Memphis, TN HVAC Certification & Training Schools

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The Memphis, Tennessee (TN) climate ranges according to the four seasons. Average summer temperatures are in the mid-70s, and average winter temperatures are in the mid-50s degrees, occasionally dropping below freezing. While Memphis typically only experiences a few inches of snow annually, the humidity can make residents uncomfortable. The weather is only one factor driving the growth of the local heating, ventilation, air conditioning, and refrigeration (HVAC/R) industry.

Another driver of HVAC industry growth is that Memphis is booming economically, according to the Memphis Daily News. Memphis has seen a surge of multifamily and mixed-use residential projects. City officials expect there to be even more multifamily projects by the end of the year. Medical centers, including St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, are undergoing significant expansions. Financial institutions are also remodeling their facilities, and several large construction projects are in the pipeline. Memphis also has a thriving startup industry.

Overall, current and anticipated construction projects require HVAC/R services and skilled professionals. Some facilities, including medical centers, require specialized equipment and system controls.

The Mechanical Contractors Association of Memphis coordinates HVAC/R training and standards with Plumbers Local Union #17 and Steamfitters Local Union #614. The organizations provide industry support to contractors and technicians designed to promote professionalism and quality services. Other industry organizations that support technicians and the companies that employ them include:

  • Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA)
  • American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE)
  • Plumbing Heating Cooling Contractors Association (PHCCA)
  • Refrigeration Service Engineers Society (RSES)
  • The Sheet Metal and Air Conditioning Contractors’ National Association (SMACNA)

This guide explores the local HVAC/R training schools in Memphis, including discussions of coursework and credentialing within the area.

Occupational Demand for HVAC/R Technicians in Memphis, TN

Demand for HVAC and HVAC/R technicians is growing nationwide. According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the number of jobs in this field is expected to increase 4 percent between 2019 and 2029, which is as fast as the national average for all occupations in the US (4 percent).

Tennessee is predicted to need new technicians at a really fast rate. By illustration, Projections Central (2020)—a data organization partnered with the US Department of Labor—reported that there would be a 15.2 percent increase in HVAC positions across Tennessee between 2018 and 2028. With the predicted addition of 1,360 fresh HVAC positions in TN and 42,800 openings nationwide, there is ample evidence that this is a promising profession in TN and across the country.

Several factors contribute to the growth of the HVAC/R industry. The primary factor is the increasing complexity of climate control systems and the need to replace, retrofit, or upgrade older systems. The contemporary emphasis on energy efficiency and reducing pollution also drives growth. The construction of new buildings and residences in Memphis has also created an additional demand for the installation of HVAC/R systems.

Computer- and electronics-literate technicians and those with excellent troubleshooting skills typically have the best job prospects. Technicians who specialize in new installation may experience seasonal unemployment if construction declines. Maintenance and repair work can be more stable, as business owners and homeowners depend on their climate-control or refrigeration systems year-round and must keep them in good working order, regardless of economic conditions.

HVAC Salaries in Memphis, TN

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS May 2019), HVAC mechanics and installers enjoy good wages around the country, particularly in an occupation that generally requires just six months to two years of postsecondary education.

Among the 342,040 HVAC workers around the US, the BLS (May 2019) found an average annual salary (annual mean wage) of $51,420. In Tennessee, the 8,330 HVAC professionals working there earned an average annual mean wage of $42,510, putting them a bit below average for the country. In Memphis, the 1,590 HVAC professionals earned an average annual mean wage of $47,280. In more detailed terms, the table below is a comparison of national, state, and regional salaries of HVAC professionals:

United States Tennessee Memphis, TN
Number of HVAC professionals employed 342,040 8,330 1,590
Annual mean wage $51,420 $42,510 $47,280
10th Percentile $30,610 $26,360 $28,850
25th Percentile $37,660 $31,750 $34,720
50th Percentile (Median) $48,730 $40,120 $44,990
75th Percentile $62,070 $52,430 $58,810
90th Percentile $77,920 $62,640 $68,780

Salary figures do vary slightly by the source of data. Payscale—an aggregator of self-reported salaries—found the following percentiles among its HVAC respondents nationwide in December 2020:

  • 10th percentile: $31,000
  • 50th percentile (median): $47,948
  • 90th percentile: $75,000

As noted above, the average salary for HVAC workers in Tennessee is somewhat lower than that of the rest of the nation. As with any salary projections, taking into account the cost of living is also important. As such, the Missouri Economic Research and Information Center (MERIC 2020) found that TN was the 9th most affordable state. For HVAC technicians this means even lower than average salaries will go a bit further than they would in some costlier nearby states.

