HVAC Trade Schools in Kansas

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Agriculture and aerospace are significant drivers of the economy in Kansas. 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 up-and-up.

Kansans enjoy four distinct seasons. Summers can be warm, with average temperatures in July in the mid-80s degrees Fahrenheit. The average winter temperature hovers 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, venting, air conditioning, and refrigeration (HVAC/R) to remain comfortable. 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. Other nationwide industry organizations that support workers and the companies that employ them include:

  • Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA)
  • American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE)
  • Plumbing Heating Cooling Contractors Association (PHCCA)
  • Refrigeration Service Engineers Society (RSES)
  • The Sheet Metal and Air Conditioning Contractors’ National Association (SMACNA)

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.

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), 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 6 percent statewide increase for the decade ending in 2024.

Several factors contribute to the growth of the HVAC and HVAC/R 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 332,900 jobs nationwide in 2016, according to the BLS. As of 2018, contractors were the largest employers of HVAC and HVAC/R technicians. About 9 percent were self-employed. The remaining technicians worked for schools and retail companies. Technicians work full-time, with overtime 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 90.2 in 2017, which means that residents of Kansas pay $90.20 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 salaryHourly salary
United StatesKansasUnited StatesKansas
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

HVAC and HVAC/R Authorization and Accreditation

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/R 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 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.

When choosing a school, 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, which includes both the curriculum and the instructors. HVAC Excellence is an accrediting institution but has not yet accredited a Kansas school as of June 2018. The Partnership for Air-Conditioning, Heating, Refrigeration Accreditation (PAHRA) has currently certified Johnson County Community College.

Accredited HVAC and HVAC/R Schools in Kansas

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 about 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 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)