HVAC Schools in Amarillo, TX – Technical Training

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Amarillo, Texas is the largest city in the Texas Panhandle and the state’s 14th largest city. It’s the county seat of Potter County and the center of the region’s statistical areas. Amarillo has a long and varied history, beginning with its rise as a cattle-marketing center via railways. Rail service and major highways, including Route 66, contributed to its growth as a transportation hub. The meat-packing industry has continued in Amarillo, where about one-fourth of the country’s beef supply is processed.

The discovery of oil and gas in the early 1900s significantly diversified the economy. The presence of helium in the gas fields brought the feds to Amarillo. It’s currently the home of the U.S. National Helium Reserve, the V-22 Osprey aircraft assembly plant, and nearby Pantex, the national plutonium repository and the facility where America’s nuclear weapons are assembled and disassembled. Energy, logistics, manufacturing, retail trade, services, tourism, and transportation industries continue to contribute to Amarillo’s diverse economy and prosperity.

Amarillo summers are hot, and the winters are cold and windy. Temperatures during June, July, and August are in the upper 80s and lower 90s F. Nearly three inches of rain falls during each of those months. October brings cooler days, less rain, and scant snowfall. By December, the daytime highs barely reach the 50s, with close to four inches of snowfall. January and February remain icy with continuing snowfall. The winter lows dip below freezing. January is the coldest month, with average low temperatures in the mid-20s. During March, warmer days and nights, and decreasing snowfall usher in spring. Total rainfall and snowfall annually are about 20 inches and 17 inches, respectively. Tornado Alley encompasses the Texas Panhandle, and Amarillo is subject to tornadoes, severe thunderstorms, and other adverse weather events on occasion.

Amarilloans depend on air conditioning, ventilation, and heating (HVAC) for comfort in their homes and workplaces during the hot summers and cold winters. The manufacturing and industrial facilities require refrigeration (HVAC/R) added to their systems. Hospitality and entertainment venues also add refrigeration to their climate-control systems for the comfort of visitors. As more and more businesses turn to high-tech, specialized climate-control installations are necessary to keep their electronics operating correctly.

According to the latest Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS May 2021) data, 310 HVAC and HVAC/R technicians were employed in Amarillo. The technicians and their employers receive resources and support from national, state, and local industry associations such as the following:

  • Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA)
  • American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE)
  • Mechanical Contractors Association of Texas (MCATexas)
  • Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors Association (PHCCA)
  • Refrigeration Service Engineers Society (RSES)
  • Texas Air Conditioning Contractors Association (TACCA)
  • Texas Panhandle Builders Association (TPBA)
  • UA Local 404 Plumbers, Pipefitters, & Service Techs

These and similar organizations cooperate with others in the industry, regulatory agencies, and businesses to establish and maintain educational, licensing, and performance standards for the safety of technicians, the public, and the environment.

Occupational Demand for HVAC and HVAC/R Technicians in Amarillo, TX

The BLS (2022) predicts that the openings for trained HVAC and HVAC/R technicians will increase 5 percent annually between 2021 and 2031. That means that technicians can expect an average of 20,200 new positions.

The construction of new commercial and residential buildings is the primary factor in the growth of the HVAC industry and the demand for trained technicians. As cities like Amarillo grow, renovating and remodeling existing structures contributes significantly to industry growth. Aging equipment and systems must be repaired, replaced, or updated to meet changing requirements.

On occasion, systems in new structures are replaced to meet technological advances and changing climate-control regulations or to meet the unique demands of new businesses. Additionally, the national emphasis on energy efficiency and pollution reduction is a substantial factor driving industry growth.

Contemporary homeowners and businesses want sophisticated climate-control equipment and systems installed in their “smart” buildings. Working with those systems requires HVAC technicians who are skilled troubleshooters, proficient with computers, and understand electronics and high-tech. The best job opportunities will go to technicians with training and expertise.

Technicians specializing in new construction may occasionally experience unemployment if construction declines. That doesn’t seem likely in Amarillo in the foreseeable future. The city has recovered from the pandemic slowdown, and the “economy continues its upward moves, with strength from job growth, construction, tourism and higher commodity prices.” As per a June 2022 analysis, “Tourism continues strong,” and “housing construction is at the highest level in a long time.” Commercial construction is also strong, with a new U-Haul facility the latest project.

Technicians who specialize in maintaining, servicing, and repairing equipment and systems can expect continuous employment regardless of the economy, as businesses and homeowners rely on year-round climate control.

