Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning, better known as HVAC, is an industry that continues to grow year after year. With HVAC expected to continue with innovations and career opportunities, now is the best time to become certified in HVAC.
If you are in Texas, there are a lot of great HVAC certification schools to choose from. This article aims to narrow your search down by providing you a list of the best HVAC schools in Texas.
HVAC Contractor Certification Requirements in Texas
There are a few certifications one can achieve in the HVAC industry. While most are happy to become an HVAC technician and get to work, others may aspire for larger goals. If you plan to work for yourself or start your own business, you will need a contractor’s license.
In Texas, a contractor’s license isn’t difficult to obtain, but you do have to follow the correct path. Whether you are looking for HVAC certification in Dallas, Grand Prairie, or even Houston, you must apply through the Texas ACR.
The first step is the paper application, which must be mailed and not done online. You also need to include paperwork and proof of identity.
The paperwork will include experience verification forms. These are to be filled out by a licensed contractor showing you worked for or under their supervision for at least 24 months. You also need to include certification of HVAC schooling. Military service can count for some or all of these requirements.
Once everything is approved, you must also pass a Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation (TDLR) exam. Finally, you will need to pay the registration fee, currently set at $50.
The fees and regulations are the same across the state. Whether you are an HVAC tech in San Antonio or Austin, the regulations and processes are identical.
How To Become An HVAC Technician
For the rest of us that just want to work on air conditioning systems and keep the homes of Texas cool in the summer and warm in the winter, we need fewer regulations. To become an HVAC technician in Texas, you need only a few things, which can take from a few months to several years.
- The first step is to obtain a high school diploma or GED. This will allow you to continue secondary education levels, which are needed for certification.
- Second, you will need to attend an accredited HVAC training program. This can be done through a trade school, community college, or university.
- Next, you will need to become EPA certified (608). There are 4 levels of EPA certification, including Universal, through a series of three exams.
- It may make you more eligible for employment if you take on hands-on training or apprenticeship. While not required for certification, it is a better fast-track method for higher-paying jobs.
- Once you are certified as an HVAC technician and are certified to work with refrigerant by the EPA, you can begin your career.
Quick Guide in Choosing Your HVAC School
Several factors will determine which of the many HVAC schools in Texas are right for you. While multiple schools might fit your requirements, there is one that will tick more of the following factor boxes than the rest.
The first order of business is to find a school close to your location. While traveling isn’t out of the question, driving daily across the great state of Texas can be something not for the faint of heart.
If you aren’t one for a daily commute, you will want to look for highly qualified schools closer to your home.
Highly-qualified can be challenging to ascertain. One method is to check if the school is accredited. This is a process where the school has to meet state and federal guidelines to prove they use and follow a required level of educational standards.
You can find all schools that are accredited on the US Department of Education website. They maintain a complete list of all accredited schools.
Offers Quality Education
Accreditation is only one way to check the quality of the school. While it is the easiest to check and one of the most important, schools don’t need to go through the accreditation process every semester.
You can verify the education quality by looking at the graduates. You can find out who hires graduates and at what rate. You can even approach your potential employer or a company you wish to work for and simply ask them what schools they hire from. Schools with better education standards will have more direct hires from local businesses.
Offers Hands-on Training
Bookwork and lectures are required. It is understood that in higher education, you will take part in lecture periods and a lot of book reading or self-study. It is also possible to pass all exams strictly from learning the craft just from books and study.
However, without lab work and hands-on training, a certified HVAC technician that can’t use the tools of the trade is worthless to employers. A school that offers hands-on training is crucial to your future success. Make sure you check the curriculum and find out how many hours of lab and hands-on education there are.
Connects you to an Apprenticeship/Internship Program
Another thing to check on is if the school offers job placement, apprenticeships, or internship programs with local businesses. Having placement upon graduation for these programs is crucial to starting your career.
While it isn’t the end-all-be-all of employment acquisitions, it certainly can help. Apprentices usually turn into full time proposals after a few months as long as you maintain solid work ethics.
