HVAC Schools in Grand Prairie, TX

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Grand Prairie, TX, began as Dechman in the late 1800s. It was initially named for its Dutch founder, but confusion over the name led to the USPS later renaming it Grand Prairie, based on the common description of the surrounding land. It’s now an expanding part of the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex. During WWI, the aircraft industry became a staple of the Grand Prairie economy. It remains so today due to Lockheed Martin, Airbus, Vought Aircraft, and Bell Helicopter facilities.

The economy has expanded and diversified since those early years. Manufacturing, education, healthcare, and retail trade significantly contribute to Grand Prairie’s prosperity. Additionally, the City “has placed a priority on quality entertainment and major retail,” attracting companies such as IKEA and Bass Pro. Current development projects are expected to generate up to “$72 million in total construction costs.”

Economic expansion hasn’t been hindered because it rains every month in Grand Prairie. Frequent precipitation makes the months of June through September, which experience average temperatures in the 90s F, especially muggy. There’s little relief in the evenings, as the average lows in those months remain in the 70s. Cooler days begin in October, eventually dropping into the 50s by December. Freezing temperatures are a rarity, but January can see up to an inch of snow. Warmer weather begins in March; by May, the days heat up to the 80s.

The humidity, summer heat, and cool winters mean heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) are needed to keep Grand Prairie residents comfortable in their homes and offices. The manufacturing and industrial facilities and the education and healthcare complexes typically add refrigeration (HVAC/R) to their climate control systems. The expanding hospitality and entertainment venues and the retail stores also require refrigeration for the comfort of their customers. Businesses that rely on technology often need specialized systems and equipment to keep their electronics operating correctly.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS May 2022) reports that 10,230 HVAC and HVAC/R technicians were employed in the Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, TX, metropolitan area, which includes Grand Prairie. The technicians and their employers receive support and resources from national, state, and local industry associations including:

  • Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA)
  • American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE)
  • Grande Prairie Construction Association (GPCA)
  • Mechanical Contractors Association of Texas (MCATexas)
  • National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC)
  • Refrigeration Service Engineers Society (RSES)
  • Regional Black Contractors Association (RBCA)
  • Texas Air Conditioning Contractors Association (TACCA)
  • TEXO, The Construction Association

Organizations such as the above 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 Grand Prairie, TX

The BLS (2022) expects an increase of 5 percent in the nationwide demand for trained HVAC and HVAC/R technicians. That equals an average of 40,100 new positions from 2021 through 2031.

The HVAC industry grows as new commercial and residential structures are built. In older cities like Grand Prairie, renovating and remodeling existing buildings also contribute to growth. Aging or obsolete climate control systems and equipment must be updated, retrofitted, or replaced. The City’s “redevelopment programs provide financial incentives to existing commercial properties for improvements that enhance the value of the facility and surrounding development.”

As Grand Prairie continues to attract new industries, especially those based on technology, replacing systems in recently-built structures can become necessary. Evolving regulations and emphasizing energy efficiency and pollution reduction contribute to industry growth.

Many homeowners and contemporary businesses want “smart” buildings incorporating sophisticated climate control systems, increasing the demand for trained HVAC and HVAC/R technicians. Technicians must not only be skilled troubleshooters but also be proficient with computers and understand electronics and high-tech. Technicians who are trained and have expertise in installing, maintaining, and servicing newer and more complex climate control systems have the best job opportunities.

If new construction declines, technicians specializing in new buildings may occasionally experience unemployment. A decline in Grand Prairie is unlikely in the foreseeable future as the city is expected to remain prosperous. The area has recovered well from the pandemic slowdown. The population has increased and is expected to continue growing. Additionally, “continued growth and diversification of the service area” contribute to the expectation that “the city will maintain the highest level of financial resilience through economic cycles.”

Technicians specializing in maintaining, servicing, and repairing equipment and systems rarely experience unemployment regardless of the economy, as the weather makes year-round climate control essential for businesses and homeowners.

HVAC and HVAC/R Salaries in Grand Prairie, TX

The BLS (May 2022) reports an annual median salary of $51,390 for HVAC mechanics and installers nationally. Technicians in the Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington area, which includes Grand Prairie, earned an annual median salary of $50,450. The wage difference is more beneficial than expected, as the 2022 cost of living in Texas is slightly lower than in other American states.

