HVAC Schools in Utah – Degrees & Certifications

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Home to the Great Salt Lake and Bonneville Salt Flats, Utah (UT) boasts mountains with peaks taller than 10,000 feet which descend into deserts in the lower elevations. Weather varies from arid to rainy and icy conditions. The many mountains and valleys are subject to seasonal changes in temperature from below freezing to blistering heat, as well as variances due to elevation. As a result, residents of the Beehive State require year-round heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) to remain comfortable.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS May 2019), 3,470 Utahns were employed as HVAC installers, mechanical, and maintenance workers. Training and professional support are provided by various organizations, including the Rocky Mountain Gas Association; the Utah Mechanical Contractors Association; and the Utah Plumbing and Heating Contractors Association. Members of these associations work closely with others in the HVAC industry as well as with government agencies to establish educational, performance, and licensing standards.

The typical workday of an HVAC technician in Utah is filled with a variety of responsibilities. Their job description is installing, maintaining, and repairing systems that control indoor temperatures and air quality. In addition to working on equipment in homes, technicians work on systems in factories, hospitals, offices, restaurants, and schools. Not surprisingly, any building with climate control can be a job site, requiring attention from minor repairs or maintenance to complex installations. Technicians troubleshoot equipment that isn’t functioning properly and repair or replace parts. They must be familiar with how belts, fans, filters, motors, or valves all work together to produce the desired air quality and airflow.

Equipment that HVAC technicians install, service, or maintain includes boilers, compressors, heat pumps, humidifiers, refrigeration systems, and water pumps. In addition to installing new equipment, HVAC technicians are often responsible for connecting the system to electrical, fuel, or water lines and testing components such as thermostats and safety controls. Tools used in HVAC jobs range from everyday hand tools like screwdrivers or wrenches to those requiring specialized knowledge such as acetylene torches, combustion analyzers, and voltmeters.

Experienced HVAC professionals in Utah ensure that new equipment meets the specifications outlined in the blueprints and manufacturer manuals. Verification that installations comply with local and federal regulations is another part of the job, and HVAC professionals also evaluate the energy use of the equipment and recommend improvements to customers to increase operating efficiency. All technicians are required to keep their credentials and certifications current.

This guide explores this high-growth industry, including the career outlook, salary prospects, credentialing information, and accredited HVAC programs in Utah.

Occupational Demand for HVAC Workers in Utah

Utah is one of the fastest-growing states in the U.S. The expanding population and extreme temperatures create superior employment opportunities for HVAC and refrigeration professionals. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) indicates stable employment into the future, as manufacturers and contractors have begun demanding year-round service contracts. Peak seasonal installations and repair services can result in overtime hours for technicians.

Nationwide demand for HVAC mechanics and installers continues to grow. The BLS (May 2019) projected an increase of 13 percent in openings nationwide from 2018 to 2028. That is more than twice the average 5 percent increase projected for all occupations in the U.S.

The need for technicians in Utah is growing at an extraordinary rate than the national average. By illustration, CareerOneStop—a data organization partnered with the US Department of Labor—reported that there would be a 42 percent increase in HVAC positions across Utah between 2016 and 2026. The factors that have led to increases in HVAC employment include:

  • Construction of new commercial buildings and residences
  • Increasing demand for climate control
  • Increasing complexity of new climate control systems
  • Requirements that older systems be replaced, retrofitted, or repaired
  • Focus on improving energy efficiency and reducing pollution

Most HVAC technicians are employed by construction companies, and approximately 9 percent are self-employed (BLS 2019).

A search of online job sites can also be a good indication of the demand in a particular area. For example, job search site Indeed (August 2020) lists 142 available HVAC technician jobs, including those at organizations like Superior Water & Air, Lennox International, Northrop Grumman, and Promontory Club. Further, Monster (August 2020) lists 336 positions at Jobot, The Judge Group, and Pep Boys.

HVAC Salaries in Utah

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (May 2019), there were 342,040 HVAC workers around the country with an average annual salary(annual mean wage) of $51,420. Interestingly, Utah HVAC workers boasted roughly the same mean annual salary ($50,210).

It is important to add that Utah HVAC workers also experience a fairly average cost of living as compared with the rest of the country, with the Missouri Economic Research and Information Center (MERIC 2020) ranking it 26th in the nation.

