HVAC Vocational Schools in Oklahoma City, OK

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Oklahoma City is the state capital and the seat of Oklahoma County. It’s also home to Tinker Air Force Base and the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Mike Monroney Aeronautical Center, as well as three large universities. Those entities are the largest employers in the area.

The primary contributors to OKC’s economy are the livestock markets, which are the largest in the world, as well as the oil industry. Two energy-related companies on the Forbes 500 list have their headquarters in the city. Other industries, such as aerospace, biotechnology, business services, health services, information technology, telecommunications, and transportation/logistics, have helped with economic diversification. According to a 2019 economic forecast, “Oklahoma City continues to emerge as the center of economic activity in the state,” and “population growth in the region will continue for decades to come as Oklahoma City’s persistent transformation progresses.”

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma (OK) is hot during the summer months, with temperatures in the high 80s to mid-90s. Rain falls every month of the year, with May and June receiving close to five inches each. Winds from the south provide some relief from the mugginess. The nighttime temperatures average about 20 degrees cooler than daytime. Winters are generally cold and night temps drop below freezing during December and January. The rain often turns to snow during those months, but the total winter snowfall is typically less than one foot. Winds during the winter blow in from the north, making the area feel colder.

OKC is also part of “Tornado Alley” and has the distinction of experiencing the tornado with the strongest winds (318 mph in May 1999) and the widest tornado (2.6 miles in May 2013).

Weather conditions often keep Oklahoma City residents indoors. They rely on heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) for comfort in their homes and workplaces. Commercial and industrial facilities often need the addition of large-scale refrigeration (HVAC/R) to keep their buildings cool. Additionally, businesses and research organizations that depend on technology frequently require specialized climate-control systems.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS 2019) reports that 1,470 HVAC mechanics and installers were employed in Oklahoma City, OK as of May 2018. Technicians and their employers received training and support for industry organizations such as the following:

  • Air Conditioning Contractors of America
  • American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers Central Oklahoma Chapter
  • Associated Builders & Contractors Oklahoma Chapter
  • Associated General Contractors of Oklahoma
  • Oklahoma Home Builders Association
  • Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors Association of Oklahoma City
  • Refrigeration Service Engineers Society
  • UA Plumbers & Pipefitters Local 344

These and other industry associations coordinate the establishment of educational, licensing, and performance standards with governmental agencies to ensure the health and safety of HVAC technicians and the public.

Occupational Demand for HVAC Techs in Oklahoma City, OK

According to BLS (2019) statistics, job opportunities for all occupations nationwide are expected to increase by 7 percent between 2016 and 2026. The outlook for HVAC and HVAC/R technicians is brighter, as a 15 percent increase nationally in new positions is anticipated for the same decade. Oklahoma is keeping pace with national expectations. Projections Central predicts a 15.2 percent statewide increase by the end of 2026.

New construction drives the growth in the HVAC industry. Industries and businesses in Oklahoma City are expanding. The economic expansion means that new facilities are needed and that the area is attracting new residents seeking housing. In addition to the construction of new facilities, older structures are undergoing renovation. The existing climate-control systems and equipment must be replaced, retrofitted, or upgraded to meet current standards for energy efficiency and pollution reduction. “Smart” buildings and technology-based companies that depend on electronics require sophisticated climate-control systems as well.

Climate-control equipment and accessories are complex and must be installed or maintained by trained technicians that understand the technology. Technicians are expected to be skilled in electronics and computers. They should also be proficient troubleshooters. Those who specialize in new installations occasionally experience unemployment. Technicians who specialize in maintenance and repair services can expect employment year-round as homeowners and businesses want to keep their systems in good operating condition regardless of the economy. The damage from Oklahoma City’s adverse weather conditions can also generate an additional need for replacement installations or repair services.

HVAC Salaries in Oklahoma City, OK

The BLS reports that HVAC mechanics and installers nationwide were earning a median salary of $47,610 as of May 2018. Oklahoma City technicians were earning an annual median salary of $44,780. The pay rate difference isn’t as significant as it appears because the cost of living in Oklahoma is significantly lower than the national index.

