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 much 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 factor 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 is based in Parkersburg but serves HVAC professionals around WV. 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. Following is a non-exhaustive list of some of the daily tasks that many HVAC workers may complete in West Virginia:

  • Calibrating HVAC equipment
  • Performing calculations
  • Keeping proper records
  • Reading blueprints
  • Ensuring all work is in compliance with the law
  • Traveling to and from various work sites
  • Offering education to customers on energy use and conservation
  • Maintaining permits and licenses

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 (BLS 2017) reported that the number of available HVAC jobs nationwide is expected to grow by 15 percent between 2016 and 2026. To put this into perspective, all industries across the country are slated to expand by an average of only seven percent.

What is 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 2018) yields 22 results with companies such as Sears Holding Corporation, Casto Technical Services, and the State of West Virginia. A similar search on Indeed (December 2018) brought up 91 results with organizations including McAtee Plumbing, Teays Valley Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning, Appalachian Heating, and Sodexo Inc. Clearly, there is work to be had in WV for HVAC technicians with the necessary training.

HVAC Worker Salary in West Virginia

The BLS (2017) reported that HVAC technicians around the country earn an median annual salary of $49,530 per year ($23.81 per hour). In West Virginia, the average HVAC technician salary is significantly lower at $40,520 ($19.48 per hour). Following is a more detailed breakdown of how national salaries compare with those of WV HVAC workers:

Annual salary Hourly salary
United States West Virginia United States West Virginia
Average $49,530 $40,520 $23.81 $19.48
10th percentile $29,120 $26,680 $14.00 $12.83
25th percentile $36,150 $30,410 $17.38 $14.62
50th percentile $47,080 $37,920 $22.64 $18.23
75th percentile $60,270 $48,370 $28.98 $23.26
90th percentile $75,330 $60,900 $36.22 $29.28

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.

As noted above, the average salary for HVAC workers in West Virginia is significantly lower than that of the rest of the nation. As with any salary projections, taking into account the cost of living is also important. As such, the Missouri Economic Research and Information Center (MERIC 2018) found that WV was the 15th most affordable state, meaning residents can expect to find savings in areas like housing, utilities, and groceries. For HVAC technicians this means even lower than average salaries will go a bit further than they would in some costlier states.

The BLS designated nine regions within West Virginia for which employment data is available. The 150 HVAC workers in the Wheeling, WV-OH area earned the highest average salary in the state at $47,740 while the 80 HVAC workers in Parkersburg-Vienna, WV had the lowest average salary at $34,940. Following are the detailed salary data for the state of Texas:

Beckley, WV (70 HVAC workers): $39,350 annual average salary

Beckley, WV
Percentile Annual salary Hourly salary
Average $39,350 $18.92
10th percentile $26,030 $12.51
25th percentile $29,250 $14.07
50th percentile $40,990 $19.71
75th percentile $47,280 $22.73
90th percentile $51,150 $24.59

Charleston, WV (230 HVAC workers): $45,760 annual average salary

Charleston, WV
Percentile Annual salary Hourly salary
Average $45,760 $22.00
10th percentile $29,860 $14.35
25th percentile $36,460 $17.53
50th percentile $45,130 $21.70
75th percentile $54,880 $26.38
90th percentile $63,510 $30.54

Huntington-Ashland, WV-KY-OH (350 HVAC workers): $37,030 annual average salary

Huntington-Ashland, WV-KY-OH
Percentile Annual salary Hourly salary
Average $37,030 $17.80
10th percentile $24,380 $11.72
25th percentile $28,310 $13.61
50th percentile $35,020 $16.84
75th percentile $44,830 $21.55
90th percentile $54,390 $26.15

Morgantown, WV (130 HVAC workers): $43,740 annual average salary

Morgantown, WV
Percentile Annual salary Hourly salary
Average $43,740 $21.03
10th percentile $32,820 $15.78
25th percentile $36,430 $17.52
50th percentile $43,000 $20.67
75th percentile $49,660 $23.87
90th percentile $58,400 $28.08

Northern West Virginia nonmetropolitan area (400 HVAC workers): $36,330 annual average salary

Northern West Virginia nonmetropolitan area
Percentile Annual salary Hourly salary
Average $36,330 $17.46
10th percentile $26,060 $12.53
25th percentile $28,030 $13.47
50th percentile $31,300 $15.05
75th percentile $39,690 $19.08
90th percentile $57,820 $27.80

Parkersburg-Vienna, WV (80 HVAC workers): $34,940 annual average salary

Parkersburg-Vienna, WV
Percentile Annual salary Hourly salary
Average $34,940 $16.80
10th percentile $25,950 $12.47
25th percentile $30,440 $14.64
50th percentile $35,080 $16.87
75th percentile $38,630 $18.57
90th percentile $41,030 $19.73

Southern West Virginia nonmetropolitan area (110 HVAC workers): $37,160 annual average salary

Southern West Virginia nonmetropolitan area
Percentile Annual salary Hourly salary
Average $37,160 $17.86
10th percentile $26,830 $12.90
25th percentile $30,150 $14.50
50th percentile $35,520 $17.08
75th percentile $40,850 $19.64
90th percentile $51,350 $24.69

Weirton-Steubenville, WV-OH (70 HVAC workers): $36,890 annual average salary

Weirton-Steubenville, WV-OH
Percentile Annual salary Hourly salary
Average $36,890 $17.74
10th percentile $28,480 $13.69
25th percentile $32,590 $15.67
50th percentile $36,180 $17.40
75th percentile $41,080 $19.75
90th percentile $48,460 $23.30

Wheeling, WV-OH (150 HVAC workers): $47,740 annual average salary

Wheeling, WV-OH
Percentile Annual salary Hourly salary
Average $47,740 $22.95
10th percentile $26,850 $12.91
25th percentile $35,340 $16.99
50th percentile $45,880 $22.06
75th percentile $58,570 $28.16
90th percentile $73,850 $35.51

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. The program, which takes just 11 months to complete, is available to both enrolled high school students and adults who have completed a GED. As of 2018, the total tuition and fees cost for the HVAC program was $5,746.

Future HVAC workers also have the option of studying at the Ben Franklin Career Center located in Dunbar, which 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. Applicants must have earned a high school diploma or GED. Tuition for the program as of 2018 was $3,713 with additional applicable fees.

It is 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 2018, there were the two aforementioned PAHRA-accredited programs in the state. Those students who are unable to attend a campus-based HVAC training program should be sure to available themselves of the HVAC online training page of this site for details on distance learning options.

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 available at four distinct levels:

  • 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 on 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.