Job placement assistance is also great when the economy becomes a little unsteady. The placement programs can help if you have a proven track record and suddenly find yourself looking for new employment.
Offers Customer Service Skills Training
One aspect that a lot of training institutions skimp on is customer service skills and consumer interactions. Finding a school that has some customer service skills will help pad your resume.
If you are younger, for example, and have not yet entered the workforce, you may not have these necessary skills. Learning about them in school can help prospective employees overlook a lack of previous work experience.
12 Best HVAC Schools in Texas
1. Houston Trade Training School
6420 Richmond Ave., Ste. 630, 6th floor, Houston, TX 77057
Best Choice For: Fastest Training School in Texas
The Houston area is known for the most HVAC schools in the state. Whether this is actually true or not is debatable. What isn’t up for debate is the quality of the schools in the area.
The Houston Trade Training School (HTT) is among the top prep schools for an HVAC career. While they mainly offer HVAC certification training, they also prepare you for the EPA exams.
The courses can be completed in as little as 3 months, making them one of the fastest training courses around. The classes are packed with instruction, hands-on, and lab work. You work in theories, live examples, and tool use.
The downside is that you still need to go after your EPA and HVAC certifications by taking the exams after you graduate. However, if you want to start your career by the end of the summer, this is the school to have get you ready.
2. The Training Center Of Air Conditioning & Heating
4727 Strack Rd, Houston, TX 77069
Best Choice For: Hands-on training in all HVAC aspects
If you want authentic, hands-on training, then there is only one place for you to go.
The Training Center of Air Conditioning and Heating in Houston is the best hands-on HVAC training there is. With a program director with over 3 decades of experience at the helm, you will get the instruction and knowledge you need to excel.
Many local and state employers hire straight out of the graduating class. You can even get job offers before graduation in some cases. One of the best features of this school is that the 14-week course has a flexible schedule and offers small class sizes for a more one-on-one experience.
3. Houston Community College
3100 Main Street, Houston, TX 77002
Best Choice For: HVAC/R degree
If you want more from your career, higher learning is required. A degree in HVAC/R is a 2-year program at Houston Community College.
With scholarships, financial aid, and job placement assistance, HCC is the way to go. You can apply, enroll and register at any time.
The courses follow the same schedule as the school, with summer, fall, and spring semesters to keep your education going year-round.
Once completed, you will earn your HVAC/R certification or associate’s degree. You will also have all the prep necessary to take the exam for EPA 608 certification.
4. Central Texas AC & Refrigeration School
9900 Gray Blvd, Austin, TX 78758
Best Choice For: Rapid training in Austin
The Central Texas AC and Refrigeration school offers a 2-week course to become certified as an HVAC technician for those in the Austin area in a hurry to get on with their career.
The course is more expensive due to the rapid pace. Once committed, you must arrive every day and on time.
Missing a single class will prevent you from graduating. However, once you do graduate, you will be ready to look for employment, pass your certification exams, and proceed to the EPA certification.
5. The University of Texas at Austin
Austin, TX 78712
Best Choice For: Full degree in HVAC/R
UT at Austin is one of the most prestigious universities in Texas and the country. While there may not be ivy-covered walls, the instruction inside those walls is one of the best you can get.
With a degree in HVAC, you are well prepared for a career in the industry, or to further your ambition and start your own independent contractor company.
The courses are among the most expensive, and you will need to fulfill other degree required classes. However, when you graduate, you will be certified, have a degree, and be highly sought after in the workforce.
San Antonio, TX
6. San Antonio Southern Careers Institute (SCI)
238 SW Military Dr #101, San Antonio, TX 78221
Best Choice For: Hands-on with Green HVAC Technologies
SCI is among the leaders in trade training in the San Antonio area. This short course prepares you for your HVAC career, certification, and EPA exams.
You also get one of the best hands-on classes for green technologies and the future of HVAC markets.