The BLS (May 2022) data for Grand Rapids, Texas, and national HVAC professionals are as follows:

United States Texas Dallas-
Fort Worth-
Arlington, TX
Number of HVAC professionals employed 374,770 30,670 10,230
Average Annual Salary $57,460 $51,790 $54,840
10th Percentile $36,170 $34,940 $36,810
25th Percentile $44,100 $39,330 $45,760
50th Percentile $51,390 $48,720 $50,450
75th Percentile $65,630 $59,790 $61,970
90th Percentile $82,630 $74,980 $78,670

HVAC Apprenticeships in Grand Prairie, TX

Aspiring technicians traditionally accepted employment as helpers to learn the HVAC trade through on-the-job training. Few helper positions are available now, so most workers attend classes or participate in an apprenticeship program. Formal training provides workers with better job opportunities and the potential to start at higher wages and earn more throughout their careers. 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.

Workers can find instructions for becoming a registered apprentice from the Texas Workforce Commission. They begin by finding an employer willing to train them. Apprenticeship.gov maintains a database of apprenticeships nationwide and lists apprenticeships in or near Grand Prairie. Aspiring technicians may attend a five-year HVAC/R apprenticeship sponsored by UA Local 100 JATC at the Garland facility. Apprentices receive on-the-job training and classroom instruction.

Industry associations sponsor HVAC and HVAC/R apprenticeship programs. Workers unable to attend a local program may find that one of the following will meet their needs:

  • 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 provides details of programs, schedules, and fees on its website.

Accredited HVAC and HVAC/R Schools in Grand Prairie, TX

Students who prefer to attend a school should select an accredited institution. Accredited schools have undergone an evaluation by an independent agency of their program’s curriculum and instructors. HVAC programs are evaluated by HVAC Excellence and the Partnership for Air-Conditioning, Heating, Refrigeration Accreditation (PAHRA).

HVAC Excellence has accredited Laredo College, Laredo, and Lincoln College of Technology, Grand Prairie. PAHRA has accredited Vernon College, Wichita Falls. Lincoln College of Technology is the only institution included in the school profiles below, as the two others would require a lengthy commute for Grand Prairie students. Other reputable agencies have accredited the remaining schools.

Dallas College North Lake Campus

Dallas College has several campuses, the closest of which to Grand Prairie is the North Lake Campus. Students may choose from two degree programs:

Commercial HVAC/R technology degree: 60 credit hours, $4,740
Residential HVAC/R degree: 60 credit hours, $4,740
The curriculum for the commercial HVAC/R technology degree includes electricity, air conditioning control principles, refrigeration principles, residential A/C, gas and electric heating, heat pumps, commercial refrigeration or industrial A/C, commercial A/C, A/C troubleshooting, energy management, and advanced controls. They also choose either an HVAC/R technology/technician practicum or HVAC/R technology/technician cooperative education course. The general education requirements include electives from composition, mathematics, humanities/fine arts, communication, and general psychology.
Students enrolled in the residential HVAC/R degree program complete the same curriculum except that the commercial coursework is replaced by A/C installation and startup and residential air conditioning systems design. The general education electives remain the same. The practicum is replaced by their choice of special topics in HVAC/R mechanic and repairer or HVAC/R technology/technician cooperative education coursework.

  • Location: Irving, TX
  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
  • Estimated tuition: As noted above
  • Estimated program length: Two years

Edge Tech Academy

A privately owned institution, Edge Tech Academy offers an HVAC diploma program designed to prepare students for entry-level employment as technicians. Coursework is presented through classroom lectures and hands-on training. The curriculum includes air conditioning, electrical systems and controls, heating and heat pumps, and refrigeration. The National Center for Construction Education & Research (NCCER) recognizes the program, and students may earn NCCER credentials as part of their studies. They also prepare for EPA 608 certification.

