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Information on HVAC Degree/Certificate Programs

Majors Overview November 28, 2015

This article talks about alternatives to master’s degree programs in HVAC and their education requirements, coursework, career choices, job and wage outlook, and continuing education choices.

Information on HVAC Programs

The work of heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC) technicians involves the installation, service and repair of many kinds of climate-control systems in business facilities and homes. Employers don’t expect candidates to hold master’s degrees in HVAC. They are not a requirement for work and, therefore, schools in the United States do not offer them. Instead, associate’s degrees or certificates are pursued by HVAC technicians.

The basics of HVAC systems and safety are usually in an HVAC certificate program. The program emphasizes building codes and repair techniques. Opportunities for online learning may be available. The coursework of students enrolled in associate’s degree programs level includes general education courses to augment subject areas such as gas systems, commercial heating, and refrigeration. Program coursework combines classroom lectures and laboratory experiences. Participation in long-term apprenticeships may qualify candidates for licensure that may be gained by passing an exam.

Certificate Programs in HVAC

Students enrolled in HVAC certificate programs are provided with expertise in the essential elements of cooling and heating systems. Hands-on and theory-based training are used to make students adept in the installation, design, service and troubleshooting of complex HVAC systems. Workplace and safety training such as the safe handling of refrigerants is in these career-oriented programs. HVAC certificate programs that span a year are available in various formats, including distance-learning, weekend and evening options. Prior HVAC knowledge is usually not a prerequisite requirement for enrollment.


Program coursework is devised to impart fluency in both the practical techniques pertinent to the installation and repair of various cooling and heating systems and the principles behind them. Core coursework may cover topic areas such as:

•Fluid power systems
•Building codes
•HVAC system design
•Principles of HVAC
•HVAC safety

Job and Wage Outlook

In 2012, more than 267,000 individuals in the United States were employed as HVAC mechanics and installers (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics). These professionals are expected to see a 21% job growth over the 2012 – 2022 decade owing to numerous reasons, including the rising demand for advanced climate-control systems and the overall rise in residential and commercial building construction. In May 2012, HVAC mechanics and installers brought in an average hourly wage of $20.98 (BLS).

Associate Programs in HVAC Technology

Coursework in this program is a combination of the general education required for an associate degree and thorough training in HVAC systems; the program usually spans two years. Coursework commonly covers topic areas such as duct system layout, thermostat repair, commercial refrigeration equipment, and automatic controls. The topics relate to both commercial and residential HVAC systems. Students are taught the practical business aspects of careers in HVAC, including customer service and cost estimating.

Education Requirements

Admission criteria typically require incoming students to hold a high school diploma or its equivalent. While specific high school coursework is not a requirement, students would benefit from having a background in science and algebra.


Lab-based training and classroom study are combined to train students in associate degree programs in HVAC technology in many aspects of cooling and heating systems. Core coursework may commonly cover topic areas such as:

•HVAC installation techniques
•Gas heating systems
•Sheet metal layout
•Mechanical refrigeration system design
•Commercial heating systems

Career Choices

Graduates may seek careers in numerous specialized fields, possible career options include:

•HVAC sales consultant
•Air conditioning technician
•HVAC Mechanic
•Physical plant maintenance serviceperson

Continuing Education Choices

Though each state may have its licensure requirements, licensure is sought by many HVAC technicians through the passage of a series of tests and a period of apprenticeship that could span five years. Numerous certification choices are also available in the HVAC field; thus, certificate holders can showcase their knowledge and skills in the respective area of certification. Certification can be gained by candidates without any formal degree-based training other than the associate degree.

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