HVAC Schools in Fort Worth, Texas

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Fort Worth, Texas (TX) has long been lumped with Dallas as part of Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW) area. That is changing, and Fort Worth is gaining recognition as a separate entity.

Experts predict “higher economic growth, more jobs, and more population growth” in Fort Worth as energy, manufacturing, aviation and aerospace, life sciences, logistics, and professional services industries grow. The diverse economy fuels job growth, which in turn has led to a population boom and a significant increase in the construction of new homes and investment in downtown areas.

Fort Worth weather includes clouds on most days. Summertime temperatures soar into the high 90s, and humidity makes the days muggy. Wintertime lows drop into the 30s, but usually stay above freezing. Wind accompanies the chilly weather. Residents depend on heating, venting, and air conditioning (HVAC) to stay comfortable. Food processing areas, technology companies, and entertainment venues often require the addition of commercial-scale refrigeration services (HVAC/R) as well.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that 1,890 HVAC and HVAC/R mechanics and installers were employed in the Fort Worth-Arlington, TX metropolitan division. State and local chapters of industry organizations that provide training and support to the technicians include:

  • Greater Fort Worth Builders Association (GFWBA)
  • Mechanical Contractors Association of Texas (MCATexas)
  • National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC)
  • Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors Association North Texas (PHCCA)
  • Regional Black Contractors Association (RBCA)
  • Southwest Pipe Trades Association Local 146 – Fort Worth (SWPTA)
  • Texas Air Conditioning Contractors Association (TACCA)
  • TEXO, The Construction Association (TEXO)

These organizations coordinate with others in the industry and with government organizations to establish educational and licensing standards. They serve all aspects of the HVAC and HVAC/R industries, including safety, performance, and promotion.

Read on to discover what to expect from an accredited HVAC training program in Fort Worth, as well as the local career outlook and credentialing standards.

Demand for HVAC Technicians in Fort Worth, TX

Demand for HVAC and HVAC/R technicians is growing nationwide. According to the BLS (2018), openings for technicians is expected to increase 15 percent nationally between 2016 and 2026, which is much faster than average of 7 percent projected for all occupations in the U.S. Furthermore, the demand for technicians in Texas is growing at a much higher rate than the national average. Projections Central predicted a 23.5 percent statewide increase for the same decade.

The growth of the HVAC and HVAC/R industry has several components. The primary factor is the increasing sophistication of climate control systems and the need to replace, retrofit, or upgrade older systems. As businesses become more dependent on technology, specialized climate-controlled amenities (and professionals to service them) become a necessity. The construction of new residences and downtown investment make up another significant portion of the local market for HVAC and HVAC/R equipment and systems. The contemporary emphasis on energy efficiency and reducing pollution also contributes to the need for new installations.

As noted above, the Fort Worth economy is growing, requiring remodeling and new construction. Maintenance and repair work tends to be stable, as business owners and homeowners depend on their climate control systems year round. They need to keep their equipment in good working order regardless of economic conditions.

HVAC Salaries in Fort Worth, TX

The BLS (2018) reports that HVAC and HVAC/R mechanics and installers nationally receive a median salary of $47,080 annually. Technicians in the Fort Worth-Arlington metropolitan division receive an annual median wage of $43,650.

Data compiled by the Missouri Economic Research and Information Center indicates a cost of living index for Texas of 91.4 during the third quarter of 2018. The statistics mean that residents of Texas pay $91.40 for what costs Americans an average of $100.

Here is a detailed breakdown of salary data on local, state-based, and national levels for HVAC professionals according to the BLS:

United States Texas Fort Worth-Arlington Metropolitan Division
Number of HVAC workers 307,060 23,520 1,890
Average annual salary $49,530 $45,410 $45,090
10th percentile $29,120 $27,900 $31,920
25th percentile $36,150 $34,310 $35,880
50th percentile (median) $47,080 $43,260 $43,650
75th percentile $60,270 $53,870 $53,630
90th percentile $75,330 $65,340 $62,260

Accredited HVAC and HVAC/R Schools in Fort Worth

HVAC technicians traditionally began their career as helpers and learned the trade through on-the-job training. Most workers now attend formal classes or participate in an apprenticeship program.

Apprenticeships typically include around 2,000 hours of on-the-job training and at least 144 classroom hours annually for three to five years. The Texas Workforce Commission has compiled general instructions for becoming a registered apprentice, but as of early 2019, they do not list a current HVAC apprenticeship program.

Aspiring apprentices should 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.

In addition to the local industry associations mentioned in the introduction, workers seeking HVAC apprenticeship programs can find them through the following national organizations:

  • 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.

Other aspiring HVAC professionals choose to enroll in an accredited degree or certificate program. Accreditation is a process by which an independent agency evaluates the quality of an educational institution’s program. When choosing a school, it is essential to determine if it is accredited and which organization granted accreditation.

Two industry organizations evaluate HVAC programs. HVAC Excellence has awarded accreditation to Laredo College in Laredo, TX and the Lincoln College of Technology in Grand Prairie, TX. The Partnership for Air-Conditioning, Heating, Refrigeration Accreditation (PAHRA) has accredited Vernon College in Wichita Falls, TX. Vernon College is included in the profiles below because of its accreditation status, although attending would require a two-hour commute for Fort Worth students.

Prospective students conducting an internet search may discover HVAC schools in the area other than the institutions profiled below. Those schools have not been included in the profiles due primarily to the lack of accreditation by any agency or organization.

