HVAC Programs in West Virginia

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The varied year-round temperatures throughout West Virginia (WV) make this state one of the best locations to begin a new career in the field of heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC). The Mountain State boasts hot, humid summers and frigid winters—both of which are must easier to manage with the help of some type of indoor climate-control system. Because of this, WV is now home to a strong HVAC industry that will likely continue to grow into the future.

Of course, the temperatures are not the only reason contributing to the HVAC industry expansion. For one, workers in this field enjoy the support from myriad professional organizations and unions. Take, for example, the United Association Plumbers and Steamfitters Local 565, which serves HVAC professionals in Parkersburg. This union offers a wide array of benefits to members, including professional advocacy and an apprenticeship program for aspiring HVAC workers. Alternatively, HVAC professionals may choose to apply for membership through the Plumbers and Steamfitters Local 83, located in Wheeling, which offers similar benefits.

Overall, anyone with an interest in HVAC in WV may find this line of work to be truly rewarding. Before jumping in, those considering a career in this field should have a thorough understanding of what to expect, including the specifics of job responsibilities. Here’s a brief overview of some of the daily tasks that many HVAC workers may complete in West Virginia:

  • Calibrate HVAC equipment
  • Perform calculations
  • Keep proper records
  • Read blueprints
  • Ensure all work is in compliance with the law
  • Travel to and from various work sites
  • Offer education to customers on energy use and conservation
  • Maintain permits and licenses

It’s important to note that HVAC professionals in WV who handle refrigerants must also maintain active EPA Section 608 Certification to remain in compliance with the law.

This guide explores accredited HVAC programs in WV, including discussions of salary prospects, industry outlook, and credentialing.

Career Outlook for HVAC Workers in West Virginia

Anyone considering a job in West Virginia as an HVAC technician should take heart that the industry is currently strong, and is only expected to grow nationwide over the coming years. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (October 2017) reported that the number of available HVAC jobs nationwide is expected to grow by 49,100 between 2016 and 2026—an increase of 15 percent overall. To put this into perspective, all industries across the country are slated to expand by an average of only seven percent.

What’s responsible for this rapid growth in the HVAC industry within the United States? For one, the laws and regulations that govern this field are constantly changing; as such, the demand is rising for highly skilled and experienced technicians who can help customers remain in compliance with the law. Furthermore, virtually all new construction in West Virginia is completed with some type of climate-control system, requiring the expertise of an HVAC professional. And, in reality, these systems must be serviced and repaired routinely, and often need to be replaced every 10 to 15 years.

A simple online search for available jobs demonstrates the strong demand for those in this field. For example, a search for “HVAC technician in West Virginia” on Monster (December 2017) yielded 31 results with companies such as Republic Services, Cleveland Brothers Equipment Company, Sears Holding Corporation, DEEM, and Casto Technical Services, among others. A similar search on Indeed (December 2017) brought up 24 results with organizations including Metal Heads, LLC, Nextech Northeast, LLC, Air Comfort, Inc., Charter Foods, Inc., and Grogg’s Heating & Air Conditioning, along with many more.

HVAC Worker Salary in West Virginia

The BLS (May 2016) reported that HVAC technicians around the country earn an median annual salary of $45,910 per year ($22.07 per hour) with these percentiles:

United States (332,900 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 (Nov. 2017), which relies on self-reported salaries. Among the HVAC workers reporting their annual salaries, Payscale found these percentiles:

United States: 478 HVAC workers

  • 10th percentile: $29,000
  • 25th percentile: $35,000
  • 50th percentile (median): $43,956
  • 75th percentile: $55,000
  • 90th percentile: $69,000

An additional 2,550 HVAC workers gave Payscale their hourly salary figures, resulting in these percentile wages:

  • 10th percentile: $13.00/hr.
  • 25th percentile: $15.00/hr.
  • 50th percentile (median): $19.27/hr.
  • 75th percentile: $24.00/hr.
  • 90th percentile: $30.00/hr.

Currently, the average salary for West Virginia HVAC professionals is lower than the rest of the nation; however, it still remains competitive and the cost of living in WV is cheaper than a majority of U.S. states. Specifically, there are 1,790 HVAC workers in the state, earning an average wage of $37,670 and these percentiles:

West Virginia (1,790 HVAC workers): $37,670 avg.

  • 10th percentile: $24,890
  • 25th percentile: $27,890
  • 50th percentile (median): $34,240
  • 75th percentile: $45,500
  • 90th percentile: $58,280

In hourly figures, these equated to:

West Virginia: $18.11/hour average

  • 10th percentile: $11.97/hr.
  • 25th percentile: $13.41/hr.
  • 50th percentile (median): $16.46/hr.
  • 75th percentile: $21.87/hr.
  • 90th percentile: $28.02/hr.

The BLS also provides salary statistics on nine different geographic regions throughout the state of West Virginia, which are listed in the tables below:

Beckley (100 HVAC workers): $35,010 avg.

  • 10th percentile: $23,200
  • 25th percentile: $26,510
  • 50th percentile (median): $30,900
  • 75th percentile: $42,960
  • 90th percentile: $49,230

Charleston (300 HVAC workers): $42,620 avg.

