HVAC Training & Schools in Tulsa, OK

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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 2019) reports that 1,270 HVAC mechanics and installers were employed in Tulsa, OK as of May 2018. 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
  • Plumbers & Pipefitters Local 430
  • 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 (2019) anticipates a 15 percent increase in new HVAC positions nationwide between 2016 and 2026. That’s more than double the 7 percent in job growth predicted for all occupations during the same decade. The outlook in Oklahoma for technicians matches national expectations, as Projections Central predicts a 15.2 percent statewide increase by the end of 2026.

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

Nationwide, HVAC mechanics and installers earned a median salary of $47,610 as of May 2018, according to March 2019 BLS reports. Technicians in Tulsa, OK earned an annual median salary of $38,030. However, it’s important to note that the cost of living in Oklahoma is lower than the national index.

National, state, and regional salaries of HVAC professionals are compared in the table that follows:

United States Oklahoma Tulsa, OK
Number of HVAC Professionals Employed 324,310 3,710 1,270
Average Annual Salary $50,160 $43,810 $40,810
10th Percentile $29,460 $27,450 $25,430
25th Percentile $36,520 $33,350 $30,920
50th Percentile (Median) $47,610 $40,740 $38,030
75th Percentile $60,900 $54,000 $48,910
90th Percentile $76,230 $64,810 $63,120

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). Details are available only by contacting them directly.

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, 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.

Oklahoma State University Institute of Technology

OSU offers an HVAC/R technology degree program featuring classroom work and hands-on training in the lab. Students will also complete two internships of eight weeks each. The sponsoring companies may pay students enrolled in internships.

The technical curriculum includes an introduction to HVAC technology, system applications, electrical controls and applications, residential HVAC, electronic controls, unitary refrigeration, commercial HVAC, systems controls, air systems design, and a capstone.

Students are also required to complete general education coursework in American history and government, English and language arts, humanities, mathematics, and computer literacy. Ninety credit-hours (which include the internships) are necessary to earn the degree.

  • Location: Okmulgee, OK
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
  • Tuition: $185.00 per credit-hour
  • Format: On-campus
  • Program Length: Two years

Oklahoma Technical College

The 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.

  • Location: Tulsa, OK
  • Accreditation: Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC)
  • Tuition: $21,588
  • Format: On-campus
  • Program Length: Day 41 weeks; evening 51 weeks

Platt College

Platt College is a privately owned vocational school. Their HVAC/R diploma program is available at several campuses, including Tulsa. Students complete their coursework through classroom-based lectures and hands-on training in a fully-equipped lab. The curriculum includes an introduction to climate control and safety, basic electricity, electrical controls and motors, air conditioning systems, air conditioning design and controls, heating systems and controls, heating and heat pumps, refrigeration systems, technical mathematics, customer service, and career planning.

Students complete a total of 60 credit-hours to earn their diploma and are qualified to seek entry-level employment as HVAC/R technicians.

  • Location: Tulsa, OK
  • Accreditation: Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC)
  • Tuition: $290 per credit-hour
  • Format: On-campus
  • Program Length: 40 weeks

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.

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
  • Tuition: $4,200
  • Format: On-campus
  • Program Length: Nine months

Wichita Technical Institute

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

  • Location: Tulsa, OK
  • Accreditation: Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC)
  • Tuition: $16,900
  • Format: On-campus
  • Program Length: 48 weeks

Some Tulsa students may find that an online institution may better fit their needs. Information on accredited programs for online HVAC training is available here.

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 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. There is a fee of $25 and 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 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.

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.