- Provides a direct path and preparation to certification and licensure.
- Flexible scheduling with day or night programs available.
- Ideal for those who prefer to learn in classrooms.
Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning technicians are modern stewards of human comfort. These professionals install and maintain heating and cooling systems for homes and workplaces.
HVAC technology is becoming more and more popular as a career. HVAC students learn everything they need to secure a job and excel in the field. Read on to learn more about how to become an HVAC professional.
Explore programs of your interests
with the high-quality standards and flexibility you need to take your career to the next level.
|What is an HVAC technician and what do they do?||Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning technicians are responsible for the installation and maintenance of heating and cooling systems in residences and corporations. During HVAC training, students can expect to learn everything they need to secure a job and excel in the field.|
|How long does HVAC certification take?||Students have three options when it comes to HVAC training. Students should choose the option that works best with their different schedules, budgets, and learning and personal needs. Most programs take around two years to complete. Still, they can range from six months and five years (for apprenticeships).|
|Can you get HVAC certification online?||With the constant demand for temperature control in both residential and commercial spaces, HVAC professionals are always needed. To successfully pursue an education in this field, learners should be aware of the best HVAC training programs available to them. In addition to in-person training, those who want to learn the fundamentals of HVAC systems can gain HVAC training through an online certification program. These certifications suit those looking for entry-level positions or early-stage wage increases.|
|What jobs can you get with an HVAC certification?||With the increasingly complex nature of heating and cooling systems, career opportunities are growing for professionals in this field. Those with HVAC training can expect a 4% job growth from 2019-2029, according to the VU.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. 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, many HVAC technicians specialize in installation, maintenance, or repair.|
Students can undergo HVAC training through a technical school, a community college, or an apprenticeship program. All options hold value. Regardless of program type, HVAC training teaches students how to install and maintain heating, cooling, and ventilation systems.
Technicians should gain a deep understanding of the mechanics involved and the design, troubleshooting, and physical requirements of the job. Job opportunities for graduates include HVAC technician, designer, manufacturer, and HVAC company owner.
John Gorrie is considered a father of air conditioning and refrigeration. He advocated for suspending ice from the ceilings of patients’ rooms to make their rooms more comfortable.
After inventor Willis Carrier designed an air conditioning unit 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. Geothermal and energy management and storage systems can reduce energy usage even in peak summer hours.
HVAC technicians who understand computer systems and troubleshooting tend to enjoy higher employment rates. Many companies struggle to find and retain technicians to work with the increasingly complex systems.
Below, we break down HVAC programs offered through career and technical schools, community colleges, and apprenticeship programs..
Time to Complete: 2 years
Credential Earned: Certificate (opportunities for licensure available)
Career and technical HVAC programs make sure students build the skills to succeed. Learners also gain the knowledge to pass certifications such as the EPA 608 exam. Subjects include Freon recovery legislation, air conditioning (cooling), air conditioning (heating), and troubleshooting. Career and technical schools entail 250-300 credit hours. Students who cannot maintain traditional schedules can choose between day and night classes.
Below is a list of common courses for HVAC professionals. These courses teach students to operate, repair, and install heating and cooling systems. Students also learn the laws and legislation that impact installation and disposal.
|Basic Electricity||This entry-level course teaches students basic HVAC electrical terminology. It also covers component identification and equipment functions.|
|Fundamental HVAC Maintenance||This course presents the methods of evacuating, recharging, recovering, and disposing. This applies to refrigerants and tubing and piping in HVAC systems. It also covers proper methods of configuring and connecting pipes or tubing.|
|Domestic Appliances and Cold Water AC||This course introduces students 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 helps students become Duct and Envelope Tightness (DET) Verifiers.|
Time to Complete: 6 months – 2 years
Credential Earned: Associate degree or certificate, depending on school program
Students with high school diplomas or GED certificates can pursue HVAC training at a community college. Community colleges are like technical schools. They make sure graduates know how to work on a variety of heating systems. Community college programs also explore heat load calculation and system design. Students learn about air duct fabrication and calculation as well. Learners should consider their educational goals when looking into community college HVAC programs. The most common community college program leads to an associate of occupational studies. Some may also provide technician certificates.
Read on for a sampling of community college course options. Lower-level courses cover basic heating systems. Higher-level ones explore specific methods of heating and cooling.
|Gas Heating Systems||This course teaches why natural gas is such an efficient fuel. It also teaches about the inner workings of gas-fueled furnace systems.|
|HVAC Diagnostics||This course teaches learners to troubleshoot different HVAC systems. It covers the chokepoints where systems fail. It also explores how to fix systems in adverse conditions.|
|System Controls||This course teaches students about the different types of systems. Simple systems include thermostats. Complex, computer-controlled systems can manage microclimates within giant structures.|
|Building Mechanical Codes||This course develops a knowledge of mechanical, fuel, gas, plumbing, and electrical codes. These apply to HVAC applications.|
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 foTrade unions and private businesses may offer apprenticeship programs. Apprentices must complete 8,000-10,000 hours of training. In some cases, they must attend related instruction courses. During this time, apprentices learn the ins-and-outs of the HVAC trade. They often receive pay for their labor at an apprentice rate. Apprentices may work their way up to a journeyman’s rate throughout the course of the program. Apprentices must be age 18 or older. They should hold a high school diploma or GED certificate. Apprentices must perform physical tasks and pass an entry examination.
