HVAC Programs in Missouri (MO) – Degrees & Certifications

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In the Show-Me State with its balmy summers and cool winters, there is a thriving demand for skilled professionals in heating, ventilation, air conditioning, and refrigeration (HVAC-R). In this relatively high paying industry, there is an array of Missouri-based trade associations supporting workers in this field.

For example, the Missouri Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors was incorporated in 1993 and represents 123 licensed contractor firms across the eastern region of Missouri (MO). Not only does the group offer educational programs to fulfill varying municipal licensing requirements, it also boasts a monthly newsletter, a lending library, legislative advocacy, networking events, and group discounts for some services.

Two other organizations of note are the Eastern Missouri Mechanical Contractors Association, which provides a state-of-the-art training center, and the Mechanical Contractors Association of Kansas City (MCA-KC), which has training events, labor relations resources, and legal advocacy at the local and federal levels for issues affecting the industry.

HVAC installers and technicians in Missouri have varied responsibilities in their profession such as laying electrical wiring and pipes; repairing or maintaining system components (e.g., motors, humidifiers, hermetic compressors, filters, fans, controls, split systems, water pumps, economizers, etc.); calculating heat loads and losses; soldering and brazing parts; keeping detailed customer service records; engaging in ongoing training; performing all HVAC work to manufacturer specifications; keeping active municipal credentialing (as necessary, in areas such as Kansas City); being fluent in versatile system types (e.g., oil burning, gas, geothermal); and making recommendations to clients to improve the energy-efficiency or cost-effectiveness of systems.

While some of these professionals focus on one point-of-entry (e.g., installation, maintenance, etc.) or a type of equipment (e.g., commercial refrigerators, oil-burning furnaces), others may be generalist workers capable of servicing a range of equipment types.

It’s important to add that as of September 2020, there wasn’t a specific state license required, but local requirements on permitting vary by municipality, a variable discussed in the licensing section below. Also, all workers nationwide who handle refrigerants must get the EPA Section 608 certification, the sole nationally mandatory credential in this field.

This guide covers the available accredited HVAC training schools in MO, as well as the growth projections in the industry, salary prospects, and local licensing procedures.

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Occupational Demand for HVAC Technicians in Missouri

As mentioned in the introduction, HVAC is a high-growth industry in Missouri and beyond. In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS May 2019) predicted a 13 percent increase in openings in this field nationwide between 2018 and 2028, faster than the average growth anticipated across all occupations (5 percent) during that time period. There’s evidence that Missouri is predicted to need new technicians at an even faster rate.

CareerOneStop (2020)—a data organization partnered with the US Department of Labor—reported that there would be a 17 percent increase in HVAC positions across Missouri between 2016 and 2026. With the predicted addition of 740 fresh HVAC positions in MO and 42,800 openings nationwide, there is ample evidence that this is a promising profession in MO and across the country.

There are varied forces contributing to the steady stream of opportunities for MO HVAC workers. Not only do HVAC systems need to be replaced every 10 to 15 years, but since most modern structures have climate control systems, the servicing needs are steady throughout the year, even during the lower spring and fall seasons.

Furthermore, many owners of older buildings opt to upgrade or retrofit their structures with state-of-the-art HVAC equipment, and this too provides a wealth of opportunities. In areas of high rates of construction like Kansas City, there is a particular need for HVAC installation services. Additionally, the legislation continually evolves regarding the energy-efficiency of systems, not to mention all clients’ desire to have the most cost-effective solutions in place.

The BLS (May 2019) notes that HVAC workers incur one of the highest rates of injury and illness among American professions for several reasons: these skilled professionals may be expected to lift heavy equipment, deal with refrigerants, travel to job sites in all weather conditions, and occasionally work in cramped conditions. All of these features of the job can lead to a higher-than-average incidence of muscle strains, electric shock, frostbite, burns, and other work-related complications. As long as HVAC professionals in MO don proper safety equipment and have rigorous training prior to completing projects in the field, these risks can generally be kept to a minimum.

As proof of the booming industry in HVAC, Indeed (Sept. 2020) had 334 relevant HVAC openings in MO, including positions with Sears Home Services, Trane Technologies, Jefferson College, Total Mechanical Service, Francis Howell School District, and more. Monster (Sept. 2020) had 441 HVAC openings in MO with varied employers such as CorTech LLC, Urban Services Group, and Emcor, to name a few.

