There are no master's degree programs in heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning (HVAC), but aspiring HVAC technicians may pursue a certificate or an associate's degree in the field. These programs provide basic training in the installation, service, and repair of climate-control systems in homes and businesses. Emphasis is placed on repair techniques and adherence to building codes. Instruction is provided in both the classroom and the laboratory. Some programs are offered online.
HVAC Certificate Program
HVAC certificate programs provide students with expertise in the essential elements of heating and cooling systems. Through theory-based and hands-on training, students learn to properly install, design, service, and troubleshoot complex HVAC systems. These career-focused programs consist of workplace and safety training, including the safe handling of refrigerants. Generally requiring one year of study, HVAC certificate programs can be found in a variety of formats, including evening, weekend, and distance-learning options. Applicants are rarely required to possess prior HVAC knowledge.
Students in HVAC certificate programs become fluent in both the principles behind various heating and cooling systems and the practical techniques required to install and repair them. Courses may include the following:
- Principles of HVAC
- HVAC system design
- Fluid power systems
- HVAC safety
- Building codes
Associate's Degree in HVAC Technology
This program combines thorough training in HVAC systems with the general education required for an associate's degree. Programs typically last two years. Among the topics covered are thermostat repair, duct system layout, automatic controls, and commercial refrigeration equipment, as they relate to both residential and commercial HVAC systems. Students also learn practical business skills that can help them in their careers in HVAC, such as cost estimation and customer service. Common courses include:
- Mechanical refrigeration system design
- Sheet metal layout
- HVAC installation techniques
- Commercial heating systems
- Gas heating systems
Popular Career Options
There are a number of specialized positions available to graduates who have associate's degrees in HVAC technology. Possible job titles include:
- HVAC mechanic
- HVAC sales consultant
- Physical plant maintenance serviceperson
- Air conditioning technician
Employment Outlook and Salary Info
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), there were over 324,310 employed heating, air conditioning, and refrigeration mechanics and installers in 2018. The BLS predicted the number of these workers to grow 13% from 2018-2028 due to multiple factors, such as the overall increase in commercial and residential building construction and growing demand for advanced climate-control systems. As of May 2018, the median annual salary for these professionals was $47,610 (www.bls.gov).
Though requirements vary by state, many HVAC technicians seek licensure. This often requires passing a series of tests and completing an apprenticeship that can last up to five years. There are numerous certification options available in the HVAC field, designed to demonstrate varying levels of proficiency and experience. In order to sit for these examinations, students usually need only an associate's degree.
For students who are interested in studying HVAC technology, a certificate or an associate's degree are the best educational options. The skills they gain in these programs aspiring HVAC technicians to achieve licensure and start working.