How to Become an HVAC Technician in Texas
Are you interested in a well-paying trade career that has a fast growth rate? Do you like working with your hands? If so, a job as an HVAC technician may be for you. [Leer en español]
HVAC technicians work on heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems in homes and other buildings. They are responsible for installing, repairing and updating these systems. Because Texas is known for its incredibly hot summers, and because these systems will need upkeep and repairs, this career will remain high in demand for years to come.
Requirements for Becoming an HVAC Technician in Texas
In Texas, HVAC certification is optional, but to be eligible to work under a licensed HVAC contractor you must register as an HVAC technician with the state. You must be at least 18 years of age to register, and many employers will prefer employees who have a high school diploma or GED.
There are no specific education requirements to start working as an HVAC technician in Texas, but basic knowledge of the career field can help you be more successful. You can learn through either taking an accredited post-secondary educational program or by completing an apprenticeship program.
HVAC Programs in Texas
The main accrediting agencies for HVAC programs are HVAC Excellence and the Partnership for Air-Conditioning, Heating, Accreditation. Completion of an accredited program is not required, even to become licensed as an HVAC contractor in the state; however, it shows that the student is dedicated to having a high-quality education and learning all they can about the trade.
Texas has schools that offer programs that have been accredited by both HVAC Excellence and PAHRA.
- Laredo Community College. Laredo Community College offers two certificate programs, one in Residential Air Conditioning and Refrigeration and one in Commercial Air Conditioning and Refrigeration. Both are one-year programs. If you complete only the first semester of either program, you will receive certification as an HVAC assistant. These programs are accredited by HVAC Excellence.
- Lincoln College of Technology. The HVAC program at Lincoln College teaches students the basic skills and concepts they need to work in this field and also introduces Green Technology, since many newer systems are more energy efficient than the older ones. In addition to in-class lectures, students are required to complete assignments outside of the classroom. The program can be completed in about 47 weeks (or one year). This program is also accredited by HVAC Excellence.
- Vernon College. Vernon College offers an HVAC certificate program as well as an Associate in Applied Science (AAS) degree in HVAC. The certificate program can be completed in nine months, and the degree program takes two years to complete. These programs are accredited by PAHRA.
Besides an educational program, you can gain instructional and on-the-job training by working as an apprentice. Apprenticeships typically last anywhere from three to five years. Apprentices are paid for the work they do, and this experience will count for work experience if they are seeking certification or licensure.
To find available apprenticeships in Texas, you may want to start with the Texas Workforce Commission. You can also check with any union or non-union organizations close to you. Local job postings may announce apprenticeship openings as well.
Registration, Certification and Licensing for HVAC Technicians in Texas
If you are going to be working as an HVAC technician under the supervision of a licensed HVAC contractor in Texas, you must first register with the Texas Department of Licensing and Registration (TDLR). Registration is simple. You must submit an application and pay an application fee.
Certification is not required to work as an HVAC technician, but in Texas you do have the option of becoming a Certified Technician. You must apply and pay an application fee as well as provide proof of having either completed a TDLR approved training program or have two years of work experience in air conditioning and refrigeration. Once your application is approved, you can take the Certified Technician exam administered by the TDLR. When certified, you will need to renew that certification annually.
And finally, you have the option of becoming a licensed HVAC contractor within the state of Texas. To do this, you must submit an application and application fee to the TDLR. You must also show that you have completed four years of work in air conditioning and refrigeration under a licensed Air Conditioning and Refrigeration (ACR) contractor. Once your application has been approved, you will be eligible to sit for the certification exam.
Prior to taking the exam, you must decide if you want a Class A or a Class B license. A Class A license permits you to work on any size unit. With a Class B license, you are limited to working on cooling systems less than 25 tons and heating systems that put out 1.5 million BTUs or less per hour. ACR contractor licenses must be renewed annually, and eight hours of continued education are required.
Any HVAC tech who will be working with refrigerants, including purchasing or disposing of them, must hold proper certification. This certification is called EPA Section 608 and is provided by the Environmental Protection Agency. You must pass an exam to get this certification.
Career Outlook and Salary Expectations
Texas ranks third in the nation as far as the employment of HVAC technicians. In 2016, the Projections Managing Partnership (PMP) reported that there were 26,370 HVAC workers throughout the state. Texas is expected to see a 23.5 percent increase in this job field in the coming years, with approximately 32,560 HVAC workers employed in Texas by 2026.
HVAC technicians in the state earn an average of $21.83 per hour and $45,410 per year.
Working as an HVAC Technician in Texas
HVAC technicians are generally employed by HVAC contractors, but they may also be employed by private or public agencies. In Texas, Houston is the highest paying city for HVAC techs as well as where you will find the highest concentration of available HVAC jobs. The cities of Austin, Dallas, Fort Worth and San Antonio also have a substantial number of HVAC job opportunities that pay well.
With registration being the main requirement to work as an HVAC technician in Texas, you can start looking for work in the state almost immediately if this career interests you.