HVAC Training Schools in Oklahoma

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No one can accuse Oklahoma of having a boring climate. The weather cycles include a varied mix of long, hot summers; short, cold winters; high humidity; flash floods; droughts; tornadoes; and thunderstorms. It goes without saying that Oklahomans rely on heating, venting, and air conditioning (HVAC) to stay comfortable indoors throughout the year.

Numerous national HVAC and refrigeration (HVAC/R) associations provide support to technicians and three have chapters in Oklahoma: the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE), the Mechanical – Electrical – Plumbing Contractors – Oklahoma (MEPO), and the Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors Association (PHCCA). Industry organizations such as these provide resources to help maintain professional standards, keep workers in the know on legislative changes, provide continuing education, and offer discounts on common expenses in the profession.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS May 2016), 3,320 Oklahomans were employed as HVAC installers, mechanical, and maintenance workers. In general, HVAC workers use their skills to install, maintain, and repair equipment and systems that control air quality and temperature. One job may require putting wiring and piping for an installation. The next job might require testing components and circuitry. Technicians need to be familiar with how components such as motors, belts, fans, filters, and valves function as part of a complete system. They install and service equipment including boilers, compressors, heat pumps, humidifiers, economizers, and water pumps in various kinds of buildings. Skills include reading blueprints, computing heat load and loss calculations, and calibrating controls. All workers are responsible for keeping their credentials current, traveling to job sites, and making sure customers receive detailed service records. An important part of HVAC service is helping customers understand and practice energy conservation.

This guide explores the thriving HVAC industry in the Sooner State, including discussions of salary prospects and accredited training programs.

Occupational Demand for HVAC Technicians in Oklahoma

The demand for HVAC technicians nationwide continues to grow. According to the BLS (October 2017), the number of openings in this field is expected to grow 15 percent nationwide between 2016 and 2026—much faster growth than the U.S. average across all occupations (7 percent). And Oklahoma is keeping pace with the national demand for technicians. In fact, Projections Central predicted a 15.8 percent statewide increase in HVAC jobs for the decade ending in 2024.

Several factors in OK contribute to the growth of the HVAC industry:

  • Construction of new commercial buildings and residences
  • Complexity of climate control systems
  • Contemporary emphasis on energy efficiency and reducing pollution
  • Replacing, retrofitting, or upgrading older systems

Some HVAC equipment is located outdoors. Adverse weather conditions don’t stop the need for repairs or maintenance. Indoor work can be equally uncomfortable when the system has stopped working, creating either a very hot or freezing environment until the job is completed. Technicians may find themselves working in small or cramped areas. It’s worth noting that HVAC workers have a relatively high rate of injury, including electrical shocks and muscle strains related to moving heavy equipment. They also work with toxic chemicals. That said, with proper training in safety protocols, these risks can generally be kept at bay.

The BLS (October 2017) reported that approximately nine percent of HVAC/R technicians were self-employed across the country, and sixty-four percent were employed by plumbing, heating, and air conditioning contractors. The remaining workers were employed by schools or retail and wholesale organizations. Most of the technicians worked full-time. Depending on peak seasons, OK-based workers may work evenings, weekends, and other overtime hours.

HVAC Salaries in Oklahoma

The BLS (May 2016) reported that nationally HVAC/R mechanics and installers receive a median salary of $45,910 annually. Oklahoma HVAC/R technicians receive slightly less, as their annual median wage was $43,910. That said, the Missouri Economic Research and Information Center found that the Oklahoma cost of living index for the third quarter of 2017 was 89.3. This means that Oklahomans pay $89.30 for products and services that would cost them $100.00 in other states. In fact, OK is the fifth most affordable state in the U.S. and those wages go further than they would in other areas.

In more detail, here were the annual wage percentiles for HVAC professionals across the country (BLS May 2016):

United States (332,900 HVAC workers): $48,320 average annual salary

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

U.S.: $23.23 average hourly salary

  • 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.

By comparison, here were the detailed salary data for OK:

Oklahoma (3,320 HVAC workers): $45,360 average annual salary

  • 10th percentile: $28,310
  • 25th percentile: $34,400
  • 50th percentile (median): $43,910
  • 75th percentile: $55,670
  • 90th percentile: $65,960

OK: $21.81 average hourly salary

  • 10th percentile: $13.61/hr.
  • 25th percentile: $16.54/hr.
  • 50th percentile (median): $21.11/hr.
  • 75th percentile: $26.77/hr.
  • 90th percentile: $31.71/hr.

