Kansas (KS) HVAC Trade Schools & Certification

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Recent statistics indicate that 2021 could bring good economic news for Kansas. After a downfall of the economy in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic, Kansas is slowly but steadily coming back on top.

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, Associated General Contractors of Kansas (AGC), Kansas Building Industry Association, Kansas Contractors Association, and UA Plumbers & Pipefitters Local 441.

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 2020), jobs in this field are expected to increase by 4 percent between 2019 and 2029, which is as fast as the average of 4 percent for all occupations. The outlook for Kansas technicians is brighter, as Projections Central (2021) anticipates an increase of 6.4 percent in new positions between 2018 and 2028.

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 376,800 jobs nationwide in 2020, according to the BLS. Contractors were the largest employers of HVAC and HVAC/R technicians, representing around 66 percent of workers while around 7 percent were self-employed. The remaining technicians worked for schools and retail companies. Technicians work full-time, with overtime common during adverse weather conditions.

Underscoring the healthy demand for HVAC services in AR is the flurry of openings across common job post websites. For example, Indeed (May 2021) had 220 relevant HVAC postings in the state at places such as Sears Home Services; Anthony Plumbing, Heating, Cooling & Electric; Skookum Contract Services; Bob Hamilton Plumbing, Heating, A/C, Rooter; and Johnson Controls. Monster (May 2021) had 86 HVAC postings in the state at places such as Absolute Electrical Heating and Air; Centerline Communications LLC, and Climate Control Company; among others.

While the future looks bright in this field, it is important to note that HVAC workers suffer a higher-than-average rate of injury compared to other American occupations. Since these professionals lift heavy equipment, they are at an increased risk for muscle strains and tears; additionally, refrigerants and other chemicals can expose people to burns, and electric systems may deliver shocks. If HVAC workers don the proper safety equipment and are trained adequately in proper procedures, these issues can generally be kept to a minimum.

HVAC and HVAC/R Salaries in Kansas

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (May 2020), HVAC professionals earn relatively competitive salaries, particularly for positions that may require just two years of post-secondary training. BLS (May 2020) states, the median salary for HVAC workers nationwide was $50,590 per year, while the median salary for HVAC technicians in KS was $52,400 per year.

In more detail, here were the salary percentiles of HVAC professionals across the US and in Kansas specifically:

United States Kansas
Number of HVAC Professionals Employed 344,020 3,850
Annual Mean Wage $53,410 $54,130
10th percentile $31,910 $33,980
25th percentile $39,320 $41,390
50th percentile (median) $50,590 $52,400
75th percentile $64,350 $64,340
90th percentile $80,820 $79,450

The national figures were slightly different according to another source of data, Payscale (May 2021), which relies on self-reported salaries. Among the HVAC workers reporting their annual salaries, Payscale found these percentiles:

  • 10th percentile: $32,000
  • 50th percentile (median): $48,649
  • 90th percentile: $77,000

The BLS (May 2020) stated that there were 3,850 HVAC workers in Kansas with an annual average salary of $54,130. The Missouri Economic Research and Information Center (MERIC 2021) reported that KS was the second most affordable state in the country.

HVAC and HVAC/R Apprenticeship Training in Kansas

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, rotating 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 May 2021. The Partnership for Air-Conditioning, Heating, Refrigeration Accreditation (PAHRA) has currently granted accredited status to Johnson County Community College.

Johnson County Community College

Johnson County Community College offers an AAS degree and a certificate in HVAC technology. The degree program is focused on developing an awareness of basic scientific and mathematical principles of HVAC, while the HVAC certificate program provides students with basic skills required to maintain residential HVAC equipment.

Students enrolled in the HVAC certificate program complete 33 credits of coursework and hands-on training in the laboratory. They learn the basics of electricity, HVAC installation & startup, and how to layout 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 63 credits to complete.

Students learn to install, design, service, and repair central air conditioners, electric and gas furnaces, and heat pumps.

  • Location: Overland Park, KS
  • Accreditation: PAHRA; Higher Learning Commission
  • Format: On-campus
  • Expected Time to Completion: Certificate (two semesters); AAS degree (four semesters)
  • Estimated Tuition: Johnson County residents ($94 per credit); Kansas county residents ($112 per credit); out-of-state ($223 per credit)

Kansas City Kansas Community College

Kansas City Kansas Community College offers a heating and refrigeration certificate program.

Students earn a technical certificate in HVAC at the completion of 44 credits. The curriculum includes courses such as refrigeration system components, electrical theory, HVAC fundamentals, heating system fundamentals, electrical fundamentals, and heat pump systems, among others.

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
  • Expected Time to Completion: One year
  • Estimated Tuition: Wyandotte County Residents ($82 per credit); in-state ($88 per credit); Out of State ($195 per credit)

Manhattan Area Technical College

Manhattan Area Technical College offers an HVAC certificate and an associate of applied science program preparing apprentices and mechanics for entry-level employment in a wide range of service, construction, and maintenance positions in industry and business. Students learn about installing, servicing, and repairing HVAC/R systems.