  • Location: Arlington, TX
  • Accreditation: Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges
  • Estimated tuition: $18,040
  • Estimated program length: Ten months

Lincoln College of Technology

Lincoln Tech offers an HVAC/R systems technology diploma program and an HVAC/R technology service management degree program. Coursework for both is available during days, afternoons, and evenings. Students learn through classroom lectures followed by hands-on practice in the lab. Students in both programs are prepared to take the EPA certification exam and are qualified to seek employment as HVAC technicians.

The curriculum for the diploma program includes an introduction to climate control, electricity, heating systems, refrigeration systems, air conditioning systems, air conditioning design, energy conservation, commercial refrigeration, commercial HVAC/R systems troubleshooting, advanced electrical, and troubleshooting.

Students seeking a degree complete all the technical coursework required for the diploma. In addition, they complete general education coursework that includes English composition, speech communication, algebra, critical thinking, and environmental science.

Additional skills, including student success, financial literacy, professional development, and career success, are integrated into all coursework.

  • Location: Grand Prairie, TX
  • Accreditation: HVAC Excellence; Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges
  • Estimated tuition: Diploma ($28,030); degree ($31,580)
  • Estimated program length: Diploma (one year); degree (18 months)

Tech Zone HVAC School

Tech Zone offers an intensive 100-hour HVAC/R diploma program with classroom lectures followed by hands-on practice in the lab. Classes are available during the daytime, evenings, and Saturdays. Students may attend full-time or part-time. Coursework includes HVAC theory, electricity, motors, brazing, refrigerant, combustion systems, heat pump systems, soft skills, and preparation for the EPA 608 exam. The school provides job-search assistance to graduates. The tuition covers all course-required books, supplies, and tools.

  • Location: Irving, TX
  • Accreditation: Licensed by the Texas Workforce Commission
  • Estimated tuition: $3,350
  • Estimated program length: Full-time two-three weeks; part-time five-ten weeks; Saturday ten weeks

HVAC and HVAC/R Certification and Licensing in Grand Prairie, TX

Federal law requires all HVAC and HVAC/R technicians who handle refrigerants to obtain Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Section 608 certification. Four certification levels are available based on the type and size of equipment on which a technician works. Technicians must pass a specific exam on refrigerant safety for each level as follows:

  • 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

The EPA includes details of the criteria for each certification on its website.

Technicians may obtain their Section 608 certification, as well as other certifications that can increase their employability, from industry organizations such as the following:

  • 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 SHVAC certifications page.

All HVAC and HVAC/R technicians are required to register with the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation. Technicians are additionally required to work under the supervision of a licensed air conditioning and refrigeration contractor and may not advertise their services. Applicants must be at least 18 years old, undergo a background check, complete an application, and pay a fee of $20. Registrations are valid for one year.

Certified technician status is a voluntary designation. It’s available to registered technicians with at least two years of experience under the supervision of a licensed air conditioning and refrigeration contractor. Instead of the required experience, they may complete an approved certification training program. Certification applicants must be at least 18 years old, complete an application, submit proof of employment or training, pass an exam, and pay a $50 fee. The certification is valid for one year.

HVAC and HVAC/R contractors must be licensed. Certified technicians who have been certified for at least one year and have at least 36 months of practical experience in the preceding 48 months under the supervision of a licensed air conditioning and refrigeration contractor are eligible to apply for a contractor license. Registered technicians must have at least 48 months of practical experience under the supervision of a licensed air conditioning and refrigeration contractor during the past 72 months. Specific training may be substituted for experience. Applicants must be at least 18 years old, submit an application verifying experience or training, pass a licensing exam, maintain insurance coverage, and pay a fee.

Class A contractors may work on any size unit. Class B contractors may work only on cooling systems of 25 tons and under and heating systems of 1.5 million BTUs/hour and under. Contractors may add the following endorsements to their licenses:

  • Environmental air conditioning
  • Commercial refrigeration
  • Process cooling or heating

Licenses are valid for one year. Renewal requires eight hours of approved continuing education units, an application, and fee payment.

The City of Grand Prairie does not require a business license. However, all businesses must obtain a certificate of occupancy. The business site must meet specific zoning regulations and pass an inspection.

As licensing regulations are always subject to change, HVAC professionals must confirm that they comply with current state and local 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.