HVAC Schools in Wyoming

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From the expansive plains to the Rocky Mountains, from Yellowstone National Park and Old Faithful to the Grand Tetons, Wyoming (WY) features dramatic landscapes. It also is a land of dramatic and rapidly changing weather conditions. Seasonal extremes of hailstorms, blizzards, high winds, freezing cold, and summer heatwaves may keep Wyomingites indoors. Heating, venting, and air conditioning (HVAC) keeps them comfortable.

Two local organizations provide support to the HVAC industry. For example, the Wyoming Contractors Association (WCA) promotes all aspects of the construction industry. They provide training and safety programs, including those relating to HVAC, to contractors and their employees. They network with other associations and industry leaders. Additionally, Cheyenne is the home of the International Association of Professional Contractors, a trade association serving the construction trades, including HVAC. The various national organizations also provide support, marketing, networking, and training through online venues.

So what do HVAC and refrigeration (HVAC/R) technicians do? Technicians travel to commercial and residential job sites where they install, test, or repair heating and cooling systems. They must understand how to install and maintain heat pumps, water pumps, boilers, economizers, compressors, humidifiers, and other equipment. Technicians use a variety of basic and specialized tools. They may remove defective parts and reassemble the equipment. Sometimes they braze or solder leaking pipes or replace broken wires. If it’s a new installation, technicians consult blueprints, lay pipes and wiring, and test the system. They adjust valves, motors, fans, belts, and other components in large and small HVAC systems. Technicians must know how to test circuitry and calibrate controls. Additionally, the job can include performing heat load and loss calculations and ensuring that equipment installations meet relevant codes. Other responsibilities include maintaining complete service records; keeping certifications and credentials current; and explaining good energy conservation practices to customers.

This guide explores the accredited HVAC programs in Wyoming with discussions of coursework and tuition, as well as an examination of the HVAC career outlook and salary prospects in the state.

Occupational Demand for HVAC Technicians in Wyoming

The demand for HVAC technicians nationwide continues to grow. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS May 2016), the number of openings in HVAC is expected to grow 15 percent nationally between 2016 and 2026. That’s much faster growth than average.

Factors contributing to the growth of the HVAC industry include:

  • New construction which requires the installation of climate control systems
  • Complicated, continually evolving systems that require fresh technical skills
  • The contemporary focus on reducing pollution and improving energy efficiency

Additionally, older systems must be retrofitted or replaced to meet current standards. HVAC and HVAC/R technicians in Wyoming can work on commercial equipment in hospitals, offices, schools, and stores, as well as residential systems. Equipment may be located outdoors, necessitating repairs in adverse weather conditions. Indoor conditions may be equally unpleasant for technicians when heating or cooling equipment quits working. Some work sites are small, forcing technicians into small or cramped positions. Electrical shocks and injuries related to moving heavy equipment contribute to the high injury rates experienced by HVAC technicians.

According to the BLS (May 2016), 64 percent of HVAC/R technicians work for contractors. Nine percent are self-employed. The remaining workers are employed by schools or retail and wholesale organizations. Technicians usually work full time, with overtime hours during peak seasons.

To illustrate the abundance of openings in Wyoming’s HVAC industry, one need not look further than online job boards. Indeed (November 2017) posted local listings in Jackson, Casper, Cheyenne, and other areas. All positions were for experienced technicians with a variety of skills. For example, the State of Wyoming was looking for someone in the Rock Springs area to maintain towers, antennas, cabling, battery systems, HVAC, and emergency generators. A private company in Jackson wanted someone who could troubleshoot commercial HVAC systems. A Laramie contractor wanted an HVAC technician who’s familiar with wiring diagrams to install new systems. Monster (November 2017) also has listings for mechanics and service technicians. A hospital in Lander, for example, wanted a maintenance mechanic lead to operate, maintain, troubleshoot, and repair HVAC/R systems. Another company was looking for someone experienced with facility management, including HVAC maintenance and repairs. Several companies were looking for experienced HVAC service mechanics and technicians. It’s worth noting that the Wyoming Division of Occupational Employment statistics (September 2017) showed that the average wage for all occupations was $48,284 annually and $23.22 hourly in the state. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) provided a more detailed outlook on the industry.

HVAC Worker Salary in Wyoming

The BLS (May 2016) reported that nationally, HVAC/R mechanics and installers receive a median annual salary of $45,910. Wyoming technicians receive a median salary of $44,420—roughly on par. Considering that Wyoming is the 20th most affordable state in the country—boasting a lower-than-average cost of living than a majority of U.S. states—these wages are promising.