The AAS degree program comprises 62 credits, while the certificate is made up of 40 credits. Some of the courses in the curriculum are HVAC fundamentals, electrical fundamentals, domestic refrigeration, heating system fundamentals, advanced refrigeration, and commercial refrigeration.

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
  • Expected Time to Completion: Certificate (nine months); AAS degree (24 months)
  • Estimated Tuition: Certificate ($12,455); AAS degree ($17,410)

Salina Area Technical College

Salina Area Technical College offers a technical certificate and an associate degree program in heating, ventilation, and air conditioning. These programs involve hands-on training with equipment such as furnaces, heat pumps, air conditioners, walk-in & reach-in coolers, sheet metal equipment, and ice machines.

Students complete 36 credits for the certificate and 60 credits for the associate degree to graduate. They start with the fundamentals of electrical, HVAC & 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.

Graduates of the program can pursue roles such as service technician, commercial & residential HVAC technician, service manager, sales professional, and HVAC installer.

  • Location: Salina, KS
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission
  • Format: On-campus
  • Expected Time to Completion: Certificate (nine months); AAS degree (24 months)
  • Estimated Tuition: Certificate ($10,528); AAS degree ($13,591)

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 42 credits. Earning a degree requires the completion of 60 credits. As part of the program, students will delve into topics such as electrical fundamentals, HVAC fundamentals, motors & control systems, principles of troubleshooting, system design, heating system fundamentals, and HVAC controls.

Graduates of these programs will have career opportunities in HVAC/R technology, corporate repair facilities, independently owned facilities, installation & service technology, and electrical maintenance.

  • Location: Liberal, KS
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission
  • Format: On-campus
  • Expected Time to Completion: Certificate (10 months); AAS degree (24 months)
  • Estimated Tuition: Seward county residents ($113 per credit); in-state ($114 per credit); out-of-state ($151 per credit)

Washburn Institute of Technology

Washburn Institute of Technology offers an HVAC certificate providing technical training to students in areas of electricity, residential air conditioning, heating, refrigeration, direct digital controls (DDC), and commercial HVAC applications.

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.

On successful completion of the program, graduates can take up roles such as solar technician, service manager, systems designer, wind turbine tech, HVAC technician, and many such roles.

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 airflow and capacity, piping, troubleshooting, and customer service.

  • Location: Topeka, KS
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission
  • Format: On-campus
  • Expected Time to Completion: Part-time (24 months); full-time (12 months)
  • Estimated Tuition: High school students ($170 per credit); adult ($148 per credit)

Wichita State University Tech

Wichita State University offers a degree program and a technical certificate program for climate & energy control technologies (HVAC). Coursework for both these programs is divided between hands-on training in a lab and classroom lectures.

Students may earn an HVAC technical certificate which is made up of 44 credits or an associate degree which comprises 62 credit-hours. Sample some of the courses in the curriculum: HVAC fundamentals, electrical fundamentals, introduction to mechanical refrigeration, heating system fundamentals, heat loads and duct sizing, advanced heating systems, heat pumps, and sheet metal fabrication.

Students are also prepared for OSHA-10 and EPA 608 certification tests. Preparing students for careers in the HVAC industry, these programs help students in developing academic, professional, and occupational knowledge and skills required for job acquisition and advancement.

  • Location: Wichita, KS
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission
  • Format: On-campus
  • Expected Time to Completion: Certificate (12 months); AAS degree (24 months)
  • Estimated Tuition: Certificate ($9,525); AAS degree ($11,995)

Wichita Technical Institute

The institute offers an HVAC/R technician program preparing graduates for entry-level jobs as HVAC technicians. Classroom lectures present theory and the fundamentals, which are complemented by hands-on laboratory training. Students will complete several research products and prepare for the EPA 608 certification exam.

Consisting of 60 quarter credits, the program includes courses such as electrical fundamentals, refrigeration fundamentals, introduction to heating systems, heating systems installation & troubleshooting, introduction to air conditioning, introduction to refrigeration systems, refrigeration controls & troubleshooting, and building construction & building science principles.

At the end of the program, graduates can pursue opportunities such as HVAC technician, refrigeration technician, installer, appliance repair technician, and maintenance technician.

  • Location: Wichita and Topeka, KS
  • Accreditation: Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC)
  • Format: On-campus
  • Program length: 48 weeks
  • Estimated Tuition: $4,100 per quarter

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 of 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.

Jocelyn Blore

Jocelyn Blore is the chief content officer of Sechel Ventures and the co-author of the Women Breaking Barriers series. She graduated summa cum laude from UC Berkeley and traveled the world for five years. She also worked as an addiction specialist for two years in San Francisco. She’s interested in how culture shapes individuals and systems within societies—one of the many themes she writes about in her blog, Blore’s Razor (Instagram: @bloresrazor). She has served as managing editor for several healthcare websites since 2015.