In more detailed terms, the BLS (May 2019) reported the following wage percentiles among HVAC workers in the US and Utah specifically:

United States Utah
Number of HVAC professionals employed 342,040 3,470
Annual mean wage $51,420 $50,210
10th percentile $30,610 $29,760
25th percentile $37,660 $36,910
50th percentile (median) $48,730 $47,820
75th percentile $62,070 $60,670
90th percentile $77,920 $74,760

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: $30,000
  • 50th percentile (median): $47,128
  • 90th percentile: $74,000

The BLS designated seven regions within Utah for which employment data is available. Unsurprisingly, the 1,350 HVAC workers in the Salt Lake City region earned the highest average salary in the state ($55,560) while HVAC workers in St. George had the lowest average salary at $35,060.

HVAC Apprenticeships in Utah

Individuals desiring to become HVAC technicians have traditionally learned the trade by hands-on instruction. Apprentices today combine classroom study with paid on-the-job work and take three to five years to complete their training. Local chapters of industry associations are one source of apprenticeship programs. These include:

  • Air-Conditioning Contractors of America
  • Mechanical Contractors Association of America
  • Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors Association
  • Sheet Metal Workers’ International Association

Utah Career Center (Apprenticeship)

The Utah Career Center of SLC has a five-year HVAC-R apprentice program under the auspices of the Utah Mechanical Contractors Association. Students receive 1,800 hours on-the-job training under the supervision of a certified journeyman. They also attend classes three nights a week where they learn the science, theory, and practical application of the trade. Upon completion, apprentices receive a certificate and journey-level status.

  • Location: Salt Lake City, UT
  • Duration: Five years

Salt Lake Community College (Apprenticeship)

The Salt Lake Community College also offers a four-year apprenticeship program comprising 8,000 on-the-job training hours and at least 576 hours of classroom instruction. Tuition is currently $131.50 per credit-hour, plus fees.

Apprentice applicants must typically meet the following requirements to qualify: hold a valid driver’s license and a safe driving record, be physically able to handle the job, be prepared to work inside and outdoors, supply proof that they are at least 18 years old, be a high school graduate or have their GED, and pass a drug screen.

  • Location: Salt Lake City, UT
  • Duration: Four years

Accredited HVAC Schools in Utah

HVAC and refrigeration systems are increasingly complex. For this reason, contractors often prefer to hire workers who have completed formal coursework as well as on-the-job training.

Training programs that are accredited have met certain industry standards, although accreditation status is ot a guarantee of future employment or other outcomes. The Partnership for Air Conditioning, Heating, Refrigeration Accreditation (PAHRA) and HVAC Excellence are the two currently recognized accrediting agencies for HVAC schools. However, as of 2020, there are no programs in Utah recognized by these entities, although most of the below options boast accreditation from reputable sources.

Salt Lake Community College

Salt Lake Community College offers a competency-based air conditioning/heating/refrigeration certificate of completion program, preparing students to take up jobs in HVAC/R. The program provides students with various opportunities to advance their skills by taking up nationally recognized tests and earning industry-recognized certifications.

The program includes 875 clock hours of required courses and 80 clock hours of electives. The required courses include computer concepts, safety fundamentals, basic electricity for HVAC, basic refrigeration, fundamentals of gas heating, HVAC customer soft skills, job-seeking skills, refrigeration applications, and residential HVAC applications, among others.

Students will also have the option of third party certifications in the following areas as required: EPA 608, EPA 609, COSA, RMGA gas service training certification, and green mechanical awareness certification, to name a few. At the end of the program, graduates can pursue opportunities such as HVAC/R installers and mechanics, heating and air conditioning mechanics, and refrigeration mechanics.

  • Location: Salt Lake City, Utah
  • Accreditation: Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities
  • Expected Time to Completion: 955 Hours
  • Estimated Tuition: $2,292

Fortis College

Fortis College has campuses across the US, including one in Salt Lake City, UT that offers the heating, ventilation, air conditioning, and refrigeration training program preparing students for entry-level employment as an HVAC technician. Students will be trained to carry out computerized diagnostics and repair complex systems, such as heat pumps, commercial refrigerators, gas heaters, and air conditioners. They will also learn how to troubleshoot ventilation systems.

Taught by experienced instructors, students in this program learn how to apply their learnings to real-world problems. The practical skills they gain in the lab will help them operate with a wide range of heating, ventilation, and cooling systems. To qualify for admission, a student must be a high school graduate or possess the recognized equivalent of a high school certificate.

