HVAC Schools in South Dakota

Connect With HVAC Schools

Home to the majestic Mount Rushmore, South Dakota (SD) boasts four seasons. Summers are hot with temperatures in excess of 100 degrees, and winter lows can dip below zero. The temperature extremes mean that the residents require heating, venting, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems for comfort.

Fortunately, there’s a wealth of professional organizations in SD with networking opportunities, educational publications and seminars, and other resources. For example, training and support for the HVAC industry are provided by the South Dakota chapter of the Association of General Contractors. They sponsor workplace health and safety training. Additionally, the South Dakota Association Plumbing – Heating – Cooling Contractors, Inc. (PHCC) offers continuing education opportunities to HVAC workers.

HVAC workers in South Dakota use their skills to install, maintain, and repair equipment and systems, while refrigeration technicians (i.e., HVAC/R professionals) work on commercial refrigeration systems. Whatever their specialization, these professionals have a wealth of responsibilities. On one day, workers may put wiring and piping in place for an installation. The next day, they may travel to another job site to test components and circuitry. Technicians need to be familiar with how components such as motors, belts, fans, filters, and valves function as part of a complete system. They install and service equipment including boilers, compressors, heat pumps, humidifiers, economizers, and water pumps. Skills include reading blueprints, computing heat load and loss calculations, and calibrating controls. All workers are responsible for keeping their credentials current, traveling to job sites, and making sure customers receive detailed service records. An important part of HVAC and HVAC/R service is helping customers understand and practice energy conservation.

This guide explores the bright employment outlook for HVAC workers in South Dakota, including discussions of accredited training programs and salary prospects.

Occupational Demand for HVAC Workers in South Dakota

The demand for HVAC technicians nationwide and within the Mount Rushmore State continues to grow. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS Oct. 2017), the number of openings in HVAC is expected to grow 15 percent nationwide between 2016 and 2026—significantly faster than the expected average growth among all U.S. occupations during that time period. And South Dakota is no exception. Projection Central anticipated a 14 percent increase in SD-based HVAC openings between 2014 and 2024.

The growth of the HVAC industry in South Dakota and beyond is fueled by several factors. New buildings require the installation of climate control systems. Also, new equipment and systems are more complex than before. Homeowners and building managers are focused on energy efficiency and reducing pollution, requiring the replacement, retrofitting, or repair of older systems.

HVAC and HVAC/R technicians work in a variety of job sites. Some sites, such as hospitals or other medical facilities, have stringent temperature and humidity guidelines. Factories, offices, schools, stores, and homes all have different needs. Some sensitive components (e.g., heat exchangers) are located outdoors. That said, adverse weather conditions don’t stop the need for repairs or maintenance. Sometimes indoor work is uncomfortable when the system has stopped working, creating either a very hot or freezing environment until the job is completed. Technicians may find themselves working in small or cramped areas. It’s worth adding that HVAC workers have a higher-than-average rate of injury, including electrical shocks, burns, and other injuries related to moving heavy equipment.

The BLS (Oct. 2017) reported that approximately nine percent of HVAC/R technicians were self-employed. Sixty-four percent were employed by plumbing, heating, and air conditioning contractors. The remaining workers were employed by schools or retail and wholesale organizations. Most of the technicians worked full time. Depending on peak seasons, technicians may work evenings, weekends, and other overtime hours.

There’s perhaps no better indicator of industry growth than the availability of openings in the industry. By illustration, Indeed (November 2017) listed over 100 openings for HVAC/R workers in South Dakota. Most were for workers in the Sioux Falls and Rapid City areas, with a scattering in other locations. Several advertised rates greater than the averages for their base cities. At least one company specifically wanted an apprentice, and others stated they would train applicants. Most of the listings on Monster (November 2017) were also in the Sioux Falls and Rapid City areas. Sears, for example, offered a $2,500 sign-up bonus for an HVAC/R technician. Notably, the Sioux Falls area is the largest metropolitan area in South Dakota, followed by the Rapid City metro area. The next largest cities are:

  • Aberdeen
  • Brookings
  • Watertown
  • Mitchell
  • Yankton
  • Pierre
  • Huron
  • Vermillion

Each of these cities boasted at least one HVAC job opening posted on Indeed or Monster as of November 2017.

HVAC Professional Salary in South Dakota

The BLS (May 2016) reports that the 294,730 HVAC/R mechanics and installers in the United States received a median salary of $48,320 annually. South Dakota technicians enjoyed a similar median salary of $44,860. Although South Dakota HVAC/R workers earn slightly less than the national average, their cost of living in substantially lower than a majority of states. In fact, SD is the 22nd most affordable state in the country.

