HVAC Training Schools in Oregon

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The Beaver State’s climate ranges from the wet coastal mountains to the relatively dry eastern areas, and temperatures fluctuate widely throughout the year. It’s no surprise that opportunities for professionals in heating, air conditioning, ventilation, and refrigeration (HVAC-R) are on the rise in this part of the US.

Not only is HVAC a high-growth and relatively lucrative industry, but there are also plenty of trade associations to support these workers with training, networking, and legal advocacy. By illustration, the Oregon Air Conditioning Contractors Association (ORACCA) represents HVAC-R equipment manufacturers, distributors, vocational schools, and contractors in the industry. ORACCA provides valuable NATE trainings, seminars on management topics, a monthly newsletter, and discounts on industry essentials. Additionally, the Oregon Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors Association lobbies on behalf of HVAC workers with regulatory agencies (e.g., OSHA, Building Codes Division). Its three main foci are growth, apprenticeships and regulatory overreach, all central to the success of people in this business.

HVAC technicians in Oregon (OR) and beyond take on tasks such as calibrating equipment; replacing filters; understanding the theoretical foundations of the discipline (e.g., Ohm’s Law, refrigeration circuits, air treatment procedures, etc.); repairing system components (e.g., hot water boilers, motors, humidifiers, economizers, fans, valves, ducts, compressors, water pumps, etc.); laying pipes and electrical wiring; monitoring the performance of equipment to manufacturer specifications; making client recommendations for system upgrades; calculating heat loads and losses; being fluent in dealing with various types of systems (e.g., gas, oil, electric, commercial, residential, industrial); soldering and brazing parts; keeping all credentials up-to-date; and maintaining detailed service records. There’s one mandatory certification for all people who handle refrigerants, which are environmentally sensitive compounds: the EPA Section 608 certification, discussed in the credentialing section below.

This guide examines some of the HVAC training programs in Oregon, as well as the expected occupational growth, salary prospects, and credentialing in the state.

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Occupational Demand for HVAC Technicians in Oregon

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS 2017), the career outlook is particularly bright for HVAC workers. In fact, the BLS projected a 15 percent growth rate in HVAC openings nationwide between 2016 and 2026, significantly higher than the 7 percent average growth anticipated across all American occupations during that time period. And there’s evidence that the prospects are slightly better for HVAC openings in Oregon. Projections Central (2017) reported that during that same decade, there will be a 19.9 percent increase in OR HVAC positions. With the expected addition of 340 fresh opportunities in the state, HVAC workers should have a wealth of jobs to choose from across the state.

So why is the HVAC industry booming in Oregon and beyond? There are many reasons for the high growth in this field. First, HVAC systems generally need to replaced every 10 to 15 years and require regular maintenance—typically stipulated through service contracts—which keeps work steady throughout the year. Second, a majority of all modern structures have climate control systems. Third, many older buildings require upgrades or the retrofitting of old HVAC systems. Fourth, there are many other industries which rely on HVAC systems not only for climate control but also safe medicine and food storage. And lastly, the legislation surrounding climate control systems is continually evolving, and within certain jurisdictions, homeowners and commercial property managers need to ensure that they’re in compliance with all local ordinances, not to mention enjoying the most cost-effective and energy-efficient systems available.

Some HVAC workers in Oregon work typical business hours, while others may be called upon to service equipment on evenings, weekends, or holidays, especially during seasonal temperature extremes. The BLS (2017) found that roughly one in ten HVAC mechanics and installers were self-employed, and 64 percent were working in the plumbing, heating, and air conditioning contractors industry.

HVAC professionals suffer a higher-than-average rate of injury and illness compared to other US occupations. This is due to the physical nature of the work and equipment used as HVAC workers may lift heavy objects, deal with electrical wiring, or handle refrigerants, dangerous chemicals which can cause burns or frostbite. Also, since most systems have components outside or located in cramped, uncomfortable spaces, HVAC professionals may find themselves with muscle strains or aches. While there’s always a risk for these and other maladies, HVAC mechanics and installers can generally keep these problems to a minimum with proper training and safety equipment.

