HVAC Training Schools & Programs The Ultimate Resource for Entering This In-Demand Career

Heating, ventilation and air conditioning technicians are the stewards of human comfort in the modern age. Responsible for the installation and maintenance of heating and cooling systems in residences and corporations, HVAC technology is becoming an increasingly popular profession. During HVAC training students can expect to learn everything they’ll need to know in order to secure a job and excel in the field. Read on to learn more about how to become an HVAC professional.

Best HVAC Training Programs: 2016-2017

With the constant demand for temperature control in both residential and commercial spaces, HVAC professionals are always needed. In order to successfully pursue an education in this field, one should be aware of the best HVAC training programs available to them. We weighed all of the schools that offer HVAC training curricula and have found the top programs in the country based on variables such as cost, financial aid, graduation rate and student-to-teacher ratios. View the top HVAC training programs for 2016-2017 below.

Rank School Name Score Tuition & Fees Financial Aid % Total Programs Student-Teacher Ratio Grad RateDescriptionPlacement Services Counseling Services Credit for Experience
1
Truckee Meadows Community College
99.79 $$$$$ 22% 2 19:1 21%

Truckee Meadows Community College offers a Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning and Refrigeration (HVAC/R) Program. This program ensures an HVAC/R certificate which will reflect skills acquired during the 2-year program. Students will learn how to install and repair HVAC/R systems during their time in the program. TMCC caters to a variety of students when it comes to enrollment. Transfer, returning, and new degree seeking students are welcome to enroll. Students are also encouraged to take part in the new Student Orientation, Advising, and Registration (SOAR) which is an online information hub that answers all questions related to services and programs the school offers.

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2
Terra State Community College
99.61 $$$$$ 7% 4 15:1 12%

The Heating, Ventilating, Air Conditioning and Refrigeration (HVACR) program at the Terra State Community College provides students with hands-on experience. Students have the option of enrolling in the day Fast-Track program or the evening program. Upon completion students have the ability to obtain careers that range from mechanical technicians to lab technicians. Terra State Community College wants students to be academically involved as well as socially involved. The Student Activities Center provides students with clubs, intramural sports, organizations, and much more. These clubs and organizations allow for students to be more involved on campus and build leadership skills beyond the classroom.

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3
Texas State Technical College-Waco
99.02 $$$$$ 38% 3 13:1 24%

At the Texas State Technical College students have many certificates to choose from in regards to indoor environmental and product refrigeration. Students are able to gain certificates to become either an HVAC technician or a refridgeration mechaninc. The refrigeration mechanic certificate can be completed in 27 credit-hours for completion. Students can also enroll in the Associate of Applied Science degree programs in HVAC Technology offered at the college. The Texas State Technical College provides students with the ability to learn through labs where they will gain skills needed to succeed in their careers. Students who successfully complete the program have the option of getting careers as heating, air conditioning and refrigeration mechanics and installers.

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4
Grayson College
98.77 $$$$$ 20% 3 18:1 19%

At Grayson College students can choose from three different certificates in their heating, air conditioning, and refrigeration technology program. The Technician Apprentice Certificate can be completed within 16 credit-hours, and the Technician Certificate can be completed within 32 credit-hours. Both of these certificates lead up to the Associate of Applied Science Degree. This degree will prepare students with skills such as installing motors, compressors, and evaporators. Grayson College offers students a Career Coach Program that allows students to learn more about various careers within their field and much more. The program is of no charge and helps students decide which career is best for them.

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5
Gadsden State Community College
98.27 $$$$$ 25% 3 18:1 14%

Students are provided the opportunity to gain skills in air conditioning and refrigeration at the Gadsden State Community College. The ACR Technology Program is designed to provide students with in-field experience. Students will learn how to sucessfully install air conditioning and refrigeration material. The Gadsden State Community College also offers a short-term certificate in Air Conditioning & Refrigeration. This certificate can be completed in one year and financial aid as well as scholarships may be available for students. There are many resources available to students on campus such as eLearning, academic advising, the diversity office and dual enrollment.

