HVAC Education and Training Requirements in New Mexico

Undergraduate Education Options
Pursuing an education in HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) training in New Mexico requires multiple steps. First, HVAC technician candidates elect to either begin a tech program or an extensive apprenticeship. New Mexico is home to six schools offering intensive HVAC programs with recognized industry credentials. Typically, HVAC training programs in schools in this state may yield an associate’s degree or HVAC-specific professional certification. Most programs involve a subsequent period of hands-on experience in the field, in the form of an apprenticeship. Many of these programs can be completed in under one year.

Other aspiring HVAC techs in New Mexico opt for an extensive apprenticeship in place of training at an educational institution, which involves mostly in-the-field experience along with occasional traditional course work weaved in. Depending on the program the student chooses to pursue, this option may take between one and three years to complete. Starting salary for an HVAC technician depends on individual qualifications and job requirements.

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Generally, employers in New Mexico favor HVAC technicians with a formal education and/or who are certified over those with only apprenticeship training.

New Mexico’s six HVAC schools generally require a high school diploma, or a GED and SAT score for admission into a higher education or vocational program. Some also require that enrolling students be at least 18 years of age. Basic curriculum varies by school, however many core components are universal for aspiring HVAC technicians and engineers, including the physics of both heating and cooling airflow, electrical components, ventilation and blueprint reading, pipe-fitting and plumbing, and even sheet metal work. The majority of schools in New Mexico offer course work specific to heating and air conditioning certification, as well as ventilation certification, particular to this industry. In addition, students who complete individual courses in refrigerant handling may earn HVACR certificates, while those who pursue refrigeration systems course work may earn an HVAC&R certificate. About half of the programs in New Mexico offer such optional certifications in addition to standardized HVAC training.

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In New Mexico, graduates of an associate’s degree program in HVAC engineering may be eligible for entry-level work as a technician or engineer’s assistant, helping professionals in this field to design and/or maintain HVAC systems for both residential and commercial buildings. HVAC technicians in the state of New Mexico must hold an HVAC contractor license in order to begin work. Obtaining an HVAC license in New Mexico requires at least four years of experience as well as a 75% passing score on the HVAC license exam.

Employment as an HVAC technician

New Mexico offers a variety of employment opportunities for HVAC technicians to install and repair heating, air conditioning and refrigeration systems in homes as well as commercial buildings. Entry-level jobs as HVAC technicians and apprentices are expected to grow in New Mexico by 21% over the next decade.

Four years of verified HVAC experience as an apprentice or performing hands-on training is required to be hired as an individual licensed contractor in the state of New Mexico. In addition, this license, or ‘journeyman’ designation requires a passing score on both the HVAC trade exam as well as the business licensing exam, and payment of licensing and recovery fees and registration as outlined by the state’s Trade Commission policies.

Licensing Exams

HVAC contractors and verified professionals in New Mexico must hold a license to practice in this field. Most educational and vocational programs in the state also include exam training to prepare students for the test. HVAC license exams typically include major areas of study such as HVAC system design, fabrication, installation, maintenance, and safety. The HVAC Business Management Exam covers a broader range of industry-specific areas of study, including basic business management, state registrar mandates and contractors’ regulations, estimates and bids policies, contracts and agreements, project management, insurance and bonds, safety protocol, keeping records and reports, state and national labor and employment laws and regulations, finance management, tax laws and liens, and environmental laws and regulations. Aspiring HVAC techs must complete both exams in order to obtain a license in New Mexico.

Post-graduate Studies

HVAC techs interested in integrating additional research and methodology training into their training may pursue higher education in the form of a Bachelor’s degree, Master’s degree (Master of Engineering), or even a PhD (Doctorate of Philosophy in Mechanical or Electrical Engineering) in this field. Typically, a Bachelor’s degree takes four years to complete, while a Master’s degree or doctorate may take an additional 2-4 years, depending on the programs available in this state. Job placement in New Mexico may be preferential to those with the highest possible level of education in this field, however many employers value extensive experience over a higher degree when hiring qualified candidates.

Continuing Education

New Mexico’s HVAC job opportunities continue to expand and grow to accommodate new innovations in the industry. Even those with Master’s and PhD degrees in HVAC mechanics have the option of pursuing continued educational and professional endeavors to expand their skills and experience even further, though New Mexico HVAC professionals are not currently required to pursue such supplemental credentials on a regular basis.