HVAC Trade Schools in Lubbock, TX – Vocational Training

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Its position as the center of economics, education, and healthcare in the Llano Estacado region gave Lubbock its nickname as the Hub City. It’s also the center of the Lubbock Metropolitan Area, which encompasses three counties and is the county seat for Lubbock County. Agriculture, especially the cotton crop, has long been the mainstay of Lubbock’s economy, followed by education and healthcare services.

However, in recent years, the City has diversified its economic base to include energy, financial services, government, manufacturing, retail services, technology, and wholesale services. The tourism and hospitality industry continues to increase, thanks to popular festivals and other cultural events, wineries, museums and historic sites, and sports.

Residents of Lubbock, Texas (TX) experience long, hot summers, with daytime temperatures in the 90s. Temperatures start rising in May, which also sees more than two inches of rain. By June, the heat is accompanied by more than three inches of rain. The precipitation decreases monthly until September, when it escalates to near the three-inch mark. By October, temperatures start decreasing, and rainfall slows to less than an inch monthly. Daytime temperatures during the winters stay in the 50s and 60s, with nighttime lows dropping below freezing during December, January, and February. January receives the most snow at about three inches. The remaining winter months average one to two inches of snow. Springtime brings thunderstorms and the occasional tornado.

Scorching summers and cold winters mean that residents of Lubbock depend on heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) for comfort in their homes and workplaces. Hospitality venues and institutions such as healthcare facilities depend on the addition of commercial-scale refrigeration (HVAC/R). Research centers at the educational institutions and industries that rely on technology often require specialized climate-controlled rooms or buildings to keep their electronic equipment functioning properly.

Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS 2019) records show that as of May 2018, 220 HVAC mechanics and installers were employed in Lubbock, TX. Industry organizations such as the following provided support to the workers and their employers:

  • American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers
  • American Subcontractors Association Texas Chapter
  • Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors Association
  • Refrigeration Service Engineers Society
  • Sheet Metal and Air Conditioning Contractors’ National Association
  • Texas Air Conditioning Contractors Association
  • West Texas Chapter of Associated General Contractors
  • West Texas Home Builders Association

These groups coordinate with other industry associations and governmental agencies to establish training and licensing standards. They serve all aspects of the HVAC and HVAC/R industry, including performance and promotion, to ensure the safety of technicians and the public.

Occupational Demand for HVAC Technicians in Lubbock, TX

Based on their data, the BLS (2019) expects an increase of 13 percent in the nationwide demand for HVAC and HVAC/R technicians between 2018 and 2028. That anticipated growth exceeds the average of 5 percent projected for all occupations in the US. Texas is surpassing the national expectations, as Projections Central predicts a 23.5 percent increase in the demand for technicians statewide between 2016 and 2026.

New construction is the primary contributor to the growth in the local HVAC industry. Cities such as Lubbock which diversify their economic base attract new businesses and draw in new residents. That drives the need for more commercial structures and homes to accommodate them. Many of the newer structures are “smart” buildings that rely on advanced climate-control systems. Businesses are often dependent on sophisticated technology which also creates a demand for specialized HVAC/R equipment. Remodeling or renovating existing structures frequently means that HVAC systems must be replaced, retrofitted, or upgraded to meet contemporary standards for energy efficiency and pollution reduction.

Trained technicians are required to install, service, or maintain the complex climate-control equipment and systems. Technicians must understand electronics and have computer skills.

In some cities, technicians who specialize in new installations may experience seasonal unemployment. That is not expected to happen in the foreseeable future in Lubbock, as the region is prosperous and the economic outlook is positive. Technicians with repair and maintenance skills can anticipate full-time employment as homeowners and businesses need to keep their equipment working efficiently year-round regardless of the economy.

HVAC Salaries in Lubbock, TX

Wage and employment data compiled by the BLS (March 2019) indicate a median salary of $47,610 for HVAC mechanics and installers nationwide as of May 2018. Lubbock, TX technicians earned an annual median wage of $46,780. The cost of living in Texas is slightly higher than the national index, so the difference in pay rates is greater than it appears.

The table below compares the national, state, and regional salaries of HVAC professionals:

United States Texas Lubbock, TX
Number of HVAC Professionals Employed 324,310 25,290 220
Average Annual Salary $50,160 $46,070 $47,610
10th Percentile $29,460 $27,930 $29,910
25th Percentile $36,520 $35,220 $39,610
50th Percentile (Median) $47,610 $44,550 $46,780
75th Percentile $60,900 $55,630 $55,420
90th Percentile $76,230 $66,090 $62,740

HVAC Apprencticeships in Lubbock, TX

With few exceptions, aspiring HVAC and HVAC/R technicians must obtain training to find employment. Job opportunities increase for those who attend formal classes or participate in an apprenticeship program. Trained workers can expect to start at higher wages and potentially earn more throughout their career.

An apprenticeship typically includes 2,000 hours of on-the-job training and 144 hours of classroom work annually for three to five years. Information on becoming a registered apprentice, as well as other resources for workers, is available at the Texas Workforce Commission website. Note that apprentices should first obtain an employer willing to train them. If the employer hasn’t registered with the Commission, they will need to do so. The Commission grants funding to registered programs, classroom instruction, and apprentices.

Texas Tech University Operations Division: Engineering Services offers several apprenticeships including HVAC Installer and HVAC Mechanic. Applicants must be Texas Tech employees. Additionally, Plumbers & Pipefitters Local Union 404 offers a five-year HVAC/R apprenticeship. Details for both programs are available on their websites.