HVAC Apprenticeships in Memphis, TN

Historically, HVAC technicians could begin their careers as entry-level by learning the trade through hands-on training, but these days, most workers attend classes and/or participate in an apprenticeship program. Coursework and apprenticeships open up more employment opportunities and offer higher wages.

Steamfitters Local Union No. 614 sponsors a five-year apprenticeship program in Memphis. Each year apprentices complete 1,700 to 2,000 hours of on-the-job training with journey-level technicians and a minimum of 246 hours of classroom training. They earn-while-they-learn, as apprentices are paid for hours worked and are not charged tuition for the classroom training. Apprentices are registered with the Department of Labor’s Bureau of Apprenticeship and Training. At the end of the apprenticeship period, apprentices are eligible to receive up to 32 free college credits which can be applied toward the cost of an associate degree.

The West Tennessee Chapter of Associated Builders and Contractors, based in Memphis, offers apprentice training in 12 trades, including HVAC. Notably, the programs are accredited by the National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER). Details are available by contacting them through their website. Aspiring HVAC and HVAC/R technicians can also find apprenticeship programs through local chapters of industry associations.

Accredited HVAC Training Schools in Memphis, TN

When choosing a school, it is essential to determine if it is accredited and by which organization. Accreditation is a process in which an independent agency evaluates the quality of the program, which includes both the curriculum and the instructors. HVAC Excellence, for example, has accredited several campuses of Tennessee College of Applied Technology. The Partnership for Air-Conditioning, Heating, Refrigeration Accreditation (PAHRA), the other predominant accrediting agencies for these schools has not currently approved a school in Tennessee.

William Moore College of Technology

Moore Tech is a private vocational school. The HVAC programs are available for day or night attendees. Daytime students can earn a diploma or an associate’s degree of applied technology (AAT) in HVAC. Students enrolled in night classes receive a certificate. All students attend classroom lectures coupled with hands-on practice in labs furnished with modern equipment.

The diploma or AAT degree consists of 72 credit-hours, while the HVAC/R certificate program is made up of 18 credit-hours. The curriculum includes electricity, domestic and commercial HVAC, and commercial refrigeration.

The objective of the program is to provide students with a working knowledge in the field of air conditioning, heating, and refrigeration. Graduates have a working knowledge of equipment and systems and may be qualified to enter the job market.

  • Location: Memphis, TN
  • Accreditation: Accrediting Commission of the Council on Occupational Education
  • Expected Time to Completion: Two years
  • Estimated Tuition: Full-time students per trimester ($2,070); part-time students per trimester ($1,235); nighttime students per trimester ($900)

Remington College

The Memphis, TN campus of Remington College offers a diploma in HVAC and an associate in occupational studies degree in HVAC. Combining classroom education with hands-on training, these hybrid programs provide training in HVAC systems. Students develop hands-on skills needed for successfully maintaining and troubleshooting complex HVAC/R systems. The college emphasizes the importance of obtaining the EPA 608 certification and prepares students to take the exam.

The HVAC diploma program is made up of 59 academic quarter credit-hours, and includes courses such as career development principles, basic refrigeration theory, career development fundamentals, motors and motor control, basic electricity, introduction to air conditioning and major components, residential heating, fundamentals of HVAC maintenance, and commercial refrigeration systems, among others.

The associate in occupational studies degree in HVAC consists of 95 academic quarter credit-hours. It includes all courses from the diploma, with additional courses such as small business principles, business applications, introduction to psychology, recordkeeping and financial statement basics, college algebra, oral communication, small business basics, and English composition.

These programs prepare graduates for entry-level positions in the HVAC industry, such as in commercial or industrial heating and cooling, residential heating and cooling, and residential, commercial, or industrial refrigeration and freezers, and introduces them to the basic concepts of starting or managing a small business.

On successful completion of the program, graduates can take up opportunities at manufacturers, contracting companies, residential or light commercial heating, refrigeration appliance installation and repair, cooling, and refrigeration, commercial freight and air conditioning, and residential and commercial HVAC.

