HVAC Schools in San Antonio, TX – Training & Certification

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The year-round heat within San Antonio, Texas makes this city one of the best places to begin a career as a heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration (HVAC/R) professional. Furthermore, HVAC workers in the area have the ability to take advantage of the myriad benefits provided by local organizations and agencies. For one, the Texas Air Conditioning Contractors Association (TACCA) exists to support HVAC professionals. It’s a nonprofit trade association with services including education, advocacy, year-round industry events, and HVAC training. TACCA also maintains a specific San Antonio chapter for HVAC workers in the area.

Additionally, these skilled workers also have access to the Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors (PHCC) San Antonio chapter; this organization publishes an apprentice newsletter, hosts sports events and monthly membership meetings, offers training for current members, and provides a wide array of other benefits. These resources help support the HVAC industry in San Antonio and the surrounding areas.

What exactly do these professionals do on a day-to-day basis? Among other tasks, HVAC workers test HVAC circuitry and components; read blueprints; ensure compliance with all relevant regulations and laws; and lay wiring and piping structure for all HVAC equipment. Additionally, HVAC workers must maintain necessary credentials for their job; travel to job sites when commuting is required; conduct maintenance and repair; and even educate customers on best practices for saving energy.

Of course, this is not an exhaustive list, and an HVAC worker in San Antonio may perform a number of other tasks outside of those mentioned here. That being said, all HVAC workers in San Antonio who work with refrigerants need to maintain active EPA Section 608 Certification; failure to do so is in violation of the law.

Overall, like with many other careers, working as an HVAC professional requires an in-depth knowledge of the vocation and the industry, as well as a thorough formal education and time spent working toward this aspiration. This guide examines what to expect in an HVAC career, including salary estimates, certification and licensure requirements, and accredited HVAC schools in San Antonio.

Occupational Demand for HVAC Technicians in San Antonio

Recent employment projections from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS May 2019) should be encouraging to those aspiring to work in this career. It has predicted an addition of 46,300 HVAC jobs nationwide between 2018 and 2028—an increase of 13 percent. This is much higher than the average growth expected across all US occupations during that time (5 percent).

There are varied reasons for the significant growth in this industry in San Antonio. For one, HVAC systems generally must be replaced every 10 to 15 years, and require routine maintenance and servicing in the interim. Furthermore, laws and regulations regarding HVAC are constantly evolving, as well as industrial technology, which facilitates a need for constant system upgrades. Finally, nearly all buildings in San Antonio have climate-control systems; and especially in areas of high construction, there is a demand for brand-new equipment.

Even a quick glance at job postings for this industry in San Antonio makes clear the high demand for skilled HVAC workers in the area. A search for HVAC job postings in San Antonio on Monster (June 2020) produced 209 results, including opportunities with Sears Holdings Corporation, CyberCoders, American Homes 4 Rent, and many other employers.

A similar search on Indeed (June 2020) yielded 203 results with employers such as Centrica, Homee, Will Fix It Plumbing, Heating, Cooling, Electrical, Reddy Ice, and many others. In short, there’s a projected wealth of job opportunities for HVAC professionals in San Antonio.

HVAC Worker Salary in San Antonio

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (May 2019), HVAC professionals earn relatively competitive salaries, particularly for positions that may require just two years of post-secondary training. BLS (May 2019) states, the median salary for HVAC workers nationwide was $48,730 per year, while the median salary for HVAC technicians in San Antonio, TX was $50,160 per year.

The table below is a comparison of national, state, and regional salaries of HVAC professionals.

