St. Louis, MO HVAC Schools – Programs & Certifications

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The varied temperatures throughout the year make St. Louis, Missouri an ideal location to work in heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC). According to Weather Atlas, the warmest month (with the highest average high temperature) is July (89.1), while the coldest month (with the lowest average low temperature) is January (23.7). These seasonal climate changes fuel a thriving demand for skilled professionals who service air conditioning and heating systems throughout the area.

Notably, St. Louis is home to many professional organizations and societies dedicated to the support of HVAC professionals. For example, the Mechanical Contractors Association of Eastern Missouri hosts events throughout the year and provides ongoing education for HVAC professionals, safety information, and other resources and benefits for members. The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air Conditioning Engineers (St. Louis Chapter) provides similar services, including a member newsletter, events throughout the year, and even award nights to highlight exceptional members of the organization. In short, these two societies, among others, support HVAC professionals in St. Louis by acting as advocates for the industry.

So what do HVAC workers in St. Louis do? Here’s a brief overview of the typical responsibilities:

  • Test circuitry and components of HVAC equipment
  • Calibrate all controls to manufacturer specifications
  • Maintain all necessary credentialing
  • Verify compliance with all local and federal regulations
  • Read and interpret blueprints
  • Solder and braze parts
  • Perform heat load and loss calculations
  • Travel to job sites
  • Keep detailed service records
  • Educate customers energy conservation practices

Additionally, anyone working with refrigerants in St. Louis must maintain an active EPA Section 608 Certification, as the failure to do so may lead to legal repercussions.

Starting a career in HVAC requires significant knowledge of both the industry and the individual occupation, in addition to the hands-on training necessary to obtain a job. This guide for aspiring HVAC professionals includes salary data, certification and licensure requirements, and information about accredited HVAC schools in St. Louis.

Occupational Demand for HVAC Technicians in St. Louis, MO

Aspiring HVAC professionals not only can expect a booming job market, but also competitive salaries. In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (May 2019) reported there were 342,040 HVAC mechanics and installers nationally, and predicted a 4 percent explosion in positions in the HVAC industry between 2019 and 2029. There’s evidence that Missouri is predicted to need new technicians at an even faster rate.

Projections Central (2020)—a data organization partnered with the US Department of Labor—reported that there would be an 11.2 percent increase in HVAC positions across Missouri between 2018 and 2028. With the predicted addition of 810 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 several reasons for the rapid growth in the HVAC industry. For one, most buildings in St. Louis retain some form of climate-control technology, and nearly all new construction projects include the installation of an HVAC system, as well. In addition, HVAC systems require routine maintenance and a total replacement every 10 to 15 years. Lastly, laws and regulations that affect the HVAC industry are constantly being modified, along with the technology used by HVAC professionals, which means that systems are continually updated.

Perhaps one of the easiest ways to illustrate the strength of the HVAC industry in St. Louis is by conducting an online search for job opportunities. For example, a Monster (Nov. 2020) search for HVAC jobs in St. Louis yielded 268 openings with companies such as Urban Services Group, CyberCoders, Sodexo, XPO Logistics, and CorTech LLC, among others. A similar search on Indeed (Nov. 2020) pulled up 131 results with companies and organizations including Awtrey Heating & Air Conditioning, Francis Howell School District, City of St. Louis, Trane Technologies, and Classic Aire Care. In sum, the HVAC industry is booming in St. Louis.

HVAC Worker Salary in St. Louis, MO

According to the BLS (May 2019), HVAC professionals can earn a fairly high salary, especially compared to other careers requiring similar levels of education. It reported that HVAC mechanics and installers nationally received a median salary of $48,730 as of May 2019. Technicians in St. Louis, MO received an annual median salary of $51,480.