As proof of the booming employment climate in Oregon for HVAC workers, one need not look further than job post websites such as Indeed and Monster. As proof of point, Indeed (Nov. 2018) had 290 HVAC openings in OR, including opportunities at Day Heating Company, Retronix Semiconductor, Siemens, the State of Oregon, and Oregon Health & Science University. Monster (Nov. 2018) boasted an additional 22 positions with employers such as the City of Eugene, Tradesmen International, Inc., Innovative Air, Inc., and Pyramid Heating & Cooling.  

Oregon HVAC Technician Salaries

As mentioned in the introduction, HVAC professionals in Oregon and across the country enjoy relatively high salaries, particularly in a job generally requiring only one to two years of postsecondary training. By illustration, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS 2017) reported that there were 307,060 HVAC mechanics and installers nationwide who earned an average annual salary of $49,530. In Oregon, average salaries were a bit higher, with the 2640 HVAC workers employed in the state earning an average of $50,440 per year. Following is a more detailed breakdown of the comparison between OR salaries and those of the rest of the country.

Annual salary Hourly salary
United States Oregon United States Oregon
Average $49,530 $50,440 $23.81 $24.25
10th percentile $29,120 $28,860 $14.00 $13.87
25th percentile $36,150 $34,520 $17.38 $16.60
50th percentile $47,080 $45,470 $22.64 $21.86
75th percentile $60,270 $59,360 $28.98 $28.54
90th percentile $75,330 $74,730 $36.22 $35.93

The national figures were slightly different according to another source of data, Payscale (Nov. 2018), which relies on self-reported salaries. Among the HVAC workers reporting their annual salaries, Payscale found these percentiles:

United States: 889 HVAC workers responding

  • 10th percentile: $29,000
  • 25th percentile: $36,000
  • 50th percentile (median): $44,532
  • 75th percentile: $56,000
  • 90th percentile: $71,000

An additional 4,873 HVAC workers gave Payscale their hourly salary figures, resulting in these percentile wages:

  • 10th percentile: $13.00/hr.
  • 25th percentile: $15.00/hr.
  • 50th percentile (median): $19.24/hr.
  • 75th percentile: $24.00/hr.
  • 90th percentile: $30.00/hr.

As noted above, the average salary for HVAC workers in Oregon is a bit higher than that of the rest of the nation. As with any salary projections, taking into account the cost of living is also important. The Missouri Economic Research and Information Center (MERIC 2018) indicates that the cost of living in Oregon is significantly higher than the national average, ranking the state 45th out of 51 (the rankings include the District of Columbia). Oregon residents have significantly higher housing and healthcare costs than the rest of the country, meaning even higher salaries will not go nearly as far as they would in other regions.

The BLS designated 11 regions within Oregon for which employment data is available. The 140 HVAC workers in Albany, OR earned the highest average salary in the state at $52,810 while the 60 workers in Grants Pass, OR had the lowest average salary at $37,830. Following are the detailed salary data for the state of Oregon:

Albany, OR (140 HVAC workers): $52,810 annual average salary

Albany, OR
Percentile Annual salary Hourly salary
Average $52,810 $25.39
10th percentile $30,450 $14.64
25th percentile $41,660 $20.03
50th percentile $52,090 $25.04
75th percentile $60,070 $28.88
90th percentile $85,960 $41.33

Bend-Redmond, OR (170 HVAC workers): $37,760 annual average salary

Bend-Redmond, OR
Percentile Annual salary Hourly salary
Average $37,760 $18.15
10th percentile $26,660 $12.82
25th percentile $31,540 $15.16
50th percentile $36,640 $17.62
75th percentile $44,430 $21.36
90th percentile $51,050 $24.55

