HVAC Training Schools in Tulsa, OK – Degrees & Certifications

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Residents of Tulsa, Oklahoma (OK) experience summer temperatures in the 80s and 90s with occasional spikes into the 100s F. It cools off in the evenings when thermometers drop by about 20 degrees. Precipitation that exceeds four inches monthly from April through October can create uncomfortable mugginess. Thunderstorms can bring hail and wind and the area is subject to tornadoes and sporadic flooding. Winters are cold and windy, with nighttime lows dipping below freezing. Snowfall is typically light. Local geography hampers summer air circulation, leading to ozone alerts.

Once known as the “Oil Capital of the World,” Tulsa now has a diversified economy that includes aerospace, finance, manufacturing, and technology. National and international gas and oil companies still have their headquarters in the city and the area is attracting newer companies, too. The University of Tulsa is a leader in cybersecurity and is developing a cyber-district downtown.

Retail businesses are growing and various development projects are underway. The Chamber of Commerce is “now fielding more inquiries from regional and national companies looking to expand.” As more jobs are created, people are moving to Tulsa, which in turn creates a demand for housing. The area is a center of arts and culture as well as home to art deco architecture—all of which attract visitors.

Throughout the year, weather and air quality combine to keep Tulsans indoors where they rely on heating, venting, and air conditioning (HVAC) for comfort. Commercial, industrial, and hospitality facilities often need the addition of commercial-scale refrigeration (HVAC/R) as well. Also, businesses that depend on technology often require specialized climate-control systems.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS May 2019) reports that 1,220 HVAC mechanics and installers were employed in Tulsa, OK as of May 2019. Industry organizations such as the following provide training and support for the technicians:

  • Air Conditioning Contractors of America
  • American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers
  • Associated General Contractors of Oklahoma
  • Home Builders Association of Greater Tulsa
  • Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors Association
  • Refrigeration Service Engineers Society
  • Sheet Metal Workers International Association Local 270

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

Occupational Demand for HVAC Technicians in Tulsa, OK

The BLS (May 2019) anticipates a 4 percent increase in new HVAC positions nationwide between 2019 and 2029. That’s as fast as the 4 percent in job growth predicted for all occupations during the same decade. The outlook in Oklahoma for technicians exceeds national expectations, as Projections Central (2020)—a data organization partnered with the US Department of Labor—reported that there would be a 10.3 percent increase in HVAC positions across Oklahoma between 2018 and 2028.

New construction is the primary factor for growth in the HVAC industry. That’s the case in Tulsa with the expansion of retail development. The current emphasis on energy efficiency and pollution reduction also contributes to the installation of newer HVAC systems. In addition to the construction of new facilities, older structures are undergoing renovation. Older climate control equipment and systems must be replaced, retrofitted, or upgraded to meet current standards. “Smart” buildings and technology-based companies that depend on electronics create a need for sophisticated HVAC equipment and systems as well.

The increasingly complex climate control systems require trained technicians to install and maintain. Technicians must understand the underlying technology. They are also expected to have computer skills and be proficient troubleshooters. Those who specialize in new installations occasionally experience unemployment. Technicians who specialize in maintenance and repair services can expect employment in all seasons, as homeowners and businesses want to keep their systems in good operating condition regardless of the economy. Damage from adverse weather conditions can also generate an additional need for replacement installations or repair services.

HVAC Salaries in Tulsa, OK

Not only is HVAC a high-growth profession, but it is also relatively lucrative, especially for a profession requiring only one to two years of postsecondary training. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (May 2019), there were 342,040 HVAC mechanics and installers nationwide with an average annual salary (annual mean wage) of $51,420, and 4,080 HVAC mechanics and installers in Oklahoma with an average annual salary (annual mean wage) of $45,490. The 1,220 HVAC mechanics and installers in Tulsa had an average annual salary (annual mean wage) of $43,240. In more detail, the table below is a comparison of national, state, and regional salaries of HVAC professionals:

