Environmental Control Degree Program Information

Oct 11, 2019

Environmental control is essentially an alternative name some schools use for heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration (HVAC-R) programs. Learn more about the programs, employment information, and salary.

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Essential Information

HVAC training programs are available at the associate's degree level to high school graduates. These programs focus on the maintenance of air quality and comfort in interior spaces. Programs use classroom instruction and hands-on laboratory courses to teach students how to install, maintain and retrofit environmental control equipment. Some programs include an internship as well. Associate's degree programs can usually be completed in no more than two years. Graduates may qualify to become certified by passing the EPA's section 608 examination.

A high school diploma or GED is required for admission to an associate's degree program. Most schools consider high school-level computer, physics and mathematics courses to be excellent preparation for studies in environmental control. Some programs may also require a current driver's license, if an internship is part of the program

Degrees in Environmental Control Degree Programs

In addition to core coursework, students may also choose from general education electives in the humanities and social sciences, such as philosophy, literature or economics. Specific course topics may include:

  • Refrigeration introduction
  • Air conditioning principles
  • Fluid dynamics fundamentals
  • Gas and oil heating systems
  • Fire protection and safety systems
  • Sensors and controls

Employment Outlook and Salary Info

Graduates of an environmental control degree associate's degree program are qualified to work as heating, air conditioning and refrigeration mechanics and installers. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (, total employment of these workers is expected to increase by 13% from 2018-2028. The BLS reported that these workers earned a median annual salary of $47,610 in 2018.

Continuing Education Information

Credits earned in an environmental control associate's degree program may be transferable to related bachelor's degree programs in business management, facilities science or industrial management. Some 4-year schools have formal partnerships with community colleges to accept transfer students.

Associate's degree holders are also eligible to take the EPA's section 608 certification exam for refrigerant technicians. Separate certifications are offered for small appliances, low pressure appliances and high pressure appliances.

Environmental control degree programs consist of in class coursework, lab courses, and sometimes an internship. Some of the topics students will learn about include refrigeration, air conditioning, fluid dynamics, heating systems, and fire protection.

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