Although diploma programs in environmental systems technology are not generally offered, students can opt to earn a certificate or associate's degree in the field. The goal of these programs is to train students to apply principles of energy efficiency and general energy management/repair to heating, air conditioning, refrigeration, boiler and ventilation systems. Students can typically choose a system concentration as well.
The curricula for these programs include traditional instruction as well as hands-on training, such as lab work or internships. Associate's degrees will also generally contain more comprehensive material, in addition to including general education requirements. While an associate's degree takes about two years to complete, a certificate can be earned in less time. However, both programs require a high school education for admission.
Environmental Systems Technology Certificate
Students in an environmental systems technology certificate program may select to focus on one of a variety of different specializations, such as retro-commissioning, air conditioning, and heating. In the process of their coursework students learn troubleshooting and testing for these systems.
Students who complete this certificate program may be allowed to transfer certain credits to the associate's degree program in environmental systems technology. Specific courses may include:
- Introduction to refrigeration
- Direct digital controls
- Heating technology
- Heating regulations
- HVAC principles
Associate's Degree in Environmental Systems Technology
The associate's degree program in environmental systems technology is very similar to the certificate program, with the primary exception that it is more comprehensive. Students learn to analyze manufacturer specifications and data spreads, repair commercial air conditioning units, conduct efficiency tests, and interpret contract specifications.
Curricula vary depending on the student's concentration, but may explore concepts in commercial refrigeration, heating and ventilation, heating technology, and blueprint reading. Students typically complete an internship to gain hands-on experience working with equipment. Typical coursework may cover:
- HVAC troubleshooting
- Control systems
- Electrical codes
- Installation practices
- Data analysis
Popular Career Options
Graduates may be hired to regulate and repair the heating, air conditioning, and boiler systems in places as diverse as office buildings, shopping malls, industrial plants, and schools. Some specific entry-level careers may include:
- Service technician
- Environmental system designer
- Electronic temperature controls specialist
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), national employment of air conditioning, heating and refrigeration mechanics and installers is expected to increase by 14% from 2014 to 2024. The projected increase is expected to stem from the need for new equipment in older homes and system upgrades. The median annual wage for these professionals was $45,110 in May 2015.
Continuing Education Information
Graduates typically need to acquire a battery of licenses and certificates before providing their services to the public. These may include OSHA safety cards, EPA handling licenses and CPR certifications. Graduates may consider tailoring their skills to a certain specialty in order to enhance their career prospects. Additionally, graduates can obtain a bachelor's degree in a field similar to environmental systems technology.
Environmental systems technology certificate and associate's degree programs provide individuals with the appropriate credentials to work in the field.