HVAC Schools in New Mexico – Programs & Certifications

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Trained HVAC technicians help residents of New Mexico through the temperature extremes. With the summer heat often exceeding 90 degrees, and the winter chill dipping well below freezing, New Mexico residents generally rely on climate control to stay comfortable. Complex and sometimes costly climate control systems require installation and routine maintenance by a skilled HVAC professional. It is for this reason, among others, that this southwestern state is an attractive spot to begin a career in heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC).

HVAC workers in NM enjoy support from a number of different professional organizations and unions that operate across the state. For example, the Mechanical Contractors’ Association of New Mexico, Inc. (MCA of NM) represents HVAC workers in New Mexico, aiming to build partnerships within the mechanical industry. The MCA of NM offers continuing education related to HVAC, networking opportunities, professional advocacy, and more to its diverse membership.

Another association of note is the United Association of Plumbers & Pipefitters Local Union 412 (UA Local 412). This organization was originally chartered in 1910, and since then has represented the rights of industry workers statewide. Furthermore, this union provides an apprenticeship program to those looking to develop their skills and pursue a career in this industry—an opportunity described in detail below. UA Local 412 members receive access to pension benefits upon retirement, highlighting this union organization’s commitment to protecting those affiliated.

So, what exactly are the daily responsibilities of HVAC workers in New Mexico? These skilled professionals:

  • Ensure all relevant laws and regulations are followed
  • Perform calculations regarding heat load and loss
  • Test equipment to sure it remains in working order
  • Calibrate HVAC equipment to proper specifications
  • Maintain records of service
  • Educate the public on HVAC system use and energy conservation
  • Travel to worksites or other locations
  • Maintain licensure and other required credentials
  • Examine and interpret blueprints

This is not an exhaustive list, however, some HVAC technicians may have additional day-to-day duties depending on their place of employment. It’s important to add that HVAC techs in New Mexico who work with refrigerants must maintain active EPA Section 608 Certification, pursuant to the law.

This guide explores accredited HVAC training programs in New Mexico, salary information, job opportunities, and details about local credentialing that may prove helpful to anyone interested in jumpstarting their HVAC career in the Land of Enchantment.

Occupational Demand for HVAC Technicians in New Mexico

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS May 2019) reported that the HVAC industry is strong, both in New Mexico and across the United States. In fact, there were 342,040 HVAC mechanics and installers in the U.S. earning an average annual mean wage of $51,420. Prospective HVAC workers in New Mexico will be encouraged to learn that HVAC is a relatively lucrative and high-growth industry.

By illustration, the BLS (2020) predicted that positions for HVAC mechanics and installers would swell 4 percent between 2019 and 2029, as fast as the average growth projected across all U.S. fields during that same decade (4 percent).

New Mexico is experiencing a higher-than-average growth in the demand for technicians in the latest predictions. By illustration, Projections Central (2020)—a data organization partnered with the US Department of Labor—reported that there would be an 11.3 percent increase in HVAC positions across New Mexico between 2018 and 2028.

There are various factors driving this HVAC industry growth. For one, virtually all new buildings constructed in New Mexico require the installation of a climate control system by a trained technician. Also, these systems need routine maintenance and must generally be replaced after 10 to 15 years. Finally, the laws and regulations governing climate control systems are constantly changing, and educated HVAC technicians who can stay abreast of these developments will be in demand within the state, ensuring that new and existing systems fall within regulations.

To grasp the demand for HVAC technicians, one can look to the opportunities posted in online job boards. For example, a search for HVAC technician in New Mexico on Monster (Nov. 2020) brought up a number of results with organizations like EMCOR Group, Elwood Staffing, Fluor Corporation, Honeywell, and many more. A similar search on Indeed (Nov. 2020) yielded 139 results with organizations including Albuquerque Plumbing Heating & Cooling, Fluor Corporation, All- Tech Service Company, and GPM Investments, LLC, among a number of others.

HVAC Worker Salary in New Mexico

Not only is there a booming market for HVAC services in New Mexico and across the country, but it is also one of the highest paying fields for people with one to two years of postsecondary training.

In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (May 2019) reported that the 342,040 HVAC mechanics and installers around the country had an annual average salary(Annual mean wage) of $51,420, only slightly lower than the average salary for all occupations (including people with bachelor’s degrees and beyond) at $53,490 (BLS May 2019).