While you don’t get your certification upon completion of the course, you are prepared to head to a proctor for your HVAC certification, EPA 608, R410-a, and Green certifications. How many certification exams you pursue and pass is up to you, but you are better prepared for all of them with SCI.
7. Laredo Community College
West End Washington St, Laredo, TX 78040
Best Choice For: Two-year HVAC degree
For choices on your HVAC degree, Laredo Community College offers two programs. Both are two-year degree programs designed to get you started in your new career.
The primary course is not TSI liable, though, and may be the difference you are looking for.
The second program is TSI liable and includes the Capstone Course required for this designation.
While the choice is yours, you will enjoy an equal amount of time with book and lecture learning as well as hands-on training with some of the most advanced and modern systems around.
8. Cisco College
101, Cisco, TX 79707
Best Choice For: Job placement opportunities
Easily one of the most challenging portions of the entire HVAC career path is landing that job.
Cisco College has the answer to that. Once you complete their HVAC program, they offer one of the most comprehensive and cut-throat job placement programs available.
More students who use their placement program find employment faster than any other program, and it is no wonder.
With their instruction and hands-on approach, their graduates are sought-after and hold a higher standard of hiring than other schools in the area.
El Paso, TX
9. El Paso Community College
919 Hunter Dr, El Paso, TX 79915
Best Choice For: Affordable full-time tuition
El Paso CC is one of the best schools for fast-tracking of your HVAC career. It doesn’t matter if you have zero experience or are looking to expand your knowledge.
EPCC has courses for everyone, and you can get a leg up with their low-cost tuition fees.
Upon completion, you are ready to start your career or take the next step up on the corporate ladder.
No matter what you need to accomplish with your HVAC career or ideals, EPCC will accommodate you and see to it that you are more than ready for that next step.
Grand Prairie, TX
10. Lincoln College of Technology
2915 Alouette Drive Grand Prairie, TX 75052
Best Choice For: Entry-level preparation
Lincoln College of Technology is Grand Prairie’s trusted and reliable school for all things HVAC.
Because of it’s location to the Dallas/Ft. Worth area, students are immersed in a diverse and cultural experience you won’t get anywhere else.
Job placement is a breeze. This school has one of the most thorough and expansive curriculums available, and companies from around the country seek out their graduates.
If you are looking to relocate, or be a valuable commodity in an entry-level position, there isn’t a better school to graduate from.
11. Edge Tech Academy
2241 S Watson Rd, Suite 181, Arlington, TX 76010
Best Choice For: Easy access campus
Many students find it challenging to get to the campus, find parking on busy days, or even attend classes every day.
Edge Tech Academy solves all of these problems. With a flexible schedule, you can miss a day or two if required.
You will also find it easy to get to the large campus that has plenty of parking and amenities to keep your education brimming. The hands-on classes get you ready for anything the industry can throw at you.
12. South Texas Vocational Technical Institute
2419 E Haggar Ave, Weslaco, TX 78596
Best Choice For: Quick study programs
South Texas students can rest easy when looking for the best school in their region.
The South Texas Vocational Technical Institute has one of the best programs south of Interstate 20.
A complete course with hands-on training, lectures, and book work gives you everything you need and then some.
There isn’t a topic uncovered, and no student is left behind.
With small class sizes, one-on-one attention means you get the most out of the program, at your pace and in your style. With their quick-study programs, you will be sending applications in no time.
HVAC Training School Costs in Texas
The total cost for becoming a certified technician will vary greatly. In Texas, the cost range averages between $1,500 and $25,000, according to Cost Helper.
A lot will depend on the type of school you go to. For example, a trade school doesn’t require room and board like a college will. So you won’t pay as much for your certification. However, going through a community college or university will allow you to pursue an associate’s or even a bachelor’s degree in HVAC.
Like most other things in life, the less expensive schools offer you certification, prep you for the exams, and get you ready for your career. They have an accelerated course (generally 4 to 12 months) and offer basic post-graduation features.
More expensive institutions can get you a degree as well as offering more post-graduation features like lifetime job placement assistance or internship assistance.
Is HVAC a Good Career Choice in Texas?