The hourly and annual salary prospects for HVAC professionals nationally were (BLS May 2016):

United States (294,730 HVAC workers): $48,320 average annual salary

  • 10th percentile: $28,440
  • 25th percentile: $35,440
  • 50th percentile (median): $45,910
  • 75th percentile: $58,960
  • 90th percentile: $73,350

US: $23.23 average hourly salary

  • 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.

In Wyoming, the detailed salary percentiles were:

Wyoming (480 HVAC workers): $46,800 average annual salary

  • 10th percentile: $31,320
  • 25th percentile: $36,400
  • 50th percentile (median): $45,420
  • 75th percentile: $56,280
  • 90th percentile: $64,710

WY: $22.50 average hourly salary

  • 10th percentile: $15.06/hr.
  • 25th percentile: $17.50/hr.
  • 50th percentile (median): $21.84/hr.
  • 75th percentile: $27.06/hr.
  • 90th percentile: $31.11/hr.

Also, the BLS designated five regions within the state with the following numbers of HVAC workers, average salaries, and percentiles:

Casper (100 HVAC workers): $48,180 average annual salary

  • 10th percentile: $31,940
  • 25th percentile: $37,660
  • 50th percentile (median): $47,940
  • 75th percentile: $58,010
  • 90th percentile: $64,000

Casper (hourly): $23.16 average hourly salary

  • 10th percentile: $15.36/hr.
  • 25th percentile: $18.11/hr.
  • 50th percentile (median): $23.05/hr.
  • 75th percentile: $27.89/hr.
  • 90th percentile: $30.77/hr.

Cheyenne (90 HVAC workers): $50,190 average annual salary

  • 10th percentile: $34,940
  • 25th percentile: $43,370
  • 50th percentile (median): $52,720
  • 75th percentile: $58,530
  • 90th percentile: $61,960

Cheyenne (hourly): $24.13 average hourly salary

  • 10th percentile: $16.80/hr.
  • 25th percentile: $20.85/hr.
  • 50th percentile (median): $25.35/hr.
  • 75th percentile: $28.14/hr.
  • 90th percentile: $29.79/hr.

Northeast Wyoming Nonmetropolitan Area (130 HVAC workers): $47,650 average annual salary

  • 10th percentile: $29,640
  • 25th percentile: $34,820
  • 50th percentile (median): $41,240
  • 75th percentile: $59,510
  • 90th percentile: $77,790

Northeast Wyoming Nonmetropolitan Area (hourly): $22.91 average hourly salary

  • 10th percentile: $14.25/hr.
  • 25th percentile: $16.74/hr.
  • 50th percentile (median): $19.83/hr.
  • 75th percentile: $28.61/hr.
  • 90th percentile: $37.40/hr.

Northwest Wyoming Nonmetropolitan Area (number of HVAC workers not released): $40,230 average annual salary

  • 10th percentile: $31,440
  • 25th percentile: $34,040
  • 50th percentile (median): $38,220
  • 75th percentile: $46,110
  • 90th percentile: $55,760

Northwest Wyoming Nonmetropolitan Area (hourly): $19.34 average hourly salary

  • 10th percentile: $15.12/hr.
  • 25th percentile: $16.37/hr.
  • 50th percentile (median): $18.37/hr.
  • 75th percentile: $22.17/hr.
  • 90th percentile: $26.81/hr.

Southwest Wyoming Nonmetropolitan Area (50 HVAC workers): $44,830 average annual salary

  • 10th percentile: $27,950
  • 25th percentile: $39,290
  • 50th percentile (median): $44,890
  • 75th percentile: $49,670
  • 90th percentile: $67,360

Southwest Wyoming Nonmetropolitan Area (hourly): $21.55 average hourly salary

  • 10th percentile: $13.44/hr.
  • 25th percentile: $18.89/hr.
  • 50th percentile (median): $21.58/hr.
  • 75th percentile: $23.88/hr.
  • 90th percentile: $32.39/hr.

Accredited HVAC Programs in Wyoming

Accreditation is an independent evaluation that the school meets or exceeds standards for the quality of instructors and curriculum. For institutions offering HVAC and HVAC/R training, accreditation from the following industry organizations may be important:

  • HVAC Excellence
  • North American Technician Excellence (NATE)
  • Partnership for Air Conditioning, Heating, Refrigeration Accreditation (PAHRA)

Also, online and home study programs are accredited by the Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC). Although individuals can sometimes enter the HVAC industry without training, not surprisingly, those who have earned certificates or degrees generally can obtain jobs much easier. They may also start at higher wages and earn more over the life of their career. HVAC equipment and systems have become so complex that coursework and hands-on training is highly recommended for job seekers.