  • 10th percentile: $24,310
  • 25th percentile: $31,810
  • 50th percentile (median): $42,140
  • 75th percentile: $51,610
  • 90th percentile: $61,830

Huntington-Ashland, WV-KY-OH (330 HVAC workers): $40,000 avg.

  • 10th percentile: $26,470
  • 25th percentile: $30,880
  • 50th percentile (median): $38,040
  • 75th percentile: $48,280
  • 90th percentile: $59,040

Morgantown (130 HVAC workers): $41,790 avg.

  • 10th percentile: $23,870
  • 25th percentile: $32,390
  • 50th percentile (median): $41,520
  • 75th percentile: $49,810
  • 90th percentile: $59,980

Northern West Virginia nonmetropolitan area (490 HVAC workers): $31,100 avg.

  • 10th percentile: $23,570
  • 25th percentile: $25,940
  • 50th percentile (median): $28,640
  • 75th percentile: $31,700
  • 90th percentile: $42,430

Parkersburg-Vienna (130 HVAC workers): $33,300 avg.

  • 10th percentile: $24,430
  • 25th percentile: $27,710
  • 50th percentile (median): $32,830
  • 75th percentile: $37,370
  • 90th percentile: $43,070

Southern West Virginia nonmetropolitan area (120 HVAC workers): $36,500 avg.

  • 10th percentile: $26,550
  • 25th percentile: $29,330
  • 50th percentile (median): $34,190
  • 75th percentile: $38,920
  • 90th percentile: $55,290

Weirton-Steubenville, WV-OH (100 HVAC workers): $39,450 avg.

  • 10th percentile: $31,120
  • 25th percentile: $34,470
  • 50th percentile (median): $39,250
  • 75th percentile: $45,550
  • 90th percentile: $49,570

Wheeling, WV-OH (160 HVAC workers): $46,920 avg.

  • 10th percentile: $24,690
  • 25th percentile: $32,950
  • 50th percentile (median): $45,540
  • 75th percentile: $58,520
  • 90th percentile: $74,250

Accredited HVAC Schools in West Virginia

In order to find work in this field, aspiring HVAC technicians must obtain the education and skills necessary to succeed. In general, this requires the completion of some type of formal education, which may include a degree program, an apprenticeship, or a certificate.

Those looking to complete an apprenticeship in West Virginia may wish to consider the program offered by the Sheet Metal Workers Local Union 33 located in Parkersburg. Participants in this five-year program will take a variety of courses, including those on welding, refrigeration and air conditioning, blueprint reading, testing and balancing, and fire life safety, among others. Apprentices work under the supervision of a journeyman and earn a salary throughout the duration of the program.

Aspiring HVAC technicians who wish to complete a certificate or degree program may instead be interested in studying at the Carver Career and Technical Education Center in Charleston. This program has been accredited by the Partnership for Air-Conditioning, Heating, Refrigeration Accreditation (PAHRA), and teaches students how to operate, manage, install, and service HVAC equipment.

Otherwise, future HVAC workers also have the option of studying at the Ben Franklin Career Center located in Dunbar, which also has been accredited through PAHRA. This 11-month, full-time evening program is designed to offer the skills and knowledge required of individuals working in the HVAC industry.

West Virginians considering a career in this field should understand that it’s becoming more common for aspiring HVAC technicians to enroll in accredited programs which often take anywhere between six months and two years to complete. Right now, two main organizations offer accreditation for HVAC programs: HVAC Excellence and the Partnership for Air-Conditioning, Heating, Refrigeration Accreditation (PAHRA). As of December 2017, there were the two aforementioned PAHRA-accredited programs in the state.

HVAC Certification and Licensing in West Virginia

As described above, anyone who handles refrigerants in West Virginia must maintain active EPA Section 608 Certification, which is broken into four distinct categories:

  • Type 1 (small appliances)
  • Type 2 (high-pressure appliances)
  • Type 3 (low-pressure appliances)
  • Type 4 (universal)

In addition, there is a handful of skill-specific certifications, which can provide additional benefits to HVAC technicians. These are offered by the Refrigerating Engineers and Technicians Association (e.g., entry-level Certified Assistant Refrigeration Operator); North American Technician Excellence (e.g., Industry Competency Exams or ICE); HVAC Excellence (e.g., Heating, Electrical, Air Conditioning Technology Plus); and a number of other organizations. Holding any additional certifications may lead to better employment opportunities in a future career.

Finally, anyone interested in working as an HVAC technician in West Virginia must first obtain all necessary licensure through the proper channels. As of January 1st, 2016, anyone who performs HVAC work is required to hold certification through the West Virginia Division of Labor. In order to apply for this, the technician must pass two examinations: one one the subject of HVAC and one on business and law. In addition, applicants must also submit a $75 application fee, as well as proof of 2,000 hours of experience in HVAC work and 6,000 hours of experience in HVAC or related work; or, otherwise, the individual must apply as a Technician in Training and agree to work under the control and supervision of a licensed HVAC technician.

In reality, the licensing and certification process for HVAC technicians can be relatively complicated. That being said, anyone interested in working in this field should follow all steps carefully to ensure they remain in accordance with the law before starting a new job.