Associate of HVAC and Refrigeration: Degree Overview

In an associate's program in HVAC and refrigeration, students commonly learn how to operate, install, repair, troubleshoot and maintain heating, cooling and refrigeration systems. Programs typically include both classroom and practical instruction.

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Essential Information

These 2-year programs are offered at community colleges and technical schools. A high school diploma or its GED equivalent is typically required for admissions. The information students learn can prepare them for any necessary licensure or certification required by their state or within their area of specialty.

Associate of HVAC and Refrigeration

In addition to installation, upkeep and repair fundamentals, students also learn concepts like temperature regulation and designing equipment. Some typical classes include:

  • Systems design, refrigeration
  • Codes and ordinances, EPA certification preparation
  • Gas and electric heating
  • Controls, electrical wiring
  • Load estimates
  • Duct and hydronic systems

Employment Outlook and Salary

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment for HVAC and refrigeration mechanics and installers is expected to increase 13% between 2018 and 2028. The continued need to replace older heating, cooling and refrigeration systems, and the persistent construction of homes and buildings, is expected to increase the demand for these professionals. Also, regular maintenance to keep systems functioning properly and replacing systems with newer and more energy-efficient systems may also keep the need for HVACR workers high.

The mean annual salary for HVAC and refrigeration mechanics and installers was $47,610 in May 2018, as reported by the BLS. Some workers belong to unions, such as the Sheet Metal Workers International Association and the United Association of Journeymen.

Certification and Continuing Education

Some states and jurisdictions require HVAC and refrigeration professionals to acquire licensure, which is obtained by passing an examination. Each region or state may also include other requirements. All workers who handle refrigerants must receive certification indicating they can handle refrigerants properly. Additional voluntary certifications are available to indicate an individual's proficiency in a specialized service or equipment.

Students may choose to pursue their education further by enrolling in a baccalaureate degree program. A few colleges offer bachelor's degree programs in heating, ventilation, air-conditioning and refrigeration where students can take more advanced classes and receive more hands-on training. These programs may provide business and management skills as well.

Students wanting to work as HVAC and refrigeration professionals can earn an Associate of HVAC and Refrigeration and meet regional and/or state requirements and licensure. HVAC installers are expected to see faster-than-average job growth from 2014-2024.

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