HVAC Schools in San Antonio, Texas

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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 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 2016) should be encouraging to those aspiring to work in this career. Specifically, the BLS (Dec. 2015) predicted the addition of 39,600 HVAC jobs nationwide between 2014 and 2024—an increase of 14 percent. This is much higher than the average growth expected across all US occupations during that time (6.5 percent). And the anticipated growth in HVAC jobs in Texas is even more robust than the national figures; to be sure, Projections Central (2017) found that the Lone Star State will see HVAC job openings swell 29.4 percent from 2014 to 2024, the addition of 6,740 new jobs. And many of these positions will likely emerge in San Antonio, the metropolitan region with the second highest number of HVAC jobs in the state behind Dallas.

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 industry 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 (April 2017) produced 491 results, including opportunities with Gillette Air Conditioning, San Antonio Aerospace, Heat Transfer Solutions, and many other employers. A similar search on Indeed (April 2017) yielded 592 results with employers such as Johnson Controls, Ingersoll Rand, Bexar County, Texas AirSystems, and the City of San Antonio. 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 (BLS May 2016), HVAC workers earn a competitive wage during their career. To be sure, the median salary for the 294,730 HVAC workers nationwide was approximately $45,910 per year, or $22.07 per hour. In more detail, here were the salary percentiles of HVAC workers across the US:

United States (294,730 HVAC workers): $48,320 annual average salary

  • 10th percentile: $28,440
  • 25th percentile: $35,440
  • 50th percentile (median): $45,910
  • 75th percentile: $58,960
  • 90th percentile: $73,350

In hourly figures, these salaries amounted to:

United States: $23.23/hr. Average

  • 10th percentile: $13.67/hr.
  • 25th percentile: $17.04/hr.
  • 50th percentile (median): $22.07/hr.
  • 75th percentile: $28.35/hr.
  • 90th percentile: $35.26/hr.

The national figures were slightly different according to another source of data, Payscale (April 2017), which relies on self-reported salaries. Among the HVAC workers reporting their annual salaries, Payscale found these percentiles:

United States: 448 HVAC workers responding

  • 10th percentile: $29,000
  • 25th percentile: $35,000
  • 50th percentile (median): $43,273
  • 75th percentile: $55,000
  • 90th percentile: $69,000

An additional 2,538 HVAC workers gave Payscale their hourly salary figures, resulting in these national percentile wages:

  • 10th percentile: $13.00/hr.
  • 25th percentile: $15.00/hr.
  • 50th percentile (median): $18.70/hr.
  • 75th percentile: $24.00/hr.
  • 90th percentile: $29.00/hr.

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 2017) reported that Texas is the ninth most affordable state in the country, boasting particular savings in housing and groceries relative to other regions. Please keep that in mind while evaluating the following HVAC salaries in Texas.

The BLS (May 2016) reported that there were 24,300 HVAC mechanics and installers across Texas, the third most among all US states. These workers had the following salary percentiles:

Texas (24,300 HVAC workers): $44,050 average annual salary

  • 10th percentile: $27,680
  • 25th percentile: $33,900
  • 50th percentile: $41,820
  • 75th percentile: $52,030
  • 90th percentile: $62,880

In hourly figures, these equated to:

Texas: $20.68/hour average

  • 10th percentile: $13.42
  • 25th percentile: $15.76
  • 50th percentile: $20.11
  • 75th percentile: $23.95
  • 90th percentile: $28.94

The BLS (May 2016) provides regional figures as well. There were four BLS-designated regions within 100 miles of San Antonio. The 2,460 HVAC professionals in San Antonio received the highest average compensation in the region at $43,010. Here were the numbers of HVAC mechanics and installers, average salaries, and percentile wages for these four BLS regions:

Austin-Round Rock, TX (1,820 HVAC workers): $41,180 average annual salary

  • 10th percentile: $32,330
  • 25th percentile: $35,130
  • 50th percentile: $39,780
  • 75th percentile: $46,980
  • 90th percentile: $53,740

Coastal Plains Region, TX (390 HVAC workers): $39,710 avg.

  • 10th percentile: $25,800
  • 25th percentile: $30,780
  • 50th percentile: $39,190
  • 75th percentile: $48,720
  • 90th percentile: $56,130

Hill Country Region, TX (420 HVAC workers): $37,970 avg.

  • 10th percentile: $22,230
  • 25th percentile: $26,120
  • 50th percentile: $36,500
  • 75th percentile: $48,210
  • 90th percentile: $58,010

San Antonio-New Braunfels, TX (2,460 HVAC workers): $43,010 avg.

  • 10th percentile: $27,910
  • 25th percentile: $32,770
  • 50th percentile: $41,830
  • 75th percentile: $49,820
  • 90th percentile: $60,200

When put into hourly figures, these same workers made:

Austin-Round Rock, TX: $19.80/hour average

  • 10th percentile: $15.54/hr.
  • 25th percentile: $16.89/hr.
  • 50th percentile: $19.13/hr.
  • 75th percentile: $22.59/hr.
  • 90th percentile: $25.84/hr.

Coastal Plains Region, TX: $19.09/hour average

  • 10th percentile: $12.40/hr.
  • 25th percentile: $14.80/hr.
  • 50th percentile: $18.84/hr.
  • 75th percentile: $23.43/hr.
  • 90th percentile: $26.99/hr.

Hill Country Region, TX: $18.25/hour average

  • 10th percentile: $10.69/hr.
  • 25th percentile: $12.56/hr.
  • 50th percentile: $17.55/hr.
  • 75th percentile: $23.18/hr.
  • 90th percentile: $27.89/hr.

San Antonio-New Braunfels, TX: $20.68/hour average

  • 10th percentile: $13.42/hr.
  • 25th percentile: $15.76/hr.
  • 50th percentile: $20.11/hr.
  • 75th percentile: $23.95/hr.
  • 90th percentile: $28.94/hr.

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.

One source for HVAC education in San Antonio is the Southern Careers Institute, which offers HVAC training and certification over the course of 38 weeks. Students learn about a variety of heating and cooling systems, and the cost of the program is $19,975, which includes both tuition and fees.

Aspiring HVAC workers in San Antonio may also choose to enroll at Alamo Colleges District St. Philip’s College, which offers workforce development training in the field. Students will not receive college credits for taking these courses, but will obtain continuing education units (CEUs), as well as valuable knowledge and experience that can be applied in a future career. Among the large list of courses are topics such as residential A/C, special topics in HVAC, gas and electric heat, and commercial refrigeration. For these classes, the cost per instructional hour ranges between $2.90 and $28.00; as such, anyone interested should reach out to the program administration directly for more information.

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). This agency provides the Air Conditioning and Refrigeration (ACR) Technician Registration, which is the baseline credential required by those working under HVAC contractors in Texas. Regulation does not require the completion of an examination; however, an exam is required to become a “Certified ACR Technician.” Costs of these credentials are $20 and $35, respectively.

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 application fee of $115. 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

Both Class A and Class B (restricted) categories exist, as well, which vary depending on the size of the equipment used. Furthermore, aspiring HVAC workers should note that Texas retains reciprocity agreements with both Georgia and South Carolina.

The City of San Antonio also requires licensed contractors to register with Development Services before they can be issued any permits to work. To register a state mechanical license, HVAC professionals must submit a contractor application, a photograph, an ID, proof of insurance, and an $85 application fee. 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.