HVAC Schools & Certifications in McKinney, Texas

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McKinney, Texas, a suburb of the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex, is the county seat of Collin County. Beginning with a population of just 35 individuals in 1848, McKinney is now ranked as one of the fastest-growing cities in the U.S. The economy depended primarily on agriculture and the textile industry until the 1960s.

Although McKinney serves as a bedroom community for Dallas and Fort Worth, it also now boasts a strong local economy based on finance, healthcare, professional services, retail trade, and science and technology. The city actively promotes a “pro-business philosophy” that attracts investment in new businesses. The hospitality industry is expanding as the area continues to experience high growth. Raytheon is currently one of the largest employers, followed by other manufacturing companies.

McKinney is hot and humid in the summers and cold and windy in winter. July and August are traditionally the hottest months, with highs in the 90s F. Rainfall averages more than two inches in each. June and September are slightly cooler, with temperatures in the high 80s, but more humid. Temperatures begin dropping in October, and by January, the daytime high is only in the 50s, and nighttime lows sink to slightly below freezing. It stays cold until April, then starts warming up. May has the most rain, at just under six inches, and temperatures increasing to a high of 80. Most years average 41 inches of rain and two inches of snow.

The temperature extremes and the high humidity mean that McKinney residents rely on heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) to keep their homes and workplaces comfortable. Climate control is also essential in healthcare facilities, educational institutions, and manufacturing businesses, which often add refrigeration (HVAC/R) to their systems. The hospitality and entertainment venues and the retail stores also require refrigeration for the comfort of their customers. Specialized systems and equipment are frequently needed by technology and science companies and facilities to keep their electronics operating correctly.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS May 2022) data shows that 10,230 HVAC and HVAC/R technicians were employed in the Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, TX, metropolitan area, which includes McKinney. National, state, and local industry associations offer the technicians and their employers resources and support. These include, among others:

  • Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA)
  • American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE)
  • 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
  • UA Local 100 Journeymen and Apprentices of the Plumbing and Pipefitting Industry

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 McKinney, Texas

The BLS (2022) projects a 5 percent increase annually in the demand for trained HVAC and HVAC/R technicians nationwide from 2021 through 2031. They expect an average of 40,100 new positions each year.

Growth in the HVAC industry primarily results from the construction of new commercial and residential structures. The renovation and remodeling of existing buildings also stimulate employment opportunities. Aging or obsolete climate control systems and equipment must be updated, retrofitted, or replaced. New industries, especially those based on technology, and evolving regulations occasionally require replacing systems in recently-built structures. The emphasis on energy efficiency and pollution reduction additionally contributes to industry growth.

“Smart” buildings that incorporate sophisticated climate control systems, as demanded by contemporary homeowners and businesses, have also increased the need for trained HVAC technicians. Technicians must be skilled troubleshooters, proficient with computers, and understand electronics and high-tech. Access to the best job opportunities requires training and expertise in installing, maintaining, and servicing newer, more complex climate control systems.

Technicians specializing in new construction may occasionally experience unemployment if construction declines. That is unlikely in the foreseeable future in McKinney. The North Texas region in which the city is located continues to maintain a high ranking in financial stability. McKinney ranked in the Top 20 “most resilient economies” in the U.S. in 2022. The growth of new businesses and expanding population has created “an increased demand for homes and commercial structures,” which means that construction is expected to “stay strong well into the future.”

Technicians specializing in maintaining, servicing, and repairing equipment and systems rarely experience unemployment regardless of the economy, as businesses and homeowners rely on year-round climate control due to the weather.

HVAC and HVAC/R Salaries in McKinney, Texas

HVAC mechanics and installers nationally receive an annual median salary of $51,390, according to the BLS (May 2022). Technicians in the Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington area, which includes McKinney, earned an annual median salary of $48,930. The wage difference is more beneficial than it might appear, as the cost of living in Texas is slightly lower than in other American states.

As per the BLS (May 2022), the earnings of McKinney regional, 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 McKinney, Texas

HVAC technicians traditionally learned the HVAC trade by accepting employment as helpers to gain on-the-job training. Few such opportunities are available today, so most workers attend classes or participate in an apprenticeship program. Formal training provides workers with better job opportunities. They also 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 provides instructions for becoming a registered apprentice. Workers start with finding an employer willing to train them. The employer should register with the Commission if they have not already done so. Employers and employees may qualify for funding for registered programs, classroom instruction, and apprentices.