Industry associations such as the following also sponsor apprenticeships:

  • Air Conditioning Contractors of America
  • Mechanical Contractors Association of America
  • Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors Association
  • Refrigeration Service Engineers Society
  • Sheet Metal Workers International Association

Further information, including schedules and fees, is available on their websites.

Accredited HVAC Schools in Lubbock, TX

Two industry organizations evaluate HVAC programs. HVAC Excellence has awarded accreditation to Laredo College, Laredo, TX and Lincoln College of Technology, Grand Prairie, TX. The Partnership for Air-Conditioning, Heating, Refrigeration Accreditation (PAHRA) has accredited Vernon College, Wichita Falls, TX. Vernon College is included in the schools profiled below due to their accreditation, although Lubbock students would probably need to relocate to attend as the commute is too long to be practical.

South Plains College

The college offers students three HVAC programs:

  • Residential air conditioning installation technician certificate (24 credit-hours): Coursework includes air conditioning control principles, the principles of refrigeration, basic electricity, residential HVAC, gas and electric heating, installation and service, and a technical elective.
  • Commercial refrigeration installation technician certificate (24 credit-hours): Coursework includes commercial refrigeration, advanced electricity, troubleshooting, heat pumps, advanced controls, commercial air conditioning, and specialized commercial refrigeration.
  • HVAC/R degree (60 credit-hours): Coursework includes all the classes for the certificates, with the addition of business and professional speech, and general education electives that include math and science.

All three programs require a capstone experience to graduate.

Students planning to enroll in the commercial refrigeration certificate program must first complete the residential HVAC program. All students will complete a job safety exam, the air conditioning and refrigeration Industry Competency Exam (ICE), and are prepared to take the EPA Section 608 exam.

  • Location: Levelland, TX
  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
  • Format: On-campus
  • Tuition: In-district resident $152 per credit-hour; out-of-district Texas resident $274 per credit-hour
  • Program length: Certificates 32 weeks; degree two years

Vernon College

Students at Vernon College can choose an HVAC occupational skills award program, an HVAC level I certificate program, or an HVAC associate in applied science degree. All three programs are taught via a combination of classroom lectures and hands-on training in the lab.

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

The curriculum for the certificate program continues with coursework that includes residential and commercial air conditioning, refrigeration, gas and electric heating, heat pumps, troubleshooting, and a technology/technician practicum. Students complete 36 credit-hours to earn their certificate.

The degree program incorporates the above coursework, with the addition of general education classes include composition, federal government, mathematics, and public speaking, among others. Students complete 60 credit-hours to earn their degree.

  • Location: Wichita Falls, TX
  • Accreditation: PAHRA; Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
  • Format: On-campus
  • Tuition: $100 per credit-hour for Wilbarger County residents; $145 per credit-hour for other Texas residents
  • Program length: Certificate 32 weeks; degree two years

Vista College

Vista College offers an HVAC diploma program and an HVAC degree program. Although Vista College has a campus in Lubbock, at the present time both programs are taught only at the El Paso campus. They are not profiled here as they are not available near Lubbock.

Lubbock students who are unable to complete an on-campus program may choose online HVAC training. More information is available at the online HVAC training page.

HVAC Certification and Licensing in Lubbock, TX

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requires HVAC technicians who deal with environmentally-sensitive refrigerants to pass the EPA Section 608 Certification exam on safe handling of the chemicals. The four types of certifications are based on the type of equipment serviced:

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

Further information and practice exams are available online.

Various industry organizations offer training and certifications for HVAC and HVAC/R technicians, including Section 608 testing and certification. These include, but are not limited to:

  • Refrigeration Service Engineers Society (RSES): They provide opportunities for enhanced technical competence by offering comprehensive, cutting-edge education and certification to the HVAC/R industry.
  • North American Technician Excellence (NATE): Their tests represent real-world working knowledge of HVAC/R systems.
  • HVAC Excellence: They validate that an individual has retained knowledge in a specific area of the HVAC/R industry.

Details and fees are available on their websites.

Further information on industry certifications is available on the HVAC certifications page.

HVAC technicians in Texas must work under a licensed HVAC contractor and may not advertise their services. The Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation (TDLR) requires HVAC technicians to register. 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. Applicants must submit:

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

The documents must then be approved, and applicants are eligible to take an exam based on the type of certification they are seeking. Certification types include:

  • Environmental Air – Class A
  • Environmental Air – Class B
  • Commercial Refrigeration – Class A
  • Commercial Refrigeration – Class B
  • Certified Technician

Each exam requires a fee. Licenses must be renewed annually by submitting an application form and a $35 fee.

To become licensed, HVAC contractors must:

  • Have 48 months of practical experience under a licensed HVAC contractor within the past 72 months or have held a technician certification license for the past 12 months and have at least 36 months of 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 requirements 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. Contractors may add endorsements for environmental air conditioning, commercial refrigeration, and process heating or cooling. Licenses are subject to annual renewal, which requires eight hours of continuing education, an application, and a $65 fee.

The City of Lubbock also requires contractors to register. Registration includes an application and relevant fees and proof of either a minimum of $100,000 in general liability insurance or a $20,000 compliance bond.

Licensing requirements are always subject to change. HVAC technicians are encouraged to ensure that they comply with any requirements before starting a project.

Barry Franklin

Before co-founding Sechel Ventures Partners LLC, Barry Franklin was a VP at a Silicon Valley software company. He is an investor and advisor for DataSimply and Impellia. Barry believes that education and lifelong learning are paramount. Barry met his wife at Carnegie Mellon University and they have two beautiful daughters. He also volunteers for various committees at his kids’ high school.