  • Location: Memphis, TN
  • Accreditation: Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC)
  • Expected Time to Completion: Diploma (12 months); degree (24 months)
  • Estimated Tuition: $30,804

Tennessee College of Applied Technology

The Tennessee College of Applied Technology, Memphis campus offers HVAC certificates and diplomas. The HVAC mechanic assistant and domestic unit repairer are the two certificate programs. The diploma programs include an HVAC technician diploma and HVAC/R technician diploma.

These programs prepare students to work in a variety of jobs in the field of HVAC/R. They are prepared in troubleshooting, repairing, and maintaining commercial and residential HVAC/R, heat pumps, gas and electrical heating, and humidifiers. They also learn about the fundamentals of electric motors, controls, and electricity.

Graduates will be able to braze and install refrigeration tubing, install duct systems, diagnose electrical problems, recover air conditioning and refrigeration refrigerants, repair light commercial equipment, and locate and repair leaks. Depending on the program selected, they also can receive training in electric, gas, solar, and hydronic heating equipment and systems.

The HVAC mechanic assistant certificate consists of 432 clock hours, and the domestic unit repair certificate comprises 864 clock hours. The HVAC diploma is made up of 1296 clock hours, while the HVAC/R diploma is made up of 1728 clock hours.

Students are prepared for entry-level employment in the HVAC/R industry. They learn the basics of residential and commercial HVAC systems, heat pumps, humidifiers, and ice machines.

  • Location: Memphis, TN
  • Accreditation: Commission of the Council on Occupational Education; HVAC Excellence
  • Expected Time to Completion: 16 months
  • Estimated Tuition: $6,230

Vatterott College

The Memphis campus of Vatterott College offers a diploma in HVAC/R mechanic and an HVAC/R technology associate of occupational studies (AOS) degree program. These programs are taught by experienced industry experts who prepare students with working knowledge of HVAC/R in order to secure entry-level employment in the industry. Students may receive nationally-recognized certifications through the National Center for Construction Education and Research.

The diploma is made up of 72 credit-hours, covering courses such as electricity and refrigeration fundamentals, air conditioning and heating, commercial refrigeration and HVAC, and green awareness.

The AOS degree consists of 108 credit-hours including all courses from the diploma. Additional coursework includes energy management systems, high-pressure steam, commercial environmental systems, critical thinking in the workplace, writing for the professionals, and skills for successful communication.

Students learn about heating and cooling load calculations, learn to read and blueprints, shop drawings, and specifications, and receive practical training for brazing, soldering, ductwork and cutting, wiring, threading, and joining ferrous piping. Graduates develop valuable skills for commercial and residential employment.

  • Location: Memphis Dividend, TN
  • Accreditation: Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC)
  • Expected Time to Completion: Diploma (60 weeks); AOS (90 weeks)
  • Estimated Tuition: Diploma ($23,400); AOS ($35,100)

HVAC Licensing & Certification in Memphis, TN

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requires technicians who work with refrigerants to obtain EPA Section 608 Certification, which includes passing an exam on the safe handling of refrigerants. Practice exams are available online. There are four types of certifications according to the systems on which technicians work:

  • Small appliances (Type I)
  • High-pressure appliances, except small appliances and motor vehicle ACs (Type II)
  • Low-pressure appliances (Type III)
  • All types of equipment (Universal)

Technicians may obtain additional training and certifications from industry organizations, which also offer Section 608 testing and certification. These include, but are not limited to:

  • Refrigeration Service Engineers Society (RSES)
  • North American Technician Excellence (NATE)
  • HVAC Excellence

As a final note, the Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance requires licensing as a mechanical contractor for projects of $25,000 or more. All contractors must take a business and law exam. An additional trade-specific exam in HVAC is also required. The fee for each exam is $55. Other requirements include submitting financial statements, letters of reference, proof of insurance, applicable registration documents from the Secretary of State, a notarized application, and $250. Licenses must be renewed every two years.

Additionally, the Department of Construction Code Enforcement registers contractors licensed in Tennessee. State registered or licensed mechanical contractors must obtain a local license to work in Shelby County or Memphis. Doing so requires filing an application, presenting proof of insurance, passing an exam, and paying a $150 fee. The license must be renewed annually. Contractors in Shelby County seeking a refrigeration proficiency license must meet experience requirements, pass an exam, and pay a fee.

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.