | 12 credits
Tuition is $100 per credit hour for in-state students and $200 for out-of-state students.
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Steps for Enrollment in Georgia
Every technical college has its own way of doing things, but in general the process begins with you visiting the school’s website and applying for admission online. You also have the option of visiting the school’s admission office or mailing a paper application there. All require that you pay a $25 application fee and provide several documents. In general the application process has the following steps:
Complete your application.
Pay the application fee.
Provide proof of residency to qualify for in-state tuition.
Have sealed official high school transcript or GED scores sent.
Submit placement test scores.
If applicable, apply for on-campus housing.
HVAC Career Requirements in Georgia
Georgia does not have an educational requirement to legally perform entry-level HVACR work in the state. Entry-level professionals just need to meet employer expectations to get started.
However, Georgia does require licensing for contractors. To be a “Conditioned Air Contractor,” as they are called in Georgia, you must be licensed through the state. Entry-level HVAC workers who only install, alter or repair duct systems, control systems, or insulation do not need a license to be an employee of a licensed conditioned air contractor. However, if you do more extensive work such as complete installation of a conditioned air system, then you are required to be licensed. Also, if you want to own your own HVAC business or you just want to be a more attractive hire for someone who does, you will want to get your license. To do that. you’ll need at least four years of work experience, and five years if you want to work on larger commercial units. Some of that work experience can be satisfied through formal education.
Completing a diploma program of a technical school in engineering or engineering technology may be credited for up to two years of experience.
Completing a certificate program may be credited for up to one year of experience.
Applicants for a Georgia Conditioned Air Contractor license are required to complete a board-approved heat loss and gain and duct design course before becoming licensed. That is the one educational requirement for licensure in Georgia. For a detailed explanation of Georgia’s HVACR licensing requirements and how to fulfill them, check out our essential guide to getting your Georgia HVAC License.
No matter what state you live in, there are Environmental Protection Agency requirements at the federal level for technicians who maintain, service, repair, or dispose of equipment that could release refrigerants into the atmosphere. According to EPA regulations under Section 608 of the Clean Air Act, this applies to any professional who conducts refrigerant line-pressure tests or handles or adds refrigerant to existing air conditioning systems. EPA certification is often part of HVAC degree programs. If you choose a shorter certificate program, you may need to get EPA certification on your own. Your employer should be able to guide you to resources, or you can find them in our Georgia HVAC License guide.
Salaries for HVAC Technicians in Georgia
Before paying for technical education and getting started in the HVAC field you’ll want some idea of what you can expect in terms of the return on your investment of time, effort, energy, and money. In other words, what can you expect to make as an HVAC professional in Georgia? Payscale.com data provides an answer based on your experience. The median HVAC salary in Georgia for 2022 is:
Entry level <2 years : $45,900
Intermediate 2-4 years: $54,400
Senior 4-6 years: $60,800
Supervisor > 7 years: $82,900
Click this link for a more in-depth look at salaries for HVAC professionals in Georgia.
Another way to get the training you need to become an HVAC mechanic or installer is through a formal apprenticeship. Most apprenticeships are three to five years long and require you to be at least 18 years old, have a high school diploma or a GED, and a valid driver’s license.
The Plumbing Heating Cooling Contractors Association of Georgia (PHCC) has a four-year apprentice program approved by the U.S. Department of Labor. Union HVAC apprenticeships are also offered in Georgia through the United Association local chapters in Atlanta, Augusta, and Savannah. They are five years long. Each year includes 1,700 to 2,000 hours of on-the-job training and a minimum of 246 hours of classroom courses, including basics such as mathematics, science, drafting, welding and other trade-related courses. Apprentices work for member contractors with an opportunity for increased wages each year until reaching journeyman status.
Some HVAC companies will hire applicants who have had no previous training and provide the training themselves — creating an in-house apprenticeship. A pretty typical model of that is pairing a new employee with an experienced technician for the hands-on part of training and then requiring new hires to attend classes at night at a local community college or sometimes taught through the company itself. This typically includes getting EPA Certification and other certifications such as North American Technical Excellence (NATE) certification as a way to demonstrate your proficiency.
Other School Options
Though accreditation can give you confidence in your technical college, accredited programs aren’t your only option. There are other programs throughout the state that may be more accessible to you based on where you live. Each of the schools listed below has HVAC programs.
Albany Technical College
Athens Technical College
Chattahoochee Technical College in Marietta
Columbus Technical College
Fortis College in Smyrna
Interactive College of Technology in Chamblee
Ogeechee Technical College in Statesboro
Savannah Technical College
South Georgia Technical College in Americus
Southeastern Technical College in Vidalia
Wiregrass Georgia Technical College in Valdosta
You can find the training you need to excel in a career in HVACR in Georgia. The opportunities are all around you!
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