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Are you considering enrolling in an HVAC school in Illinois to receive your training? The HVAC/R (or heating, ventilation, cooling, and refrigeration) profession is projected to add about 38,500 openings for mechanics and installers each year through 2030.
You might be wondering how much does HVAC school cost, and that can range anywhere from $15,000-$20,000 (See section “HVAC Training Cost Comparison” below) depending on several factors such as the type of training you choose, the length of your training, what financial assistance you may qualify for, and any additional costs such as books, supplies, housing, certifications, etc.
There are advantages to completing postsecondary education that can help justify your HVAC school cost. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics notes that in general, employers prefer to hire applicants with formal HVAC/R training, due to the increasing complexity of modern HVAC/R equipment.
This article takes a closer look at answering how much does HVAC school cost by exploring the typical career path and associated costs to starting a career in HVAC/R.
HVAC Technician Definition
What exactly is an HVAC technician? These tradespeople service heating, ventilation, and air conditioning equipment—that’s where the term “HVAC” comes from. Those who work on refrigeration equipment too are called “HVAC/R technicians.”
HVAC Technician Career Path
People can take different paths to becoming an HVAC technician. However, postsecondary training and industry certifications are typically important steps of any HVAC career path.
- Step 1: High School Diploma or GED: A high school diploma or GED can improve your chances of landing a job. Most postsecondary HVAC training programs and apprenticeships usually require a high school diploma or GED.
- Step 2: HVAC Training: Working on sophisticated mechanical equipment and electrical wiring requires technical skills. Most HVAC techs learn these skills in vocational school, community college, or through apprenticeships. HVAC/R training at MTI combines classroom theory and hands-on lab instruction to train students in the latest HVAC/R technology.
- Step 3: EPA Section 608 Technician Certification: Most HVAC/R equipment uses refrigerants. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requires techs to have Section 608 Technician Certification to buy or handle refrigerants. As part of MTI’s HVAC/R Technician Program, students are required to take and pass EPA Section 608 Core Type I and Type II certification exams.
- Step 4: On-the-Job Training: Working under an experienced HVAC technician is common for new hires. Usually, they start out with simple jobs like insulating refrigerant lines and move up to more complex tasks, for example checking electrical circuits.
- Step 5: Industry Certifications: Once they’re working in the field, HVAC techs can improve their career and earning potential with industry certifications from organizations like North American Technical Excellence (NATE) and HVAC Excellence.
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HVAC Training Cost Comparison
There are a few options when it comes to HVAC/R training. Many vocational schools and community colleges offer HVAC training programs. It’s also possible to learn the trade through an apprenticeship.
Let’s see how they compare.
Vocational & Trade Schools
There are several postsecondary HVAC schools in Illinois that provide hands-on training in the skills you need for an entry-level position in the HVAC industry. However, there are many important factors to consider when choosing the right HVAC school for you, including cost.
According to HVAC Career Now:
- Tuition for a HVAC trade school program averages between $15,000 and $20,000
- This is before any financial aid is applied.
- The estimate is based on a sample of more than 30 nonprofit and for-profit HVAC trade schools.
- Training Time: 9 months to 1 year
What Makes MTI’s HVAC/R Program Different?
Midwest Technical Institute (MTI) offers a 9-month HVAC/R Technician Program in Illinois at the following campus locations:
The HVAC/R training program is also available at MTI’s campus in Springfield, Missouri.
At MTI, all tuition (where applicable) includes:
- Certification Tests
Here’s a few more quick facts about MTI’s HVAC/R Technician Program:
- All MTI HVAC/R instructors have real-world experience.
- Career placement assistance is available to all qualified graduates.
- MTI is nationally accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools & Colleges (ACCSC).
- MTI is approved by the United States Department of Education to participate in the Federal Financial Aid Program.
- During the 2020-2021 school year, 87% of MTI students received financial aid.
- MTI’s HVAC/R Technician Program at the Springfield, IL campus is nationally accredited by HVAC Excellence.
Community colleges can also provide hands-on training in the skills needed for entry-level HVAC careers. However, earning your HVAC education at a community college typically means you will also have to take the general education courses required to earn an Associate Degree.
According to national data from Community College Review in 2022,
- For public community colleges, the average yearly tuition is approximately:
- $4,996 for in-state students
- $8,717 for out-of-state students
- $15,536 for private colleges
- For Illinois community colleges, the average yearly tuition is approximately:
- $8,158 per year for in-state students
- $10,899 for out-of-state students
- $15,031 per year for private community colleges
- Training Time: 6 months to 2 years
According to Vocational Training HQ, an apprenticeship entails anywhere from 3 to 5 years of on-the-job training, notably longer than attending HVAC schools in Illinois (such as MTI) by comparison.
- Tuition Cost: $500 to $2,000
- Training Time: 3 to 5 years of on-the-job training
It’s also important to consider that apprenticeship programs can be competitive or have limited spots.
HVAC Certification Cost
HVAC certification is usually the next step after completing an HVAC training program. The cost of certification depends on the type.
EPA Section 608 Technician
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations require that technicians who maintain, service, repair, or dispose of refrigeration equipment must be certified. The cost of the EPA 608 exam varies, depending on where you take the exam.
- Cost Range (Average): Between $20 to $150
- HVAC/R students at MTI are required to take and pass the EPA Section 608 Core, Type I, and Type II certification exams. The cost of these certification exams is included in tuition.
North American Technical Excellence (NATE)
The NATE (North American Technician Excellence) certification is the most widely recognized certification. It is designed for the employee with at least 5 years field experience.
- Cost Range (Average): Each test will cost between $130-$250
- This estimate does not include the registration fee, which may also vary by testing location.
- At MTI, NATE certification is available to students at an additional cost of $115.
- NATE exams are optional for MTI’s HVAC/R students.
Refrigeration Service Engineers Society (RSES)
- Cost Range: Each RSES chapter individually determines the cost of membership dues, based on the level of value it provides to its members. There are more than 165 chapters.
Start Your Path to HVAC School in Illinois
How much HVAC school costs depends on where and how you learn the trade.
If you want to gain the skills you need and enter the field in less than a year, MTI’s 9-month HVAC/R Technician Program could be the right path for you.
Want to learn more about the cost of MTI’s HVAC/R Technician Program? Fill out the form below to connect with the Admissions Team!