Lincoln College of Technology

Lincoln Tech offers HVAC technology diploma day and evening programs. Students complete 47 credits of coursework divided between classroom lectures and hands-on training in a lab.

Classes include an introduction to climate control, electricity, HVAC/R systems, air conditioning design and layout, commercial refrigeration design and controls, energy efficiency, and green technology systems.

  • Location: Grand Prairie, TX
  • Accreditation: Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC); HVAC Excellence*
  • Format: On-campus
  • Tuition: $23,413
  • Program length: 47 weeks

*Accreditation expired in August 2018; however, the school includes the accreditation in their current catalog. They do not indicate if they plan to renew the accreditation.

Remington College

Remington College offers an HVAC diploma. The curriculum starts with HVAC/R introductory coursework; then, students progress to the fundamentals of HVAC maintenance, automated controls, motors and motor controls, residential and commercial HVAC systems, commercial refrigeration systems, domestic appliances, heat pumps, hydronics, ducting and airflow, and career development fundamentals and principles.

The coursework is divided equally between classroom lectures and hands-on training in fully-equipped labs. Students complete 59 credits to earn their degree. Graduates are qualified to seek entry-level positions as residential, commercial, or industrial HVAC technicians.

  • Location: Fort Worth, TX
  • Accreditation: Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC)
  • Format: On-campus
  • Tuition: $21,120
  • Program length: 48 weeks

Tarrant County College

TCC offers the following HVAC/R technology programs:

  • EPA recovery certification preparation and exam
  • Occupational skill award as an HVAC installer (11 credits)
  • HVAC residential technician I, level 1 certificate (20 to 23 credits)
  • HVAC residential technician II, level 1 certificate (20 to 23 credits)
  • HVAC commercial technician, level 2 certificate (51 credits)
  • HVAC/R technology, residential, AAS degree (60 credits)
  • HVAC/R technology, commercial, AAS degree (60 credits)

The EPA course takes one day to complete. Students prepare for the exam, then spend the last two hours of the class taking the exam on computers. The cost is $125.

The occupational skill award coursework includes technical calculations, principles of refrigeration, and air conditioning installation and startup. The residential technician I certificate program includes the same coursework, with the addition of basic and advanced electricity, and residential air conditioning. The residential technician II program includes air conditioning controls, gas and electric heating, heat pumps, residential systems design, and troubleshooting. The commercial technician level 2 program builds on the coursework of the previous programs with the addition of HVAC duct fabrication, commercial systems design, advanced controls, and commercial air conditioning.

Students complete a capstone course on their choice of commercial refrigeration, industrial air conditioning, or heat pumps to earn their certificate. Degree-seeking students complete all the coursework of the earlier programs with the addition of general education courses in business and professional communication, public speaking, federal or state government, and composition, among other electives. Their capstone course is air conditioning troubleshooting.

  • Location: Fort Worth, TX
  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
  • Format: On-campus
  • Tuition: $64 per credit
  • Program length: One to two years for the certificate; two years for the degree

Vernon College

Vernon College offers a PAHRA-accredited HVAC occupational skills award program, an HVAC level I certificate program, and an HVAC associate in applied science (AAS) degree. Students learn through a combination of classroom lectures and hands-on training in the lab.

The award program includes basic electricity, principles of air conditioning controls, and the principles of refrigeration. The program requires 12 credit-hours to complete.

The curriculum for the certificate program includes basic electricity, air conditioning and refrigeration principles, residential and commercial air conditioning, gas and electric heating, advanced air conditioning controls, air conditioning troubleshooting, and heat pumps. Students finish with an HVAC technology or technician practicum for a total of 36 credit-hours.

The degree program includes the above coursework with the addition of required general education courses in composition, the federal government, mathematics, and public speaking, among others. Students also select three electives for a total of 60 credit-hours to earn their degree.

  • Location: Wichita Falls, TX
  • Accreditation: SACSCOC; PAHRA
  • Format: On-campus
  • Tuition: $100 per credit for Wilbarger County residents; $145 per credit for other Texas residents
  • Program length: As noted above

HVAC Certification & Licensing in Fort Worth, TX

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

  • 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 (Type IV or Universal)

Practice exams are available online.

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:

Details are available on their websites.

The Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation (TDLR) requires HVAC technicians to register. Technicians must work under a licensed HVAC contractor and may not advertise their services. Applicants must complete a form and pay a fee of $20. The registration must be renewed annually. Renewal requires a completed application form and payment of $20.

Technicians may voluntarily choose to register as certified technicians, a designation with slightly higher standards than registered HVAC technicians. Applicants must submit:

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

Once the documents are approved, applicants must successfully pass an exam based on the type of certification desired. Certification types include: environmental air class A and B, commercial refrigeration class A and B, and certified technician. Each exam requires a fee. Licenses are valid for one year. Renewal requires a completed application form and a $35 fee.

To qualify for licensure as an HVAC contractor, candidates 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 form
  • Pay a $115 fee
  • Successfully pass an exam
  • Meet minimum requirement for insurance coverage

Two classes of licenses are available. Class A permits contractors to work on any size project. Class B which limits projects to cooling systems of 25 tons and heating systems of 1.5 million BTUs/hour. 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 form, and a $65 fee.

As a final note, the city of Fort Worth requires HVAC contractors to register. Contractors must have a valid state license with the appropriate endorsements. A fee of $120 is charged for registration, which must be renewed annually for the same cost.

All HVAC professionals are encouraged to verify local credentialing standards before beginning work on a project of any size.

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.