HVAC Trade Schools in Plano, TX

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The population, culture, and economy of Plano, which bills itself as the City of Excellence, is diversified. Although it’s part of the Dallas-Fort Worth Metropolitan Area, it’s become an economic center in its own right. Fed-Ex, Frito Lay, J.C. Penney, Pizza Hut, Toyota, and other companies have established corporate headquarters or regional facilities in Plano. City planners utilize grants, tax abatements, and other incentives to encourage businesses to locate in Plano, but not at the expense of quality of life for residents. As a result, the city scores high on livability rankings with its strong, growing economy.

The climate of Plano, Texas (TX) is classified as humid subtropical. Summers tend to be hot and humid, with daytime temperatures in the high 90s. Temperatures in the evenings cool to the mid-70s. April through October are the wettest months with May receiving the most rainfall at nearly five inches. January is the coldest month, with daytime temperatures in the 50s and nighttime temperatures in the high 30s. Winter precipitation is rain rather than snow, with less than two inches falling during January, and increasing each month until May.

Plano boasts a park that is larger than New York’s Central Park. On cool and dry days, residents enjoy outdoor activities in the park and around town. But when the summer heat and humidity or winter chill keep people indoors, they rely on heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) for comfort in their homes and workplaces. Many of the businesses and public venues require the addition of refrigeration (HVAC/R). Companies that depend on technology need advanced climate-controlled rooms or facilities to keep their electronic equipment operating correctly.

Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS 2019) shows that 7,160 HVAC mechanics and installers were employed in the Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, TX area, which includes Plano, as of May 2018. Technicians and their employers received training and support from industry organizations that include:

  • American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers
  • American Subcontractors Association Texas Chapter
  • Dallas Builders Association
  • Associated Builders and Contractors Central Texas Chapter
  • Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors Association North Texas
  • Sheet Metal and Air Conditioning Contractors’ National Association
  • Texas Air Conditioning Contractors Association

These and other industry organizations coordinate 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, to ensure the safety of technicians and the public.

Occupational Demand for HVAC Technicians in Plano, TX

The demand for HVAC and HVAC/R technicians nationwide is increasing, according to the BLS (2019). Their data show a 13 percent increase in job openings between 2018 and 2028. That is much faster than the average of 7 percent anticipated for all occupations in the US. Texas is surpassing the national expectations. Projections Central predicts a 23.5 percent increase in the demand for technicians in Texas, or 6,190 new positions, during the same decade.

New construction accounts for most of the growth in the HVAC and HVAC/R industry. The overall prosperity and strong economy in Plano continue to draw new businesses and residents, and homes and commercial structures are needed to accommodate them. The climate demands the installation of climate-control systems and equipment in all new structures. Existing buildings often need to have HVAC systems replaced, retrofitted, or upgraded to meet contemporary safety codes, as well as current energy efficiency and pollution reduction standards. The increasing reliance on technology makes specialized equipment and systems necessary, especially in the newer “smart” buildings.

Climate-control equipment and systems continue to increase in complexity and require trained technicians to install, service, and maintain. Technicians must be proficient troubleshooters, skilled in using computers, and understand electronics to have the best job opportunities. In some areas, technicians who specialize in new installations may experience seasonal unemployment. As Plano is experiencing continued growth, technicians can expect year-round work. Technicians who specialize in maintenance and repair services can expect full-time employment, as homeowners and businesses need to keep their equipment in good working order regardless of the economy.

HVAC Salaries in Plano, TX

The BLS (March 2019) data show that HVAC mechanics and installers nationwide earned a median salary of $47,610 as of May 2018. Technicians in the Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, TX area, which includes Plano, earned an annual median salary of $45,470.

Details of national, state, and regional salaries of HVAC professionals are below:

United States Texas Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, TX
Number of HVAC Professionals Employed 324,310 25,290 7,160
Average Annual Salary $50,160 $46,070 $46,340
10th Percentile $29,460 $27,930 $24,110
25th Percentile $36,520 $35,220 $37,170
50th Percentile (Median) $47,610 $44,550 $45,470
75th Percentile $60,900 $55,630 $55,140
90th Percentile $76,230 $66,090 $64,810

HVAC Apprenticeships in Plano, TX

Untrained HVAC workers have few employment opportunities. Workers who want to become HVAC and HVAC/R technicians can increase their job prospects by attending classes or participating in an apprenticeship program. Those who do typically start at higher wages and potentially earn more during their career.

Apprentices receive on-the-job training, usually 2,000 hours, coordinated with classroom work, typically 144 hours, annually for three to five years. Workers can find resources and instructions for becoming a registered apprentice at the Texas Workforce Commission website. Apprentices are advised to 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.

Workers can also find apprenticeship programs sponsored by industry associations such as the following:

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

Schedules and fees are available on their websites.

Accredited HVAC Schools in Plano, TX

Schools voluntarily submit to a process of evaluation known as accreditation. The evaluation is conducted by an independent agency and includes the quality of the curriculum and the instructors. When choosing a school, students should 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, and Lincoln College of Technology, in Grand Prairie. The Partnership for Air-Conditioning, Heating, Refrigeration (PAHRA) has accredited Vernon College, in Wichita Falls.

