HVAC Schools & Training Programs in Salt Lake City, UT

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Salt Lake City, Utah (UT) is hot during the summer and cold during the winter. Weather is affected by Pacific storms carried by the jet stream, moisture from the Gulf of California, and the nearby Great Salt Lake. July and August are the hottest months, with temperatures surging into the 90s F on some days. Less than an inch of rain falls during those months. June and September are slightly cooler and moderately wetter.

The weather starts turning frigid in November, and the highs from December through February hover in the 30s and low 40s. The lows are consistently below freezing. Snow coats the city from November through March, with occasional snowstorms during October and April. Annual snowfall is just under six feet for most years.

Salt Lake City is the capital of Utah and the state’s largest city. The surrounding mountains and climate have made the city a popular outdoor recreation destination. Although tourism makes a significant contribution to the economy, it’s not the only industry. A diversity of industries have created a strong economic base that continues to expand. Historically reliant on mining, the city is now a financial and commercial center. Other industries include education, healthcare, professional services, and retail trade. A “tech boom” is drawing in new businesses and residents.

The air quality of Salt Lake City is often poor, due in part to weather inversions that trap pollution. The air quality, combined with hot summers and icy winters, often keeps residents indoors. They rely on heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) all year for comfort in their homes and workplaces. The hospitality venues, as well as the education and healthcare institutions, frequently require the addition of refrigeration (HVAC/R). The growing technology-based industries typically need specialized equipment and systems to keep the electronics operating correctly.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS 2020), 1,350 HVAC and HVAC/R technicians were employed in Salt Lake City as of May 2019. The technicians and their employers received networking and resources from industry associations such as the following:

  • Associated Builders and Contractors Utah (ABC)
  • Associated General Contractors of Utah (AGC)
  • Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors Association (PHCCA)
  • Refrigeration Service Engineers Society (RSES)
  • Sheet Metal Workers Union Local 312
  • UA Plumbing, Pipefitting, HVAC&R Local 140
  • Utah Chapter of the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE)
  • Utah Home Builders Association (HBA)
  • Utah Mechanical Contractors Association (UMCA)

These and similar industry organizations work with each other and government agencies to establish educational, licensing, and performance standards for the safety of technicians, the public, and the environment.

Occupational Demand for HVAC and HVAC/R Technicians in Salt Lake City, UT

Openings for trained HVAC and HVAC/R technicians are expected to increase 4 percent nationwide between 2019 and 2029, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS 2020). This is the same as the projected average for all US occupations during the same time period.

Projections Central (2020), however, anticipates exceptional growth for Utah technicians at 31.1 percent between 2018 and 2028. This is expected to add 1,170 new positions statewide.

Growth in the HVAC industry is primarily due to the construction of new commercial structures and residences. Salt Lake City’s “red-hot economy” supports the ongoing construction of new facilities and buildings. Overcoming the air pollution problems has generated new environmental standards, necessitating the replacement of aging climate control equipment and systems in older structures. Technological advances and an emphasis on energy efficiency have also made the systems in some newer structures obsolete, requiring upgrading the equipment.

Many structures, new or up-dated, are expected to be “smart.” The sophisticated climate-control systems installed in smart buildings require trained technicians to install, maintain, and service. The best job opportunities will go to technicians who understand electronics and have developed their troubleshooting and computer skills.

Those who specialize in new installations may occasionally experience unemployment if construction declines, although that seems unlikely in the foreseeable future in view of Salt Lake City’s strong economy and development plans. Technicians who specialize in maintaining, servicing, and repairing equipment typically enjoy full-time employment as businesses and homeowners depend on year-round climate control regardless of the economy.

HVAC Salaries in Salt Lake City, UT

Workforce data from the BLS (May 2019) shows that HVAC mechanics and installers nationally received a median salary of $48,730. Technicians in Salt Lake City earned an annual median salary of $55,360, as per the BLS. The difference in income isn’t as significant as it seems, as the cost of living in Utah is higher than in other American states.

The BLS (May 2019) reports the following national, state, and regional salaries of HVAC professionals:

United States Utah Salt Lake City
Number of HVAC professionals employed 342,040 3,470 1,350
Average annual salary $51,420 $50,210 $55,560
10th Percentile $30,610 $29,760 $35,080
25th Percentile $37,660 $36,910 $40,910
50th Percentile (Median) $48,730 $47,820 $55,360
75th Percentile $62,070 $60,670 $69,420
90th Percentile $77,920 $74,760 $80,110

HVAC Apprenticeships in Salt Lake City, UT

In the past, untrained workers sought positions as helpers in order to learn their skills through on-the-job training. Opportunities for doing so are becoming increasingly difficult to find. Employers now expect workers to obtain training either by participating in an apprenticeship program or by attending classes. Trained technicians have more job opportunities, potentially start at higher wages, and typically earn more throughout their career.

Details vary, but the average apprenticeship encompasses specified hours of on-the-job training combined with classroom work, usually 2,000 and 144 hours, respectively, annually for three to five years.