Not surprisingly, these data varied by region of the state. The BLS designated seven regions within the state:

Lawton (220 HVAC workers): $38,850 average annual salary

  • 10th percentile: $23,800
  • 25th percentile: $30,040
  • 50th percentile (median): $41,380
  • 75th percentile: $47,290
  • 90th percentile: $50,860

$18.68 average hourly salary

  • 10th percentile: $11.44/hr.
  • 25th percentile: $14.44/hr.
  • 50th percentile (median): $19.89/hr.
  • 75th percentile: $22.74/hr.
  • 90th percentile: $24.45/hr.

Northeast Oklahoma Non-Metropolitan Area (170 HVAC workers): $40,290 average annual salary

  • 10th percentile: $29,240
  • 25th percentile: $32,880
  • 50th percentile (median): $36,860
  • 75th percentile: $43,040
  • 90th percentile: $61,330

$19.37 average hourly salary

  • 10th percentile: $14.06/hr.
  • 25th percentile: $15.81/hr.
  • 50th percentile (median): $17.72/hr.
  • 75th percentile: $20.69/hr.
  • 90th percentile: $29.49/hr.

Northwest Oklahoma Non-Metropolitan Area (290 HVAC workers): $46,610 average annual salary

  • 10th percentile: $31,300
  • 25th percentile: $37,810
  • 50th percentile (median): $46,230
  • 75th percentile: $55,420
  • 90th percentile: $63,330

$22.41 average hourly salary

  • 10th percentile: $15.05/hr.
  • 25th percentile: $18.18/hr.
  • 50th percentile (median): $22.23/hr.
  • 75th percentile: $26.64/hr.
  • 90th percentile: $30.45/hr.

Oklahoma City (1,310 HVAC workers): $48,420 average annual salary

  • 10th percentile: $29,990
  • 25th percentile: $36,500
  • 50th percentile (median): $47,610
  • 75th percentile: $59,740
  • 90th percentile: $70,990

$23.28 average hourly salary

  • 10th percentile: $14.42/hr.
  • 25th percentile: $17.55/hr.
  • 50th percentile (median): $22.89/hr.
  • 75th percentile: $28.72/hr.
  • 90th percentile: $34.13/hr.

Southeast Oklahoma Non-Metropolitan Area (210 HVAC workers): $37,530 average annual salary

  • 10th percentile: $21,270
  • 25th percentile: $26,770
  • 50th percentile (median): $35,770
  • 75th percentile: $49,070
  • 90th percentile: $57,890

$18.04 average hourly salary

  • 10th percentile: $10.23/hr.
  • 25th percentile: $12.87/hr.
  • 50th percentile (median): $17.20/hr.
  • 75th percentile: $23.59/hr.
  • 90th percentile: $27.83/hr.

Southwest Oklahoma Non-Metropolitan Area (number of HVAC workers not disclosed): $39,400 average annual salary

  • 10th percentile: $23,920
  • 25th percentile: $32,610
  • 50th percentile (median): $37,570
  • 75th percentile: $48,650
  • 90th percentile: $57,180

$18.94 average hourly salary

  • 10th percentile: $11.50/hr.
  • 25th percentile: $15.68/hr.
  • 50th percentile (median): $18.06/hr.
  • 75th percentile: $23.39/hr.
  • 90th percentile: $27.49/hr.

Tulsa (1,050 HVAC workers): $45,300 average annual salary

  • 10th percentile: $29,150
  • 25th percentile: $34,310
  • 50th percentile (median): $43,310
  • 75th percentile: $55,260
  • 90th percentile: $66,480

$21.78 average hourly salary

  • 10th percentile: $14.02/hr.
  • 25th percentile: $16.49/hr.
  • 50th percentile (median): $20.82/hr.
  • 75th percentile: $26.57/hr.
  • 90th percentile: $31.96/hr.

Accredited HVAC Schools in Oklahoma

Although some HVAC companies in Oklahoma hire workers with no experience or training, workers who have served an apprenticeship or attended a school are usually hired first. Trained workers also typically start at higher wages, advance quicker, and earn more over the life of their career.

An apprenticeship is a paid position that combines on-the-job training with classroom instruction. Oklahoma lists four companies as apprenticeship sponsors. Two are in Tulsa, one is in Enid, and one is located in Vinita. Openings aren’t always available. There’s more information at the Oklahoma Office of Apprenticeship.

Individuals seeking coursework should make sure that the school they choose is accredited. “The goal of accreditation is to ensure that education provided by institutions of higher education meets acceptable levels of quality,” according to the Department of Education. Various agencies determine whether schools have met the applicable guidelines.