Central Oregon nonmetropolitan area (number of HVAC workers unreported): $45,770 annual average salary

Central Oregon nonmetropolitan area
Percentile Annual salary Hourly salary
Average $45,770 $22.00
10th percentile $32,220 $15.49
25th percentile $37,810 $18.18
50th percentile $45,830 $22.03
75th percentile $52,920 $25.44
90th percentile $61,520 $29.57

Eastern Oregon nonmetropolitan area (100 HVAC workers): $52,340 annual average salary

Eastern Oregon nonmetropolitan area
Percentile Annual salary Hourly salary
Average $52,340 $25.17
10th percentile $36,490 $17.55
25th percentile $43,460 $20.89
50th percentile $52,260 $25.13
75th percentile $61,090 $29.37
90th percentile $69,060 $33.20

Eugene, OR (130 HVAC workers): $51,430 annual average salary

Eugene, OR
Percentile Annual salary Hourly salary
Average $51,430 $24.72
10th percentile $40,980 $19.70
25th percentile $44,160 $21.23
50th percentile $49,400 $23.75
75th percentile $58,720 $28.23
90th percentile $66,980 $32.20

Grants Pass, OR (60 HVAC workers): $37,830 annual average salary

Grants Pass, OR
Percentile Annual salary Hourly salary
Average $37,830 $18.19
10th percentile $25,640 $12.33
25th percentile $30,290 $14.56
50th percentile $36,860 $17.72
75th percentile $45,490 $21.87
90th percentile $52,250 $25.12

Medford, OR (180 HVAC workers): $40,530 annual average salary

Medford, OR
Percentile Annual salary Hourly salary
Average $40,530 $19.49
10th percentile $26,130 $12.56
25th percentile $30,610 $14.72
50th percentile $38,430 $18.48
75th percentile $50,200 $24.13
90th percentile $58,840 $28.29

North Coast Oregon nonmetropolitan area (120 HVAC workers): $46,570 annual average salary

North Coast Oregon nonmetropolitan area
Percentile Annual salary Hourly salary
Average $46,570 $22.39
10th percentile $32,130 $15.45
25th percentile $35,830 $17.22
50th percentile $45,480 $21.87
75th percentile $56,970 $27.39
90th percentile $63,530 $30.54

Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro, OR-WA (1550 HVAC workers): $51,690 annual average salary

Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro, OR-WA
Percentile Annual salary Hourly salary
Average $51,690 $24.85
10th percentile $28,020 $13.47
25th percentile $32,580 $15.66
50th percentile $40,100 $19.28
75th percentile $61,120 $29.38
90th percentile $81,240 $39.06

Salem, OR (280 HVAC workers): $48,160 annual average salary

Salem, OR
Percentile Annual salary Hourly salary
Average $48,160 $23.15
10th percentile $30,340 $14.59
25th percentile $36,640 $17.62
50th percentile $47,550 $22.86
75th percentile $59,330 $28.53
90th percentile $68,180 $32.78

South Coast Oregon nonmetropolitan area (60 HVAC workers): $50,080 annual average salary

South Coast Oregon nonmetropolitan area
Percentile Annual salary Hourly salary
Average $50,080 $24.08
10th percentile $31,460 $15.13
25th percentile $41,180 $19.80
50th percentile $49,170 $23.64
75th percentile $58,420 $28.09
90th percentile $65,050 $31.27

Accredited HVAC Schools in Oregon

There are two main entities which accredit HVAC schools nationwide: HVAC Excellence and the Partnership for Air-Conditioning, Heating, Refrigeration Accreditation (PAHRA). As of November 2018, there were no programs in Oregon accredited by either entity, but there are many alternative training options available.