The table below compares national, state, and regional salaries of HVAC professionals:

United States Oklahoma Oklahoma City, OK
Number of HVAC Professionals Employed 324,310 3,710 1,470
Average Annual Salary $50,160 $43,810 $47,040
10th Percentile $29,460 $27,450 $30,430
25th Percentile $36,520 $33,350 $35,360
50th Percentile (Median) $47,610 $40,740 $44,780
75th Percentile $60,900 $54,000 $58,450
90th Percentile $76,230 $64,810 $69,600

HVAC Apprenticeships in Oklahoma City, OK

It is occasionally possible for untrained workers to find employment as HVAC assistants. Workers who complete an apprenticeship or obtain formal training, however, generally enjoy the most employment opportunities. Their skills typically allow them to start at higher wages and to enjoy greater earnings throughout their careers.

Apprentices are paid during their on-the-job training, which usually takes four to five years. They also attend school for a specified number of hours each year. Information regarding local apprenticeship programs is available at the Oklahoma Office of Workforce Development and Oklahoma Now.

For example, the Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 344 Joint Apprenticeship and Training Program offers a five-year HVAC apprenticeship in Oklahoma City. Apprentices learn through paid on-the-job training with sponsoring companies. They also attend classroom lectures weeknights. Graduates receive journey-level status.

Other industry organizations offer training, including the following.

  • Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA)
  • Mechanical Contractors Association of America (MCAA)
  • Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors Association (PHCCA)
  • Refrigeration Service Engineers Society (RSES)
  • Sheet Metal Workers International Association (SMWIA)

Details as to schedules, online availability, and fees may be found on their websites.

Accredited HVAC Schools in Oklahoma City, OK

Several independent organizations evaluate the curriculum and instructors of HVAC schools. The process of evaluation is known as accreditation and students should ensure that schools they choose for training are accredited. Two industry organizations evaluate HVAC and HVAC/R programs: HVAC Excellence has accredited Red River Technology Center, in Duncan, OK and the Partnership for Air-Conditioning, Heating, Refrigeration Accreditation (PAHRA) has awarded accreditation to the following Oklahoma schools:

  • Autry Technology Center, Enid, OK
  • Eastern Oklahoma County Technology Center, Choctaw, OK
  • Indian Capital Technology Center Muskogee, Muskogee, OK 74403
  • Indian Capital Technology Center Sallisaw, Sallisaw, OK
  • Indian Capital Technology Center-Tahlequah, Tahlequah, OK
  • Meridian Technology Center, Stillwater, OK
  • Moore Norman Technology Center, Norman, OK
  • Southern Oklahoma Technology Center, Ardmore, OK
  • Tulsa Technology Center, Tulsa, OK

Two of these schools are profiled below for their proximity to OKC.

Eastern Oklahoma County Technology Center

This Center offers two HVAC technician programs: residential and commercial. Coursework is presented through classroom lectures and hands-on training in the lab. The curriculum for both programs includes introductory safety practices, tools, and equipment; the principles of thermodynamics and heat transfer; piping; electricity; controls; solid-state electronics; load calculations; refrigerant system components; air conditioning systems; refrigerants and lubricants; heat pumps; heating systems; air handling; troubleshooting; indoor air quality; preventive maintenance; codes, regulations, and standards; system installation and startup; professional service; and workforce staging.

The commercial program adds coursework in multiplexed evaporator systems.

  • Location: Choctaw, OK
  • Accreditation: PAHRA; Oklahoma State Board of Career and Technology Education (ODCTE)
  • Tuition: Residential $2,325; commercial $2,557
  • Format: On-campus
  • Program Length: Residential 11 months; commercial 13 months

Francis Tuttle Technology Center

The school offers three HVAC classes:

  • Air quality devices
  • Introduction to cooling and air conditioning
  • Soldering and brazing

Each course is taught two nights a week, but please note that the classes are not always available.

  • Location: Oklahoma City, OK
  • Accreditation: Oklahoma State Board of Career and Technology Education (ODCTE)
  • Tuition: $299 each
  • Format: On-campus
  • Program Length: One month each

Metro Technology Centers

The Center offers an HVAC residential technician program and an HVAC/R technician program. Students may choose to complete the coursework for either program in the evening or attend daytime classes. The curriculum for both programs is the same as that taught at the Eastern Oklahoma County school profiled above.

