HVAC Training Schools in Oklahoma

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No one can accuse Oklahoma (OK) of having a boring climate. The weather cycles include a varied mix of long, hot summers; short, cold winters; high humidity; flash floods; droughts; tornadoes; and thunderstorms. It goes without saying that Oklahomans rely on heating, venting, and air conditioning (HVAC) to stay comfortable indoors throughout the year.

Numerous national HVAC and refrigeration (HVAC-R) associations provide support to technicians and three have chapters in Oklahoma: the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE), the Mechanical – Electrical – Plumbing Contractors – Oklahoma (MEPO), and the Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors Association (PHCCA). Industry organizations such as these provide resources to help maintain professional standards, keep workers in the know on legislative changes, provide continuing education, and offer discounts on common expenses in the profession.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS 2017), 3,580 Oklahomans are employed as HVAC installers, mechanical, and maintenance workers. HVAC workers use their skills to install, maintain, and repair equipment and systems that control air quality and temperature. One job may require putting wiring and piping for an installation. The next job might require testing components and circuitry. Technicians need to be familiar with how components such as motors, belts, fans, filters, and valves function as part of a complete system. They install and service equipment including boilers, compressors, heat pumps, humidifiers, economizers, and water pumps in various kinds of buildings. Skills include reading blueprints, computing heat load and loss calculations, and calibrating controls. All workers are responsible for keeping their credentials current, traveling to job sites, and making sure customers receive detailed service records. An important part of HVAC service is helping customers understand and practice energy conservation.

This guide explores the thriving HVAC industry in the Sooner State, including discussions of salary prospects and accredited training programs.

Occupational Demand for HVAC Technicians in Oklahoma

The demand for HVAC technicians nationwide continues to grow. According to the BLS (2017), the number of openings in this field is expected to grow 15 percent nationwide between 2016 and 2026—much faster growth than the U.S. average across all occupations (7 percent). And Oklahoma is keeping pace with the national demand for technicians. In fact, Projections Central predicted a 15.4 percent statewide increase in HVAC jobs for the decade ending in 2026.

Several factors in OK contribute to the growth of the HVAC industry:

  • Construction of new commercial buildings and residences
  • Complexity of climate control systems
  • Contemporary emphasis on energy efficiency and reducing pollution
  • Replacing, retrofitting, or upgrading older systems

Some HVAC equipment is located outdoors. Adverse weather conditions don’t stop the need for repairs or maintenance. Indoor work can be equally uncomfortable when the system has stopped working, creating either a very hot or freezing environment until the job is completed. Technicians may find themselves working in small or cramped areas. It’s worth noting that HVAC workers have a relatively high rate of injury, including electrical shocks and muscle strains related to moving heavy equipment. They also work with toxic chemicals. That said, with proper training in safety protocols, these risks can generally be kept at bay.

The BLS (2017) reported that approximately nine percent of HVAC/R technicians were self-employed across the country, and 64 percent were employed by plumbing, heating, and air conditioning contractors. The remaining workers were employed by schools or retail and wholesale organizations. Most of the technicians worked full-time. Depending on peak seasons, OK-based workers may work evenings, weekends, and other overtime hours.

HVAC Salaries in Oklahoma

The BLS (2017) reported that nationally HVAC/R mechanics and installers receive a mean salary of $49,530 annually. Oklahoma HVAC-R technicians receive slightly less, as their annual average salary is $45,710. That said, the Missouri Economic Research and Information Center (MERIC 2018) found that the Oklahoma cost of living in Oklahoma is the second most affordable in the entire country, second only to Mississippi. Oklahoma residents see savings across the board, particularly in housing and health costs. A lower cost of living means that those wages go further than they would in virtually any other area.

In more detail, here were the annual wage percentiles for HVAC professionals across the country (BLS 2017) as compared to Oklahoma:

Annual salary Hourly salary
United States Oklahoma United States Oklahoma
Average $49,530 $45,710 $23.81 $21.98
10th percentile $29,120 $28,410 $14.00 $13.66
25th percentile $36,150 $35,020 $17.38 $16.84
50th percentile $47,080 $44,730 $22.64 $21.55
75th percentile $60,270 $56,180 $28.98 $27.01
90th percentile $75,330 $64,040 $36.22 $30.79

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: 889 HVAC workers responding

  • 10th percentile: $29,000
  • 25th percentile: $36,000
  • 50th percentile (median): $44,532
  • 75th percentile: $56,000
  • 90th percentile: $71,000

An additional 4,873 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): $19.24/hr.
  • 75th percentile: $24.00/hr.
  • 90th percentile: $30.00/hr.

The BLS designated eight regions within Oklahoma for which employment data is available. The 120 HVAC workers in the Enid, OK area earned the highest average salary in the state at $54,460 while the 230 workers in Lawton had the lowest average salary at $39,890. Following are the detailed salary data for the state of Oklahoma:

Enid, OK (120 HVAC workers): $54,460 annual average salary

Enid, OK
Percentile Annual salary Hourly salary
Average $54,460 $26.18
10th percentile $38,440 $18.48
25th percentile $46,730 $22.47
50th percentile $55,530 $26.70
75th percentile $61,810 $29.72
90th percentile $70,470 $33.88

Lawton, OK (230 HVAC workers): $39,890 annual average salary

Lawton, OK
Percentile Annual salary Hourly salary
Average $39,890 $19.18
10th percentile $24,920 $11.98
25th percentile $29,640 $14.25
50th percentile $42,380 $20.38
75th percentile $48,590 $23.36
90th percentile $53,280 $25.62