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6
Belmont College
98.07 $$$$$ 44% 2 11:1 19%

The heating, ventilation, and air conditioning program at Belmont College can be completed within 63-64 total credit-hours. Students will learn the essentials of maintenance, installation and repair. Upon completion students will have knowledge and ability to analyze systems, create diagrams, as well as test and repair systems. Once the program is completed and the refrigerant-handling certification test is passed, students can enter one of many career paths. One can become a specialist, equipment installer or a heat pump mechanic. Students at the Belmont College are encouraged to get involved with activities on their campus. Organizations such as the Student Government Association provide students with the opportunity to stay engaged.

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7
Trenholm State Community College
97.34 $$$$$ 30% 2 13:1 33%

At the Trenholm State Community College students gain hands-on experience within the air conditioning and refrigeration program. Lessons in maintenance, and repair are offered in order to successfully prepare for a career in air conditioning and refrigeration. Students have the option of obtaining a short term certificate which can be completed within 27 credit-hours, a certificate which can be completed within 60 credit-hours, and an associate's degree which can be completed in 72 credit-hours. After the program is completed students may be eligible to pursue a career as a refrigeration technician.

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8
Northeast Wisconsin Technical College
97.25 $$$$$ 8% 2 17:1 44%

The HVAC Installer/Servicer program at Northeast Wisconsin Technical College is different than a typical certificate or degree program. Successful applicants go right to work in an apprenticeship role. While working for an HVAC contractor, apprentices get experience in air balance, combustion controls, start-up and certification of HVAC systems. Apprentices also learn how to install and maintain heating and cooling systems. The apprenticeship adds up to 7,500 hours of on-the-job training with a licensed plumber as well as 576 hours of classroom instruction, which are paid by the employer. Students also take several unpaid courses (night school) to complete the program.

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9
Clark State Community College
97.24 $$$$$ 4% 2 14:1 9%

The Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning, and Refrigeration Departmental Certificate program is offered at Clark State's Clark County CTC campus. Students who complete the Heating, Ventilating, Air Conditioning, and Refrigeration (HVAC-R) certificate will have the skills to work with employers providing HVAC services. A student who begins the HVAC-R program in January can complete the certificate within 12 months. With campuses in Springfield, Beavercreek and Bellefontaine, as well as our extensive offering of online classes, Clark State is just a short drive or a click away. Our students and corporate customers have chosen Clark State because of our reputation for quality and personal one-to-one attention.

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10
Front Range Community College
97.07 $$$$$ 9% 3 20:1 18%

This Associate of Applied Science degree provides training in heating, ventilation, air conditioning, and refrigeration. Areas of study in the program include: basic electricity and electrical components for HVACR, refrigerant tubing, brazing, fabrication, soldering, and troubleshooting, residential and commercial heating, hot water heating, industrial controls, advanced troubleshooting, customer service, teamwork, and communication. FRCC's HVAC/R Program is nationally accredited by the Partnership for Air Conditioning, Heating, Refrigeration Accreditation (PAHRA), which is the only accreditation supported by major industry associations. Front Range also offers the following certificates: Residential A/C and heating, Light Commercial A/C and Heating, Commercial Refrigeration and HVAC/R fundamentals.

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11
Sinclair College
96.99 $$$$$ 28% 2 15:1 17%

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12
Wallace Community College - Dothan
96.93 $$$$$ 11% 3 19:1 15%

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13
J F Drake State Community and Technical College
96.93 $$$$$ 22% 2 15:1 15%

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14
Iowa Lakes Community College
96.81 $$$$$ 47% 3 15:1 40%

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15
Stark State College
96.77 $$$$$ 7% 3 22:1 9%

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16
Bevill State Community College
96.74 $$$$$ 38% 3 17:1 14%

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17
San Jose City College
96.37 $$$$$ N/A 3 24:1 22%

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18
Sacramento City College
96.33 $$$$$ N/A 3 28:1 25%

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19
Southeastern Community College
96.31 $$$$$ 28% 1 14:1 10%

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20
Vernon College
96.07 $$$$$ 23% 2 16:1 27%

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21
Columbus State Community College
95.91 $$$$$ 20% 2 19:1 8%

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22
Los Angeles Trade Technical College
95.85 $$$$$ N/A 3 35:1 19%

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23
Texas State Technical College - West Texas
95.70 $$$$$ 21% 3 13:1 34%

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24
Tarrant County College District
95.55 $$$$$ 11% 2 25:1 9%

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25
North Dakota State College of Science
95.50 $$$$$ 31% 2 12:1 47%