Apprenticeship.gov maintains a database of apprenticeships nationwide and on occasion, lists apprenticeships in or near McKinney. 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.

Workers unable to attend a local HVAC and HVAC/R apprenticeship program may find that training sponsored by national industry associations such as 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)

Details of programs, schedules, and fees are available on each organization’s website.

Accredited HVAC and HVAC/R Schools in McKinney, Texas

Workers who prefer to obtain training from a school should select an accredited institution. Accreditation is the process by which the quality of the program, including the curriculum and the instructors, is evaluated by an independent agency. HVAC Excellence and the Partnership for Air-Conditioning, Heating, Refrigeration Accreditation (PAHRA) are industry agencies that accredit HVAC programs.

HVAC Excellence has accredited Laredo College, Laredo, and Lincoln College of Technology, Grand Prairie. PAHRA has accredited Vernon College, Wichita Falls. Laredo College and Vernon College are not included in the profiles below as they would require a lengthy commute for McKinney students. Other reputable agencies have accredited the remaining schools.

Collin College

Collin College has several campuses throughout the county. Not all programs are available at all campuses at all times. HVAC students may choose from four levels of training available throughout the system:

  • Certificate level 1: HVAC entry certification – 16 credits, 16 weeks
  • Certificate level 1: HVAC residential servicing certification – 30 credits, 32 weeks
  • Certificate level 2: HVAC commercial servicing certification – 45 credits, 48 weeks
  • Degree: HVAC – 60 credits, two years

Coursework for all levels is divided between classroom lectures and hands-on practice.

Students seeking entry-level certification learn basic electricity, refrigeration principles, and gas and electric heating. Students enrolled in the residential servicing program complete the entry-level coursework and advanced electricity, air conditioning installation and startup, and residential systems design. Their capstone course is heat pumps.

The commercial servicing certification program curriculum includes all of the above coursework, including the following: commercial HVAC/R, advanced HVAC controls, industrial HVAC, and business and professional communication. Students also obtain NATE industry certification of workplace competency. Degree-seeking students add general education coursework in economics, composition, math, and humanities to the coursework in the other programs. They also complete a capstone course in testing, adjusting, and balancing HVAC systems.

  • Location: Frisco, TX: McKinney, TX: Plano, TX
  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
  • Tuition: $60 per credit for Collin County residents; $115 per credit for other Texas residents
  • Program length: As described above

Dallas College Eastfield Campus and North Lake Campus

Eastfield Campus and North Lake Campus are the closest to McKinney of the Dallas College campuses. Students at Eastfield may choose from two certificate programs and two degree programs, as follows:

  • Residential – technician I certificate: 24 credits, $1,896
  • Residential – technician III level II: 48 credits, $3,792
  • Commercial HVAC/R technology degree: 60 credits, $4,740
  • Residential HVAC/R degree: 60 credits, $4,740

The certificate programs are not available at the North Lake Campus. Both degree programs are available. Students in all the programs receive the training needed to seek positions in their chosen specialty.

The residential technician 1 certificate program curriculum includes electricity, air conditioning control principles, refrigeration principles, residential air conditioning, gas and electric heating, and heat pumps. Students in the residential technician III certificate program complete the same technical curriculum with the addition of air conditioning installation and startup, air conditioning troubleshooting, and residential air conditioning systems design. They also complete two general education electives from composition, communication, and math.

Students seeking the commercial HVAC/R technology degree complete the certificate coursework and additional technical curriculum, including commercial refrigeration or industrial air conditioning, commercial air conditioning, 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.

The residential HVAC/R degree program replaces the commercial courses with air conditioning 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: Eastfield Campus, Mesquite, TX; North Lake Campus, Irving, TX
  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
  • Tuition: As noted above
  • Program length: Certificates 12 to 18 months; degree two years

Edge Tech Academy

Edge Tech is a privately owned institution offering an HVAC diploma program. The small-size classes are designed to prepare students for entry-level employment. Students learn via classroom instruction and hands-on training. The curriculum includes air conditioning, electrical systems and controls, heating and heat pumps, and refrigeration. Students complete a total of 50 credit hours to earn their diploma.