Collin College

This school offers HVAC students four levels of training:

  • Certificate level I: HVAC entry certification – 16 credit-hours, 16 weeks
  • Certificate level I: HVAC residential servicing certification – 30 credit-hours, 24 weeks
  • Certificate level II: HVAC commercial servicing certification – 45 credit-hours, 48 weeks
  • Degree: HVAC – 60 credit-hours, two years

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

Students in the entry-level program learn basic electricity, refrigeration principles, and gas and electric heating. They also complete a residential air conditioning capstone course as well as prepare for EPA 608 certification. Students seeking the residential servicing certification complete the entry-level coursework, as well as advanced electricity, air conditioning installation and startup, and residential systems design. Their capstone course is heat pumps.

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

  • Location: McKinney, TX
  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
  • Format: On-campus
  • Tuition: $52 per credit-hour for Collin County residents; $98 per credit-hour for other Texas residents
  • Program length: See above

Lincoln College of Technology

Students may earn an HVAC technology diploma at Lincoln Tech. The coursework is available during the daytime and evenings and is divided between classroom lectures and hands-on training in a lab. The curriculum includes an introduction to climate control, electricity, HVAC/R systems, HVAC design and layout, commercial refrigeration design and controls, energy efficiency, and green technology. Graduates are qualified for employment in entry-level positions.

  • Location: Grand Prairie, TX
  • Accreditation: HVAC Excellence; Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges
  • Format: On-campus
  • Tuition: $24,109
  • Program length: 47 weeks

Lindsey-Cooper Refrigeration School

The HVAC/R programs at Lindsey-Cooper are available during the daytime and evenings and are taught in English and Spanish. Additionally, students can choose to attend full time or part-time. Coursework is presented in classroom lectures followed by hands-on practice in the lab. Enrollees can expect to learn subjects such as HVAC/R principles, HVAC/R components and controls, electricity, HVAC/R accessories, how to read wiring diagrams, soldering, tools and diagnostic instruments, and troubleshooting. Students may also take an additional course designed to prepare them for the EPA Section 608 exam.

  • Location: Irving, TX
  • Accreditation: Licensed by the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC)
  • Format: On-campus
  • Tuition: Not disclosed on their website but varies depending on program chosen
  • Program length: Two weeks to 12 weeks depending on program chosen

Remington College

Remington College offers an HVAC diploma program at the Dallas campus in Garland and at their Fort Worth campus. The coursework is divided equally between classroom lectures and hands-on training in fully-equipped labs. The curriculum includes career development, introductory HVAC/R, HVAC maintenance, automated controls, motors, residential systems, commercial HVAC/R, domestic appliances, heat pumps and hydronic heating, and ducting and airflow. Graduates are qualified to seek entry-level positions as residential, commercial, or industrial HVAC technicians.

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

Tech Zone HVAC/R

TechZone offers HVAC/R training during the daytime, evenings, and on Saturdays. Students may attend full time or part-time. Coursework is presented through classroom lectures followed by hands-on practice in the lab and includes the following: tools of the trade, basic HVAC/R cycles, electricity, heat pumps, wiring diagrams, gas and electric heating, and refrigerants. Graduates are prepared to take the EPA Section 608 exam.

  • Location: Irving, TX
  • Accreditation: Licensed by the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC)
  • Format: On-campus
  • Tuition: Not disclosed on website
  • Program length: Full-time, two weeks; part-time, ten weeks

Plano students who are unable to complete an on-campus program may choose distance-based HVAC training. More information on available programs may be found at the online HVAC training page.

HVAC Certification and Licensing in Plano, TX

All technicians who work with refrigerants are subject to federal law that requires Section 608 certification from the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Technicians must pass an exam based on the size and type of system on which they work. There are four types of certifications, as follows:

  • Small appliances (Type I)
  • High-pressure appliances (Type II)
  • Low-pressure appliances (Type III)
  • All types of equipment (Universal)

The EPA website has full information and practice exams.

Various industry organizations offer Section 608 testing and certifications, as well as additional training and certifications to increase a technician’s employability. These include, but are not limited to:

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

Availability, schedules, and fees may be found on each website.

HVAC and HVAC/R technicians in Texas are required to register with the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation (TDLR). Furthermore, the 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.

To advance their career, technicians may voluntarily choose to register as certified technicians. They must submit proof of 24 months experience under a licensed HVAC contractor, proof of 2,000 hours combined work experience in an approved training program, an application form, and $50 fee. Once documents are approved, applicants must then pass an exam based on the type of certification sought.

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 are valid for one year.

Certified technicians may upgrade to a contractor’s license when the following conditions are met:

  • 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 and practical experience under a licensed HVAC contractor within the past 48 months
  • Submission of a completed application form
  • Payment a $115 fee
  • Successfully passed an exam
  • Obtained minimum levels of insurance coverage

Two classes of licenses are available: Class A permits contractors to work on any size project, and 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 form, and a $65 fee.

Please note that the City of Plano does not currently require HVAC and HVAC/R technicians or contractors to obtain a business license.

As a final note, federal, state, and local licensing agencies always have the option of changing their licensing requirements. HVAC technicians are encouraged to ensure that they comply with any requirements 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.