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26
Orange Coast College
95.47 $$$$$ N/A 3 33:1 37%

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27
College of the Sequoias
95.32 $$$$$ N/A 3 30:1 17%

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28
Owens Community College
95.22 $$$$$ 12% 1 16:1 7%

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29
Lawson State Community College-Birmingham Campus
95.11 $$$$$ 32% 2 18:1 18%

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30
Northwest State Community College
94.97 $$$$$ 26% 1 17:1 27%

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31
North Georgia Technical College
94.91 $$$$$ 1% 1 17:1 30%

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32
Riverside City College
94.68 $$$$$ 1% 2 27:1 25%

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33
Kennebec Valley Community College
94.68 $$$$$ 38% 1 18:1 42%

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34
Chippewa Valley Technical College
94.66 $$$$$ 2% 1 12:1 30%

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35
Ozarks Technical Community College
94.50 $$$$$ 4% 2 23:1 20%

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36
Lamar Institute of Technology
94.40 $$$$$ 5% 2 17:1 16%

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37
Edison State Community College
94.24 $$$$$ 16% 1 15:1 20%

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38
Mott Community College
94.03 $$$$$ 9% 2 19:1 9%

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39
Lurleen B Wallace Community College
94.02 $$$$$ 35% 1 17:1 21%

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40
Blackhawk Technical College
93.94 $$$$$ 7% 1 12:1 34%

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41
Pickens Technical College
93.68 $$$$$ 4% 1 20:1 78%

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42
Southern Maine Community College
93.41 $$$$$ 18% 1 18:1 13%

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43
Dutchess Community College
93.28 $$$$$ 6% 1 23:1 24%

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44
Kalamazoo Valley Community College
93.09 $$$$$ 13% 2 22:1 11%

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45
Moraine Park Technical College
93.08 $$$$$ 14% 1 15:1 35%

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46
Mercer County Community College
93.02 $$$$$ 1% 2 18:1 13%

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47
The Community College of Baltimore County
92.87 $$$$$ 8% 2 17:1 7%

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48
Monroe Community College
92.78 $$$$$ 8% 1 22:1 22%

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49
Gateway Technical College
92.56 $$$$$ N/A 1 14:1 23%

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50
Antelope Valley College
92.45 $$$$$ N/A 3 26:1 29%

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Rank School Name Score Tuition & Fees Financial Aid % Total Programs Student-Teacher Ratio Grad RateDescriptionPlacement Services Counseling Services Credit for Experience
1
Midland College
99.72 $$$$$ 62% 3 17:1 N/A

The air conditioning, heating, and refrigeration curriculum was established with the participation of employers in our community who work in the HVAC industry. The goal of this program is to train students to install and service air conditioning, heating and refrigeration equipment. The air conditioning Program offers an Associate of Applied Science degree, as well as four certificate options. Courses are designed to train students in both the electrical and mechanical requirements of these systems. The air conditioning facility has equipment and a computer lab with a variety of computer software programs designed to help students learn theory and troubleshooting.

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2
Bismarck State College
99.68 $$$$$ 25% 3 14:1 N/A

The heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) program at BSC prepares students to install and service the newest technology in this expanding field. Much of the program is devoted to hands-on work in the modern, well-equipped lab, where students master installation and repair procedures, use of basic tools and equipment, and how to operate by EPA standards as well as safety standards set by OSHA. Instruction includes HVAC components, systems, troubleshooting, residential and light commercial refrigeration, and sheet metal. HVAC is a limited enrollment, 10½-month program that prepares graduates for entry-level jobs. Students enroll either fall or spring semester.

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3
Ranken Technical College
98.60 $$$$$ 56% 3 16:1 100%

At Ranken Technical College, career-ready students can become certified HVAC technicians by completing the program either during the day or evening. Ranken day program students may receive an Associate of Technology, an Associate of Science or Certificate of Technology. Evening program students may receive an Associate of Applied Science or a Certificate in heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration technology. Along with flexible class times, HVAC students at Ranken are offered on-campus living, and a variety of clubs geared toward preparing students for their careers. The Ranken HVAC program is four semesters long, with financial aid available to eligible students.