The BLS (May, 2019) reported the following salary figures in the San Antonio area:

United States Texas San Antonio
Number of HVAC professionals employed 342,040 26,690 2,240
Annual mean wage $51,420 $46,840 $50,060
10th percentile $30,610 $29,180 $31,770
25th percentile $37,660 $36,680 $39,770
50th percentile (median) $48,730 $45,510 $50,160
75th percentile $62,070 $56,410 $61,330
90th percentile $77,920 $67,510 $69,470

The national figures were slightly different according to another source of data, Payscale (2020), which relies on self-reported salaries. Among the HVAC workers reporting their annual salaries, Payscale found these percentiles:

  • 10th percentile: $31,000
  • 50th percentile (median): $47,097
  • 90th percentile: $74,000

HVAC professionals in the San Antonio area have a slightly lower average salary than national figures, but it’s important to note that the cost of living in Texas is also cheaper than most US states. By illustration, the Missouri Economic Research and Information Center (MERIC 2019) reported that Texas had the 15th lowest cost of living in the United States for 2019.

The BLS (May 2019) reported that there were 26,690 HVAC mechanics and installers across Texas, the third most among all US states.

Accredited HVAC Schools in San Antonio

There is more than one path to becoming an HVAC worker with respect to education. To be sure, an aspiring HVAC professional may choose to enroll in a college or vocational school, complete an apprenticeship, or receive training another way.

Southern Careers Institute

Southern Careers Institute’s San Antonio North campus offers a variety of vocational and trade programs. One such program is the HVAC (Heating, Ventilation & Air Conditioning) program. This program trains students for a successful career in residential as well as commercial HVAC services, so students can take their career in any direction they choose.

Students will learn how to install, maintain and repair essential temperature control equipment used in homes and by business complexes. This 74.5-credit-hour program includes courses such as introduction to HVAC, construction basics, trade safety, heating and cooling, venting and ducting, HVAC electrical, diagnostics and maintenance, and hydronics, among others. Students will also receive instruction in the important aspect of green technology.

After graduating from this program, students may be eligible for the following certifications:

  • EPA Certification
  • R410A Certified
  • HVAC Certification
  • NATE Certified
  • Green Certification
  • Indoor Air Quality Certification
  • Preventative Maintenance Certification
  • TDLR ACR Certification

Graduates can become eligible to become registered HVAC technicians through the TDLR. They may also find entry-level employment in residential or commercial fields. They will receive training in a variety of heating and cooling systems, and also receive instruction on piping using a wide variety of materials.

  • Location: San Antonio, TX
  • Accreditation: Council on Occupational Education
  • Expected Time to Completion: 36 to 48 weeks
  • Estimated Tuition: $19,925 for the program

Alamo Colleges District St. Philip’s College

Aspiring HVAC workers in San Antonio may also choose to enroll at Alamo Colleges District St. Philip’s College, which offers the following programs:

  • Air Conditioning and Heating, AAS – This program is made up of 60 credit-hours. It includes courses such as AC control principles, refrigeration principles, residential air conditioning, advanced air conditioning controls, heat pumps, gas and electric heating, air conditioning and troubleshooting, residential air conditioning systems design, air conditioning and refrigeration codes, and more.
  • HVAC Installer Level 1 Certificate – This program comprises 24 credit-hours. It involves courses such as AC control principles, refrigeration principles, residential air conditioning, advanced air conditioning controls, air conditioning installation and startup, and HVAC duct fabrication.
  • HVAC Technician Level 1 Certificate – As part of this program, students will delve into topics such as AC control principles, refrigeration principles, residential air conditioning, gas and electric heating, advanced air conditioning controls, and heat pumps.
  • Basic HVAC Helper (OSA) – This involves courses such as AC control principles, refrigeration principles, and residential air conditioning.
  • Basic HVAC Installer (OSA) – The curriculum of this program includes courses such as AC control principles, refrigeration principles, and HVAC duct fabrication.

These programs prepare students for a career in the HVAC industry. They learn how to service HVAC systems, install new systems, and also get prepared for the EPA certification.

