Geothermal heating systems are a small but rapidly growing segment of the heating, ventilating, air conditioning and refrigeration (HVAC-R) industry and could present an attractive career niche for those interested in both alternative energy and working in the HVAC profession. Certificate programs in this area are offered at a handful of schools and usually take a year or less to complete. Students learn about heating system installation and design principles, how to read blueprints and the practicalities of routing, fastening and sealing pipes. Students who complete these programs can gain accreditation from the International Ground Source Heat Pump Association (IGSHPA).
Admission requires a high school diploma or General Education Development (GED) equivalent. Schools consider high school-level vocational classes or on-the-job training in the HVAC industry to be good preparation for a geothermal heating program.
Geothermal Heating Systems Training
Coursework in geothermal heating systems certificate programs cover heat pump and valve capabilities, refrigerant properties and the fundamentals of electricity, thermodynamics and hydrology. These programs may consist of 5-10 courses that discuss relevant topics such as:
- Heating and heat transfer systems
- Electricity basics
- Cost estimating
- Fluid dynamics
- Piping methods
- Geothermal energy principles
Employment Outlook and Salary Info
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment for heating, air conditioning and refrigeration mechanics and installers will grow at a rate of 13% from 2018-2028. The mean annual salary for these professionals was $50,160 as of May 2018 (www.bls.gov).
For students who want to learn how to service geothermal heating systems, a certificate program offers basic courses in the field. Students can earn international accreditation in the field after graduation.