Northeast Oklahoma nonmetropolitan area (150 HVAC workers): $44,540 annual average salary

Northeast Oklahoma nonmetropolitan area
Percentile Annual salary Hourly salary
Average $44,540 $21.41
10th percentile $30,220 $14.53
25th percentile $34,590 $16.63
50th percentile $40,420 $19.43
75th percentile $55,130 $26.51
90th percentile $62,710 $30.15

Northwest Oklahoma nonmetropolitan area (100 HVAC workers): $47,380 annual average salary

Northwest Oklahoma nonmetropolitan area
Percentile Annual salary Hourly salary
Average $47,380 $22.78
10th percentile $35,450 $17.04
25th percentile $42,480 $20.42
50th percentile $47,670 $22.92
75th percentile $53,520 $25.73
90th percentile $60,470 $29.07

Oklahoma City, OK (1580 HVAC workers): $48,760 annual average salary

Oklahoma City, OK
Percentile Annual salary Hourly salary
Average $48,760 $23.44
10th percentile $31,210 $15.00
25th percentile $37,880 $18.21
50th percentile $48,150 $23.15
75th percentile $59,140 $28.43
90th percentile $69,240 $33.29

Southeast Oklahoma nonmetropolitan area (240 HVAC workers): $41,970 annual average salary

Southeast Oklahoma nonmetropolitan area
Percentile Annual salary Hourly salary
Average $41,970 $20.18
10th percentile $25,010 $12.03
25th percentile $33,200 $15.96
50th percentile $42,900 $20.63
75th percentile $49,270 $23.69
90th percentile $58,790 $28.26

Southwest Oklahoma nonmetropolitan area (70 HVAC workers): $40,860 annual average salary

Southwest Oklahoma nonmetropolitan area
Percentile Annual salary Hourly salary
Average $40,860 $19.65
10th percentile $27,640 $13.29
25th percentile $33,930 $16.31
50th percentile $39,220 $18.86
75th percentile $49,060 $23.59
90th percentile $58,070 $27.92

Tulsa, OK (1030 HVAC workers): $42,790 annual average salary

Tulsa, OK
Percentile Annual salary Hourly salary
Average $42,790 $20.57
10th percentile $27,060 $13.01
25th percentile $32,400 $15.58
50th percentile $39,390 $18.94
75th percentile $53,300 $25.63
90th percentile $63,210 $30.39

Accredited HVAC Schools in Oklahoma

Although some HVAC companies in Oklahoma may hire workers with no experience or training, workers who have completed an apprenticeship or attended a formal training program are likely to be hired first. Trained workers also typically start at higher wages, advance quicker, and earn more over the life of their career.

An apprenticeship is a paid position that combines on-the-job training with classroom instruction. Oklahoma lists four companies as apprenticeship sponsors: two are in Tulsa, one is in Enid, and one is located in Vinita but openings are not always available. The Oklahoma Office of Apprenticeship offers more information for interested applicants.

Individuals seeking coursework may choose to look for an accredited program. A school may have programmatic accreditation through one of the two HVAC-specific organizations listed below or institutional accreditation, from a US Department of Education-recognized organization. Indeed, most schools that have HVAC-specific accreditation will have institutional accreditation as well.

Two main organizations evaluate and accredit HVAC programs: HVAC Excellence and the Partnership for Air-Conditioning, Heating, Refrigeration Accreditation (PAHRA).

As of December 2018, several Oklahoma schools have been awarded accreditation.

HVAC Excellence has accredited the HVAC program at Red River Technology Center in Duncan. Students complete 210 hours of training to receive a certificate of competency. The 2017 tuition was $525.00, not including books, supplies, and other fees.

PAHRA has accredited a number of OK-based HVAC programs as well, a few of which are profiled here.

With HVAC programs at three campuses (Muskogee, Sallisaw, Tahlequah), Indian Capital Technology Center (ICTC) has training available across the state. The full-time HVAC program at ICTC teaches students the foundation they will need to “design, fabricate, and install many types of HVAC and refrigeration components.” These programs are available to current high school students at no charge while adults need only pay $1.75 per credit hour.

Southern Tech in Ardmore is another PAHRA-accredited program offered to OK residents. Both HVAC Technology Fundamentals and HVAC Advanced programs are available on full and part-time bases. Graduates of Southern Tech HVAC programs will be prepared to sit for various professional certification exams, including the EPA Section 608 certification and the National Career Readiness Certification through WorkKeys.

The Moore Norman Technology Center in Norman has a PAHRA-accredited HVAC program for both high school students and adults with separate course schedules for the two groups. Notably, 94.7 percent of program graduates are placed in jobs.

For those students who are unable to attend an on-campus program due to professional or personal committtments — or simply geographical issues — may also want to consider an online HVAC training program.

HVAC Certification & Licensing in Oklahoma

Federal law requires all HVAC technicians who work with refrigerants to obtain Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Section 608 certification. Certification requires passing an exam on the safe handling of refrigerants. Four levels of certifications are available based the size and type of equipment. The universal certification allows technicians to work on all types.

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

  • Refrigeration Service Engineers Society (RSES)
  • North American Technician Excellence (NATE)
  • HVAC Excellence

These and others offer Section 608 testing and certification.

The State of Oklahoma requires apprentices to register. There is no fee to register. Journey-level and contractors must be licensed. There are several classifications, based on the size and type of systems worked on. Each classification has education, experience, and testing requirements. Please note that fees and qualifications vary.

Lastly, cities may have separate permitting or credentialing in this occupation as well. In order to ensure compliance with the law, all HVAC workers in Oklahoma are encouraged to contact their city offices prior to beginning any projects.

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