The Utah Department of Workforce Services provides general information and resources for apprentices and employers. The following colleges offer HVAC apprenticeship programs:

The Utah Career Center has a five-year HVAC/R apprenticeship program in Salt Lake City that requires 1,800 hours annually of on-the-job training and three evenings a week of formal classes. Graduates are awarded journey-level status. The Sheet Metal Workers Union Local 312 sponsors several apprenticeships in conjunction with other organizations.

Accredited HVAC Schools in Salt Lake City, UT

Accreditation is a process by which an independent agency evaluates the curriculum and instructors of an institution. It’s essential for students to choose an accredited school for their formal training.

HVAC programs are accredited by HVAC Excellence and the Partnership for Air-Conditioning, Heating, Refrigeration Accreditation (PAHRA). To date, neither has awarded accreditation to a Utah program. The schools profiled below have been accredited by other reputable agencies.

Note: The information in this article was compiled in November 2020 during the “shelter-in-place” and “social distancing” restrictions. The schools profiled below have temporarily suspended classes or are transitioning to online options to comply with the restrictions. Questions as to timing and format should be directed to the school administration.

Davis Applied Technology College

Davis Tech offers an HVAC Technician certificate program. The technical curriculum is organized in eight levels of training. The levels progress from introductory basic HVAC principles to tool safety, electricity, controls, troubleshooting, system design and sizing, refrigerants, heat pumps, blueprints, ducting, air quality, load calculations, green awareness, commercial HVAC/R, chilled water, hydronics, and energy management. Non-technical coursework includes workplace skills, job search skills, and study skills.

Graduates are qualified to sit for a variety of industry exams and certifications, including EPA Section 608, Rocky Mountain Gas Association Natural Gas Technician, R-410A, and Industry Competency Exams (ICE).

  • Location: Kaysville, UT
  • Accreditation: Council on Occupational Education
  • Tuition: $2,472
  • Program Length: 24 months

Fortis College

Fortis offers an HVAC/R diploma program. The coursework is presented in classroom lectures combined with hands-on practice in the lab. The curriculum includes thermodynamics, electricity, controls, motors, refrigerants, residential and commercial HVAC, commercial and industrial refrigeration, electric, water, and gas heating systems, heat pumps, system performance, troubleshooting, service calls, and preparation for EPA 608 certification.

Graduates complete 64 credit-hours and are qualified to seek entry-level employment as HVAC and HVAC/R technicians.

  • Location: Salt Lake City, UT
  • Accreditation: Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges
  • Tuition: $17,636
  • Program Length: 48 weeks

Salt Lake Community College

The college offers an HVAC/R certificate program. The program is presented in the Competency-Based Education (CBE) format, which allows students to accelerate the completion of the curriculum.

Classes are available on a full-time or part-time basis. Students complete the following coursework: safety, electricity, refrigeration, gas heating, refrigerants, controls, refrigeration applications, residential and commercial HVAC, commercial refrigeration, preparation for the Rocky Mountain Gas Association Natural Gas Technician exam, and their choice of a capstone project or an HVAC externship. They also complete non-technical coursework that includes computer concepts, customer skills, and job-seeking skills.

Graduates are qualified to take industry exams that include EPA Section 608 and employment-ready certifications. They are qualified for entry-level employment as HVAC and HVAC/R technicians.

  • Location: Salt Lake City, UT
  • Accreditation: Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities
  • Tuition: $2,130
  • Program Length: 36 weeks

Salt Lake City students who are unable to attend on-campus or local schools may find that online institutions can better meet their needs. More information on accredited programs is available in the online HVAC training guide.

Salt Lake City HVAC and HVAC/R Certification & Licensing

Federal law mandates that technicians who handle refrigerants obtain Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Section 608 certification. Four levels of certification, each of which requires passing an exam, are available. Exams and certifications are based on the type and size of equipment on which technician works. The levels are:

  • Type I – for servicing small appliances
  • Type II – for servicing or disposing of high-pressure appliances, except small appliances and automotive air conditioning
  • Type III – for servicing or disposing of low-pressure appliances
  • Universal – for servicing all types of equipment

Additional information is available on the EPA website. Also, check out the HVAC certification guide for details on other national certifications.

The Utah Department of Commerce Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing requires HVAC contractors to be licensed. Applicants must first complete a pre-license course or have been licensed for a minimum of one year in another state and obtain general liability insurance coverage in the amount of $100,00.

Applicants with employees must also obtain workers’ compensation insurance. If they have not been licensed for a minimum of one year in another state, they must also pass the Utah business and law exam. If not previously licensed, they must submit proof of two years (4,000 hours) of construction experience or proof of a degree in construction management. The fee depends on the number of employees and the number of specialty classifications selected.

Licenses are valid for two years. Renewal requires the completion of six units of continuing education, one unit of which must be energy conservation.

Salt Lake City requires a city license for anyone doing business within the city limits. The fee includes a base amount with an additional amount for each employee.

As licensing regulations are subject to revision, HVAC professionals are encouraged to confirm with city and state agencies that they comply with current guidelines 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.