HVAC Trade Schools in Kansas

Connect With HVAC Schools

Agriculture and aerospace are significant drivers of the economy in Kansas (KS). Oil, gas, and petroleum refining also contribute significantly to the state’s income. In 2013, the prosperity of those sectors began to decline. Boeing moved its facilities out of Wichita; oil prices dropped; and the market for corn, wheat, and soybeans faltered. Kansas weathered an economic downturn over the next five years, but recent statistics indicate that the Kansas economy is on the upswing.

Kansans enjoy four distinct seasons. Summers can be warm, with average temperatures in July in the mid-80s and average winter temperatures hovering around freezing. Precipitation varies by area, with an average of more than 25 inches of rain or snow annually.

Because of this, businesses and homeowners alike require heating, ventilation, air conditioning, and refrigeration (HVAC-R) to remain comfortable. Additionally, part of the agricultural sector includes raising livestock for consumption. Keeping meat fresh during processing and transportation requires refrigeration, creating a thriving demand for HVAC-R systems.

Several organizations administer training and standards for the HVAC-R industry in Kansas, such as the Mechanical Contractors Association of Kansas City, Kansas Plumbing, Heating, Cooling Contractors Association, Pipefitters Local 533 and Plumbers Local 8.

These associations work with professionals and experts in the industry as well as with government organizations to establish educational and licensing standards for the HVAC and HVAC-R industries as well as providing training opportunities for local HVAC professionals.

This page will detail the opportunities available for HVAC professionals in Kansas, including the growth prospects, current average salaries, and professional training that is available for aspiring technicians.

Occupational Demand for HVAC/R Technicians in Kansas

Demand for HVAC and HVAC-R technicians is growing nationwide. According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS 2017), jobs in this field are expected to increase by 15 percent between 2016 and 2026, much faster growth than the average of 7 percent for all occupations. Demand in Kansas is slightly less than the national average. Projections Central predicted a 10.2 percent increase in demand for Kansas over the same decade (2016 to 2026).

Several factors contribute to the growth of the HVAC industry. The primary consideration is the increasing complexity of climate control systems and the need to replace, retrofit, or upgrade older systems. A second factor is the contemporary emphasis on energy efficiency and reducing pollution despite the increasing demand for critical levels of humidity and temperature in the aerospace and agricultural industries. As the economy of Kansas continues to improve, the construction of new buildings and residences will increase the demand for the installation of HVAC-R systems.

Computer and electronics literate technicians and those with excellent troubleshooting skills will have the best job prospects. Technicians who specialize in new installation may experience seasonal unemployment if construction declines. Maintenance and repair work can be more stable, as business owners and homeowners depend on their climate-control or refrigeration systems year round and must keep them in good working order, regardless of economic conditions.

Heating, air conditioning, and refrigeration mechanics and installers held 307,060 jobs nationwide in 2016, according to the BLS. As of 2018, contractors were the largest employers of HVAC and HVAC/R technicians, representing around 64 percent of workers while around 9 percent were self-employed. The remaining technicians worked for schools and retail companies. Technicians work full-time, with overtime common during adverse weather conditions.

HVAC and HVAC-R Salaries in Kansas

The BLS reports that HVAC and HVAC-R mechanics and installers nationally receive a median salary of $47,080 per year. Kansas technicians can expect to receive a median salary of $46,600 per year. Data compiled by Missouri Economic Research and Information Center indicates a cost of living index for Kansas of 89.2 in 2018, which means that residents of Kansas pay $89.20 for what costs Americans an average of $100.00.

Below are the hourly and annual salary comparisons as calculated by the BLS in May 2017:

Annual salary Hourly salary
United States Kansas United States Kansas
Average $49,530 $48,430 $23.81 $23.28
10th percentile $29,120 $31,830 $14.00 $15.30
25th percentile $36,150 $36,810 $17.38 $17.70
50th percentile $47,080 $46,660 $22.64 $22.40
75th percentile $60,270 $58,620 $28.98 $28.18
90th percentile $75,330 $69,680 $36.22 $33.50

The average salary for HVAC workers in Kansas is only slightly lower than that of the rest of the nation. It’s important to keep in mind that the cost of living in Kansas is also more affordable than the vast majority of the country. In fact, the Missouri Economic Research and Information Center (MERIC 2018) found that KS was the fifth most affordable state and boasted particular savings in housing and transportation. This competitive cost of living means that all salaries will go further than they would in most other states.

