HVAC Training Schools in Oklahoma – Degrees & Certifications

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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 2020), 4,280 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 (2021), the number of openings in this field is expected to grow 4 percent nationwide between 2019 and 2029—which is as fast as the U.S. average across all occupations (4 percent). And Oklahoma is keeping pace with the national demand for technicians. In fact, Projections Central predicted a 10.3 percent statewide increase in HVAC jobs for the decade ending in 2028.

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

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

Some HVAC equipment is located outdoors. Adverse weather conditions won’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 (2021) reported that approximately 7 percent of HVAC/R technicians were self-employed across the country, and sixty-six 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 2020) reported that nationally HVAC/R mechanics and installers receive a median salary of $50,590 annually. Oklahoma HVAC/R technicians receive slightly less, as their annual median wage was $44,470.

That said, it is important to add that the cost of living in Oklahoma is significantly more affordable than a majority of U.S. states. As proof of point, the Missouri Economic Research and Information Center (MERIC 2021) reported that Oklahoma had the 3rd lowest cost of living in the United States. This low cost of living means that even average salaries will go farther in Oklahoma than in other states.

In more detail, here were the annual wage percentiles for HVAC professionals across the country and across Oklahoma (BLS May 2020):

United States Oklahoma
Number of HVAC professionals employed 344,020 4,280
Annual mean wagee $53,410 $47,670
10th percentile $31,910 $27,360
25th percentile $39,320 $34,240
50th percentile (median) $50,590 $44,470
75th percentile $64,350 $59,900
90th percentile $80,820 $75,760

The national figures were slightly different according to another source of data, PayScale (2021), which relies on self-reported salaries. Among the HVAC workers reporting their annual salaries, Payscale found these percentiles:

  • 10th percentile: $33,000
  • 50th percentile (median): $49,507
  • 90th percentile: $78,000

HVAC Apprenticeships 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 careers.

An apprenticeship is a paid position that combines on-the-job training with classroom instruction. It usually takes four to five years to complete. Apprentices also attend school for a specified number of hours each year.

As of August 2021, there are more than 100 active registered apprenticeship programs located in cities throughout Oklahoma. There’s more information at the Oklahoma Office of Workforce Development.

Accredited HVAC Schools in Oklahoma

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 August 2021, several Oklahoma schools have been awarded accreditation by PAHRA, and one has been accredited by HVAC Excellence.

Red River Technology Center

Red River Technology Center in Duncan offers an HVAC/R program providing students with the opportunity to gain the required knowledge and skills needed for becoming successful in today’s fast-growing industry. Students learn the basics of repairing, troubleshooting, and maintaining HVAC/R equipment making life more comfortable.

The curriculum includes topics such as safety, electrical & gas heating systems, installation, light commercial refrigeration, brazing, electrical systems, basic compression refrigeration, and air conditioning & heat pumps.

Graduates will be qualified to take up roles such as air conditioning contractor, parts salesman, refrigeration technician, HVAC technician, maintenance technician, and service manager, among many such roles.

  • Location: Duncan, OK
  • Accreditation: HVAC Excellence
  • Expected Time to Completion: Less than a year
  • Estimated Tuition: 2.50 per clock-hour

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

Indian Capital Technology Center

Indian Capital Technology Center offers a residential HVAC technician program which is available at its Muskogee, Sallisaw, and Tahlequah campuses. Students here learn about designing, fabricating, and installing several types of HVAC and refrigeration components. They also learn to troubleshoot and repair advanced commercial and residential systems.

The program comprises a total of 1,050 hours of instruction including courses in principles of thermodynamics & heat transfer, piping & piping practices, electricity for HVAC/R, HVAC/R controls, load calculations, refrigerant system components, refrigerants & lubricants, heat pumps, and indoor air quality, among others.

At the end of the program, graduates can pursue opportunities such as residential HVAC installers, HVAC service technicians, commercial HVAC installers, and service technicians.

The center also offers a mechanical journeyman program consisting of 2,310 hours of instruction. This mechanical journeyman program is only available at the Muskogee campus.

  • Location: Muskogee, Sallisaw, and Tahlequah, OK
  • Accreditation: PAHRA
  • Expected Time to Completion: Residential HVAC technician (37 weeks)
  • Estimated Tuition: $2 per clock-hour

Eastern Oklahoma County Technology Center

Eastern Oklahoma County Technology Center offers two HVAC programs: a residential HVAC installer program and a residential HVAC technician program. Both these programs will allow students to explore career opportunities in the HVAC/R industry, personal protective equipment, and personal safety and work practices.

The HVAC installer program comprises 500 clock-hours, while the HVAC technician program is made up of 1000 clock-hours. As part of the program, students will delve into topics such as Introduction to HVAC/R, electricity for HVAC/R, HVAC/R controls, principles of thermodynamics & heat transfer, refrigerant recovery, air handling, piping & piping practices, and heat pumps.

