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Heating and Cooling School Program Information

Programs for heating, ventilation and air conditioning, or HVAC, can prepare students to work for residential, commercial and government climate control companies. HVAC professionals repair, inspect and troubleshoot relevant commercial and residential equipment. Refrigeration workers may seek out specific HVAC-R training programs.

How to Select a Heating and Cooling School

HVAC programs can be found at community, technical and vocational colleges. These programs may lead to a certificate, diploma or associate degree and can be completed full- or part-time.

Summary of Important Considerations

  • Program options
  • Transferability of credits
  • Certification requirements
  • Apprenticeship opportunities

Program Options

Those who wish to study heating, ventilation and air conditioning can generally choose between a certificate or associate degree program. Certificate programs last up to one year, while the associate degree program takes two years. The main difference is that associate degree programs include the addition of general education classes with a focus on math, business and liberal arts. Both HVAC programs cover all types of heating, cooling and ventilation processes and allow students to work with traditional heating and cooling equipment and tools. Graduates can become heating and cooling technicians, mechanics or sales representatives.

Transferability of Credits

Another consideration when choosing a school is the ability to transfer credits from one program to another. A student should consider whether credits from a certificate program would transfer to an associate degree program if the student wishes to continue his or her education.

Certification Requirements

Students should also consider that technicians who handle refrigerants are required to become certified in one of three categories, and graduation from an accredited school is a requirement for certification. Type I certification deals with small appliances, type II certification covers high-pressure refrigerants and type III certification is required for low-pressure refrigerants. Certification exams need to be approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Apprenticeship Opportunities

If a student is interested in seeking an apprenticeship with experienced HVAC technicians, he or she should choose a school with already established relationships with local HVAC companies or apprenticeship organizations. Several organizations that offer apprenticeships are the Air Conditioning Contractors of America, the Mechanical Contractors Association of America and the Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors National Association. With an apprenticeship, candidates receive on-the-job training that makes the transition to full-time employment much easier. Apprenticeship programs can last up to five years and may include continuing education courses on advanced HVAC concepts.

Heating and Cooling Program Overviews

Certificate in Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning

An HVAC certificate program prepares students for entry-level HVAC careers or continued education through an associate degree program or HVAC apprenticeship. Most certificate programs last one semester and allow students to work with different heating, cooling and ventilation systems. Students use HVAC tools and diagnostic processes to repair and maintain working systems. With a certificate in HVAC, individuals can work with heating and cooling contractors, retail companies and HVAC repair shops. Many courses are conducted in HVAC labs with actual tools and equipment that HVAC technicians use on a daily basis. Common course topics include:

  • Heating and air conditioning systems
  • Heating and ventilation designs and diagrams
  • Thermodynamic processes
  • Principles of environmental control
  • Piping systems and ductwork

Associate of Applied Science (AAS) in Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning

An associate degree program in HVAC teaches students to install, repair and maintain heating, ventilation and cooling equipment. Students learn to understand blueprints and diagrams. Most programs provide students with access to the tools and equipment needed to gain valuable hands-on training. In the traditional courses, students learn about heating and cooling processes and theories, as well as study math and mechanics. Lab coursework allows students to work directly with heating and cooling equipment. Typical courses include:

  • HVAC electrical processes
  • Heating and air conditioning piping
  • Sheet metal installation
  • Advanced ventilation and heating systems
  • HVAC blueprints and diagrams

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