The BLS designated 8 regions within Kansas. The 490 HVAC workers in the Wichita region earned the highest average salary in the state ($54,180). Following are the detailed salary data for the 8 regions:

Lawrence, KS (50 HVAC workers): $46,290 annual average salary

Lawrence, KS
Percentile Annual salary Hourly salary
Average $46,290 $22.25
10th percentile $33,050 $15.89
25th percentile $39,290 $18.89
50th percentile $46,690 $22.45
75th percentile $55,050 $26.46
90th percentile $60,960 $29.31

Manhattan, KS (170 HVAC workers): $46,110 annual average salary

Manhattan, KS
Percentile Annual salary Hourly salary
Average $46,110 $22.17
10th percentile $30,050 $14.45
25th percentile $35,910 $17.26
50th percentile $46,900 $22.55
75th percentile $56,740 $27.28
90th percentile $62,660 $30.12

Northeast Kansas nonmetropolitan area (320 HVAC workers): $46,600 annual average salary

Northeast Kansas nonmetropolitan area
Percentile Annual salary Hourly salary
Average $46,600 $22.40
10th percentile $32,640 $15.69
25th percentile $36,330 $17.47
50th percentile $44,570 $21.43
75th percentile $56,200 $27.02
90th percentile $65,140 $31.32

Northwest Kansas nonmetropolitan area (190 HVAC workers): $35,940 annual average salary

Northwest Kansas nonmetropolitan area
Percentile Annual salary Hourly salary
Average $35,940 $17.28
10th percentile $27,140 $13.05
25th percentile $30,850 $14.83
50th percentile $35,310 $16.98
75th percentile $40,890 $19.66
90th percentile $47,400 $22.79

Southeast Kansas nonmetropolitan area (220 HVAC workers): $42,510 annual average salary

Southeast Kansas nonmetropolitan area
Percentile Annual salary Hourly salary
Average $42,510 $20.44
10th percentile $28,350 $13.63
25th percentile $35,580 $17.11
50th percentile $43,820 $21.07
75th percentile $49,550 $23.82
90th percentile $55,980 $26.91

Southwest Kansas nonmetropolitan area (110 HVAC workers): $37,840 annual average salary

Southwest Kansas nonmetropolitan area
Percentile Annual salary Hourly salary
Average $37,840 $18.19
10th percentile $24,070 $11.57
25th percentile $33,570 $16.14
50th percentile $37,690 $18.12
75th percentile $43,750 $21.03
90th percentile $50,590 $24.32

Topeka, KS (150 HVAC workers): $53,490 annual average salary

Topeka, KS
Percentile Annual salary Hourly salary
Average $53,490 $25.72
10th percentile $38,590 $18.55
25th percentile $46,930 $22.56
50th percentile $55,210 $26.54
75th percentile $61,560 $29.60
90th percentile $65,290 $31.39

Wichita, KS (490 HVAC workers): $54,180 annual average salary

Wichita, KS
Percentile Annual salary Hourly salary
Average $54,180 $26.05
10th percentile $34,420 $16.55
25th percentile $40,040 $19.25
50th percentile $53,430 $25.69
75th percentile $64,510 $31.01
90th percentile $78,190 $37.59

HVAC and HVAC-R Apprenticeship Training

Historically, HVAC technicians can begin their careers as entry-level employees, learning the trade through hands-on training. Most workers now attend formal classes and/or participate in an apprenticeship program. Coursework and apprenticeships can open up more employment opportunities and offer higher wages.

Kansas Plumbers & Pipefitters Local Union 441 provides apprenticeship training for HVAC technicians in Wichita. Applicants must commit to a five-year program where they complete 280 hours of coursework a year, rotated with on-the-job training. Local 441 finds an employer for the training. Students pay approximately $600 a year.

Kansas also has a registered apprenticeship program for the construction trades. Students must find an employer willing to sponsor them. The employer must then register with the state and provide the required training.

Accredited HVAC and HVAC/R Schools in Kansas

Those that choose not to go the apprenticeship route will want to find formal training elsewhere, such as a trade school or community college. When choosing a program, it is essential to determine if it is accredited and by which organization. Accreditation is a process in which an independent agency evaluates the quality of the program and weighs their finding against the standards they have established. The accreditation process includes the evaluation of both the curriculum and the instructors. HVAC Excellence is an accrediting institution but has not yet accredited a Kansas school as of October 2018. The Partnership for Air-Conditioning, Heating, Refrigeration Accreditation (PAHRA) has currently granted accredited status to Johnson County Community College.

