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Degree Overview: Associate of Arts (A.A.) Degree in HVAC-R

Majors Overview February 13, 2014

Once students learn how to install and maintain heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration (HVAC-R) systems, they may find a position as a refrigeration or air conditioning repair technician. Those that are interested should look into pursuing an Associate of Arts (A.A.) degree program in this field.

A.A. Programs in HVAC-R

Students enrolled in an HVAC-R associate degree program are taught about installing and overhauling industrial, commercial and residential cooling and heating systems. They can also expect to become adept at repairing and maintaining these systems in order to ensure their efficient operation. Other coursework topics may include the use of testing equipment, systems design and blueprint reading.

Educational Requirements

Admission criteria typically require applicants to hold a GED certificate or high school diploma. Completion of diploma or certificate programs in this field may also be required in some programs.


Coursework in an HVAC-R program combines classroom lectures and hands-on work in labs and covers topic areas such as:

•Electricity basics
•Commercial and industrial systems
•Legal regulations
•Heat pumps
•Duct design
•Refrigeration fundamentals
•Air conditioning systems
•Load calculations
•Control systems

Career Choices

Students enrolled in these programs may choose to specialize in a particular aspect, such as refrigeration or air conditioning, or they may seek occupations in all HVAC-R aspects. They may seek employment with air conditioning and heating repair shops or contractors and aspire for job titles such as:

•Hydronic technician
•Electrical controls technician
•Refrigeration repair technician
•HVAC-R sales representative
•Heat pump specialist
•Air conditioning service technician

Continuing Education Choices

Licensure of HVAC-R technicians is compulsorily required by some states and local governments (source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)). In certain instances, this may require them to complete a state-approved certificate or degree program. Applicants may be required to complete an apprenticeship program or gain significant work experience on the watch of a licensed technician. The passage of a state-issued exam by HVAC-R technicians is required in the majority of states.

Additionally, a written certification exam is required to be passed by those working with refrigerants to assure employers about their ability to handle these materials safely (BLS). Typically, organizations approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) administer these exams.

Students keen on taking on managerial positions or starting their own business firms can enroll in HVAC-R bachelor’s degree programs. Students wishing to obtain additional technical skills can enroll in programs with coursework in systems retrofitting and control systems design.


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Quick Fact
In 2018, workers with a bachelor's degree or higher had almost twice as much
median earnings per week than workers with only a high school diploma.*
*Bureau of Labor Statistics

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