The Center for Workforce Training at Casper College periodically offers HVAC beginner and HVAC intermediate programs, each comprising 3.5 CEUs. Classes cover basic HVAC repair and maintenance, sheet metal and ducting, and troubleshooting. Total tuition costs for the 2018 spring semester were $595 per program, excluding the cost of books and supplies. Please note that financial assistance for students may be available through the Workforce Innovations and Opportunities Act (WIOA). Notably, Casper College is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

The Wyoming Contractors Association operates the WCA Regional Training Center in Casper. The construction curriculum includes a six-week course titled field mechanic technician level one. Much of these skills are useful in the HVAC industry. Coursework includes units in:

  • Shop safety
  • Hand tool use
  • Measuring devices
  • Cooling systems
  • Electrical systems

Their goal is to provide high-intensity training that enables students to obtain entry-level jobs. The training is a Department of Labor Approved Apprenticeship Program. Graduates receive a National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER) CORE Curriculum certification and WCA Field Technician Mechanic Certificate. They are prepared to troubleshoot systems and make basic repairs to equipment. Tuition and fees aren’t disclosed on their website, however, they include information on available grants and financial aid programs.

The Northern Wyoming Community College District offers an HVAC certificate program at Sheridan College. The program is designed to help graduates reach journey-level status. Students get hands-on experience with state-of-the-art technology and equipment in the college’s Technical Education Center.

The first semester introduces students to:

  • Job safety
  • Industry math
  • Hand and power tools
  • Construction drawings
  • Rigging
  • Material handling
  • Communication skills

The second semester focuses on HVAC basics, and in their third semester, students learn about refrigerants, commercial equipment, and troubleshooting. Students continue with advanced HVAC courses in the fourth semester. It takes 24 credit-hours to complete the program. Estimated tuition and fees for the 2017-18 academic year was $130.00 per credit-hour. The average cost of books and supplies was a total of $1,600. The college is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and the Academic Quality Improvement Program.

Finally, Laramie County Community College based in Cheyenne offers HVAC/R certificate and degree programs. Students may start with the basic HVAC/R program. Coursework includes introductions to:

  • AC and DC electricity
  • HVAC/R system components
  • Piping
  • Residential heating systems

The program requires 19 credit-hours and can be completed in one semester. Graduates receive a credit diploma. The next step is enrollment in the advanced HVAC/R technician program. Students receive instruction in advanced HVAC concepts and commercial refrigeration. Students may complete the required 19 credit-hours in one semester to receive a credit diploma.

The HVAC/R Technician associate of applied science (A.A.S.) degree program continues instruction designed to prepare students for industry employment. They advance their knowledge in:

  • HVAC/R installation, repair, and maintenance
  • Thermal dynamics
  • Fluid dynamics
  • Electrical concepts

The two-year program requires students to successfully complete 62 credit-hours of coursework. Tuition for the 2017-18 academic year was $142.75 per credit-hour. The estimated cost of books and supplies was $1,200. Other fees may be charged. Laramie County Community College is also accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and the Academic Quality Improvement Program.

All of the HVAC/R programs receive credit for the classroom hours required for the Wyoming Registered Apprenticeship Program. Credits may be transferable to four-year colleges.

HVAC Certification & Licensing In Wyoming

Federal law requires all technicians working with refrigerants to obtain the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Section 608 Certification. Certification requires passing exams on the safe handling of refrigerants. Four levels of certifications are available, based on the size and type of equipment. The Universal certification allows technicians to work on all equipment.

Technicians may obtain additional training and certifications from industry organizations. These include, but aren’t limited to:

  • Refrigeration Service Engineers Society (RSES) – courses are taught by certified instructors and are available online; technicians can study basic and advanced HVAC and HVAC/R principles
  • North American Technician Excellence (NATE) – training and certification in HVAC and HVAC/R knowledge areas
  • HVAC Excellence – dedicated to improving HVAC technician competence through training and certification

The State of Wyoming does not require HVAC or HVAC/R licensing, although municipal credentialing and permits may vary. Counties and cities are allowed to set HVAC certification and licensing requirements, and most of them do. Additionally, electrical permits may be required if HVAC technicians lay wiring for systems.