Johnson County Community College

Students enrolled in the HVAC certificate program complete between 32 and 34 credit hours of coursework and hands-on training in the laboratory. They learn the basics of electricity, HVAC installation and startup, and how to lay out and fabricate sheet metal. Students also complete an internship. Graduates are qualified to take the EPA Section 608 exam and seek entry-level employment.

Students may also earn an associate’s degree in HVAC. The degree program builds on the basics with coursework and lab time that includes duct design, heat pumps, mathematics, and the science and theory of HVAC. They serve an additional internship and are qualified to take industry tests, including NATE certification. The program takes 61 credit-hours to complete.

  • Location: Overland Park, KS
  • Accreditation: PAHRA, Higher Learning Commission
  • Format: On-campus
  • Tuition: $93 per credit for Johnson County residents; $110 per credit for other Kansas residents; $220 per credit for out-of-state residents
  • Program length: One year for the certificate; two years for the AAS degree

Kansas City Kansas Community College

Students earn a technical certificate in HVAC at the completion of 44 credit-hours. They start with the fundamentals of heating and cooling systems, as well as refrigeration, electrical, and troubleshooting. Students also learn sheet metal techniques and how to braze. Graduates are qualified for EPA and R-401A refrigerant certifications testing.

  • Location: Kansas City, KS
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission
  • Format: On-campus
  • Tuition: $86 per credit for residents; $246 per credit for non-residents
  • Program length: One year

Manhattan Area Technical College

The college offers HVAC certificate and degree programs. Students learn the fundamentals of HVAC, refrigeration, and electricity. Advanced courses include controls and motors and design and blueprint reading. An internship completes their studies. Graduates are qualified to take the EPA exam and seek entry-level employment as commercial and residential technicians.

  • Location: Manhattan, KS
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission
  • Format: On-campus
  • Tuition: $7,340 for the certificate; $11,530 for the AAS degree
  • Program length: Nine months for the certificate; two years for the AAS degree

Salina Area Technical College

The college offers certificate and degree HVAC programs. Students complete 36 or 60 credit hours respectively to graduate. They start with the fundamentals of electrical, HVAC and HVAC-R. Coursework includes gas and electric heating, sheet metal layout and fabrication, compressors, heat pumps, and control systems. Students also learn commercial and residential troubleshooting and are qualified to take the EPA 608 exam. The degree course adds general studies, technical math, and HVAC electives.

  • Location: Salina, KS
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission
  • Format: On-campus
  • Tuition: $9,224 for the certificate; $12,446 for the AAS degree
  • Program length: Nine months for the certificate; two years for the AAS degree

Seward County Community College

The college combines classroom work with hands-on training using state-of-the-art equipment to teach students the basics of commercial and residential HVAC/R. Students also learn how to read blueprints, troubleshoot systems, and excel in customer relations. A certificate is awarded at the completion of 44 credit hours. Students wishing to enroll in the HVAC degree program must consult with an advisor. Earning a degree requires the completion of 20 additional credit hours in the academic plan recommended by the advisor.

  • Location: Liberal, KS
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission
  • Format: On-campus
  • Tuition: $99 per credit for Seward county residents; $100 per credit for other Kansas residents; $137 per credit for non-residents
  • Program length: Ten months for the certificate; two years for the AAS degree

Vatterott College

The college offers an HVAC-R mechanic diploma program. Students complete coursework and lab work in electrical and HVAC-R fundamentals, then progress to advanced classes. The curriculum includes green awareness coursework, as well as soldering and brazing, troubleshooting, mechanical codes, technical writing, ducting, equipment installation, and blueprint reading. Students complete 72 credit hours to earn their degree. Graduates are qualified to take the EPA certification exam and to enter the workforce as entry-level mechanics.

  • Location: Wichita, KS
  • Accreditation: Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges
  • Format: On campus
  • Tuition: $21,096
  • Program length: 60 weeks

Washburn Institute of Technology

Students complete 44 credit hours of coursework and lab time to earn an HVAC certificate. They learn the fundamentals of commercial and residential HVAC and HVAC-R equipment and systems. They also study advanced electrical theory, refrigeration mechanics, and sheet metal fabrication. Graduates are qualified to take the exams for 410A Safety, Building Automation, EPA 608, HVAC/R ICE, OSHA-10, Workplace Safety, and Meter certifications.

