HVAC Schools in Utah

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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 2017), 3,590 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 air flow. 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 (2017) projected an increase of 15 percent in openings nationwide from 2016 to 2026. During that same time period, Projections Central expected that 560 jobs would be added to the HVAC industry in Utah specifically, which represents an increase of 42.3 percent. By comparison, openings in all professions nationwide were expected to increase by only seven percent. 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 nine percent are self-employed.

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 (Dec. 2018) lists 268 available HVAC technician jobs, including those at organizations like CaptiveAire Systems, Thermal Engineering LLC, Intermountain Healthcare, and the University of Utah. Further, Monster (Dec. 2018) lists additional positions at Pearce Services, American Appliance, and Jordan School District.

HVAC Salaries in Utah

According to BLS (2017), the annual average wage for Utah’s 3,590 HVAC workers was $50,290, which works out to an average hourly rate of $24.18. These numbers are roughly on par with national figures with the average annual salary of U.S. HVAC workers sitting at $49,530, equating to an hourly rate of $23.81. 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 2018) ranking it 30th in the nation. In more detailed terms, the BLS (2017) reported the following wage percentiles among HVAC workers in the US and Utah specifically:

Annual salary Hourly salary
United States Utah United States Utah
Average $49,530 $50,290 $23.81 $24.18
10th percentile $29,120 $28,730 $14.00 $13.81
25th percentile $36,150 $36,770 $17.38 $17.68
50th percentile $47,080 $48,770 $22.64 $23.45
75th percentile $60,270 $61,270 $28.98 $29.46
90th percentile $75,330 $76,870 $36.22 $36.96

The national figures were slightly different according to another source of data, Payscale (Dec. 2018), which relies on self-reported salaries. Among the HVAC workers reporting their annual salaries, Payscale found these percentiles:

United States: 881 HVAC workers responding

  • 10th percentile: $29,000
  • 50th percentile (median): $44,606
  • 90th percentile: $72,000

An additional 4,892 HVAC workers gave Payscale their hourly salary figures, resulting in these percentile wages:

  • 10th percentile: $12.94/hr.
  • 50th percentile (median): $19.33/hr.
  • 90th percentile: $29.55/hr.

The BLS designated 9 regions within Utah for which employment data is available. Unsurprisingly, the 1680 HVAC workers in the Salt Lake City region earned the highest average salary in the state ($59,690) while the 220 HVAC workers in St. George had the lowest average salary at $36,270. Following are the detailed salary data for the state of Utah:

Central Utah nonmetropolitan area (50 HVAC workers): $47,680 annual average salary

Central Utah nonmetropolitan area
Percentile Annual salary Hourly salary
Average $47,680 $22.92
10th percentile $18,640 $8.96
25th percentile $31,400 $15.10
50th percentile $53,400 $25.67
75th percentile $59,570 $28.64
90th percentile $65,290 $31.39

Eastern Utah nonmetropolitan area (number of HVAC workers unreported): $38,390 annual average salary

Eastern Utah nonmetropolitan area
Percentile Annual salary Hourly salary
Average $38,390 $18.46
10th percentile $24,360 $11.71
25th percentile $27,660 $13.30
50th percentile $32,510 $15.63
75th percentile $42,050 $20.22
90th percentile $62,260 $29.93

Logan, UT-ID (230 HVAC workers): $40,520 annual average salary

Logan, UT-ID
Percentile Annual salary Hourly salary
Average $40,520 $19.48
10th percentile $23,060 $11.08
25th percentile $28,620 $13.76
50th percentile $39,210 $18.85
75th percentile $51,260 $24.65
90th percentile $60,900 $29.28

Ogden-Clearfield, UT (470 HVAC workers): $43,880 annual average salary

Ogden-Clearfield, UT
Percentile Annual salary Hourly salary
Average $43,880 $21.10
10th percentile $27,410 $13.18
25th percentile $32,750 $15.75
50th percentile $44,120 $21.21
75th percentile $55,670 $26.76
90th percentile $61,320 $29.48