Many apprenticeship programs incorporate classroom elements into HVAC training. The following list highlights skills specific to apprenticeships.
|Safety||During an apprenticeship, students learn work practices that follow state and federal law.|
|Installation and Service of Equipment||Apprentices learn to install and service furnaces, boilers, and heat pump. They also learn about air conditioning and indoor air quality equipment.|
(Sheet metal – Airflow)
|Students learn to set grills and registers. They also learn to supply and return duct systems, exhaust fan ducts, and airflow testing.|
|Tools Knowledge||Apprenticeship students learn to handle power drills, benders, and snips. They can also operate saws, hand tools, torches, and sheet metal fabricating machines.|
HVAC training options include community college, technical school, and apprenticeship programs. Choosing can feel overwhelming. Students should consider the benefits of each option when making this decision.
Given the increasingly complex nature of heating and cooling systems, career opportunities for HVAC professionals are growing.
Heating, air conditioning, and refrigeration mechanics and installers can expect an average job growth rate (4%) from 2019-2029, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Most HVAC technicians work as plumbing, heating, and air-conditioning contractors. As technicians progress through their career, they may specialize in installation, maintenance, or repair.
|Industry||Employment||Average Hourly Wage||Average Annual Wage (15)|
|Building Equipment Contractors||249,430||$24||$50,400|
|Merchant Wholesalers, Durable Goods||10,650||$26||$53,970|
|Direct Selling Establishments||9,820||$25||$51,510|
|Commercial and Industrial Machinery and Equipment||7,280||$26||$54,740|
|Colleges, University, and Professional Schools||6,200||$26||$54,870|
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (2014)
|State||Employment||Employment per 1,000 Jobs|
|Rank||State||Avg Annual Income|
|1||District of Columbia||$71,940|
Due to the toxic and volatile nature of the materials and systems HVAC technicians work with, some certifications are either required or strongly encouraged for professionals to enter the field. Some are specific to state or federal law. Others focus on honing skills that make professionals more competent and qualified.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requires all individuals who handle refrigerants to obtain certification. This allows professionals to legally buy refrigerants and service any building’s air conditioning and refrigeration systems.
There are three specializations for this exam: small appliances, high-pressure refrigerants, and low-pressure refrigerants. Technicians applying for this certification must choose a specialization. Refer to the EPA’s website on technician certification for more information.
Provided by North American Technician Excellence, the ICE certification measures basic competency in the HVAC industry. This certification serves HVAC professionals who have one year or less of experience. It measures baseline competency in residential and light commercial A/C and heating and commercial refrigeration. It is available to take online or in person.
HVAC Excellence offers a variety of certifications to suit different skill levels. The professional-level certifications are for those with at least two years of verified field experience and passing grades on the core exam. Technicians who can pass both the prerequisite and closed-book exams may receive these certifications. These exams test competency in a variety of areas, including heat pump service, gas heat, combustion analysis, and light commercial refrigeration. For more information, visit the HVAC Excellence page on professional level certifications.
Dan Fleischer, owner of Dan’s Heating and Cooling Inc.
Las Vegas, NV
I received my education at the EC Goodwin Technical School in New Britain, Connecticut.
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 benefited 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.
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.
For this year’s college rankings, our analysts carefully reviewed statistical data from multiple sources for more than 7,500 postsecondary institutions so that you could easily evaluate schools based on what matters most to you. For each school, we applied the eligibility criteria outlined below, then ranked schools and programs based on four ranking factors.
Eligibility Criteria for All Postsecondary Institutions:
Dozens of data points were used to calculate a weighted score for four ranking factors: quality, affordability, flexibility and program (in order of significance). To determine quality, which was the most important consideration for all AS Online rankings, the most impactful data points were acceptance and graduation rates; for affordability, tuition2 and grants; for flexibility, part-time enrollment offerings; and for program, degrees conferred in that program area.
How to Read Our Rankings Tool:
1 Our Best Vocational Programs rankings included data for both online and campus programs.
2 Both annual in-state and out-of-state tuition rates were used in our methodology; however, our Rankings Tool currently only displays annual in-state rates.
With the constant demand for temperature control in both residential and commercial spaces, HVAC professionals are always needed. To successfully pursue an education in this field, students should learn about the best HVAC training programs available to them.
We considered all schools offering HVAC training to rank the top programs in the country. Our ranking accounts for variables such as cost, financial aid, graduation rate, and student-to-teacher ratios. View our list of the top HVAC training programs below.
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