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4
Florida State College at Jacksonville
98.58 $$$$$ 15% 2 22:1 N/A

Florida State College at Jacksonville (FSCJ) offers an air conditioning, refrigeration, and heating technology workforce certificate to students interested in pursuing a career in the HCAV field. HVAC students may receive two workforce certificates while completing the 48 week program. This program is an FSCJ Gainful Employment program, which prepares students for a technical career after at least one academic year. At the end of their HVAC education, students will have completed 1,350 contact hours. Courses at FSCJ are offered during the day, evening and weekends. FSCJ's campus life includes intercollegiate athletics, career development counseling and student leadership development.

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5
Northwestern Michigan College
97.88 $$$$$ 24% 2 18:1 N/A

Future HVAC technicians enrolled in Northwestern Michigan College (NMC) may receive an Associate of Applied Science in the renewable energy technology program. The Associate of Applied Science degree is rewarded to students after completion of 60-61 credits. As a Gainful Employment program, NMC also offers an HVAC certificate rewarded after completion of 31 credits. NMC offers financial aid to qualifying students through FAFSA. As an applied science, courses are only offered in-person, however, NMC does offer classes throughout the day, evening and weekend. Students at NMC are offered health and counseling services, as well as testing, tutoring and disability support.

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6
Baker College of Clinton Township
97.43 $$$$$ 85% 2 25:1 14%

After completing the general education core at Baker College, students may move on to pursue a certificate in HVAC Technology. The program is 47 credit hours and courses include professional career strategies as well as HVAC installation, maintenance and repair instruction. The program incorporates an internship and in-lab classes to form well-rounded HVAC technicians. Baker College has an open-enrollment policy that admits students based on high school diploma or GED, not GPA. Students at Baker College have access to free transportation, tutoring and lifetime employment assistance, which assists graduates in finding jobs. Eligible students may receive financial aid through FAFSA.

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7
Ferris State University
96.66 $$$$$ 63% 2 16:1 53%

At Ferris State University, students interested in a career in the HVAC field may earn an Associate of Applied Science degree from the university, or a Bachelor's of Science degree. Ferris is one of two universities in the United States to offer a Bachelor's degree in HVAC. The HVAC program at Ferris not only includes hands-on experience in creating functional HVAC systems, but also educates students on the theory behind the science. Students have the opportunity to learn outside of the classroom as well in the over 200 student organizations, including clubs and organizations geared toward future HVAC technicians.

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8
Miami Dade College
96.65 $$$$$ 24% 1 23:1 N/A

Future HVAC technicians may become qualified for certification at Miami Dade College (MDC). The program includes a work-study component and is approved by the Apprenticeship Sponsor Agency. MDC estimates it may take students up to four years to complete the HVAC certification program, and instruction takes place in and out of the classroom, on several of MDC's campuses. Outside of the program, students have access to a variety of clubs and activities focused on community engagement. Students also have the opportunity to participate in college athletics at MDC. Eligible students may receive financial aid toward their education at MDC.

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9
Dunwoody College of Technology
96.49 $$$$$ 2% 1 10:1 N/A

Graduates of the Dunwoody College of Technology HVAC program may earn an Associate of Applied Science degree. The HVAC program takes at least four semesters to complete. All of the classes within the HVAC program are offered during the day and classes vary from blueprint reading to HVAC design and installation. Dunwoody offers a residential service program to HVAC students that allows the future technicians to develop one-on-one relationships with community members and possible employers. Outside of the program, students have the opportunity to participate in Dunwoody's clubs and organizations, several of which are geared toward HVAC students.

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10
Northern Michigan University
96.20 $$$$$ 81% 1 21:1 44%

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11
New England Institute of Technology
96.10 $$$$$ 73% 1 13:1 N/A

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12
SUNY College of Technology at Canton
96.00 $$$$$ 16% 1 17:1 32%

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13
Liberty University
95.81 $$$$$ 78% 1 18:1 46%

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14
Pennsylvania College of Technology
95.25 $$$$$ 9% 1 18:1 40%

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15
Indian River State College
88.93 $$$$$ 11% 2 26:1 N/A

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16
University of Massachusetts-Lowell
88.08 $$$$$ 59% 2 18:1 54%

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HVAC Training at a Glance

HVAC training takes on a few different forms. It can be achieved through a technical school, community college or apprenticeship program, all of which have attributes that make them valuable options for different types of students. Regardless of the program type, HVAC training focuses on teaching students how to effectively install and maintain heating, cooling and ventilation systems. Technicians should not only gain a deep understanding of the mechanics involved, but the design, troubleshooting and physical requirements of the job as well. Job opportunities for graduates include careers as HVAC technicians, designers, manufacturers or owner of an HVAC company.