The table below is a comparison of national, state, and regional salaries of HVAC professionals:

The BLS (May 2019) reported the following salary figures in the St. Louis area:

United States Missouri St. Louis, MO
Number of HVAC professionals employed 342,040 5,650 2,460
Annual mean wage $51,420 $49,960 $52,950
10th percentile $30,610 $30,440 $31,220
25th percentile $37,660 $36,290 $37,060
50th percentile (median) $48,730 $47,580 $51,480
75th percentile $62,070 $63,190 $68,820
90th percentile $77,920 $75,630 $78,040

The national figures were slightly different according to another source of data, Payscale (Nov. 2020), which relies on self-reported salaries. Among the HVAC workers reporting their annual salaries, Payscale found these percentiles:

  • 10th percentile: $31,000
  • 50th percentile (median): $47,948
  • 90th percentile: $75,000

Lastly, it’s important to add that the cost of living in Missouri is significantly more affordable than a majority of U.S. states. As proof of point, the Missouri Economic Research and Information Center (MERIC 2020) reported that Missouri had the 5th lowest cost of living in the United States for 2020.

HVAC Apprenticeships in St. Louis, MO

There are varied educational pathways for prospective HVAC workers in St. Louis. Specifically, these professionals have the option of completing a formal degree, participating in an apprenticeship program, or obtaining the training and required knowledge on-the-job.

Professionals in St. Louis who wish to complete hands-on training may consider an apprenticeship program through the Local 36 Training Facility. This allows aspiring workers to obtain training from skilled industry professionals. The apprenticeship lasts five years and offers 10,000 hours of total training.

Accredited HVAC Schools in St. Louis, MO

Aspiring HVAC workers can also obtain a formal degree or pursue a certificate in HVAC. Currently, two main organizations offer accreditation for local HVAC programs: the Partnership for Air-Conditioning, Heating, Refrigeration Accreditation (PAHRA) and HVAC Excellence.

As of November 2020, there was one PAHRA-accredited program in MO (Linn State Technical College) and four HVAC Excellence-accredited programs (Hillyard Technical Center, Jefferson College, Ozarks Technical Community College, and State Technical College of Missouri). These programs are aimed at high school juniors and seniors, who are interested in getting into the trade.

Jefferson College is included in the list below because of its accreditation.

American Trade School

American Trade School offers a heating, air conditioning, and refrigeration technician diploma and an associate of occupational studies (AOS) degree program in HVAC. These programs provide graduates with the knowledge and practical expertise in HVAC/R maintenance, service, and installation, and prepares them for entry-level employment.

The diploma program comprises 66 quarter credit-hours of theory and associated lab instruction in the areas of HVAC/R, refrigeration, electrical theory, heat pumps, residential and light commercial heating and air conditioning, residential and light commercial installation, boilers, and piping.

The AOS degree program in HVAC is made up of 103.5 quarter credit-hours. It includes courses such as electricity, introduction to refrigeration, air conditioning, heating, residential installation, residential energy management systems, geothermal and air source heat pump and controls, and advanced troubleshooting, among others.

These HVAC programs have been recognized by the U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Apprenticeship and the Air Conditioning Contractors of America, St. Louis Chapter.

  • Location: Saint Ann, MO
  • Accreditation: Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC)
  • Expected Time to Completion: Diploma (60 weeks); AOS degree (90 weeks)
  • Estimated Tuition: Diploma ($18,000); AOS ($27,000)

Vatterott College

Vatterott College offers an HVAC/R mechanic diploma program and an associate of occupational studies (AOS) degree program in HVAC/R technology providing graduates with the required knowledge and skills in heating, air conditioning and refrigeration for securing entry-level positions such as service or maintenance technician. Students may receive nationally-recognized certifications through the National Center for Construction Education and Research.

The diploma program comprises 72 quarter credit-hours. The coursework explores topics such as basic refrigeration for HVAC/R, basic electricity for HVAC/R, residential heating, residential air conditioning, commercial refrigeration and air conditioning, electrical systems, and green awareness.

The AOS degree program is made up of 108 quarter credit-hours. It includes all courses from the diploma with additional coursework in low-pressure steam, commercial environmental systems, industrial mechanics, technical math, and English composition I and II.