HVAC and HVAC/R Salaries in Amarillo, TX

The BLS (May 2021) reports that HVAC mechanics and installers nationally received an annual median salary of $48,630. Their data also shows that Amarillo technicians earned an annual median salary of $46,640. The lower local wage isn’t as significant as it might appear because the cost of living in Texas is lower than in other American states, and the cost of living in Amarillo is substantially less than in other Texas cities.

The BLS (May 2021) compares the earnings of national, state, and regional HVAC professionals as follows:

United States Texas Amarillo, TX
Number of HVAC professionals employed 356,960 31,060 310
Average Annual Salary $54,690 $51,270 $48,580
10th Percentile $34,320 $33,890 $30,530
25th Percentile $38,450 $38,440 $37,650
50th Percentile $48,630 $47,980 $46,640
75th Percentile $62,000 $59,980 $59,850
90th Percentile $78,210 $74,400 $61,730

HVAC Apprenticeships in Amarillo, TX

Workers have traditionally accepted employment as helpers and learned their skills through on-the-job experience. That’s difficult in today’s job market, as few opportunities exist for untrained workers.

Most aspiring technicians now attend classes or participate in an apprenticeship program. Formal training gives workers better job opportunities and enables them to potentially start at higher wages and earn more throughout their career. Time invested in classes varies according to the level of expertise sought. Apprenticeships include specified hours of on-the-job training, usually 2,000 hours, and classroom work, usually 144 hours, annually for three to five years.

The Texas Workforce Commission outlines guidelines for becoming a registered apprentice. Workers first find an employer willing to train them. The employer should register with the Commission if they have not already done so. The Commission grants funding to registered programs, classroom instruction, and apprentices.

Apprenticeship.gov maintains a database of apprenticeships nationwide; however, at the date of this writing they don’t show an HVAC apprenticeship in or near Amarillo. UA Local 404 offers a five-year HVAC/R apprenticeship at the Amarillo JATC. Apprentices receive on-the-job training from a union contractor and are granted journey-level status when they complete the program.

Amarillo workers who are unable to attend local HVAC and HVAC/R apprenticeship programs can find several available through national industry associations such as:

  • Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA)
  • Mechanical Contractors Association of America (MCAA)
  • Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors Association (PHCC)
  • Refrigeration Service Engineers Society (RSES)
  • Sheet Metal Workers International Association (SMWIA)

Each organization has details of programs and fees on its website.

Accredited HVAC and HVAC/R Schools in Amarillo, TX

Students choosing to attend a school should select an accredited institution. Accreditation means that the quality of the program, including the curriculum and the instructors, has been evaluated by an independent agency. HVAC Excellence and the Partnership for Air-Conditioning, Heating, Refrigeration Accreditation (PAHRA) accredit HVAC programs.

HVAC Excellence has accredited Laredo College, Laredo, and Lincoln College of Technology, Grand Prairie. PAHRA has accredited Vernon College, Wichita Falls. Although attending Vernon College would require a lengthy commute or relocation for Amarillo students, it is included in the profiles below due to its accreditation. Other reputable agencies have accredited the remaining schools.

Amarillo College

Amarillo College offers two HVAC/R certificates and an HVAC/R degree as part of their industrial technology department.

Students may earn a certificate as an HVAC/R helper. Their curriculum includes electrical theory, distribution systems, industrial maintenance, electrical testing and maintenance, basic mechanical skills for energy, motor controls, programmable logic controls, layout and fabrication, refrigeration principles, gas and electric heating, and air conditioning and startup. They complete 33 credit hours of coursework.

Students enrolling in the HVAC/R technician certificate program complete the same curriculum as the helper program, with the addition of air conditioning troubleshooting, commercial refrigeration, and machinery installation. They earn their certificate at the completion of 45 credits.

Degree-seeking students complete all the coursework in the certificate programs. They also complete general education coursework that includes communication, social/behavioral science, mathematics, language, philosophy, culture/creative arts, and institutional requirement/speech. Their degree is awarded at the completion of 60 credit hours.

  • Location: Amarillo, TX
  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
  • Tuition: $112.50 per credit
  • Program length: Certificates vary, degree two years

Clarendon College

Clarendon offers an HVAC technician certificate and an HVAC degree as part of the Industrial Maintenance program. Graduates are qualified to seek entry-level employment.