Following are the more detailed salary percentiles for HVAC professionals nationwide as compared to New Mexico (BLS May 2019):

United States New Mexico
Number of HVAC Professionals Employed 342,040 1,380
Annual Mean Wage $51,420 $44,650
10th percentile $30,610 $27,670
25th percentile $37,660 $32,970
50th percentile (median) $48,730 $43,450
75th percentile $62,070 $52,890
90th percentile $77,920 $63,520

The national figures were slightly different according to another source of data, Payscale (Oct. 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

As with any salary projections, taking into account the cost of living is also important. As such, the Missouri Economic Research and Information Center (MERIC 2020) found New Mexico was the eight most affordable state nationwide. This low cost of living means that even average salaries will go farther in New Mexico than other states.

Of course, even salaries within NM vary depending on the region. The BLS has designated five regions within New Mexico for which employment data is available. The HVAC workers in the Santa Fe area earned the highest average salary in the state with a reported average wage of $49,270 while the lowest average was found in the Eastern New Mexico nonmetropolitan area at $39,820.

HVAC Apprenticeships in New Mexico

To begin a career in this field, aspiring HVAC technicians must complete some form of training or education. In general, this takes the form of an undergraduate degree, a certificate or diploma, or an apprenticeship program.

As mentioned above, the UA Local 412 of Albuquerque offers an apprenticeship program for people interested in developing their skills through on-the-job training, while simultaneously earning a salary. This competitive five-year program is divided into one-year segments, each including between 1,700 and 2,000 hours of hands-on training, as well as at least 246 hours of related classroom instruction.

Apprentices earn a wage while working and learning, and upon completion of the program, they will also be awarded an associate degree in their specialization of choice.

Accredited HVAC Schools in New Mexico

Additionally, there are several accredited formal training programs in New Mexico. When choosing a school, it is essential to determine if it is accredited and by which organization. Accreditation is a process by which an independent agency evaluates the quality of the program, including both the curriculum and the instructors.

Two organizations evaluate and approve HVAC programs. HVAC Excellence has provided accreditation to the Central New Mexico Community College and Eastern New Mexico University (Both have been profiled below). The other accrediting entity, the Partnership for Air-Conditioning, Heating, Refrigeration Accreditation (PAHRA), has also provided accreditation to the Central New Mexico Community College.

Here are some accredited HVAC training programs in New Mexico.

Central New Mexico Community College

New Mexico residents also have the option to complete a residential HVAC certificate of completion, a commercial, industrial HVAC & building performance certificate of completion, and an associate of applied science (AAS) degree in HVAC technology at HVAC Excellence and PAHRA-accredited Central New Mexico Community College (CNMCC).

Available at five campuses around NM, these programs train students in electrical circuitry and troubleshooting, mechanical equipment, proper refrigeration and hydronic piping practices, service and maintenance of various types of HVAC/R systems and accessories. The school places a strong emphasis on the safety of students.

The residential HVAC certificate of completion consists of 26 credit-hours. The courses include refrigerant fundamentals, basic electricity, refrigerant management, motors and controls, code and safety I, air conditioning and controls, heating and heating control systems, system design, installation and retrofit of heating/cooling systems, and composition I.

The commercial, industrial HVAC and building performance certificate of completion comprises 53 credit-hours. It includes all courses from the residential certificate. Additional courses include interpersonal communication, advanced hydronics and controls I, hot water and steam generation systems and controls II, chilled water systems, controls III, code and safety requirements II, refrigeration application, commercial and industrial refrigeration, energy efficiency and green building standards I and II, and energy efficiency and green building code compliance.

The associate of applied science (AAS) degree in HVAC technology is made up of 65 credit-hours and includes all courses from the certificates mentioned above. Students also have to complete additional coursework in AAS mathematics requirement, humanities requirement, HVAC/R cooperative, and social and behavioral science requirement.

Students gain in-depth knowledge about HVAC/R fundamentals through hands-on labs and also gain an understanding of wiring diagrams. Graduates are employed by installation and local service contractors as well as hospitals, facilities, and local manufacturers.

  • Location: Albuquerque, NM
  • Accreditation: HVAC excellence; PAHRA
  • Expected Time to Completion: Residential certificate (two semesters); commercial certificate (four semesters); AAS (five semesters)
  • Estimated Tuition: New Mexico residents ($56 per credit-hour); non-New Mexico residents ($296 per credit-hour)

Eastern New Mexico University

Eastern New Mexico University offers a commercial refrigeration certificate of employability (COE), an HVAC technology certificate of occupational training (COT), and an associate of applied science (AAS) degree in HVAC/R technology. These programs provide students with easily accessible, high-quality HVAC/R training and help them learn about installing, repairing, and maintaining HVAC/R systems. Apart from practical skills in HVAC technology, tools, and equipment, students also develop communication and computer literacy, and mathematical skills.

