Students in Florida can prepare for HVAC certification by enrolling in one of the state's several 2- or 4-year colleges. A number of these schools feature certificate and associate's degree programs that teach students through coursework and laboratory sessions as well as cooperative work and internship experiences.
Some schools may provide opportunities for students to participate in apprenticeships. Programs could have full- or part-time study options. While completing formal training is necessary, students of most programs will also need work experience to qualify for certification.
Daytona State College
Located in Daytona Beach, Daytona State College is Florida's first comprehensive community college. The 1,000-contact-hour HVAC certificate program includes coursework in wiring, psychometrics, heat load calculations and refrigerants. While students are not required to hold a high school diploma or GED, they must be able to lift 50 lbs, climb a 12-foot ladder and pass the Test of Adult Basic Education (TABE). Graduates of this program are prepared for careers as HVAC helpers, mechanic assistants and mechanics; however, graduates will need additional work experience to become certified contractors.
Eastern Florida State College
Eastern Florida State College offers a certificate program in HVAC through the Cocoa and Palm Bay campuses. The program includes 1,350 clock hours of coursework in air conditioning components, electrical circuitry, heating technology and mechanical systems. The 32-credit program, which is available in fall, spring and summer terms, also prepares students for EPA certification exams. Applicants to this program aren't required to hold a high school diploma or GED.
Florida State College at Jacksonville
Jacksonville's Florida State College offers an HVAC certificate through Florida Coast Career Tech. The 1,350-contact-hour, 44-credit certificate program includes professional courses, as well as vocational preparatory instruction for students who don't pass the TABE. In addition to academic instruction in air conditioning theory, students have the opportunity to complete laboratory work and gain hands-on training through internships. Completion of this program will prepare students for entry-level HVAC technician positions. However, more training or experience is required for contractor certification.
Hillsborough Community College (HCC)
In Tampa's Drew Park community, students can find the HCC - Dale Mabry Campus, which offers an ABC (Associated Builders and Contractors) apprenticeship program for students interested in HVAC training. The program combines classroom learning with on-the-job training, making it possible for graduates to be certified with journeymen status. In addition to being the oldest and largest campus in HCC, Dale Mabry is home to the Connections Center, which offers enrollment information and career guidance.
Indian River State College
The Indian River State College is a four-year college that offers HVAC programs through four different campuses, including a location in Fort Pierce. The associate degree program is a two-year program that delves into basic electricity, HVAC controls, refrigerant recovery and heating technology, in addition to general education. Students also complete four levels of cooperative work training. In the career training programs, students can choose to complete a 750- or 600-clock-hour certificate program or an 8,400-clock-hour apprenticeship program. These programs can prepare graduates to become state-certified contractors, but additional experience may be required.
Miami Dade College
With eight campuses, including a main campus in Miami, and 174,000 students, Miami Dade College has one of the nation's largest student enrollments. At Miami Dade, students can complete an associate degree program that includes general education requirements and major courses in air distribution, air conditioning motors and structural drafting. In addition to the associate degree program in HVAC technologies, Miami Dade offers a vocational HVAC apprenticeship program allowing students to work while they learn. Graduates of these programs can take certification exams.
Palm Beach State College
Lake Worth's Palm Beach State College is a large, four-year college that offers an HVAC program through its trade and industry division. The Post Secondary Adult Vocational Certificate includes 1,350 hours of training in areas like HVAC and refrigeration (HVACR) principles, electronics, air quality and installation. Students also complete four field experience requirements. Program applicants aren't required to hold a high school diploma; however, they must pass the TABE exam. Graduates need to gain additional experience to become certified Florida HVAC contractors. HVAC students at this college can take advantage of the Career Center, which assists students with career and education counseling and employment guidance.
