Throughout plumbing and heating technology associate's degree programs, students can participate in labs that cover different aspects of the trade, including gas technology, heating systems and pipe fitting. Some programs also offer internships, which provide students with experience working in a real-world setting. Programs typically take two years to complete, and the only prerequisite is possession of a high school diploma or GED.
Associate in Plumbing and Heating Technology
Students in this program are trained to properly design and install a heating or plumbing system. They then learn to troubleshoot those systems using industry-related equipment and are taught how to use hand and power tools safely. Course topics generally include:
- Potable water systems
- Plumbing fixtures
- Construction wiring
- Blueprint reading
- Warm air heating
Popular Career Options
Graduates of these programs typically work in the construction and building trade or work as service technicians for heating and plumbing firms. They can typically install, service and maintain heating and plumbing systems in homes, retail establishments, factories, office buildings and hospitals. A list of job titles may include:
- Service technician
- HVAC specialist
- Commercial plumber
- Plumbing and heating mechanic
Salary and Career Outlook
In 2015, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that plumbers, pipefitters and steamfitters earned an annual median salary of $50,620, while heating, air conditioning and refrigeration mechanics and installers earned $45,110. The BLS also predicted an employment growth of 12% for plumbers, pipefitters and steamfitters between 2014 and 2024. A 14% growth was projected for heating, air conditioning and refrigeration mechanics over the same decade.
Graduates of these programs may choose to gain training in an apprenticeship program or earn a bachelor's degree, which provides advanced training. In some states, licensure is required for individuals who work with heating systems. This could require work experience or the completion of an apprenticeship program. In most states, plumbers are required to gain licensure, which also typically requires a minimum amount of work experience. Individuals who work with refrigerants must earn certification through an organization approved by the Environmental Protection Agency, such as a trade school or a union.
After completing an associate's degree in plumbing and heating technology, students can choose from among several career options, including plumber, service technician and mechanic. However, some of these employment options will require certification or state licensure. These career fields are expected to grow by 12-14% over the 2014-2024 decade.