The commercial refrigeration COE program is made up of 30 credit-hours, including courses such as entrepreneurship, introduction to electricity, introduction to air conditioning and refrigeration, refrigeration cycle and diagrams, advanced electricity, HVAC/R control systems, ice makers, refrigeration service and problem analysis, and co-op/internship training.

The HVAC technology COT program consists of 33 credit-hours. Some of the courses included in the curriculum are entrepreneurship, introduction to electricity, introduction to air conditioning and refrigeration, heat pumps, air flow principles/duct design, advanced electricity, HVAC/R control and heating systems, HVAC/R service & problem analysis., and co-op/internship training.

Finally, the AAS degree comprises 60 credit-hours and includes almost all courses from the certificates mentioned above with additional coursework in professional & technical communication, a survey of mathematics, introduction to psychology, introduction to computers, humanities or fine and creative arts, and multiplexed evaporator systems.

The program teaches students to install, maintain, service, and repair HVAC/R equipment, understand coding requirements, and interpret blueprints for HVAC/R. Graduates can take up roles such as HVAC mechanic, vending machine and home appliance repairs, refrigeration mechanics or installers, and line installers, to name a few.

  • Location: Roswell, NM
  • Accreditation: HVAC Excellence
  • Expected Time to Completion: Certificate (one year); AAS (two years)
  • Estimated Tuition: Resident, in-district ($936 per credit-hour); resident, out-of-district ($1,20 per credit-hour); non-resident ($2,616 per credit-hour)

Santa Fe Community College

Finally, future HVAC technicians who are interested in focusing solely on job-related skills without the additional requirements set forth in an associate degree program may consider pursuing a certificate in HVAC at Santa Fe Community College. With this HVAC program, students develop practical skills in the trade, while also acquiring basic knowledge of HVAC operations, heat load calculations, blueprint reading, and air movement. They also learn about maintaining their safety, while working with cutting edge HVAC equipment.

This 31-credit-hour program covers 11 courses, including nine HVAC-specific classes and related electives. Sample some of the courses in the curriculum: Basic blueprint reading, basic electricity and controls, basic commercial refrigeration, refrigerant management, gas heating furnaces, and application of refrigeration systems, among others.

Students learn how to apply practical knowledge and skills while working on commercial and residential HVAC projects, interpret and analyze construction documents related to commercial and residential construction, identify and explain HVAC methods, and provide leadership. Graduates of the program can take up roles such as maintenance technician, gas fitter and installer, building control specialist, heating and cooling specialist, building control technician, solar thermal installer, and appliance repairer, to name a few.

  • Location: Santa Fe, New Mexico
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission
  • Expected Time to Completion: One year
  • Estimated Tuition: $4,202

HVAC Certification and Licensing in New Mexico

As mentioned above, anyone in New Mexico who handles refrigerants is required to maintain active EPA Section 608 Certification. This certification has four subtypes, varying by kind of equipment serviced: type 1 (small appliances), type 2 (high-pressure appliances), type 3 (low-pressure appliances), and type 4 (universal).

Outside of this, a number of skill-specific certifications are available for HVAC technicians in the state, and can be awarded by the North American Technician Excellence (e.g., Industry Competency Exams or ICE); HVAC Excellence (e.g., Heating, Electrical, Air Conditioning Technology Plus); and others. While these additional certifications are not required, they can prove beneficial in a future search for employment.

To learn more, check out the main HVAC certifications page.

All contractors in New Mexico are required to obtain licensure before they begin working on any related project. In order to do so, HVAC technicians must first pass two exams: one on business and law, and one on the HVAC trade.

In addition, prospective HVAC contractors must submit the following:

  • An application that verifies their previous experience working in this field
  • A certificate of competence
  • A bond of between $500 and $5,000, an audited financial statement, or other collateral
  • An application fee of $30

Please keep in mind that HVAC technicians working with ventilation using natural gas fittings are required to obtain additional licensure, although this will have similar requirements. Ultimately, because HVAC contractors must acquire a license in order to stay in compliance with the law, it is important to perform adequate research on necessary credentialing before beginning any new projects.

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).

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