United States Oklahoma Tulsa, OK
Number of HVAC professionals employed 342,040 4,080 1,220
Annual mean wage $51,420 $45,490 $43,240
10th percentile $30,610 $27,240 $25,860
25th percentile $37,660 $33,400 $31,320
50th percentile (median) $48,730 $43,280 $41,870
75th percentile $62,070 $56,380 $52,840
90th percentile $77,920 $68,910 $64,350

The national figures were slightly different according to another source of data, Payscale (Nov. 2020), which relies on self-reported salaries. Among the HVAC workers reporting their annual salaries, Payscale found these percentiles:

  • 10th percentile: $31,000
  • 50th percentile (median): $48,032
  • 90th percentile: $75,000

Lastly, it’s 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 2020) reported that Oklahoma had the 3rd lowest cost of living in the United States for 2020. This low cost of living means that even average salaries will go farther in Oklahoma than other states.

HVAC Apprenticeships in Tulsa, OK

Although untrained or inexperienced workers can occasionally find employment as HVAC assistants, individuals who have completed an apprenticeship or received formal training will have the best opportunities. They typically begin at higher wages and earn more during their career.

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. The Oklahoma Office of Workforce Development and Oklahoma Now present general information regarding apprenticeship programs.

Sheet Metal Workers Local 270 offers an HVAC service apprenticeship program at their Joint Apprenticeship Training Center (JATC). This apprenticeship program equips its students with the knowledge and skills to be successful in the Sheet Metal Trade. Combining classroom instruction with on-the-job training the program starts with a lot of safety training, teaching students how to protect themselves in the shop and in the field as well.

For entry to the program, students must be at least 18 years old, have a high school diploma or GED, a valid driver’s license, pass a drug screen test, complete the application and Interview process, and must be physically able to perform the essential functions of the job.

Other industry associations that offer training include:

  • 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 are available on their websites.

Accredited HVAC Programs in Tulsa, OK

Students who prefer to seek formal classroom training should ensure that the school is accredited. Accreditation is achieved through an evaluation of the curriculum and instructors by an independent agency.

Two industry organizations evaluate HVAC and HVAC/R programs: HVAC Excellence has accredited Red River Technology Center, in Duncan, OK, (profiled below because of its accreditation) and the Partnership for Air-Conditioning, Heating, Refrigeration Accreditation (PAHRA) has awarded accreditation to the following 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

Tulsa Technology Center is included in the school profiles below.

Red River Technology Center

Red River Technology Center offers a residential heating and air conditioning program giving students comprehensive training in the HVAC field. Students will also have the opportunity to participate in the SkillsUSA student organization. This will help them build valuable soft skills through community service, competitive events, and leadership activities.

The program involves courses such as safety, electrical and gas heating systems, installation, light commercial refrigeration, brazing, electrical systems, air conditioning and heat pumps, and basic compression refrigeration.

Students through the program will learn about the basics of HVAC installing, repairing, and maintaining residential heating and air conditioning equipment, and refrigeration equipment. They will also brush up their communication skills, so they can speak confidently with customers and employers.

Upon graduation, they can take up roles such as air conditioning contractor, parts salesman, refrigeration technician, manufacturing of equipment, service manager, HVAC technician, and maintenance technician.

  • Location: Duncan, OK
  • Accreditation: HVAC Excellence
  • Expected Time to Completion: Varies
  • Estimated Tuition: $2.50 per clock-hour

Oklahoma Technical College

This college offers an HVAC/R diploma program. Coursework may be completed during the day or in the evening.