  • Location: Topeka, KS
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission
  • Format: On-campus
  • Tuition: $8,395
  • Program length: 60 weeks

Washburn also offers online HVAC-R training. The online training is divided into modules, each of which must be completed within 60 days. Coursework includes HVAC-R fundamentals, power and hand tools, electrical theory, motors, measuring air flow and capacity, piping, troubleshooting, and customer service. Graduates receive a certificate of completion and are qualified to take the same certification exams as on-campus students.

  • Location: Topeka, KS
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission
  • Format: Online
  • Tuition: $4,095
  • Program length: Self-paced, but must be completed within one year

Wichita State University Tech

Students may earn an HVAC technical certificate (44 credit hours) or an associate degree (62 credit hours). As well as the basics of HVAC and HVAC-R equipment and systems, students in the certificate program learn sheet metal fabrication, heat load calculations and sizing, and heat pump operations. They are also prepared for OSHA-10 and EPA 608 certification tests. Students seeking a degree take additional coursework in computer applications, commercial HVAC, and humanities. Both programs include classroom lectures and practice in lab sessions.

  • Location: Wichita, KS
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission
  • Format: On-campus
  • Tuition: Certificate $7,769; degree $9,770.00. Estimated fees for books, supplies, and tools are not disclosed.
  • Program length: One year for certificate; two years for degree

Wichita Technical Institute

The school trains students for entry-level jobs as HVAC technicians. Classroom lectures present theory and the fundamentals, which are complemented by hands-on laboratory training. As well as HVAC service and installation, students learn the principles of building construction and science. They also know how to troubleshoot equipment and systems. They complete several research products and prepare for the EPA 608 certification exam.

  • Location: Wichita and Topeka, KS
  • Accreditation: Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges
  • Format: On-campus
  • Tuition: $16,800
  • Program length: 48 weeks

HVAC and HVAC-R Certification and Licensing in Kansas

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requires technicians who work with refrigerants to obtain EPA Section 608 Certification, which includes passing an exam on the safe handling of refrigerants (practice exams are available online). There are four types of certifications according to the systems on which technicians work:

  • For servicing small appliances (Type I)
  • For servicing or disposing of high-pressure appliances, except small appliances and motor vehicle ACs (Type II)
  • For servicing or disposing of low-pressure appliances (Type III)
  • For servicing all types of equipment (Universal)

Technicians may obtain additional training and certifications from industry organizations, which also offer Section 608 testing and certification. These include, but are not limited to:

  • Refrigeration Service Engineers Society (RSES): Their mission is to provide opportunities for enhanced technical competence by offering comprehensive, cutting-edge education and certification to the HVAC/R industry.
  • North American Technician Excellence (NATE): Their certification tests represent real world working knowledge of HVAC-R systems.
  • HVAC Excellence: Their exams and certifications are intended to validate that an individual has retained knowledge in a specific area of the HVAC-R industry.

The State of Kansas does not require HVAC technicians to be licensed. Counties and municipalities determine local licensing requirements and fees, and technicians are advised to check with them before starting work. For example, Johnson County, the most populous county in Kansas, requires contractors to obtain licensing. An HVAC contractor must obtain a Class “DM” Mechanical Contractor’s license. Applicants must submit:

  • A signed application with a $100 application fee and $225 license fee
  • Proof of general liability and worker’s compensation insurance
  • Designation of a “qualifying individual” who is a full-time employee and either 1) proof of a BS degree in architecture, engineering, construction science, or construction management from an ABET- or ACCE-accredited program or 2) a certified test score of 75 percent or higher on a standard examination approved by the Contractor License Review Board
  • Proof of qualifying individual’s experience, which is evidence of possessing a journeyman’s certificate for at least two years or a minimum of four years field experience
  • Proof of identity (government-issued photo ID) of qualifying individual and owner
  • Digital photo of qualifying individual
  • Proof of good standing from the Secretary of State (if incorporated)

Since licensing requirements can vary, HVAC technicians should be sure to learn the specific requirements of the city and county where they intend to work and ensure they meet all requirements.