Dr. John Gorrie of Florida is considered to be one of the fathers of air conditioning and refrigeration when he advocated for suspending ice from the ceilings of patients’ rooms to make the room more comfortable.

After inventor Willis Carrier created an air conditioning unit designed for movie theaters, Americans of every class were able to enjoy the comfort provided by the machine.

It’s becoming increasingly popular for new homes to be retrofitted with more efficient energy systems such as a geothermal unit and energy management and storage systems that can reduce energy usage even in peak summer hours.

HVAC technicians that are familiar with computer systems and trouble-shooting tend to have a higher percentage of employment as many companies have a difficult time finding and retaining technicians to work with the increasingly complex systems.

How to Become an HVAC Technician: Education & Training

There are three major options when it comes to receiving HVAC training. The different options allow students with different schedules, budgets, and learning and personal needs to choose what works best for them. Below is a detailed breakdown of programs offered through career and technical schools, community colleges and apprenticeship programs.

Career & Technical School

Time to Complete: 2 years

Credential Earned: Certificate (opportunities for licensure available)

The key goal for career and technical school HVAC programs is to ensure that students build the necessary skills to succeed in the field, in addition to the knowledge to pass certifications such as the EPA 608 exam. Core subjects include legislation regarding Freon recovery, air conditioning (cooling), air conditioning (heating) and trouble-shooting. This often includes field experience with local air conditioning and heating companies. Typically career and technical schools require about 250 to 300 credit hours. For students who may not be able to maintain a traditional schedule, there are class options for day as well as night classes.

Below is a list of common courses HVAC professionals need to take in order to have a finite understanding of how to operate, repair and install heating and cooling systems in addition to understanding the laws and legislation that impact installation and disposal.

Sample Courses

COURSE NAME DESCRIPTION
Basic Electricity An entry-level course designed to familiarize students with HVAC electrical terminology, component identification and basic equipment functions.
Fundamental HVAC Maintenance This course presents the methods of evacuating, recharging, recovering and disposing of refrigerants, types of tubing and piping in HVAC systems, and proper methods of configuring and connecting pipes or tubing.
Domestic Appliances and Cold Water AC This course is an introduction to residential refrigeration, freezers, and portable air conditioning units. Coursework addresses operation, maintenance and troubleshooting of chilled water air conditioning systems. 
DET Training This two-day course is designed to introduce the skills necessary to become a Duct and Envelope Tightness (DET) Verifier.

Community College

Time to Complete: 6 months to 2 years

Credential Earned: Associate degree or certificate, depending on school program

Receiving HVAC training at a community college is for students who have already received a high school diploma or GED equivalent. Community colleges, much like their technical school counterpart, ensure that their graduates are highly qualified to work in a variety of different heating systems, heat load calculation and system design, air duct fabrication and calculation and much more. However, it is important to take your educational goals into account when looking into community college HVAC programs because different schools offer varying program options. The most common is an Associate of Occupational Studies Degree, but they may also provide a technician certificate as an alternative.

Read on to see a sampling of community college course options that cover everything from basic heating systems, to more tailored classes aimed at specific methods of heating and cooling.

Sample Courses

COURSE NAME DESCRIPTION
Gas Heating Systems This course will teach why natural gas is such an efficient fuel and the inner-workings of gas-fueled furnace systems.
HVAC Diagnostics In this course, you’ll learn how to troubleshoot different HVAC systems. You’ll learn the chokepoints where systems most commonly fail, and how to bring fix a system under adverse conditions.
System Controls This course teaches students about the range from simple thermostats to complex, computer-controlled systems that manage microclimates within giant structures.
Building Mechanical Codes This course helps develop a working knowledge of mechanical, fuel, gas, plumbing and electrical codes for HVAC applications.

