How to Become an HVAC Technician in Texas
Those looking to join an exciting and in-demand field in the state of Texas should consider a career as an HVAC technician.
By getting the right education and training, individuals can learn the ins and outs of what it takes to work in the state. Keep reading this handy guide to discover how to become an HVAC technician in TX.
Education & Training
Many HVAC professionals receive their training in secondary and postsecondary technical schools and community colleges that offer programs in heating, air-conditioning, and refrigeration.
How Long Does it Take?
The time difference in training may be due to the fact that vocational schools concentrate solely on technical coursework without the liberal arts component required in community college programs.
What Do You Study?
Students enrolled in either secondary and postsecondary vocational training programs or community colleges learn about the following:
- temperature control
- equipment design
- basics of installation
- maintenance and repair of all HVAC equipment
High School Preparation
High school students interested in working in this field should take courses in mathematics, mechanical drawing, applied physics, chemistry, electronics, computer applications, and electronics.
There are three agencies that set standards for the accreditation of HVAC training programs:
- HVAC Excellence
- National Center for Construction Education and Research
- Partnership for Air Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Accreditation.
Some HVAC technicians gain training through apprenticeships run by joint committees representing Texas chapters of the following:
- Air-Conditioning Contractors of America (TACCA)
- Mechanical Contractors Association of America
- Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors—National Association
- International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers (SMART)
- United Association of Journeymen and Apprentices of the Plumbing and Pipefitting Industry of the United States.
Refer to each of the Web sites for further details on admission, and training program content.
Formal apprenticeship programs last from 3 to 5 years and combine on-the-job training with classroom instruction.
Coursework is the same as offered in vocational and community college programs. Further details regarding admission and program content may be found on each of the websites listed above.
Educational Requirements for Apprenticeships
In general, applicants for all apprenticeships must have a high school diploma or general equivalency diploma (GED). Strong math and reading skills are essential.
Students in traditional HVAC programs and apprenticeship programs also learn about legislative issues and regulations that govern the use of heating, air conditioning and refrigeration systems.
Benefits of Apprenticeship
Both formal vocational training and participation in apprenticeship programs are equally valid methods of beginning a career as a HVAC Technician. After successful completion of an apprentice program, HVAC technicians are considered skilled tradespersons able to work independently.
HVAC Licensure Requirements
Heating, air-conditioning, and refrigeration mechanics and installers are required to be licensed in Texas.
To get a license in the state of Texas, applicants must be 18 years of age, register with the state of Texas as a technician working for a contractor, and get work experience under a licensed contractor.
To obtain an HVAC license in Texas, visit Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation.
The Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation (TDLR) issues two types of licenses:
- Class A: the Class A license lets you work on any size HVAC equipment.
- Class B: the Class B license limits you to 25 tons of cooling and 1.5 million BTU of heating.
For either the Class A or Class B license, you also need an endorsement for environmental air conditioning, commercial refrigeration and process cooling and heating, or both.
You will need to pass an exam for each type of endorsement. To sit for an examination you need at least three years of practical work experience within the preceding five years.
If you have a degree in air conditioning engineering, refrigeration engineering, or mechanical engineering from a Department-approved school, you can use it for up to two years of the work experience requirement. Exams are administered by PSI Exams.
For complete information on registering for the exams, visit the Texas Department of Licensing at Regulation HVAC Candidate Information Bulletin.
What’s on the Exam?
As per the Board of Licensing, the contents of these tests require extensive knowledge of electrical codes with regard to HVAC specifically which candidates may obtain through completion of an apprenticeship program OR 2 to 5 years of paid experience.
For those with required coursework but less than the required three of experience, the industry has developed a series of exams to evaluate competency in basic residential and commercial heating and cooling, as well as commercial refrigeration.
These exams are considered “entry-level” exams and are often administered at both secondary and postsecondary vocational and trade schools.
HVAC Certification Requirements
To get an HVAC certification in Texas, applicants must first complete 24 months of work under a licensed contractor. HVAC techs can then become a certified ACR technician by completing a 2,000-hour program.
In addition, all HVAC technicians who work with refrigerants must be certified in their proper handling. To become certified, technicians must pass a written examination specific to the type of work they perform.
The three areas of certification are:
- Type I for those servicing small appliances
- Type II for high pressure refrigerants
- Type III for low-pressure refrigerants.
Exams are administered by an organization approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, such as vocational schools, contractor associations, and unions. The TACC offers study guides for these exams.
How Much Does It Cost?
The cost of becoming an HVAC technician in Texas can vary based on the chosen school, financial aid received, and how much education the individual wants to get. The tuition of HVAC schools in Texas can vary from as little as $1,000 to upwards of $10,000 depending on the amount of schooling.
Other expenses that come with becoming a Texas HVAC technician are the different program, registration, and licensing exam fees that can each range from $20 to over $100. Students will also need to pay for books and school materials, which may differ in price depending on the seller and their condition.
How Much Can You Make?
The following are median entry-level salaries broken down into hourly wages of HVAC technicians in select Texas cities. An HVAC technician salary in Texas can vary depending on level of training, licenses held, and specialty. The amount of job experience may also affect how much a person can earn, as well.
- Austin $22.39/hr
- Dallas $22.61/hr
- Fort Worth $22.18/hr
- Houston $23.34/hr
- San Antonio $22.13/hr
The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts a small growth in jobs for HVAC technicians. Experts believe there will be a five percent increase in jobs for heating, air conditioning, and refrigeration mechanics and installers from 2021-2031, which is in line with the national average.
Thousands of new HVAC jobs in Texas will likely be available during this time due to individuals leaving the workforce or retiring from the field.