HVAC Schools in New Mexico

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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 some form of indoor climate control, which requires installation and routine maintenance by a skilled HVAC professional. It is for this reason, among others, that this southwestern state is one of the best places in the nation 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. It offers continuing education related to HVAC, networking opportunities, professional advocacy, and more.

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. Additionally, 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, and 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.

Occupational Demand for HVAC Technicians in New Mexico

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (May 2016) reported that HVAC industry is strong, both in New Mexico and across the United States. In fact, there were 294,730 HVAC mechanics and installers in the U.S. earning an average annual wage of $48,320. Furthermore, this industry is slated to remain strong, as the BLS (Dec. 2015) predicted that HVAC positions would increase 14 percent between 2014 and 2024, leading to the creation of 39,600 new jobs throughout the nation. This is a relatively rapid expansion, as all other industries are predicted to only swell by 6.5 percent. Fortunately, the data is also promising for those working in New Mexico; Projections Central forecasted that positions in the NM HVAC industry would grow 11.9 percent over the same decade—an addition of 140 new jobs.

There are various reasons driving this rise in opportunities in HVAC. 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. And 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.

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 (October 2017) brought up 464 results with organizations like Tradesmen International, Inc., Pueblo of Sandia, Sandia Resort Casino, TLC Plumbing & Utility, the University of New Mexico, and many more. A similar search on Indeed (October 2017) yielded 254 results with organizations including Johnson Controls, Source Refrigeration and HVAC, Fluor Corporation, Sandia Resort and Casino, and Facebook, among a number of others.

HVAC Worker Salary in New Mexico

The BLS (May 2016) reported that HVAC workers can earn a relatively generous wage throughout their career. By illustration, the median salary for HVAC workers was approximately $45,910 per year, or $22.07 per hour, with the following wage percentiles:

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 (Oct. 2017), which relies on self-reported wages. Among the HVAC workers reporting their annual salaries, Payscale found these percentiles:

United States: 478 HVAC workers

  • 10th percentile: $29,000
  • 25th percentile: $35,000
  • 50th percentile (median): $43,956
  • 75th percentile: $55,000
  • 90th percentile: $69,000

An additional 2,550 HVAC workers gave Payscale their hourly salary figures, resulting in these national wage percentiles:

  • 10th percentile: $13.00/hr.
  • 25th percentile: $15.00/hr.
  • 50th percentile (median): $19.27/hr.
  • 75th percentile: $24.00/hr.
  • 90th percentile: $30.00/hr.

The salary expectations for HVAC technicians in New Mexico are slightly lower than those of the rest of the country, although they still remain competitive. The BLS (2016) reported that there were 1,200 HVAC professionals working in the state, earning an average annual salary of $41,710 with these percentiles:

New Mexico (1,200 HVAC workers): $41,710 average

  • 10th percentile: $26,510
  • 25th percentile: $32,530
  • 50th percentile (median): $41,390
  • 75th percentile: $50,580
  • 90th percentile: $59,980

In hourly figures, these equated to:

New Mexico: $20.05/hour average

  • 10th percentile: $12.75/hr.
  • 25th percentile: $15.64/hr.
  • 50th percentile (median): $19.90/hr.
  • 75th percentile: $24.32/hr.
  • 90th percentile: $28.84/hr.

Finally, the BLS (May 2016) designated eight regions within NM for data-gathering. Not surprisingly, Santa Fe enjoyed the highest wages among them. Here were the numbers of HVAC workers, average salaries, and percentiles among all eight areas:

Albuquerque, NM (580 HVAC workers): $41,980 average

  • 10th percentile: $26,270
  • 25th percentile: $31,710
  • 50th percentile (median): $42,440
  • 75th percentile: $50,150
  • 90th percentile: $60,650

Eastern New Mexico Nonmetropolitan Area (260 HVAC workers): $41,470 average

  • 10th percentile: $25,330
  • 25th percentile: $30,980
  • 50th percentile (median): $41,600
  • 75th percentile: $52,460
  • 90th percentile: $61,120

Farmington, NM (40 HVAC workers): $36,780 average

  • 10th percentile: $24,540
  • 25th percentile: $28,910
  • 50th percentile (median): $35,790
  • 75th percentile: $43,560
  • 90th percentile: $53,110

Las Cruces, NM (130 HVAC workers): $41,390 average

  • 10th percentile: $26,680
  • 25th percentile: $32,380
  • 50th percentile (median): $38,660
  • 75th percentile: $50,850
  • 90th percentile: $60,760

Los Alamos County, New Mexico Nonmetropolitan Area (unknown number of HVAC workers): $46,250 average

  • 10th percentile: $31,990
  • 25th percentile: $35,330
  • 50th percentile (median): $50,200
  • 75th percentile: $57,350
  • 90th percentile: $61,510

North and West Central New Mexico Nonmetropolitan Area (60 HVAC workers): $39,470 average

  • 10th percentile: $31,500
  • 25th percentile: $33,780
  • 50th percentile (median): $37,270
  • 75th percentile: $44,730
  • 90th percentile: $56,430

Santa Fe, NM (unknown number of HVAC workers): $43,470 average

  • 10th percentile: $33,980
  • 25th percentile: $40,790
  • 50th percentile (median): $44,590
  • 75th percentile: $48,390
  • 90th percentile: $50,760

Accredited HVAC Schools 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 with an associate degree in their specialization of choice.

New Mexico residents also have the option to complete an associate of applied science (A.A.S.) in HVAC technology at HVAC Excellence- and PAHRA-accredited Central New Mexico Community College (CNMCC), which includes 66 to 67 credit hours of study on topics such as air conditioning and controls, heating and heating control systems, hydronics, code and safety requirements, and others related to HVAC training. Tuition for this program for local residents who are studying full-time is $648 per term, although part-time study is allowed, as well.

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. This 31-credit-hour program covers 11 courses, including nine HVAC-specific classes and related electives. Tuition for in-district New Mexico residents was set at $1,196 (2015-16).

As an important note, many students are choosing to enroll in accredited programs. As of this writing, two main organizations provide accreditation for HVAC programs in New Mexico: the Partnership for Air-Conditioning, Heating, Refrigeration Accreditation (PAHRA) and HVAC Excellence. In addition to CNMCC which boasts both forms of accreditation, Eastern New Mexico University of Roswell also offers an HVAC-Excellence accredited A.A.S. program.

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 may be awarded by the Refrigerating Engineers and Technicians Association (e.g., entry-level Certified Assistant Refrigeration Operator); 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.

As a final note, 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.

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