The curriculum includes instruction in career development; heat and energy theory; refrigerants; safety and tools; fasteners, tubing, and piping; leak detection, system evacuation, and cleanup; refrigerant and oil chemistry; system charging; calibrating instruments; electricity and magnetism; automatic control components and applications; troubleshooting controls; electric motors and controls; evaporators and refrigeration system; condensers; compressors; expansion devices; special refrigeration components and applications; commercial ice machines; commercial refrigeration troubleshooting; electric, hydronic, oil, and gas heat; indoor air quality and comfort; air distribution, balance, and installation; troubleshooting operating conditions; heat gain and loss; air source and geothermal heat pumps; domestic refrigerators and freezers; room air conditioners; high-pressure, low-pressure, and absorption chilled-water systems; cooling towers and pumps; and commercial rooftop, packaged, and variable air volume systems.

Coursework is presented through classroom lectures supplemented by hands-on training in the lab. Students complete 41 credit-hours to earn their diploma and are qualified for entry-level employment for the design, operation, service, repair, and installation of HVAC systems.

Students learn about diagnosing, repairing and maintaining common HVAC/R mechanical and electrical system problems, effective communication, adherence to environmental regulations and laws as applied to HVAC/R, and employability behaviors and work ethics.

  • Location: Tulsa, OK
  • Accreditation: Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC)
  • Expected Time to Completion: Day (41 weeks); evening (51 weeks)
  • Estimated Tuition: $495 per credit-hour

Tulsa Technology Center

The school offers an HVAC technician program that teaches students how to design and install HVAC systems, as well as maintenance and troubleshooting.

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

Wichita Technical Institute

The school offers an HVAC/R technician program that combines classroom lectures with hands-on training in their lab.

Comprising 60 credit-hours, the curriculum, which is designed to prepare students for entry-level employment, includes the following: electrical fundamentals; refrigeration fundamentals; an EPA training and research project; heating systems installation and troubleshooting; heat pump systems, preventive maintenance, and a research project; an introduction to air conditioning; building construction and building science principles; AC installation, troubleshooting, and a research project; an introduction to refrigeration systems; refrigeration controls and troubleshooting; and commercial refrigeration systems and a research project.

Students prepare and take the following industry exams as part of the coursework: EPA Section 608, Industry Competency Exam (ICE), and Building Science Principles (BSP). Passing these exams and receiving industry certifications can increase employability.

After completing the program, students will be prepared for a career as an HVAC technician, installer, appliance repair technician, maintenance technician, and refrigeration technician.

  • Location: Tulsa, OK
  • Accreditation: Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC)
  • Expected Time to Completion: 48 weeks
  • Estimated Tuition: $16,800

Some Tulsa students may find that an online institution may better fit their needs. Discover these options on the online HVAC training programs page.

HVAC Certification and Licensing in Tulsa, OK

Federal law requires technicians who work with refrigerants to obtain U.S. Environmental Agency (EPA) Section 608 certification. Certifications are based on the size and type of equipment. Certification requires passing exams on the safe handling of refrigerants as follows:

  • For servicing small appliances (Type I)
  • For servicing or disposing of high-pressure appliances, except small appliances and motor vehicle air conditioning (Type II)
  • For servicing or disposing of low-pressure appliances (Type III)
  • For servicing all types of equipment (Universal)

Further information and practice exams are available online.

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

  • Refrigeration Service Engineers Society (RSES): They offer comprehensive, cutting-edge education and certification to the HVAC/R industry.
  • North American Technician Excellence (NATE): They focus on real-world working knowledge of HVAC/R systems.
  • HVAC Excellence: They validate that an individual has retained knowledge in a specific area of the HVAC/R industry.

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

As a final note, apprentices are required to register with the Oklahoma Construction Industries Board. Registration must be renewed annually.

Contractors and journey-level technicians are required to be licensed. Licensing is classified based on the size and type of systems worked on. Education, experience, and testing requirements vary according to the classification. Fees also vary accordingly. Contractors are additionally required to submit proof of liability insurance and to be bonded. Journey-level technicians and contractors must complete six hours of continuing education units within the 36 months prior to the annual renewal.

The City of Tulsa also requires licensed journey-level technicians and contractors to register. Licensing requirements are always subject to change. HVAC technicians are encouraged to ensure they comply with state, county, and city licensing agencies before working on any project.

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.