Apprenticeship Program

Time to Complete: Approximately 5 years

Credential Earned: Journeyman status

Apprenticeship programs are offered by both trade unions and privately owned businesses. Apprentices must complete approximately 8,000-10,000 hours of training, and in some cases are also required to attend related instruction courses. During this time apprentices learn the ins-and-outs of the HVAC trade. They are often paid for their labor at an apprentice rate and work their way up to a journeyman’s rate throughout the course of the program. Apprenticeships are limited to those who are 18 years of age and older, have a high school diploma or GED equivalent, perform the physical tasks required of HVAC technicians and pass an entry examination.

Many apprenticeship programs incorporate classroom elements into the HVAC training, but the following list highlights essential skills learned during an apprenticeship that might not take place in the classroom.

Skills Learned

SKILL DESCRIPTION
Safety During an apprenticeship program, students will learn how to practice safe work practices that are in compliance with state and federal law.
Installation and Service of Equipment Apprentices will also learn how to install and service furnaces, boilers, heat pumps, air conditioning and indoor air quality equipment.
Duct Work
(Sheet metal – Airflow)
Another essential skill gained is how to set grills and registers, supply and return duct systems, exhaust fan ducts and airflow testing.
Tools Knowledge Apprenticeship students will also learn how to handle power drills, benders, snips, saws, hand tools, torches and sheet metal fabricating machines.

Choosing an HVAC Training Program: Must-Have List

  • Accreditation

    Accreditation ensures that a program’s curriculum is held to national standards. Employers look for graduates of such programs as they demonstrate that the technician went through a rigorous training, and is well versed in the trade. Non-accredited programs can be a waste of resources, as they don’t hold the same educational value. Programmatic accreditation is offered by organizations such as HVAC Excellence and Building Performance Institute, Inc.

  • Certificates/Licensure

    Since there are some certificates and licensure that are required before an HVAC technician can legally work in a state, prospective students should research the preparatory courses offered by a program, and compare the curriculum with required state licenses.

  • Hour Requirements

    Different institutions require varying minimum hour requirements. This can affect everything from tuition to scheduling, so it’s important that you’re realistic about the time you can commit when researching programs.

  • Entrance Exams

    Some programs require an entrance or competency exam in order to enroll. These can have deadlines, testing locations and take time for results. If the program does have an entrance exam, be sure to keep track of the deadlines and costs as they have the potential to throw enrollment off course.

  • Pre-Requisites

    In addition to entrance exams most programs have age, experience or high school education requirements. Ensure that you meet all the pre-requisites before applying to a program.

  • Tuition Costs

    Technical schools and community colleges come with a price tag. Make sure that the program you choose is affordable.

Technical School vs. Apprenticeship Training

With the options to receive an HVAC training from either a community college/technical school or through an apprenticeship program, making a decision as to what’s best for you can be overwhelming. However, there are some key benefits unique to each program that can make it easier to choose between the two.

TECHNICAL SCHOOL

Often provides a direct path and preparation to the required certifications and licensing.

Flexible scheduling with day or night programs available.

Ideal for those who prefer to learn within a classroom environment.

APPRENTICESHIP

Apprentices earn a wage, though reduced, from day one.

Programs also offer dental, health and other benefits to apprentices.

As apprenticeships involve on-the-job training, it is ideal for people who are tactile learners.

Opportunities for HVAC Technicians: Career & Salary Outlook

With the increasingly complex nature of heating and cooling systems, the career opportunities for professionals in the field are growing. Those with valuable HVAC training and certification have a positive job outlook with 14 percent industry growth projected from 2014 to 2024 (higher than the national average) according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Generally speaking, most HVAC technicians work in homes, schools, office buildings, hospitals and factories. Competency in computers and electronics is encouraged to get ahead in the field. As technicians progress through their career, it is not uncommon for HVAC technicians to specialize in instillation, maintenance or repair.

