Career Information for a Degree in Environmental Control

Environmental control is generally a vocational program offered at the certificate or associate's degree level. Continue reading for an overview of the programs, as well as career and salary info for some career options for graduates.

Two common careers for a degree in environmental control are HVACR (Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning and Refrigeration) technicians and facilities managers. There are varying requirements for each of these professions; HVACR technicians require state-specific licensure in addition to an associate's degree or certificate, while a facilities manager usually needs to have an associate's degree. Anyone responsible for handling refrigerants must also have a license.

Essential Information

Community colleges and vocational schools offer environmental control programs as certificate and associate's degree programs that include classroom work and hands-on experience. Curricula in these programs might address ways to safeguard the environment and handle materials that require special handling and disposal methods, such as refrigerants. Required courses might include physics, energy efficiency, air conditioning systems, refrigeration, heating systems and plumbing.

Career HVACR Technician Facilities Manager
Education Certificate or associate's degree in HVACR technology Associate's degree
Other Requirements HVACR license required in some states; license to handle refrigerants required N/A
Job Growth Projections (2014-24)* 14% 8% (administrative services managers)
Median Wage (2015)* $45,110 $86,110 (administrative services managers)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Career Options

Heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration (HVACR) technicians work in the field of environmental control. In many states, they must be licensed, and all must be certified to handle refrigerants. Another career option in environmental control is facilities manager, which involves many skills and requires broad knowledge. Below is a look at these two careers, including salaries and job prospects.

HVACR Technician

An HVACR technician installs, maintains, troubleshoots and repairs heating, cooling and refrigeration systems in both commercial and residential buildings. While some technicians learn their skills on the job, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) notes that HVACR technicians who have formal training might have the best job prospects (www.bls.gov).

In some states, HVACR technicians are required to be licensed. While each state has its own requirements that need to be fulfilled to earn licensure, all require that technicians pass an exam. In addition, those who work with refrigerants must become certified by passing an exam on the specific type of equipment that they work with.

The BLS stated that the median salary for HVACR technicians as of May 2015 was $45,110, and it also noted that the field was expected to see a 14% increase in employment between 2014 and 2024.

Facilities Manager

An associate's degree in environmental control can be a good stepping-stone to a career in facilities management. Facility managers oversee environmental control, safety, construction and maintenance operations. They ensure that their buildings meet safety, health, efficiency and environmental standards.

According to the BLS, administrative services managers, which includes facilities managers, earned a median annual salary of $86,110 as of May 2015. Employment of administrative services managers was projected by to grow about 8% between 2014 and 2024, based on BLS estimates. There should be a demand for facilities managers given the need for natural disaster planning, energy efficiency and compliance with environmental protection regulations.

HVACR technicians are mainly responsible for the maintenance, repairs, and installation of refrigeration and cooling systems in buildings. A facilities manager, on the other hand, is responsible for ensuring environmental regulations are complied with, while also ensuring a building is efficient and safe. Both these professions are projected to experience average or above growth in employment opportunities from 2014-24, reports the BLS.


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