Missouri HVAC Salaries

Not only is HVAC a high-growth profession, it is also relatively lucrative, especially for a profession requiring only one to two years of postsecondary training.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (May 2019), there were 342,040 HVAC mechanics and installers nationwide with an average annual salary (annual mean wage) of $51,420, and 5,650 HVAC mechanics and installers in Missouri with an average annual salary (annual mean wage) of $49,960. In more detail, here were the salary percentiles of HVAC professionals across the US and in Missouri specifically:

United States Missouri
Number of HVAC Professionals Employed 342,040 5,650
Annual Mean Wage $51,420 $49,960
10th percentile $30,610 $30,440
25th percentile $37,660 $36,290
50th percentile (median) $48,730 $47,580
75th percentile $62,070 $63,190
90th percentile $77,920 $75,630

Salary figures do vary slightly by the source of data. Payscale (2020)—an aggregator of self-reported salaries—found the following percentiles among its HVAC respondents nationwide in August 2020:

  • 10th percentile: $30,000
  • 50th percentile (median): $46,963
  • 90th percentile: $74,000

The BLS figures are generally considered more reliable due to the organization’s methods of data collection and relatively high sample size. It is important to note that the Missouri Economic Research and Information Center (MERIC 2020) found Missouri was the sixth most affordable state nationwide. This low cost of living means that even average salaries will go farther in Missouri than other states.

As in any state, in Missouri salaries vary by region of employment. Cape Girardeau, Columbia, Kansas City, and St. Louis enjoyed the highest salaries in the state.

Accredited HVAC Schools in Missouri

Fortunately for aspiring HVAC professionals in MO, there is an abundance of accredited training schools in the state. The two main program-approval entities nationwide are HVAC Excellence and the Partnership for Air-Conditioning, Heating, Refrigeration Accreditation (PAHRA). Interested students are encouraged to check out those websites or the HVAC programs homepage to learn about how programs are accredited.

State Technical College of Missouri

The State Technical College of Missouri with a campus in Linn provides a competitive AAS program in heating, ventilation, and air conditioning technology. The program prepares its students to install and maintain air conditioning units, high-efficiency furnaces, air-source heat pumps, and geothermal heat pumps that save energy in residential and commercial settings.

The unique curriculum of this program provides hands-on learning to students in the form of lab work, where they learn how to work with wiring, controls, and electrical motors, and perform repairs and diagnosis. To enhance their learning further, they take up a summer internship.

Consisting of 72 credit-hours, the program involves courses such as fundamentals of refrigeration & air conditioning, electrical fundamentals, residential & commercial heating & cooling, commercial refrigeration, and sheet metal duct fabrication.

Students develop technical knowledge in servicing and repairing HVAC/R equipment, effective communication and interpersonal skills, and working knowledge of the safety standards as related to the HVAC/R field.

  • Location: Linn, MO
  • Accreditation: HVAC Excellence; Association of Technology, Management, and Applied Engineering (ATMAE)
  • Expected Time to Completion: Two to three years
  • Estimated Tuition: In-state ($181 per credit-hour); non-resident ($362 per credit-hour)

Jefferson College

Jefferson College offers an associate of applied science degree, an installer certificate, and a technician certificate in heating, refrigeration, and air conditioning technology. These programs prepare students for employment as installers or technicians in the fast-growing HVAC field. This HVAC Excellence-accredited program allows its students to take various industry-recognized tests showcasing their employment readiness.

The curriculum includes a range of traditional HVAC/R technology training and new industry trends such as solar hot water and mini-split systems. The department has three labs each set up to be used for several different topics.

The installer certificate is made up of 23 to 25 credit-hours. It includes courses such as electricity for HVAC, principles of refrigeration, refrigeration and A/C mechanical systems, piping design, sizing, & installation for HRA, customer relations and record-keeping, and sheet metal design, sizing & installation for HRA.

The technician certificate comprises 52 to 54 credit-hours, including all of the above-mentioned courses, with the addition of an introduction to international mechanical code, duct, envelope testing, and leakage detection, residential gas heating systems, electric and hydronic heat, residential air conditioning systems, advanced electricity for HVAC, heat pumps and mini-splits, and commercial refrigeration systems.

The associate of applied science degree consists of 70 to 72 credit-hours and includes all courses from both the certificates mentioned above. Additionally, students also study general education courses such as communications, social/behavioral sciences, industrial math, and computer literacy.

Upon graduation, students can take up roles such as HVAC installers, maintenance mechanics, or sheet metal workers.

  • Location: Hillsboro, MO
  • Accreditation: HVAC Excellence
  • Expected Time to Completion: AAS (two to three years); technician certificate (2=two years); Installer Certificate (one year)
  • Estimated Tuition: In-district – Jefferson County ($112 per credit-hour); out-of-district/in-state ($168 per credit-hour); out-of-state ($224 per credit-hour)

Metropolitan Community College

Metropolitan Community College located in Kansas City offers an AAS degree in HVAC and the following three certificate programs: HVAC Advanced Certificate, HVAC Certificate, and an Energy Efficiency Certificate.

