Between the icy sleet of Dallas winters and the sweltering summers of the Rio Grande Valley, Texas residents fully understand how important heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) can be to a comfortable life. If you're looking for a stable career with openings in cities and towns from the Woodlands to the Panhandle, electronics and HVAC schools in Texas can help you get started.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) expects robust employment growth for HVAC techs and installers nationwide, and the Labor Market and Career Information Department of the Texas Workforce Commission shows that state-specific projections are just as good. With more than 11,000 Texas HVAC jobs expected to open up between 2012 and 2022, training in the field might just be the career investment you've been looking for.
Heating, ventilation and air conditioning specializations
Professionals trained in HVAC perform installation and maintenance of heating, air conditioning and refrigeration machinery. Most training programs can prepare you for the challenges of both sides of the business, but many HVAC pros choose to practice either repair or installation exclusively.
Here are a few sub-fields in which graduates of electronics and HVAC schools in Texas might choose to specialize their professional practice:
- Water-based heating systems
- Solar panel installation
- Green building system design
- Commercial refrigeration
- Energy efficiency
- All-weather systems
- Carbon monoxide safety
Some programs may offer specialization tracks as part of their curriculum, while others may focus on the fundamentals and allow you to carve out your own specialty through the jobs you choose to take after graduation. Specialization in the field isn't a requirement; HVAC generalists may be able to get work as contractors with the proper licensing.
HVAC certification and degrees
As is the case with most technology these days, HVAC systems are becoming more complex with each passing year. Heating and cooling tradespeople may once have learned their skills primarily through on-the-job training, but the old model is becoming increasingly uncommon as the machines and electronics of the profession grow ever more sophisticated.
Programs at electronics and HVAC schools in Texas can take anywhere from 6 months to 2 years to complete, depending on the breadth and intensity of study. Here are a few of the specific subjects that courses are likely to cover during formal HVAC training:
- Fundamentals of indoor climate control
- Electrical systems and circuits
- Blueprint reading
- Applied mathematics
- Commercial refrigeration
- Natural gas and forced-air heating
- Software and microsystems
- HVAC design and installation
Some schools even offer HVAC training online, which can be a great help for those whose existing work or family responsibilities prevent them from attending a full-time, campus-based program. Online HVAC schools may even offer a hands-on component, if the school is affiliated with a regional tech shop or learning center in your area.
While Texas requires all active HVAC techs to register with the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation, specialized certification is not a requirement for lawful employment. Certain employers may prefer candidates who have taken the initiative to earn certain certifications, so it can't hurt to see if your HVAC school offers a certification track in your chosen specialty.
HVAC salary and career outlook
According to BLS data, employment opportunities for HVAC techs nationwide are expected to increase by 21 percent between 2012 and 2022. Texas already boasts some of the highest levels of HVAC employment by region, particularly in the metro areas around Houston and Dallas. Data indicates that the Lone Star State is poised to absorb nearly a fifth of the entire country's HVAC job growth over the next several years.
Salary expectations for graduates of electronics and HVAC schools in Texas can depend on a variety of factors, including geographical region, level of education and amount of experience on the job. HVAC techs in Victoria, TX, earned the most in the state on average in 2013, taking home a mean annual figure of $50,380, while those working in the more densely populated areas of Houston, San Antonio, Dallas and Fort Worth made between $41,600 and $46,700 the same year.
HVAC installation and repair is a growing career field that shows no signs of slowing down, and training for it can provide you with skills that enjoy near-universal demand. If you're comfortable working outside, can lift fairly heavy objects and have a reasonably good mind for figures, training in HVAC systems might just be able to give your career the boost that it needs.
Heating, Air Conditioning, and Refrigeration Mechanics and Installers, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2013, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/Installation-Maintenance-and-Repair/Heating-air-conditioning-and-refrigeration-mechanics-and-installers.htm
Heating, Air Conditioning, and Refrigeration Mechanics and Installers, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics, 2013, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes499021.htm
Heating, Air Conditioning, and Refrigeration Mechanics and Installers, Occupational Information Network, 2013, http://www.onetonline.org/link/summary/49-9021.00
Heating, Air Conditioning, and Refrigeration Mechanics and Installers: Texas, Career InfoNet, 2015, http://www.onetonline.org/link/wages/33-9021.00?e=1andst=TNandg=Go
Heating, Ventilation & Air Conditioning, Manchester Community College, 2015, http://www.mccnh.edu/academics/programs/heating-ventilation-and-air-conditioning
Online HVAC Training Program, Penn Foster Career School, 2015, http://www.pennfoster.edu/programs-and-degrees/construction-and-maintenance/hvac-technician-career-diploma.aspx
HVACR Technology, Ferris State University, 2015 http://catalog.ferris.edu/programs/230
Certificates, Air Conditioning, Heating and Refrigeration Technology, Central Piedmont Community College, 2015, http://catalog.cpcc.edu/collegelevelprograms/associateinappliedscienceaasdegreesdiplomasampcertificates/airconditioningheatingandrefrigerationtechnology/#certificatestext
Air Conditioning and Refrigeration Technician Information, Texas Department of Licensing and Registration, 2015, https://www.tdlr.texas.gov/App_Online/ACRequirement-1.asp