The BLS (May 2016) reported the numbers of HVAC mechanics and installers, average salaries, and detailed wage percentiles, both in annual and hourly terms:

United States (294,730 HVAC workers): $48,320 annual average salary

  • 10th percentile: $28,440
  • 25th percentile: $35,440
  • 50th percentile (median): $45,910
  • 75th percentile: $58,960
  • 90th percentile: $73,350

U.S.: $23.23 average hourly salary

  • 10th percentile: $13.67/hr.
  • 25th percentile: $17.04/hr.
  • 50th percentile (median): $22.07/hr.
  • 75th percentile: $28.35/hr.
  • 90th percentile: $35.26/hr.

Here were the figures for South Dakota:

South Dakota (990 HVAC workers): $45,930 annual average salary

  • 10th percentile: $28,750
  • 25th percentile: $35,010
  • 50th percentile (median): $44,860
  • 75th percentile: $55,370
  • 90th percentile: $64,400

South Dakota: $22.08 average hourly salary

  • 10th percentile: $13.82/hr.
  • 25th percentile: $16.83/hr.
  • 50th percentile (median): $21.57/hr.
  • 75th percentile: $ 26.62/hr.
  • 90th percentile: $ 30.96/hr.

Finally, the BLS designated four regions within the state with the following annual salaries and hourly figures:

East South Dakota Nonmetropolitan Area (190 HVAC workers): $42,250 annual average salary

  • 10th percentile: $29,600
  • 25th percentile: $34,490
  • 50th percentile (median): $42,090
  • 75th percentile: $49,390
  • 90th percentile: $58,100

$20.31 average hourly salary

  • 10th percentile: $14.23/hr.
  • 25th percentile: $16.58/hr.
  • 50th percentile (median): $20.24/hr.
  • 75th percentile: $23.74/hr.
  • 90th percentile: $27.93/hr.

Rapid City (240 HVAC workers): $41,540 annual average salary

  • 10th percentile: $26,980
  • 25th percentile: $29,970
  • 50th percentile (median): $41,020
  • 75th percentile: $51,980
  • 90th percentile: $60,190

$19.97 average hourly salary

  • 10th percentile: $12.97/hr.
  • 25th percentile: $14.41/hr.
  • 50th percentile (median): $19.72/hr.
  • 75th percentile: $24.99/hr.
  • 90th percentile: $28.94/hr.

Sioux Falls (470 HVAC workers): $50,370 annual average salary

  • 10th percentile: $33,870
  • 25th percentile: $41,240
  • 50th percentile (median): $48,800
  • 75th percentile: $59,870
  • 90th percentile: $71,070

$24.21 average hourly salary

  • 10th percentile: $16.28/hr.
  • 25th percentile: $19.83/hr.
  • 50th percentile (median): $23.46/hr.
  • 75th percentile: $28.78 /hr.
  • 90th percentile: $34.17/hr.

West South Dakota Nonmetropolitan Area (70 HVAC workers): $37,300 annual average salary

  • 10th percentile: $26,060
  • 25th percentile: $28,070
  • 50th percentile (median): $32,180
  • 75th percentile: $38,640
  • 90th percentile: $50,230

$17.93 average hourly salary

  • 10th percentile: $12.53/hr.
  • 25th percentile: $13.49/hr.
  • 50th percentile (median): $15.47/hr.
  • 75th percentile: $18.58/hr.
  • 90th percentile: $24.15/hr.

Accredited HVAC Programs in South Dakota (SD)

Although some firms in South Dakota provide on-the-job training to new employees, individuals who have completed an apprenticeship or other formal educational program may stand a much better chance of being hired. HVAC/R equipment has become increasingly complex, and technicians need formal coursework combined with hands-on experience.

PHCC is one place to start. They offered a 2017 grant to fund plumbing and HVAC apprenticeships. Coursework, which is completed online, is supplied by PHCC national headquarters. On-the-job training is then provided by various employers. Two employers are listed as sponsoring apprenticeship programs at the time of this writing (Nov. 2017):

  • Krier & Blain in Sioux Falls
  • Thompson Mechanical in Watertown

Other industry associations offering apprenticeship programs nationwide include:

It’s worth noting that the accreditation of schools or training programs ensures that the curriculum meets industry standards. Accreditation may be offered by:

  • HVAC Excellence
  • Partnership for Air Conditioning, Heating, Refrigeration Accreditation (PAHRA)

There are various institutions in South Dakota which offer formal coursework and training ion HVAC/R. Located in Mitchell, SD, the Mitchell Technical Institute offers one-year and two-year heating and cooling technology programs. The courses are taught by North American Technician Excellence (NATE) certified instructors and are accredited by HVAC Excellence.