Students can expect to learn about installing, servicing, and maintaining climate control systems, as well as electrical, electronic, and mechanical components in heating and cooling equipment. They work with the same tools they will use on their job while becoming proficient in installing and maintaining climate control systems in residential and commercial settings.

The AAS degree program is made up of 62 to 64 credit-hours. The coursework includes topics such as residential and commercial heating and air conditioning, systems installation, energy management, geothermal and air source heat pumps, fundamentals of refrigeration, and electricity for HVAC/R technicians, among other subjects. This program also includes general education requirements.

The HVAC advanced certificate consists of 40 to 42 credit-hours, including courses such as commercial refrigeration, sheet metal layout and fabrication, residential heating and air conditioning, systems installation, principles of heating, ventilation and air conditioning, and technical mathematics or higher, among other courses.

The HVAC certificate comprises 24 credit-hours. Sample some of the courses: residential heating and air conditioning, principles of HVAC, fundamentals of refrigeration, electricity for HVAC/R technicians, and sheet metal layout and fabrication.

Comprising 41 credit-hours, the energy efficiency certificate provides students with an understanding of stationary engineering, geothermal heat pumps, energy and the environment, entrepreneurship, and energy management, efficiency, and conservation.

These HVAC programs prepare students to take and pass the EPA 608 refrigerant certification and trains them in all areas of HVAC work. Upon completion, students can take up roles such as HVAC service technician, HVAC systems installer, salesperson or service manager, and commercial refrigeration service technician.

  • Location: Kansas City, MO
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission
  • Expected Time to Completion: HVAC associate degree (two years); HVAC certificate (one year)
  • Estimated Tuition: In-district ($107 per credit-hour); out-of-district ($190 per credit-hour); out-of-state ($246 per credit-hour)

East Central College

East Central College offers an associate of applied science (AAS) degree and a certificate of achievement in heating, ventilation, and air conditioning. Students learn how to install, maintain, and repair HVAC systems and get prepared to work as technicians.

The certificate of achievement comprises 33 credit-hours, and includes courses such as refrigeration recovery/EPA certificate, refrigerant A/C installation I and II, forced air heating I and II, heating and equipment installation I and II, introduction to heating and cooling I and II, and HVAC capstone II.

The AAS degree program consists of 60 credit-hours. Some courses students will study from the certificate of achievement, with the addition of commercial chilled water application, natural sciences, technical writing, mathematical science, and oral communications, among others.

  • Location: Union, MO
  • Accreditation: The Higher Learning Commission
  • Expected Time to Completion: AAS (four semesters); Certificate (two semesters)
  • Estimated Tuition: In-district ($105 per credit-hour); out-of-district ($151 per credit-hour); out-of-state ($225 per credit-hour)

Lastly, some aspiring HVAC professionals in MO may live in more rural regions of the state or have other scheduling conflicts preventing them from attending an on-campus program. Luckily are distance-based programs available as well, which are discussed on the online HVAC programs page.

HVAC Certification & Licensing in Missouri

Prior to beginning work, HVAC technicians in Missouri must ensure that they have all proper credentialing. As mentioned in the introduction, there is one mandatory certification for all people nationwide who work with refrigerants—the EPA Section 608 certification—of which there is four subtypes:

  • Type 1 (small appliance)
  • Type 2 (high-pressure appliances)
  • Type 3 (low-pressure appliances)
  • Type 4 (universal)

Other organizations which offer employment-ready credentials recognized by employers in MO include:

  • HVAC Excellence
  • North American Technician Excellence (NATE)
  • Refrigeration Service Engineers Society (RSES)

To learn about how to achieve credentialing through these agencies and which types of certifications are available, please visit the HVAC certifications page.

Finally, as mentioned above, there is currently no state license required to perform HVAC work in Missouri. That said, the requirements for permits vary widely between municipalities. For example, the Kansas City Planning & Development Permits Division requires HVAC contractor licensing. To qualify, candidates must submit:

  • A completed certificate application with reference letters
  • An application fee
  • Passing score (at least 70 percent) on the KC exam, or an equivalent

Above all, prospective HVAC workers in MO are strongly advised to check with all municipal authorities prior to beginning work, as HVAC permitting procedures vary by jurisdiction.

Farheen Gani

Farheen is a freelance writer, marketer, and researcher. She writes about technology, education, and marketing. Her work has appeared on websites such as Tech in Asia and Foundr, as well as top SaaS blogs such as Zapier and InVision. You can connect with her on LinkedIn and Twitter (@FarheenGani).