HVAC Vocational Schools in Oklahoma City, OK – Programs & Certifications

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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 recent 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 May 2020) reports that 1,650 HVAC mechanics and installers were employed in Oklahoma City, OK as of May 2020. 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 (May 2020) statistics, job opportunities for all occupations nationwide are expected to increase by 8 percent between 2020 and 2030. The outlook for HVAC and HVAC/R technicians is slightly behind, as a 5 percent increase nationally in new positions is anticipated for the same decade. Oklahoma is keeping pace with national expectations. Projections Central (Dec. 2021) predicts a 10.3 percent statewide increase between 2018 and 2028.

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 $50,590 as of May 2020. Oklahoma City technicians were earning an annual median salary of $45,840. 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.

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 for 2021. This low cost of living means that even average salaries will go farther in Oklahoma than in other states.

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

United States Oklahoma Oklahoma City, OK
Number of HVAC Professionals Employed 344,020 4,280 1,650
Average Annual Salary $53,410 $47,670 $50,810
10th Percentile $31,910 $27,360 $26,370
25th Percentile $39,320 $34,240 $33,580
50th Percentile (Median) $50,590 $44,470 $45,840
75th Percentile $64,350 $59,900 $69,490
90th Percentile $80,820 $75,760 $81,160

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.

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 on 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 (profiled below because of accreditation) 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

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

Eastern Oklahoma County Technology Center

This Center offers two HVAC programs: residential HVAC installer and residential HVAC technician. Coursework is presented through classroom lectures and hands-on training in the lab. The residential HVAC installer program comprises 500 clock hours while the HVAC technician program requires 1,000 clock hours.

The curriculum for both programs includes introductory safety practices, tools, and equipment; the principles of thermodynamics and heat transfer; piping; electricity; controls; 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.

Students in the HVAC installer program will be instructed on advanced skills such as ducts, fittings, lining out pipes, and blowers and will be prepared to start an HVAC/R and residential HVAC equipment. The HVAC technician program instructs students on the proper handling of pressurized fluids and handling hazardous substances.

  • Location: Choctaw, OK
  • Accreditation: PAHRA; Oklahoma State Board of Career and Technology Education (ODCTE)
  • Expected Time to Completion: Less than 12 months
  • Estimated Tuition: HVAC installer ($1,125); residential HVAC technician ($2,250)

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.

The HVAC technician program comprises 1,050 hours, while the HVAC residential technician program consists of 525 hours. Some of the topics students will delve into include principles of thermodynamics & heat transfer, piping & piping practices, refrigerants & lubricants, refrigerant recovery, refrigerant retrofits, refrigerant system components, load calculations, and indoor air quality.

Graduates of these programs may apply to take the Oklahoma Mechanical Journeyman HVAC test. They will learn about installing, troubleshooting, adjusting, and repairing residential and some light commercial HVAC systems. The program also includes specialized training for EPA certification in refrigerants.

  • Location: Oklahoma City, OK
  • Accreditation: Oklahoma State Board of Career and Technology
    Education (ODCTE)
  • Expected Time to Completion: Residential (11 months); HVAC/R (13 months)
  • Estimated Tuition: HVAC technician (in-state – $2,625; out-of-state – $6,825); residential HVAC installer (in-state – $1,312.50; out-of-state – $3,412.50)

Mid-Del Technology Center

The school offers a residential HVAC technician program and is designed to prepare students for job-ready employment as entry-level HVAC technicians. Students will learn about handling pressurized fluids, handling hazardous substances, equipment used for testing and servicing air conditioning systems, and hand and power tools. They will also learn about basic duct design and the layout involved with duct installation.

The curriculum 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 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)
  • Expected Time to Completion: Ten months
  • Estimated Tuition: $2,700

Moore Norman Technology Center

Moore Norman Technology Center HVAC/R program prepares graduates to seek employment as residential and light commercial HVAC/R technicians. This program is ideal for adults as well as high school juniors and seniors. Students will be prepared for EPA 608 certification, I.C.E. certification, an Oklahoma State Apprentice license, and OSHA 10 General Safety certification.

Consisting of 1,050 contact hours, the curriculum includes coursework in an introduction to HVAC/R, refrigeration systems, electrical theory, air conditioning systems, employability skills, and heating systems. Students may attend classes during the day or evenings or a combination.

Graduates can take up roles such as residential HVAC installers, residential HVAC/R repair technicians, and residential HVAC service technicians.

  • Location: Norman, OK
  • Accreditation: PAHRA; Oklahoma State Board of Career and Technology
    Education (ODCTE)
  • Expected Time to Completion: Full-time (12 months); part-time (24 months)
  • Estimated Tuition: In-district ($3,996); out-of-district ($4,521)

Meridian Technology Center

Meridian Technology Center offers a residential HVAC installer program and a residential HVAC technician program. These career training programs will help students learn about diagnosing, servicing, and repairing a wide range of HVAC/R equipment for residential settings. Students will also be introduced to energy-saving technologies that can save the environment.

The installer program consists of 615 clock hours and the technician program requires completion of 1,050 hours. The curriculum includes courses such as piping and piping practices, electricity for HVAC/R, HVAC/R controls, load calculations, refrigerant system components, refrigerants and lubricants, and heat pumps.

Graduates can take up roles such as HVAC service technicians, manufacturing technicians, entrepreneurs, and HVAC/R sales executives.

  • Location: Stillwater, OK
  • Accreditation: PAHRA
  • Expected Time to Completion: Residential HVAC installer (12 months); Residential HVAC technician (24 months)
  • Estimated Tuition: Residential HVAC installer ($1,845); residential HVAC technician ($3,150)

Red River Technology Center

Red River Technology Center’s residential HVAC/R program provides students with the opportunity to gain the required knowledge and skills needed for becoming successful. They learn to repair, troubleshoot, and maintain HVAC/R equipment making life more comfortable.

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

Graduates will be qualified to take up roles such as air conditioning contractors, parts salesmen, refrigeration technicians, HVAC technicians, maintenance technicians, and service managers, among many such roles.

  • Location: Duncan, OK
  • Accreditation: HVAC Excellence
  • Expected Time to Completion: Less than a year
  • Estimated Tuition: In-district (part-time – $1,312.50; full-time – $2,625); out-of-district (part-time – $2,625; full-time – $5,250)

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. 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 before the annual renewal.

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

Sandra Smith

Sandra Smith was introduced to the HVAC industry when she worked as a bookkeeper and secretary for a small air-conditioning contractor. She eventually became a CPA and started her own practice specializing in small business taxes and accounting. After retiring from business, she began writing articles for newspapers, magazines, and websites. She also authored four books. Sandra makes her home in the mountains with a rescue dog that naps on her lap as she writes.