HVAC is a great career choice across the United States. According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, the entire industry is expected to grow between 13 and 15% over the next decade.
In Texas, the entry-level and advanced levels have varying degrees of wages and jobs available, though HVAC is also growing well above average within the state. With the 5th highest employment rate and two metropolitan areas in the top 10 (Houston, 5th, and Dallas 7th), HVAC demand is expected to continue the upward trend.
Texas Entry Level HVAC Salary
As a fresh graduate with your shiny new certification, you can expect to find a job fairly quickly. There are a lot of areas in Texas that need qualified techs, and more and more independent contractors are popping up all the time to help meet demand.
You can expect to average between $14 and $18 per hour when you are first starting out. Though this may be lower or higher depending on your location, the size of the company, and how much training you still require.
Texas HVAC Tech Salary
The wage increases quite a bit for a technician with a couple of years under their tool belt. Your expected salary is about $25 per hour, or $51,000 per year.
The range for salary in HVAC careers across the start range from $30,000 to $78,000 per year. Independent contractors or business owners will have salaries that depend on their service area and customer base.
Return of Investment
Considering the most expensive school has a total average cost that falls below the median first-year salary of the entry-level technician, the return on investment (ROI) is quite high. For Texas-based technicians, this is great news.
You can earn enough in your first few years as a technician to maintain a livelihood and pay off any school debt without the worry of defaulting.
Demand for HVAC Jobs in Texas
There is a high demand for HVAC techs in the metropolitan areas of Texas. Houston is the 5th highest rated area in the US for HVAC techs, followed by Dallas. With both areas still growing in size the demand will only increase.
The US future growth stands at about 13% for the entire country. However, Texas, along with New York and California, head that rating with Texas expected to grow at least 1.4% per year for the next 8 years.
People Also Ask (FAQs)
How do I get an HVAC job in Texas?
To get an HVAC job in Texas, you need to complete a certification course through an accredited institution, pass the certification exams, and acquire an EPA 608 license. Once you have those, you need to start applying for technician jobs until you are hired. Apprenticeships, internships, and job placement programs can help with the last part.
Can I get an HVAC certification license online?
You can use online resources and courses to become certified. The certification exams must be done in person, though, through an approved proctor. You also don’t get the hands-on training or lab work when completing your courses online. For this reason, you may be required to join an apprenticeship or internship before you are certified.
Are there HVAC apprenticeships in Texas?
There are a lot of apprenticeship and internship programs in Texas for HVAC. You can find them through your community colleges, trade schools, or looking them up online through the Texas Workforce Commission.
Can I get into HVAC with no experience?
It is much more challenging to get into HVAC without experience or a formal education, but it is possible. You are still required to have the EPA 608 license before you can work on equipment with refrigerant. However, some jobs will help you get that during the course of your employment. Multi-family housing complex maintenance jobs, for example, will hire you without HVAC experience (though it helps) and assist you in getting the proper certifications along the way.
How long does it take to get a degree in HVAC?
Depending on your courses, the college or university you are attending, and how often you can get to the classes, you can achieve your HVAC associate’s degree in 18 to 24 months. For the bachelor’s degree, it will take 36 to 48 months.
When is online HVAC programs advisable?
Online programs are not without their merit. Especially if you are far from a major town or city with a school. Commutes can be devastating, and if you have a day job, the courses may not be offered when you are available to attend. In these situations, attending an online course will allow you the freedom to work when you can and attend school at night, on the weekends, or during your lunch breaks.
What is the highest HVAC degree?
A bachelor’s degree in HVAC/R is the highest formal degree you can obtain. There are also several certifications, EPA 608 and NATE, for example. Each of these has various levels and certification types you can obtain.
There are many schools for HVAC certification in Texas. Like the Houston Trade Training School, your school should be accredited, offer hands-on training and lab work, and get you prepared for your new career.
Finding the best HVAC school in Texas can be difficult. Hopefully, this article has helped you narrow your search and taught you considerations when making your final choice.
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