  • Location: Arlington, TX
  • Accreditation: Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges
  • Tuition: $14,400
  • Program length: 40 weeks


ForgeNow offers an HVAC maintenance technician program. The coursework is presented via 148 hours of classroom lectures and 192 hours in a state-of-the-art lab. The curriculum includes construction basics, Section 608 exam preparation, support technician, a/c maintenance and troubleshooting, residential heating, troubleshooting residential HVAC, and lab assessments. Students are expected to wear a uniform, practice good personal hygiene, and always maintain a professional appearance.

In addition to the HVAC program, students may attend seminars designed to increase their knowledge. The following seminars are available:

  • Becoming a professional HVAC service technician: Explains the basics of an HVAC service technician career. It takes 1.5 hours and is presented for free.
  • EPA certification preparation: Includes extensive EPA exam preparation and taking the exam. The preparation time is six hours of lectures and two hours of exam time. The cost is $150.
  • Advanced refrigeration: Prepares students to service, troubleshoot, and repair refrigeration equipment and ice machines. It includes 42.5 of classroom lectures and five 8.5 hours of lab training. It costs $2,000, and students receive a certificate of completion.

All seminars are optional.

  • Location: Dallas, TX
  • Accreditation: Texas Workforce Commission
  • Tuition: $12,200
  • Program length: Eight weeks

Lincoln College of Technology

Students at Lincoln Tech may earn an HVAC/R technology diploma. They may attend classes during the day, afternoons, and evenings. They complete 44.5 credit hours of coursework. Graduates are qualified to seek entry-level employment as HVAC/R technicians.

The curriculum includes an introduction to climate control systems, electricity, basic HVAC/R systems, air conditioning design and layout, commercial refrigeration controls and design, warm air heating, and energy efficiency and green technology systems. Graduates are qualified to sit for the EPA Section 608 and Green Mechanical exams.

  • Location: Grand Prairie, TX
  • Accreditation: HVAC Excellence: Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges
  • Tuition: $26,700
  • Program length: 47 weeks

Remington College

Remington offers an HVAC diploma program and an HVAC technician degree program at the Fort Worth and Garland campuses. The curriculum for the diploma program includes career development fundamentals and principles, refrigeration theory, HVAC maintenance, electricity, motors and controls, residential HVAC, air conditioning and components, commercial refrigeration systems, domestic appliances and cold water air conditioning, heat pumps and hydronic heating, ventilation and air flow, and hydronic systems. Students receive their diplomas after 59 credits.

Degree-seeking students complete the same technical curriculum as those in the diploma program. They also complete additional coursework that includes business applications, small business principles and basics, recordkeeping and financial statement basics, psychology, oral communication, algebra, and English composition for a total of 95 credits.

  • Location: Fort Worth, TX; Garland (Dallas), TX
  • Accreditation: Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges
  • Tuition: Diploma $21,685; degree $29,590
  • Program Length: Diploma one year; degree two years

Tech Zone HVAC/R

TechZone offers a 100-hour HVAC/R diploma program with classroom lectures on theory 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.

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

McKinney students may find that online institutions can meet their needs if they cannot attend an on-campus school. Information on accredited online programs is available at online HVAC training.

HVAC and HVAC/R Certification and Licensing in McKinney, Texas

HVAC and HVAC/R technicians are mandated by federal law to obtain Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Section 608 certification if they handle refrigerants. Certification is governed by the type and size of equipment on which a technician works. The four levels of certification each require technicians to pass a specific exam on refrigerant safety 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

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

Section 608 certification, as well as other certifications that can increase a technician’s employability, are available from industry organizations such as the following:

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

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

Texas HVAC technicians must register, with limited exceptions such as building maintenance, with the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation (TDLR). They must also work only under a licensed HVAC contractor and may not advertise their services. Applicants must complete an application, undergo a criminal history check, and pay a fee. The registration must be renewed annually. Renewal requires a completed application and fee.

Certified technician is an additional voluntary registration. Applicants must submit the following:

  • 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
  • A $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.

To qualify, HVAC contractors must:

  • Have 48 months of practical experience under a licensed HVAC contractor within the past 72 months; or
  • Have 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; or
  • Have a degree, diploma, or certification in air-conditioning and refrigeration

Additionally, they must:

  • 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.

HVAC contractors in the City of McKinney must register as mechanical contractors. They do not need to pay a fee. Technicians do not have to register.

As regulatory agencies may change licensing requirements at will, HVAC professionals are encouraged to 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.