  • Location: NorthPark (St. Louis), MO
  • Accreditation: Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC)
  • Expected Time to Completion: Diploma (60 weeks); AOS (90 weeks)
  • Estimated Tuition: Diploma ($24,336); AOS ($35,856)

Jefferson College

Jefferson College offers a technician certificate, an installer certificate, and an associate of applied science degree in HVAC/R technology. These programs prepare students to take up jobs in the highly technical and rapidly growing field of HVAC. Upon graduation, students can take up roles such as maintenance mechanics, sheet metal workers, or HVAC installers. The program allows students to take several industry-recognized tests showcasing their employment readiness. The curriculum involves traditional HVAC/R technology training and new industry trends such as mini-split systems and solar hot water. The department has three labs each set up to be used for several different topics.

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

The technician certificate consists of 52 to 54 credit-hours. All courses earned in the installer certificate can be applied towards this technician certificate. Additional coursework includes topics such as introduction to international mechanical code, residential gas heating systems, duct, envelope testing, and leakage detection, electric and hydronic heat, advanced electricity for HVAC, residential air conditioning systems, commercial refrigeration systems, and heat pumps and mini-splits.

The associate of applied science degree is made up of 70 to 72 credit-hours. All courses from both the certificates are included in this program. Additionally, students also study general education courses such as social or behavioral sciences, communications, computer literacy, and industrial math.

  • Location: Hillsboro, MO
  • Accreditation: HVAC Excellence
  • Expected Time to Completion: Installer certificate (one year); technician certificate (2 years); AAS (two to three years)
  • 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)

Lastly, for those interested in distance-based education, there are some online HVAC programs as well.

HVAC Certification and Licensing in St. Louis, MO

As mentioned above, all HVAC professionals who handle refrigerants must have the EPA Section 608 Certification; there are four subtypes, which vary by type of equipment: type 1 (small appliances), type 2 (high-pressure appliances), type 3 (low-pressure appliances), and type 4 (universal). In general, most HVAC training programs prepare graduates to sit for the examination to obtain this certification

Additionally, many skill-specific, employment-ready certifications are provided in Missouri through HVAC Excellence (e.g., Heating, Electrical, Air Conditioning Technology Plus); North American Technician Excellence (e.g., Industry Competency Exams or ICE); and the Refrigerating Engineers and Technicians Association (e.g., entry-level Certified Assistant Refrigeration Operator), among other organizations. These credentials show that the holder has attained certain skills and not surprisingly, can lead to increased employment opportunities and compensation.

To find detailed information regarding the national certifications provided for HVAC workers, take a look at the main HVAC certification page.

Lastly, unlike many regions, no state licensure is required to perform work as an HVAC professional in Missouri. That being said, requirements for permits vary across municipalities. In St. Louis specifically, in order to become licensed as a mechanical contractor, HVAC workers must submit an application to the St. Louis County Department of Public Works, along with the following information:

  • Any mechanical permits obtained
  • Invoices issued to customers
  • Materials and supply orders
  • Affidavit that the applicant’s company completed specific work within a three-year period
  • Licensed mechanical contractors bond
  • General liability insurance form
  • Local business license
  • State and/or federal tax identification
  • Certificate of good standing from the MO Secretary of State.

Applicants must submit the aforementioned information along with the application and a check for $100 to the Department of Public Works. However, it is important to note that the applicant must also submit information verifying one of three conditions:

  • The applicant has has been licensed for at least three years under the St. Louis Plumbing Code
  • The applicant has a degree in civil or mechanical engineering
  • The applicant has a minimum of three years of experience directing and supervising at least one journeyman

Upon receipt of a license, the HVAC professional is then eligible to obtain a license as a mechanical contractor in St. Louis. Prior to performing any HVAC work, all professionals are strongly encouraged to reach out to local government offices to ensure that they have all the necessary credentialing.

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).