The one-year program includes classes and labs covering:

  • The fundamentals of electricity, heating, and air conditioning
  • Computer concepts
  • Sheet metal technology
  • Heating and refrigeration theory
  • HVAC controls
  • Heat Pumps

Students must complete 36 credit-hours and are awarded a diploma. The costs in 2017 included:

  • Tuition and fees $7,616
  • Laptop/software $ 999
  • Books/tools $2,326

MTI’s two-year program curriculum builds on the first year with more time spent in labs and includes an internship. Classes include planning and estimating, wiring, commercial refrigeration and air conditioning, and electronic temperature control. At the completion of 72 credit-hours, students are awarded an associate of applied science (A.A.S.) degree. Costs in 2017 included:

  • Tuition and fees $15,813
  • Laptop/software $ 999
  • Books/tools $ 2,681

Additionally, the Southeast Technical Institute in Sioux Falls offers a two-year HVAC/R program as well as a one-year HVAC program. Both programs are accredited by HVAC Excellence.

The one-year diploma program requires 37 credit-hours in areas such as the basics of electricity, refrigeration, heating, and workplace skills. The second semester includes learning computer essentials, troubleshooting heating and air conditioning, and air-conditioning installation. Emphasis is on learning the technical skills for residential HVAC. The 2017 costs included:

  • Tuition $4,218
  • Other fee’s $4,477
  • Books & Supplies $1,045
  • Tools & Supplies $1,200

Graduates of the two-year program receive an A.A.S. degree at the completion of 72 credit-hours. As well as the basics, students receive training in:

  • Design and installation
  • Heat pump systems
  • High-pressure chillers
  • Split and unitized equipment
  • Water cooled equipment
  • Other special equipment

Graduates are adept in installation, troubleshooting, service, maintenance, and repair of equipment. Costs in 2017 were:

  • Tuition $8,208
  • Fees $9,112
  • Books & Supplies $1,595
  • Tools & Supplies $1,200
  • Other $ 40

Finally, Western Dakota Tech of Rapid City has provided hands-on learning, industry partnerships, and internships since 1968. The HVAC/R program teaches professional skills such as troubleshooting and problem solving, as well as technical skills. Students practice with the tools and equipment they’ll use on the job. The 18-month program requires 61-64 credit hours, and an A.A.S. degree is awarded on completion. The 2017 tuition was $230 per credit-hour for on-campus classes and $265 for online classes. Books, laptops, tools, and other fees are additional. It’s worth noting that the accreditation for Western Dakota Tech is currently in a probationary period by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC). The school underwent a comprehensive evaluation by HLC in September 2017. The HLC will render a decision in February 2018.

HVAC Certification and Licensing in South Dakota

Federal law requires all HVAC technicians who work with refrigerants to obtain the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Section 608 certification. Certification requires passing an exam on the safe handling of refrigerants.

Certifications are classified as:

  • Type I – technicians may work on small appliances
  • Type II – technicians may service high-pressure and very high-pressure appliances
  • Type III – technicians may service low-pressure appliances
  • Universal – technicians may service all types of equipment

Also, technicians can obtain certifications that are recognized nationwide from industry organizations such as:

  • HVAC Excellence – established in 1994 to improve the competency of HVAC/R technicians. They offer several certifications including Master Specialist for the best of the best
  • North American Technician Excellence (NATE) – certifies knowledge and competency of HVAC/R technicians in specific areas of installation and service
  • Refrigeration Service Engineers Society (RSES) – offers training and testing designed to certify the competency HVAC/R technicians

Each organization determines requirements, fees, and expiration dates of certifications. For a detailed look at national credentials, check out the main HVAC/R certifications page.

The state of South Dakota does not require HVAC technicians to be licensed, but cities have their own licensing, permitting, and certification requirements. The requirements primarily pertain to HVAC contractors, rather than employees. For example, an HVAC contractor in Sioux Falls must take the Master Mechanic exam and post a $10,000 compliance bond.

HVAC professionals in the state are encouraged to contact their municipal agency to ensure they have all necessary credentials prior to beginning work.