Pensacola State College
Students can find an HVAC program offered as part of the building construction programs in Pensacola State College in Pensacola. The 45-credit program prepares students for entry-level employment, and enables them to obtain level 1-4 certification from NCCER (the National Center for Construction Education and Research), which is the education model used for apprenticeship programs. The program is offered in both full- and part-time formats and emphasizes theory and application of HVAC systems. To become certified contractors, graduates of this program will need additional work experience.
Santa Fe College
Santa Fe College, in Gainesville, is a midsized suburban college that offers a certificate in HVAC and apprenticeship program in air conditioning through the construction and technical education division. The 1,362-contact-hour certificate program includes coursework in refrigeration, air conditioning fundamentals, mechanical repair and automotive air conditioning. Students take the EPA certification exam as part of the program. Graduates are qualified to gain entry-level mechanic positions. The apprenticeship program combines classroom learning and hands-on training in trade tools, air distribution, construction drawings and circuit troubleshooting. An employer typically sponsors the apprenticeship program and fees are paid by the employer. Additionally, the instructors are NCCER-certified, which allows the uniform delivery of training. Graduates may have the experience and education requirements to qualify for certified contractor exams.
Seminole State College of Florida
In the construction, engineering and design division of Seminole State College, in Sanford, students can find the Vocational Certificate in HVAC. The program requires applicants to be at least 18 and hold a high school diploma or take the TABE exam. The three-term, 270-program-hour certificate program examines HVACR concepts, history of HVACR, tools, codes and HVACR fundamentals through three courses. While students will need additional work experience to qualify for certified contractor status, they will have the experience needed to earn entry-level HVAC technician positions.
In Florida, there are three levels of air conditioning contractors that range from A-C. Class A contractors are able to service any HVAC system, while class B contractors are limited to specific heating and cooling systems. Class C contractors are those who received his or her certifications prior to October 1988. Class A and B contractors must hold four years of combined experience and education, be 18 years of age and pass the certification exam.
HVAC contractors in Florida are required to be certified, but technician and mechanic positions may be available without state certification. However, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency requires those who handle refrigerants to become certified in one of three areas of specialization by passing an exam.
School Comparison: At a Glance
|School Name||School Type and Setting||HVAC Training Offered||Undergraduate Tuition & Fees (2015-2016)|
|Daytona State College||Four-year, public; small city||Vocational Certificate in Air Conditioning, Refrigeration and Heating Mechanic|| $3,282 in-state*,
|Eastern Florida State College||Four-year, public; large suburb||Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning Technology Certificate|| $2,496 in-state*,
|Florida State College at Jacksonville||Four-year, public; large city||Workforce Certificate in Air Conditioning, Refrigeration and Heating Technology|| $2,830 in-state*,
|Hillsborough Community College||Two-year, public; large city||ABC Apprenticeship|| $2,506 in-state*,
|Indian River State College||Four-year, public; large suburb||Career Training in A/C, Refrigeration and Heating Technology I and II,
Air Conditioning, Refrigeration and Heating Systems Technical Certificate,
A/C, Refrigeration and Heating Apprenticeship,
Associate in Applied Science in Air Conditioning, Refrigeration and Heating Systems Technology
| $2,764 in-state*,
|Miami Dade College||Four-year, public; large city|| Air Conditioning, Refrigeration and Heating Technologies Apprenticeship,
Associate in Science in Air Conditioning, Refrigeration and Heating Systems Technology
| $2,834 in-state*,
|Palm Beach State College||Four-year, public; large suburb||Post Secondary Adult Vocational Certificate in HVAC|| $2,444 in-state*,
|Pensacola State College||Four-year, public; small city||Vocational Certificate in HVAC|| $2,704 in-state*,
|Santa Fe College||Four-year, public; midsized suburb|| Certificate in Air Conditioning, Refrigeration and Heating Service Technology,
Apprenticeship in Air Conditioning
| $2,539 in-district*, $2,541 in-state*,
|Seminole State College of Florida||Four-year; small city||Vocational Certificate in Air Conditioning, Refrigeration and Heating Technology|| $3,131 in-state*,
Sources: *NCES College Navigator