  • Location: Oklahoma City, OK
  • Accreditation: Oklahoma State Board of Career and Technology Education (ODCTE)
  • Tuition: Residential $2,325; HVAC/R $2,557
  • Format: On-campus
  • Program Length: Residential 11 months; HVAC/R 13 months

Mid-Del Technology Center

The school offers a residential HVAC installer program and a residential HVAC technician program. The curriculum for the installer program includes introductory safety, tools, and equipment; thermodynamics and heat transfer; piping; refrigerants and lubricants; air handling; system installation and startup; indoor air quality; preventive maintenance; codes, regulations, and standards; professional service; load calculations; and workforce staging.

Students complete 465 hours divided between classroom lectures and hands-on training in a lab. The technician program adds the following: electricity, heat pumps, heating systems, controls, solid-state electronics, and servicing and troubleshooting.

Students complete a total of 900 hours divided between classroom lectures and hands-on training in a lab.

  • Location: Midwest City, OK
  • Accreditation: Oklahoma State Board of Career and Technology Education (ODCTE)
  • Tuition: HVAC installer program not disclosed; HVAC technician $2,934
  • Format: On-campus
  • Program Length: HVAC installer program not disclosed; HVAC technician ten months

Moore Norman Technology Center

The school offers three programs:

HVAC/R 1 is taught in the evenings. Students learn HVAC/R theory in classroom lectures, then apply what they are learning with hands-on training in the lab. Coursework includes HVAC/R components, and installation, diagnosis, and servicing of systems. Students prepare and take the test for EPA 608 certification.

HVAC/R 2 is also taught in the evenings. Students are required to have completed HVAC/R 1 before enrolling. HVAC/R 2 coursework includes the following: electrical and mechanical troubleshooting, using testing and diagnostic instruments preventive maintenance, and service and repair of commercial HVAC/R. Students will prepare and take the Industry Competency Exam (ICE) as part of the coursework. The EPA and ICE exams can improve a technician’s employability.

The HVAC/R 3 program prepares graduates to seek employment as residential and light commercial HVAC/R technicians. Students are not required to complete HVAC/R 1 and HVAC/R 2 before enrolling as this program includes the coursework presented in those programs. Additional courses include heat pumps, job safety practices, protective equipment, handling pressurized fluids and hazardous substances, electricity, and employability skills. Students may attend classes during the day or evenings or a combination.

  • Location: Norman, OK
  • Accreditation: PAHRA; Oklahoma State Board of Career and Technology Education (ODCTE)
  • Tuition: HVAC/R 1 $859; HVAC/R 2 $729; HVAC/R $3,996
  • Format: On-campus
  • Program Length: HVAC/R 1 and 2 are four months each; HVAC/R 3 is 36 weeks

Oklahoma City students whose schedules don’t allow for a face-to-face training program may find that an online institution would better meet their needs. More information on accredited programs is available online HVAC training here.

HVAC Certification and Licensing in Oklahoma City, OK

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requires technicians who work with refrigerants to obtain EPA Section 608 Certification. Certification requires passing an exam on the safe handling of refrigerants. The four certifications are:

  • Type 1: small appliances
  • Type II: high-pressure refrigerants
  • Type III: low-pressure refrigerants
  • Universal: all types of equipment

Further information and practice exams are available on the website.

Industry organizations offer training and additional certifications. These include, but are not limited to:

  • Refrigeration Service Engineers Society (RSES): RSES offers comprehensive industry training and educational programs to HVAC/R technicians.
  • North American Technician Excellence (NATE): NATE is the industry’s largest HVAC/R certification organization.
  • HVAC Excellence: HVAC Excellence validates HVAC/R technical education and competency of technicians.

Their certifications include Section 608. Further information may be found on each website. There is also more information on the HVAC certifications page.

Finally, the Oklahoma Construction Board requires apprentices to register annually and pay a $25 fee. Journey-level technicians and contractors must be licensed. Licenses are classified according to the size and type of systems worked on. The education, experience, and testing requirements to obtain the license varies according to the classification. Fees also vary according to the classification. Contractors additionally are required to submit proof of liability insurance and be bonded. Journey-level technicians and contractors must complete six hours of continuing education prior to the annual renewal.

Oklahoma City also requires HVAC contractors to obtain a city license. Applicants must have a state license, provide verification that they are in the United States legally, provide a photo ID, submit a completed application form, and pay a fee of $50 to $100 (based on their classification).

Barry Franklin

Barry is the Editor in Chief of HVACClasses.org, operated by educational web publisher Sechel Ventures, which he joined as partner in 2013 after almost 20 years in the financial software industry.