Made up of 64 credit-hours, courses in the program include HVAC/R controls, thermodynamics, refrigerants, residential air conditioning, commercial air conditioning, industrial refrigeration, and gas heating systems, among others.

Upon completion of the program, graduates will be well-equipped to maintain systems commercial and residential buildings of all kinds. They will have the skills necessary to operate, develop, and test HVAC equipment. Successful graduates will also be eligible to take the EPA Universal Certification Exam.

  • Location: Salt Lake City, Utah
  • Accreditation: Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC)
  • Expected Time to Completion: 48 weeks
  • Estimated Tuition: $17,636

Mountainland Technical College (Apprenticeship & Certificate Program)

Mountainland Technical College in Orem, UT offers a 360-hour HVAC apprenticeship program that incorporates both classroom and hands-on learning. Students applying to this program must be currently employed by an HVAC company. Unemployed students are admitted only as space permits. As an apprentice, students will learn about the techniques for installing new equipment and repairing and troubleshooting existing equipment.

Mountainland Technical College also offers a 60-hour A7 automotive HVAC program covering the HVAC systems for light trucks and automotive cars. Hands-on and theory training includes instruction in electrical fundamentals, shop safety, and all systems and components both electronic and mechanical that are related to a vehicle’s heating and air conditioning system, manufacturer web-based training, ASE practice testing, and a final exam. Through the course of the program, students will also take the highly coveted online EPA section 609 Certification exam.

  • Location: Apprenticeship (Orem campus); A7 automotive HVAC program (MTECH Lehi Main and Spanish Fork Campuses)
  • Accreditation: Commission of the Council on Occupational Education
  • Expected Time to Completion: Apprenticeship (360 hours); A7 automotive HVAC program (60 hours)
  • Estimated Tuition: Apprenticeship ($189); A7 automotive HVAC program ($126)

Ogden-Weber Technical College

Finally, Ogden-Weber Technical College in Ogden, UT offers an HVAC/R service technician apprentice program. After 740 hours of classroom training, students are awarded an HVAC certificate. Evening classes make this program ideal for those who work in HVAC and wish to advance their career.

Along with classroom and lab instruction, the program also provides students with hands-on training. The curriculum focuses on water systems, electronic control systems, fully automated systems, and gas systems. Students also gain the skills and knowledge needed for installing, diagnosing and repairing HVAC systems in public, residential, industrial, and commercial buildings. On successful completion of this program, students can also apply credits to the associate of applied science at Weber State University.

  • Location: Ogden, Utah
  • Accreditation: Commission of the Council on Occupational Education
  • Expected Time to Completion: 30 months
  • Estimated Tuition: $2,605 total

HVAC Licensing in Utah

Fabricating and installing complete HVAC systems requires obtaining a Utah Contractors license. Utah’s Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing calls for applicants to pass an HVAC exam and have a minimum of four years of experience during the previous ten years. Their work has to be under the direct supervision of a licensed HVAC contractor. The exam tests applicants on:HVAC system design, HVAC system fabrication, HVAC system installation, HVAC system maintenance, and HVAC safety.

A Utah contractor’s license is required on all contracting jobs that exceed $1,000. Applicants are charged a non-refundable fee, which is currently $110.00, to take the exam. To remain licensed, technicians must undergo continuing education, including a minimum of eight hours on the current edition of the National Electric Code. Additionally, HVAC professionals must pass the Rocky Mountain Gas Association certification exam if they plan to work on gas appliances.

In addition to local requirements, there are various national HVAC certifications available. HVAC Excellence offers a variety of employment-ready certifications in HVAC-R, designed to improve one’s technical competency in the industry. North American Technician Excellence (NATE) tests and certifies working knowledge of HVAC-R systems and documents competency in specific knowledge areas. The Refrigeration Service Engineers Society (RSES) provides training and testing designed to increase and certify the skills of HVAC/R workers. The requirements, costs, and expiration dates of the certifications vary. Lastly, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requires technicians who work with refrigerants to obtain EPA Section 608 Certification. The four types of this certification are:

  • Type 1: Small appliances
  • Type II: High-pressure refrigerants
  • Type III: Low-pressure refrigerants
  • Type IV: Universal (all types of equipment)

Overall, all HVAC professionals in Utah are advised to contact local governing offices to ensure that they have all necessary credentialing and permits prior to beginning any project.

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).