Some aspiring HVAC workers in Oregon choose to complete an apprenticeship rather than a formal training program. The Oregon State Apprenticeship & Training Division provides opportunities in HVAC featuring 144 to 192 classroom hours of instruction annually and 8,000 hours of on-the-job training. These positions typically pay at 45 to 60 percent of the ‘journey’ rate at the outset, and the wages gradually rise as the HVAC worker accrues more skills. There are various apprenticeship committees throughout the state, including the Mid-Valley HVAC JAC and the Rogue Valley HVAC/Refrigeration JAC. Lane Community College of Eugene offers another standout apprenticeship in conjunction with an associate of applied science (AAS) degree program in construction trades. This program includes instruction in sheet metal & HVAC blueprint reading; trade skills fundamentals; electrical code & exam preparation; electrical theory; and more.

Chemeketa Community College in Salem, Oregon provides HVAC-R courses and is the committee administrator for the the Mid-Valley HVAC/R Joint Apprenticeship Training Committee. First and second year courses are open to the public, though are geared towards active apprentices. Applicants for the program must be 18 years or older, have a GED or high school diploma, and have completed algebra in high school or college (or show math placement scores at that level). Applicants receive points for set criteria, including past work experience and education in the trade. Successful applicants are linked with employers and are then registered with the committee as apprentices. Apprentices complete four years of related training (classes two nights a week) while working full time in the trade. They are eligible for pay increases every six months. Upon completion of the 8,000 on the job training hours and related training courses, apprentices are referred to Oregon Building Codes Division to sit for their LEB (Limited Electrician) license exam. This license, coupled with a journey-level card, opens the door for multiple employment opportunities. Chemeketa offers both a certificate program and associates of applied science (AAS) in apprenticeship construction trades with an HVAC-R specialization. Women and minorities are encouraged to apply.

Other prospective HVAC workers choose to pursue a more traditional training program through an HVAC school. For example, Portland Community College provides an AAS in facilities maintenance technology (FMT) with a focus on HVAC-R equipment. This 90-credit program has classes such as commercial print reading; electrical motor control; refrigeration (I-III); advanced programmable controllers; water treatment & distribution; introduction to boilers; and more. The FMT program can also be taken as a one-year certificate. The school provides an HVAC-R installer career pathway certificate, as well, which as been approved by the Oregon State Bureau of Labor and Industries (pre-apprenticeship training). All programs cost $111 per credit hour for residents of Oregon.

For residents of more rural areas of Oregon or those who have a difficulty attending an on-campus program or apprenticeship, there are some e-training options available. To discover how to pursue distance-based education in this field, check out the online HVAC programs page.

Oregon HVAC Certification & Licensing

Prior to seeking employment in HVAC-R, all mechanics, installers, and technicians in Oregon must be sure they have all necessary credentialing. As mentioned in the introduction, there is one mandatory credential for all people who work with refrigerants—the EPA Section 608 certification—and there are four subtypes: type 1 (small appliance), type 2 (high-pressure appliances), type 3 (low-pressure appliances), and type 4 (universal).

There are various other organizations which provide generalist and specialized HVAC certifications. Along with a list of sample credentials, here are three popular certifying agencies:

To discover the range of certifications available from these entities as more, check out the HVAC certifications page.

In Oregon, HVAC companies and contractors completing services in excess of $1,000 must have a license from the Oregon Construction Contractors Board. The OR CCB provides the Limited Maintenance Specialty Contractor HVAC/R, which allows a company to “maintain, service, repair or replace commercial and industrial electrical products that use fuel or other forms of energy to produce heat, power, refrigeration or air conditioning.”

To qualify for the license, candidates must provide:

  • Proof of 4,000 hours of experience in installation and approved specialized training
  • A passing score on a comprehensive examination
  • Proof of having a CCB surety bond (amount varies)
  • Proof of general liability insurance
  • Workers compensation insurance (if company hires employees)
  • Application fee ($325)

These licenses last for two years. Please note that since local ordinances and permitting may vary, all HVAC installers, mechanics, and technicians are strongly encouraged to check with municipal authorities prior to beginning work to ensure that they have all necessary credentialing.