The Smart Service Dispatch

Your home for the latest field service news, business tips, and more.

January 22, 2021


How much does HVAC school cost?

What does it take to get a formal HVAC education?

Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) professionals keep the modern world running. HVAC jobs are in-demand: according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, HVAC employment will grow 13% through 2028. That represents a much higher growth rate than you’ll find in other career fields.

HVAC work is stable and well-paying, but how do you get started in the field? Or rise through the ranks for a management position?

While field experience is important, HVAC employers prefer candidates with some kind of formal training or education. You can be an experienced, street-smart HVAC tech, but without a degree, you’ll miss out on career opportunities. If you’re considering a stable career in HVAC, it might be time to hit the books.

Is HVAC school worth it?

We all know school costs time and money. Will HVAC school really change your job prospects? Do you need a formal education for a career in HVAC?

Technically, HVAC technicians don’t need a formal education. You can land a great job with just a little work experience under your belt. However, employers greatly prefer technicians they can trust. HVAC school immediately gives you the credibility necessary to score a better HVAC job.

HVAC trade school graduates generally earn more and have better career prospects. According to a 2011 study by Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce:

  • HVAC techs with a high school diploma earned $1.6 million in their lifetime.
  • HVAC techs with some college or an associate’s degree earned $1.8 million.

That’s a big difference in lifetime earnings. Although college/training costs a lot of money up front, the potential earnings boost generally defrays this expense.

Plus, HVAC training and certifications are an industry standard. 42.6% of all HVAC techs have at least an associate’s degree. Employers often specify educational requirements on job postings, and without an education, you won’t qualify. Even if you get an interview, your lack of education or trade school experience could raise eyebrows.

Education makes it easier to get your foot in the door if you have no prior HVAC experience. Even if you’re an experienced tech, formal education is often a requirement for higher-level management positions. HVAC school also connects you with other techs and potential employers, so you can get a job more quickly. You’ll have an easier time finding work and earning promotions with the right education.

The Cost of HVAC School

Considering HVAC school? Before applying, ensure you have a plan for financing your education. Let’s dive into how much HVAC school will cost you.

The cost depends on the degree and program you’re pursuing:

  • Certification program: Certification programs go for 6-12 months, usually through a community college. These entry-level programs cost $1,200-$15,000. The more expensive courses often include toolkits and exam fees.
  • Associate degree: This is a 2-year degree earned through a college, and it’s ideal for techs who need management training. An associate degree expands on HVAC basics. It can cost anywhere from $15,000-$35,000, but you should also factor in the cost of textbooks and supplies.
  • Apprenticeship: For $500-$2,000, you can sign up for an HVAC apprenticeship. This 3-5 years of hands-on training will pair you with a master technician. You can earn wages as you work and earn school credit. Keep in mind that some apprenticeships require self-study coursework.
  • Licensing: Depending on your state, you may need to sit for a license after completing your education. Exams cost $50-$150 apiece, and you must renew the license every year for $100-$300.

There’s no “right” path for HVAC careers. Choose the schooling or training that works best for your specific goals.

How to Pay for HVAC School

Cost is probably your number-one concern when you hear the word “college.” Fortunately, there are grants, loans, and other funding options to get you through school.

Skilled trades are in high demand right now, and there are several grants available through the government for your education. You don’t have to pay back grants, either, so you can graduate debt-free. You can apply for grants with your local HVAC union or organization. You can also find grants through the Department of Education.

Student loans are a popular option for financing college, but you have to pay them back, plus interest. If you’re interested in student loans, apply online for FAFSA.

You can also pay for HVAC school with scholarships. Smart Service offers a $2,000 scholarship that fills the gaps for HVAC students. To qualify:

  • You must plan to attend an accredited program and study a skilled trade (like HVAC).
  • You can be no more than 15 years removed from graduating high school (or you will graduate high school in time to receive the scholarship).

Your success is our success. If you’re interested in becoming a skilled HVAC technician, apply for the Smart Service scholarship.