  • Location: Choctaw, OK
  • Accreditation: PAHRA
  • Expected Time to Completion: HVAC installer (500 clock-hours); Residential HVAC technician (1,000 clock-hours)
  • Estimated Tuition: HVAC installer program ($1,125); Residential HVAC technician program ($2,250)

Meridian Technology Center

Just like Eastern Oklahoma County Technology Center, the HVAC/R program at the Meridian Technology Center offers two specialization areas: Residential HVAC installer and residential HVAC technician. Students enrolling in either of these programs will learn about diagnosing, servicing, and repairing a wide range of HVAC/R equipment for residential settings.

The HVAC installer program consists of 615 clock-hours and the HVAC technician program comprises 1,050 clock-hours. Some of the topics students will explore include electricity for HVAC/R, HVAC/R solid-state electronics, load calculations, refrigerant system components, air conditioning systems, refrigerants & lubricants, refrigerant retrofits, and HVAC/R codes, regulations, and standards.

On successful completion of the program, graduates can take up roles such as HVAC service technician, sales executive HVAC/R, manufacturing technician, and entrepreneur.

  • Location: Stillwater, OK
  • Accreditation: PAHRA
  • Expected Time to Completion: HVAC installer (615 clock-hours); residential HVAC technician (1,050 clock-hours)
  • Estimated Tuition: Residential HVAC installer ($1,845); residential HVAC technician ($3,150)

Moore Norman Technology Center

Moore Norman Technology Center’s HVAC/R program helps students learn about light-commercial and residential systems, installations, maintenance, and repair. The program trains students in becoming HVAC/R Technicians and obtaining the EPA 608 certification.

The program is made up of 1,050 clock-hours including courses in introduction to HVAC/R, refrigeration systems, electrical theory, air conditioning systems, employability skills, and heating systems.

Graduates will be ready to take up roles such as residential HVAC installer, residential HVAC/R repair technician, and residential HVAC service technician.

  • Location: Norman, OK
  • Accreditation: PAHRA
  • Expected Time to Completion: Less than a year
  • Estimated Tuition: In-district ($1,312.50); out-district ($1,575)

Southern Oklahoma Technology Center

Southern Tech in Ardmore is another PAHRA-accredited program offered to OK residents. Students in this HVAC program will be provided with the knowledge and skills required for becoming HVAC/R technicians. Graduates of Southern Tech’s HVAC program will be prepared to sit for various professional certification exams, including the EPA Section 608 certification, the Residential Industry Competency Exam (ICE), and OSHA 10.

Consisting of 600 clock-hours, the program includes courses in refrigerant handling, piping & piping practices, introduction to HVAC, electricity, motor & controls, indoor air fundamentals, refrigeration system components, residential heating systems, and residential air-conditioning systems.

The program opens up several opportunities for graduates. They can take up roles such as A/C techs; HVAC installers; HVAC mechanics; HVAC service technicians; HVAC specialists; HVAC technicians; service technicians; and systems mechanics.

  • Location: Ardmore, OK
  • Accreditation: PAHRA
  • Expected Time to Completion: 39 weeks
  • Estimated Tuition: In-district ($2.50 per hour); out-of-district ($5 per hour); out-of-state ($7.50 per hour)

Tulsa Technology Center

Tulsa Technology Center offers an HVAC technician program that teaches students how to design and install HVAC systems, as well as troubleshooting and maintenance. Students will have the opportunity to earn industry certifications such as EPA Section 608 Technician Certification, Sheet Metal Technician, and OSHA 10.

The program comprises 1,050 clock-hours. The curriculum includes preventive maintenance; HVAC safety, tools, and equipment; refrigerant management; thermodynamics and heat transfer; electricity; piping and piping practices; heat gain and loss calculations; professional service; indoor air quality; air distribution; codes, regulations, and standards; residential installation and start-up; heat pumps and systems; workforce staging; controls; solid-state electronics; system components; air conditioning systems; and service and troubleshooting.

Notably, students learn theory in the classroom and spend approximately double those hours in the lab for hands-on training.

  • Location: Tulsa, OK
  • Accreditation: PAHRA; Oklahoma State Board of Career and Technology Education
  • Expected Time to Completion: Nine months
  • Estimated Tuition: $4,200

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 on 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

Check out details on national credentialing on the guide to HVAC certifications.

Additionally, 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.

Jocelyn Blore

Jocelyn Blore is the chief content officer of Sechel Ventures and the co-author of the Women Breaking Barriers series. She graduated summa cum laude from UC Berkeley and traveled the world for five years. She also worked as an addiction specialist for two years in San Francisco. She’s interested in how culture shapes individuals and systems within societies—one of the many themes she writes about in her blog, Blore’s Razor (Instagram: @bloresrazor). She has served as managing editor for several healthcare websites since 2015.