Online Associate's Degree in Air Conditioning and Refrigeration

Dec 03, 2019

Learn about online degree and certificate programs with air conditioning and refrigeration courses. Get an overview of the program types, requirements and course descriptions available for this field.

Essential Information

There are no online associate's degree programs in air conditioning and refrigeration, but students can qualify for entry-level jobs as air conditioning and refrigeration technicians by completing an online certificate program. Students in certificate programs complete assignments at home and work with local contractors and technicians to demonstrate their competency.

Due to the lab work that is required, associate's degree programs are available only through on-campus study. An apprenticeship may be required as well. These degree programs are usually offered by community colleges and technical schools.

Air conditioning and refrigeration technicians are required to obtain licensure in some states. Although licensure requirements vary widely, passing a licensing exam is usually required. Exam requirements may vary, but common test topics include electrical codes and HVACR-specific knowledge. In addition to licensure, all technicians who plan to work with and purchase refrigerants must be certified in the proper handling of these chemicals. Refrigerant exams are administered by a variety of organizations approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Certificate in Air Conditioning and Refrigeration

An online certificate program in air conditioning and refrigeration introduces students to key technical components of heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration (HVACR) systems. Students learn how to design, install, service and troubleshoot these systems. Topics covered include safety procedures, fossil fuel combustion systems and electrical components. This type of program is designed to prepare students for work as entry-level technicians in the HVACR industry.

Program Information and Requirements

Online air conditioning and refrigeration certificate programs typically require approximately 320 hours of study. Course modules focus on specific HVACR concepts and incorporate industry terminology, video clips, printable handouts, reading assignments and applied exercises. Most programs expect students to work directly with a local contractor or technician to gain hands-on experience and demonstrate the skills learned during each module.

Course Topics

Online coursework for this type of certificate usually presents content that addresses a variety of learning objectives that have been identified as essential key knowledge by HVACR industry groups, such as the Air Conditioning Refrigeration Institute (ARI), North American Technician Excellence (NATE), and Refrigeration Service Engineers Society (RSES).


In this class, basic electrical theory is covered, including circuit characteristics, electrical controls, types of electrical motors and the electrical application of HVACR systems. Other topics of study include transformers, magnetism, power wiring and diagnosing electrical motors.


Students are introduced to the mechanical compression refrigeration cycle and its operation components in this class. Areas of study include condensers, evaporation, capacity control methods, refrigerants and metering devices.

HVACR Controls

This online course focuses on the building of HVAC systems. Topics discussed include air circulation, control systems, air quality and system components.

Associate's Degree in Air Conditioning and Refrigeration

On-campus associate's degree programs in air conditioning and refrigeration prepare students to perform technical work in a variety of heating, cooling and refrigeration fields. Students receive training in air conditioning, air circulation, ventilation, commercial refrigeration and piping practices. Students learn how to install and repair system components. Hands-on instruction includes how to use tools, materials and equipment commonly used in the field.

Program Information and Requirements

An on-campus associate's degree program usually requires two years of study and includes general education courses in addition to core requirements for the air conditioning and refrigeration major. On-campus programs emphasize the importance of hands-on learning experiences through courses that provide a combination of classroom lectures, lab theory and practice. In the lab environment, students are able to gain valuable experience and build their skills in installation, service, repair and troubleshooting of heating, cooling and refrigeration systems used in today's residential and commercial buildings.

Course Topics

Coursework for this type of program provides training to build the technical and practical skills needed to succeed in HVACR system design and layout, installation, service and maintenance. The program aims to provide a strong foundation in mathematics, electricity, thermodynamics and drafting.


Students become familiar with basic refrigeration systems and their components, including compressors, evaporators, testing equipment and condensers. Students study safety procedures, the proper use of tools, proper refrigerant handling and methods of assembling refrigeration systems.

Air Conditioning Systems

Lessons in this class provide students with the entry-level skills needed to install, troubleshoot and service both residential and light commercial kinds of air conditioning systems. Systems covered include package air conditioning, split-system air conditioning and water-cooled air conditioning.

HVACR Electricity

In this course, students examine AC and DC circuits, electrical distribution systems, installation of electrical equipment and reading of electrical diagrams. This course usually includes hands-on assignments completed during a lab portion of the course.

Career Information

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment of HVACR mechanics and installers was projected to grow by 13% between 2018 and 2028 ( As of May 2018, the BLS reported that the annual median salary for heating, air conditioning and refrigeration mechanics and installers was $47,610.

Air conditioning and refrigeration online certificate programs teach students how to perform technical work in the heating, air conditioning and refrigeration fields, such as designing, installing and repairing these systems. Graduates of these programs can work in the air conditioning and refrigeration industry as technicians and installers.

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