Industries with the Most HVAC Technicians

Industry Total Employment (2014) Median Hourly Wage (2014) Median Annual Wage (2014)
Building Equipment Contractors 186,100 $21.87 $45,490
Direct Selling Establishments 9,170 $23.02 $47,880
Hardware, and Plumbing and Heating Equipment and Supplies Merchant wholesalers 7,220 $24.19 $50,320
Commercial and Industrial Machinery and Equipment 6,820 $25.13 $52,270
Personal and Household Goods Repair and Maintenance 1,490 $21.87 $45,480
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (2014)
Top 5 States with the Highest Concentration of HVAC Technicians
State Employment Employment per 1,000 Jobs
1 Delaware 1,890 4.46
2 Maine 1,850 3.15
3 Florida 23,660 3.09
4 North Carolina 11,020 2.73
5 Virginia 9,610 2.64
Highest-Paying States for HVAC Technicians
State Median Annual Wage (2014)
1 Alaska $63,300
2 District of Columbia $62,520
3 New Jersey $56,390
4 Massachusetts $55,840
5 Washington $55,770
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (2014)

Licenses & Certifications for HVAC Technicians

Due to the toxic and volatile nature of the materials and systems that HVAC technicians work with, there are some certifications that are either required or strongly encouraged for professionals to enter the field. Some are specific to states or federal law in the handling and disposal of dangerous materials, while others focus on honing skills that will make the holder a more competent and qualified professional.

EPA Certified A/C and Refrigeration Technician

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency requires that all individuals who handle refrigerants be certified. This not only allows the holder to legally buy refrigerants, but it also gives the necessary credential needed to service any building air conditioning and refrigeration systems. There are three specializations for this exam: small appliances, high-pressure refrigerants and low-pressure refrigerants. Any technicians applying for this certification must choose one. Refer to the EPA’s website on A/C and refrigeration technician certification for details. More information about certified providers of the exam can be found here.

Industry Competency Exams (ICE)

Provided by North American Technician Excellence, the ICE certification is a leader in measuring basic competency in the HVAC industry. This certification is geared toward HVAC professionals who have one year or less of experience. It measures baseline competency in residential, light commercial A/C and heating and commercial refrigeration. It is available to take both online and in-person.

Professional Level Certifications

The nonprofit organization HVAC Excellence offers a variety of optional certifications for different skill levels. The professional level certifications are for those with at least two years verified field experience and a passing grade on the core exam. It is only awarded to technicians that can pass both the prerequisite and closed book exams. These exams will test competency in a variety of areas that include, but not limited to heat pump service, gas heat, combustion analysis and light commercial refrigeration. For more information, visit the HVAC Excellence page on professional level certifications.

Essential Skills & Experience for HVAC Technicians

  • Monitoring Operations

    The first step in diagnosing the problem with an air conditioning unit is having the ability to read gauges, dials or other indicators to see whether or not something isn’t right with a heating or cooling system. Knowing how to monitor these indicators is integral to performing the duties of an HVAC technician.

  • Familiarity with Design

    Though many may not associate the design of technical blueprints with HVAC technicians, knowledge of the subject is vital to their trade. It allows technicians to gain a deeper understanding of the machines they’re working on.

  • Quality Control Analytics

    Understanding the quality of your work is essential to creating the high standard that will nurture client relationships, and benefit your reputation as a reliable HVAC technician. A technician that demonstrates their knowledge and competency in a clear, measureable manner will impress current and future clients.

  • Reasoning

    Not every solution to an air conditioning or heating problem has a textbook answer. Because of this it’s important for HVAC technicians to have both inductive and deductive reasoning skills.

  • Communication Skills

    Customer relationships are built on good communication. Being able to effectively communicate issues and solutions are vital to nurturing the positive relationships that will encourage future business.

  • Physical Ability

    Working as an HVAC technician requires being in tight quarters that can be outside, or in uncomfortable indoor settings as the AC or heater is broken. Having the physical capability to complete these tasks is incredibly important to becoming a successful technician.

Advice from the Field: Expert Interview

Dan Fleischer, owner of Dan’s Heating and Cooling Inc.
Las Vegas, NV
Where did you receive your education?

I received my education at the EC Goodwin Technical School in New Britain, Connecticut.

What expectations of the field did you have as a student? How did that change after entering the field? 

My life changed when I was able to do work as journeyman status in the field, and I was able to do hands-on work and earn a respectable living. They took me from the ground floor up to working status, [and] I’ve never been unemployed since the day I left school in 1977. My family has benefitted immensely with private school, music lessons and no students loans for college. Coming from a small town, you can’t ask for much better than that.

What was the best piece of advice anyone has ever given you regarding the HVAC profession? 

The best advice that I received from our previous generations (or mentors) that was involved in the air conditioning field is that the minute you put your name on the side of your truck, you are now taking responsibility for their comfort and health.

Additional Resources for HVAC Techs