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Degree Overview: Associate of Arts (A.A.) Degree in Refrigeration, Air Conditioning, Heating, and Gas Technology

Majors Overview December 5, 2013

Research more about this degree and learn about career options, technical skills, and coursework involved, in this program, to help with your future education decisions.

A.A. Programs in Refrigeration, Air Conditioning, Heating, and Gas Technology

Students enrolled in Associate’s Degree Programs in Refrigeration, Air Conditioning, Heating, and Gas Technology can seek entry level technical careers in HVAC technology (HVAC is an abbreviation for “heating, ventilation and air conditioning”). They can expect to become adept in repairing, servicing and installing systems of this type, in addition to being able to test, design and maintain them. They are taught about blueprint reading, airflow systems and refrigeration unit design even as they develop technical and professional skills they would need in their profession. Admission criteria typically require applicants to hold a GED certificate or high school diploma. The program usually spans about 18 months.


Coursework is designed to combine classroom lectures with hands-on training, whereby students are allowed to apply the knowledge gained in a classroom, in work done in the laboratory, as well as on actual systems during participation in internships. Coursework may include topic areas such as:

•Air conditioning controls
•Duct and sheet metal fabrication and installation
•Heat pumps
•Piping for contractors
•Technical mathematics
•Commercial refrigeration
•Air conditioning
•Gas technology
•Gas, oil burner and electric heating

Job and Wage Outlook

A job growth of 28% has been predicted for HVAC installers, mechanics and technicians, during the period from 2008 to 2018 (source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)). The optimistic projection is based on the assumption that there is greater demand for climate control, in various settings, and that formal training will give professionals better career prospects. In May 2010, these professionals took home an average annual wage of $42,530 (BLS).

Continuing Education, Certification and Licensure Information

Licensure is compulsory for heating, air conditioning and refrigeration technicians and installers are required to be licensed. Licensing norms may vary by state; however, most states insist on the passage of a test. Some states require the completion of 2 to 5 years of apprenticeships.

Technicians who work with refrigerants must seek certification in their specialty area. The certification exams are authorized by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) through organizations approved by it. Interested candidates may take the certification exams for servicing low-pressure refrigerants, high-pressure refrigerants or small appliances. Certification exams may also be taken by HVAC technicians during their education programs in order to showcase their knowledge and skills in their chosen field.

Other competency or certification exams are offered by organizations such as the National Occupational Competency Testing Institute, the Refrigeration Service Engineers Society, HVAC Excellence, and the Air-Conditioning, Heating and Refrigeration Institute. Technicians can take these courses to update themselves with technological advances in their field.

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