  • Location: San Antonio, TX
  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
  • Expected Time to Completion: AAS degree (five semesters); basic HVAC helper (one semester); HVAC installer level 1 certificate (two semesters); HVAC technician level 1 certificate (two semesters); basic HVAC installer (two semesters)
  • Estimated Tuition: Texas residents, in-district ($99 per semester-credit-hour); Texas residents, out-of-district ($215 per semester-credit-hour); non- resident ($466 per semester-credit-hour)

South Texas Vocational Technical Institute

South Texas Vocational Technical Institute offers the air conditioning, heating & refrigeration diploma program, preparing students for taking up jobs in both commercial and residential repair and maintenance. The program faculty includes industry-experienced professors with extensive real-world experience. Students will learn to troubleshoot, service, and repair commercial and residential HVAC/R systems.

The air conditioning courses prepare students to learn how to design, construct and operate various A/C unit applications, install unitary and split systems, and examine the construction and design of fiberboard duct air handling systems. Through the refrigeration courses, students will learn about A/C system design, maintenance, installation, and repair, including basic chill water systems.

Students will also be introduced to technician responsibilities as defined by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Clean Air Act, refrigeration piping repair, design and installation of ventilation ducts, and refrigerant reclamation and recycling.

Graduates of this program may be qualified for entry-level employment as a repairer, service technician, or installer as either a contractor or as a full-time employee.

  • Location: San Antonio, TX
  • Accreditation: Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges
  • Expected Time to Completion: 960 hours
  • Estimated Tuition: $290 per credit-hour

Finally, those interested in career development in HVAC may also choose to pursue education at the John Wayne Academy, a technical school in San Antonio that prepares students to work in the HVAC industry. The program allows students to work in the field for a portion of the time, while taking classes for the other portion. Aspiring students will need to proceed through a standard hiring process before being considered for admissions, as they are not required to pay tuition, although they must sign an employment contract with the school.

HVAC Certification and Licensing in San Antonio

Before seeking a job in the industry, HVAC workers in San Antonio must first obtain the required licensure and certification.

To begin, all workers who handle environmentally sensitive refrigerants must possess EPA Section 608 Certification. This certification is split into four different types: type 1 (small appliances), type 2 (high-pressure appliances), type 3 (low-pressure appliances), and type 4 (universal). A majority of HVAC programs will prepare graduates for certifying examinations during the course of study.

In addition, several organizations exist that provide skill-based, employment-ready national certifications. A handful of these organizations and their sample certifications are listed below:

  • Refrigeration Service Engineers Society (RSES) – EPA Section 608, commercial air conditioning, dynamic compression, HVAC-R electrical, etc.
  • North American Technician Excellence (NATE) – air distribution, heat pump [air-to-air], hydronics gas, commercial refrigeration, light commercial refrigeration, etc.
  • HVAC Excellence – Heating, Electrical, Air conditioning Technology [HEAT], HEAT Plus, residential heat load analysis, green awareness, etc.

To learn about the full array of national credentials, visit the HVAC certifications page.

Finally, HVAC professionals in San Antonio are required to obtain all necessary local licenses before starting to work. HVAC workers in Texas are licensed by the Texas Department of Licensing and Registration (TDLR).

Additionally, any HVAC workers seeking to advertise their services must obtain an Air Conditioning and Refrigeration Contractor License. To become eligible for this license, applicants must pass a comprehensive examination and pay an application fee. Candidates must also submit proof of four years of practical experience under the supervision of a licensed contractor. A number of distinct HVAC contractor licenses exist, including:

  • Environmental air conditioning
  • Commercial refrigeration/process heating and cooling
  • Combined environmental air conditioning and commercial refrigeration/process heating and cooling

The City of San Antonio also requires licensed contractors to register with Development Services before they can be issued any permits to work. As a final note, HVAC workers should understand that the city itself no longer issues mechanical contractor licenses; these must be obtained through the Texas state government.

Overall, HVAC professionals should make sure that they retain all necessary credentials before beginning to work, and are highly encouraged to reach out to local city administrators for answers to any questions about the process.

Farheen Gani

Farheen is a freelance writer, marketer, and researcher. She writes about technology, education, and marketing. Her work has appeared on websites such as Tech in Asia and Foundr, as well as top SaaS blogs such as Zapier and InVision. You can connect with her on LinkedIn and Twitter (@FarheenGani).