Provo-Orem, UT (730 HVAC workers): $42,450 annual average salary

Provo-Orem, UT
Percentile Annual salary Hourly salary
Average $42,450 $20.41
10th percentile $25,710 $12.36
25th percentile $34,640 $16.66
50th percentile $42,240 $20.31
75th percentile $50,440 $24.25
90th percentile $60,460 $29.07

Salt Lake City, UT (1680 HVAC workers): $59,690 annual average salary

Salt Lake City, UT
Percentile Annual salary Hourly salary
Average $59,690 $28.70
10th percentile $37,300 $17.93
25th percentile $45,680 $21.96
50th percentile $57,470 $27.63
75th percentile $72,950 $35.07
90th percentile $88,440 $42.52

Southwest Utah nonmetropolitan area (60 HVAC workers): $41,600 annual average salary

Southwest Utah nonmetropolitan area
Percentile Annual salary Hourly salary
Average $41,600 $20.00
10th percentile $29,730 $14.29
25th percentile $34,020 $16.36
50th percentile $39,150 $18.82
75th percentile $50,970 $24.51
90th percentile $58,220 $27.99

St. George, UT (220 HVAC workers): $36,270 annual average salary

St. George, UT
Percentile Annual salary Hourly salary
Average $36,270 $17.44
10th percentile $21,350 $10.27
25th percentile $24,070 $11.57
50th percentile $35,110 $16.88
75th percentile $44,910 $21.59
90th percentile $57,050 $27.43

Wasatch Back nonmetropolitan area (number of HVAC workers unknown): $45,440 annual average salary

Wasatch Back nonmetropolitan area
Percentile Annual salary Hourly salary
Average $45,440 $21.85
10th percentile $26,890 $12.93
25th percentile $29,600 $14.23
50th percentile $47,520 $22.85
75th percentile $57,600 $27.69
90th percentile $64,380 $30.95

Accredited HVAC Schools 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:

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. 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 $113.25 per credit hour, plus fees. Apprentice applicants must typically meet the following requirements to qualify:

  • Have a valid driver’s license
  • Have 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
  • Pass a drug screen

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 2018 there are no programs in Utah recognized by these entities. Instead, the schools listed below are accredited by the Council on Occupation Education, another organization authorized by the U.S. Department of Education to accredit schools that is not specific to HVAC training:

Davis Applied Technology College, located in Kaysville, UT, offers a 24 month program in heating and air conditioning. Enrollment for the program is open from September to June, with program graduates eligible to take a variety of professional exams, including the EPA Section 608 certification, Rocky Mountain Gas Association Exam, and the Industry Competency Exam (ICE), or North American Technician Excellence (NATE) exam. As of 2018, tuition and fees for this program were $2,565.

Fortis College has campuses across the US, including one in Salt Lake City, UT that offers a 48 week HVAC training program. Fortis notes that 91 percent of program graduates are able to find employment. As of 2018, tuition and fees for this program were expected to be around $17,413.

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. The expected total cost of this HVAC program is $2,390.

Finally, Ogden-Weber Technical College in Ogden, UT offers a HVACR Service Technician Apprentice program. After 740 hours of classroom training, students are awarded with an HVAC certificate. Evening classes make this program ideal for those already working in HVAC who want to advance their careers. Expected tuition for this program as of 2018 is $2,365.

Typical classwork in HVAC programs includes, but is not limited to:

  • Air distribution systems
  • Blueprint reading
  • Ductwork installation
  • Electricity fundamentals
  • Energy conservation equipment
  • Gas and hydronic heating
  • Hand and power tool use
  • Humidity control
  • HVAC troubleshooting techniques
  • HVAC/R mathematics
  • Residential HVAC system design and installation
  • Safety practices

Please note that the completion time varies by student.

HVAC Licensing in Utah

Fabricating and installing complete HVAC systems requires obtaining a Utah Contractor’s 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
  • 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 HVCA-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)