The curriculum for the certificate program includes industrial maintenance, machine shop mathematics, electrical theory, welding metallurgy, welding, blueprint reading, safety and health, electric motors, distribution systems, motor controls, refrigeration principles, residential AC, gas and electrical heating, air conditioning troubleshooting, and air conditioning installation and startup. They receive their certificate at the completion of 45 credits.

Students enrolled in the degree program complete all the above curriculum, and add general education coursework that includes composition, speech, social and behavioral science, and technical writing, for a total of 60 credits to earn their degree.

The HVAC programs are available only at the Pampa and Shamrock campuses. They are not currently available at the Amarillo campus.

  • Location: Pampa, TX; Shamrock, TX
  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
  • Tuition: $120 per credit
  • Program length: Certificate 18 months, degree two years

Vernon College

Vernon College offers an HVAC level I certificate program, an HVAC advanced certificate, and an HVAC degree program. Students learn through a combination of classroom lectures and hands-on training in the lab.

The Level I certificate program curriculum includes workforce development, electricity, A/C control principles, refrigeration, residential air conditioning, gas and electrical heating, and technical calculations. Students are awarded their certificate at the completion of 24 credits.

Students in the HVAC advanced certificate continue with curriculum that includes EPA certification preparation, air conditioning troubleshooting or a practicum in HVAC/R, residential air conditioning systems design, air conditioning installation and startup, and commercial air conditioning. Their coursework takes 18 credits to complete.

Degree-seeking students complete all the coursework in the certificate programs and add general education courses in composition, federal government, mathematics, public speaking, business principles, and an elective from language, philosophy, culture, or creative arts. They earn their degree at the completion of 60 credit hours.

  • Location: Wichita Falls, TX
  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges; PAHRA
  • Tuition: $110 per credit for Willbarger County residents; $150 per credit hour for other Texas residents
  • Program length: Certificate 32 weeks; degree two years

Aspiring Amarillo technicians who cannot attend one of the above schools may find that online institutions can better meet their needs. More information on accredited programs is available at online HVAC training.

HVAC and HVAC/R Certification and Licensing in Amarillo, TX

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) mandates Section 608 certification for all HVAC and HVAC/R technicians who handle refrigerants. Four certification levels are available based on the type and size of equipment on which a technician works. Certification requires technicians to pass specific exams on refrigerant safety:

  • Type I – for servicing small appliances
  • Type II – for servicing or disposing of high-pressure appliances, except small appliances and automotive air conditioning
  • Type III – for servicing or disposing of low-pressure appliances
  • Universal – for servicing all types of equipment

Details of the criteria for each certification are available on the EPA website.

Section 608 certification and other certifications increase a technician’s employability. Industry organizations that include the following offer a selection of HVAC and HVAC/R certification programs:

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

Each organization includes availability, scheduling, and fees on its website. There is also more information on the HVAC certifications page.

HVAC technicians are additionally required by the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation (TDLR) to register. Technicians must work under a licensed HVAC contractor and may not advertise their services. They must submit an application and pay a fee of $20. The registration must be renewed annually. Renewal requires a completed application and payment of $20.

Technicians may voluntarily choose to register as certified technicians. Applicants must submit:

  • Proof of at least 24 months of experience under a licensed HVAC contractor, or proof of 2,000 hours of an approved certification training program
  • A completed application
  • $50 fee

Once the documents are approved, applicants must pass a licensing exam and pay relevant fees. Licenses are valid for one year. Renewal requires a completed application and fee.

Technicians who progress to HVAC contractors must:

  • Have 48 months of practical experience under a licensed HVAC contractor within the past 72 months, or held a technician certification license for the past 12 months and have at least 36 months and practical experience under a licensed HVAC contractor within the past 48 months
  • Submit a completed application
  • Pay a $115 fee
  • Pass an exam
  • Meet the minimum requirement for insurance coverage

Two classes of licenses are available: Class A permits contractors to work on any size project; or Class B, which limits projects to cooling systems of 25 tons and under and heating systems of 1.5 million BTUs/hour and under. Endorsements for environmental air conditioning, commercial refrigeration, and process heating or cooling may be added.

Licenses must be renewed annually. Renewal requires eight hours of continuing education, an application, and paying a fee.

The City of Amarillo also requires HVAC contractors to register. HVAC contractors must submit an application that includes the state license information, proof of general liability insurance, and pay a fee.

Municipal and regulatory agency licensing requirements are always subject to change, so HVAC professionals are encouraged to confirm that they comply with current guidelines before starting a 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.