St. Louis HVAC Training Schools

Connect With HVAC Schools

The varied temperatures throughout the year make St. Louis an ideal location to work in heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC). The National Weather Service (July 2017) reported that the average minimum temperatures during the coldest months dip below 15 degrees Fahrenheit, while the average highs in the summer can exceed 85 degrees. 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 a 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

Aspiring HVAC professionals not only can expect a booming job market, but also competitive salaries. In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (May 2016) reported there were 294,730 HVAC mechanics and installers nationally, and predicted a 14 percent explosion in positions in the HVAC industry between 2014 and 2024—an increase of 39,600 jobs overall (BLS Dec. 2015). The growth predictions for Missouri were similar; according to Projections Central (2017), MO openings in HVAC were expected to grow 13.1 percent during that same decade, adding 640 new jobs across the state, including many in St. Louis. It’s worth noting that both the national and state-based projections were more than double the average growth anticipated across all occupations in the U.S. during that ten years (6.5 percent).

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 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 (July 2017) search for HVAC jobs in St. Louis yielded 482 openings with companies such as PDS Tech Inc., Pyramid Consulting Group LLC, Westport One, ANC Heating & Cooling, and Miller Heating & Cooling, among others. A similar search on Indeed (July 2017) pulled up 546 results with companies and organizations including Washington University in St. Louis, the City of St. Louis, Emcor, the St. Louis Art Museum, and XPO Logistics. In sum, the HVAC industry is booming in St. Louis.

HVAC Worker Salary in St. Louis

According to the BLS (May 2016), HVAC professionals earn relatively high salaries, particularly in careers requiring similar amounts of education. Here’s the average annual salary, wage percentiles, and number of HVAC workers nationally:

United States (294,730 HVAC workers): $48,320 annual average salary

  • 10th percentile: $28,440
  • 25th percentile: $35,440
  • 50th percentile (median): $45,910
  • 75th percentile: $58,960
  • 90th percentile: $73,350

In hourly figures, these salaries amounted to:

United States: $23.23/hr. Average

  • 10th percentile: $13.67/hr.
  • 25th percentile: $17.04/hr.
  • 50th percentile (median): $22.07/hr.
  • 75th percentile: $28.35/hr.
  • 90th percentile: $35.26/hr.

The national figures were slightly different according to another source of data, Payscale (June 2017), which relies on self-reported salaries. Among the HVAC workers reporting their annual salaries, Payscale found these percentiles:

United States: 466 HVAC workers responding

  • 10th percentile: $28,000
  • 25th percentile: $35,000
  • 50th percentile (median): $43,594
  • 75th percentile: $54,000
  • 90th percentile: $67,000

An additional 2,599 HVAC workers gave Payscale their hourly salary figures, resulting in these percentile wages:

  • 10th percentile: $13.00/hr.
  • 25th percentile: $15.00/hr.
  • 50th percentile (median): $18.96/hr.
  • 75th percentile: $24.00/hr.
  • 90th percentile: $29.00/hr.

Overall, salary expectations for HVAC workers in Missouri is somewhat comparable to the rest of the country, but with one distinct advantage: people in the Show Me State have a lower cost of living than a majority of the U.S. As proof of point, the Missouri Economic Research and Information Center (MERIC 2017) found that residents of MO enjoyed the seventh most affordable state in the country, boasting particular savings in housing. Please keep this in mind while evaluating the following wage data.

According to the BLS (May 2016), the HVAC wages for Missourians were slightly better than the national average, which is especially impressive given the low cost of living:

Missouri (5,520 HVAC workers): $48,470 average annual salary

  • 10th percentile: $27,440
  • 25th percentile: $34,100
  • 50th percentile (median): $46,150
  • 75th percentile: $60,990
  • 90th percentile: $75,300

In hourly figures, these equated to:

Missouri: $23.30/hour average

  • 10th percentile: $13.19/hr.
  • 25th percentile: $16.40 /hr.
  • 50th percentile (median): $22.19/hr.
  • 75th percentile: $29.32/hr.
  • 90th percentile: $36.20/hr.

In general, compensation for HVAC workers in St. Louis was even higher than the statewide and national averages. The BLS (May 2016) found the following:

St. Louis (2,030 HVAC workers): $52,590 average annual salary

  • 10th percentile: $28,580
  • 25th percentile: $37,550
  • 50th percentile (median): $54,380
  • 75th percentile: $64,830
  • 90th percentile: $75,920

In hourly figures, these equated to:

St. Louis: $25.28/hour average

  • 10th percentile: $13.74/hr.
  • 25th percentile: $18.05/hr.
  • 50th percentile (median): $26.15/hr.
  • 75th percentile: $31.17/hr.
  • 90th percentile: $36.50/hr.

Accredited HVAC Schools in St. Louis

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.

For example, aspiring HVAC workers interested in a short-term educational program may wish to consider an HVAC technician certificate through the Midwest Institute. This program prepares graduates for the EPA Universal Certification, and can be completed in less than a year. Applicants may use the school’s net price calculator to determine tuition, which varies by residency and other factors.

For those students who would rather complete an undergraduate degree, Vatterott Educational Centers, Inc. provides an associate degree program in HVAC. Students complete 108 quarter credit-hours to graduate in subjects such as basic electricity and refrigeration, residential air conditioning and heating, commercial refrigeration and air conditioning, and low pressure steam, among others. As of July 2017, the total cost of this program was $28,536.

Finally, prospective professionals in St. Louis who would rather 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.

As a final note, some HVAC professionals complete a six-month to two-year certificate or degree from accredited programs. Currently, two main organizations offer accreditation for local HVAC programs: the Partnership for Air-Conditioning, Heating, Refrigeration Accreditation (PAHRA) and HVAC Excellence. While there are currently no PAHRA-accredited programs within 100 miles of St. Louis, there are two HVAC Excellence-accredited programs: Jefferson College of Hillsboro and North Technical High School of Florissant. These programs are aimed at high school juniors and seniors, who are interested in getting into the trade.

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

HVAC Certification and Licensing in St. Louis

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 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 necessary credentialing.