Two main organizations evaluate and accredit HVAC programs: HVAC Excellence and the Partnership for Air-Conditioning, Heating, Refrigeration Accreditation (PAHRA).

As of January 2018, several Oklahoma schools have been awarded accreditation.

By illustration, HVAC Excellence has accredited the HVAC program at Red River Technology Center in Duncan. Students complete 210 hours of training to receive a certificate of competency. The 2017 tuition was $525.00, not including books, supplies, and other fees.

PAHRA has accredited OK-based HVAC programs at the following schools:

  • Autry Technology Center in Enid: 1,050 hours. 2017-18 tuition is $2.00 per credit hour. Books, supplies, and fees are extra. Several certifications are available to students.
  • Eastern Oklahoma County Technology Center in Choctaw: Residential HVAC, 1,050 hours. 2017-18 estimated tuition $2,325. Commercial HVAC, 1,200 hours. 2017-18 estimated tuition $2,557. Graduates receive a certificate of completion.
  • Indian Capital Technology Center-Muskogee: Residential HVAC Technician, 1,050 hours. 2017-18 tuition is $2.00 per credit hour. Books, supplies, and fees are extra. Graduates receive a certificate of completion. Residential HVAC Technician/Mechanical Journeyman, 2,310 hours. 2017-18 tuition is $2.00 per credit hour. Books, supplies, and fees are extra. Graduates qualify for journey-level license after additional year of experience.
  • Indian Capital Technology Center-Sallisaw: Residential HVAC Technician, 1,050 hours. 2017-18 tuition is $2.00 per credit hour. Books, supplies, and fees are extra. Graduates receive a certificate of completion. Residential HVAC Technician/Mechanical Journeyman, 2,310 hours. 2017-18 tuition is $2.00 per credit hour. Books, supplies, and fees are extra. Graduates qualify for journey-level license after additional year of experience.
  • Indian Capital Technology Center-Tahlequah: Residential HVAC Technician, 1,050 hours. 2017-18 tuition is $2.00 per credit hour. Books, supplies, and fees are extra. Graduates receive a certificate of completion. Residential HVAC Technician/Mechanical Journeyman, 2,310 hours. 2017-18 tuition is $2.00 per credit hour. Books, supplies, and fees are extra. Graduates qualify for journey-level license after an additional year of experience.
  • Meridian Technology Center in Stillwater: Residential HVAC installer, 615 hours. 2017-18 tuition is $3.00 per credit hour. Books, supplies, and fees are extra. Graduates receive the Career Ready Credential. Residential HVAC Technician, 1,050 hours. 2017-18 tuition is $3.00 per credit hour. Books, supplies, and fees are extra. Graduates receive the Career Ready Credential.
  • Moore Norman Technology Center in Norman: HVAC/R Technician, 1050 hours. 2017-18 tuition, books, tools, supplies, and tools $3,167.50. Graduates qualify for several certifications.
  • Southern Tech in Ardmore: HVAC Technician, 1,050 hours. 2017-18 tuition is $2.50 per credit hour. Books, supplies, and fees are extra. Graduates may receive the Career Ready Credential.
  • Tulsa Technology Center in Tulsa: HVAC Technician, 1,050 hours. 2017-18 tuition is $3.00 per credit hour. Books, supplies, and fees are extra. Graduates qualify for several certifications.

These schools all offer similar coursework, including instruction in:

  • Tool and equipment use and safety
  • Refrigerant safety and recover
  • Electricity, thermodynamics, and piping
  • Indoor air handling and quality
  • Heat load and loss calculations
  • Reading blueprints
  • Electronics and controls
  • System installation, maintenance, and repairs
  • Troubleshooting

Various other institutions across the state have HVAC programs.

HVAC Certification & Licensing in Oklahoma

Federal law requires all HVAC technicians who work with refrigerants to obtain Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Section 608 certification. Certification requires passing an exam on the safe handling of refrigerants. Four levels of certifications are available based the size and type of equipment. The universal certification allows technicians to work on all types.

Technicians may obtain additional training and certifications from industry organizations. These include, but aren’t limited to:

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

These and others offer Section 608 testing and certification.

The State of Oklahoma requires apprentices to register. There is no fee to register. Journey-level and contractors must be licensed. There are several classifications, based on the size and type of systems worked on. Each classification has education, experience, and testing requirements. Please note that fees and qualifications vary.

Lastly, cities may have separate permitting or credentialing in this occupation as well. In order to ensure compliance with the law, all HVAC workers in Oklahoma are encouraged to contact their city offices prior to beginning any projects.