Education programs specifically in HVAC design are not generally available, though courses in this topic can be found in mechanical engineering, architectural engineering, HVAC technology and other related programs. These programs are not typically available online since they often require hands-on training or labs. One option for online learning in this field is a bachelor's degree in HVAC engineering technology. This is a hybrid program that requires applicants to already have an associate's degree in HVAC. Students can take most of the classes online; however, they are required to attend a 5-day on-campus residency for lab work. Individuals interested in fully online programs have other related options, such as electrician degree programs.
HVAC-Related Bachelor's Degree
Online degrees for HVAC design are unusual due to the hands-on nature of the work. Many programs require practice in an on-campus lab. An upper-division program resulting in a Bachelor of Science in HVAC Engineering Technology is available online. This program focuses on the development of HVAC systems and design of controls.
Information and Requirements
Students must first complete a heating, ventilation, air conditioning, and refrigeration (HVACR) technology program, such as an Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S.), at an accredited school. Although the HVAC courses for this degree are available online, students must attend an on-campus orientation to be enrolled. Only one core class is offered each semester. The online upper-division sequence takes two and a half years to complete. Since the online program does not offer opportunities to practice in the field or lab, it is not recommended for students without previous experience with HVAC systems.
Most communication between instructors and students occurs through email. Lectures are recorded and available for students to view on their personal computer. Students must have computers with Internet access and the ability to play video.
Students learn to analyze the efficiency of heating, cooling and air conditioning systems. They identify problems and adjust performance. Most general education courses are available online, but are completed outside the upper-division HVAC program. Students must be proficient in algebra to fulfill requirements in pre-calculus, chemistry and physics.
Students learn about control loop theory, both in pneumatic and analog electronic systems. This course focuses on industrial and commercial applications.
This course covers direct digital electronic control of HVAC systems. It discusses how controls maximize or limit efficiency in conjunction with layout, programming and building operation.
HVAC design is dependent on electrical circuits in motors, controls, timers, relays and other devices. Students learn how to install, wire and analyze HVACR electrical components.
Students who wish to train as HVACR installers or technicians, but do not need the expertise for design and engineering, should consider an online or on-campus professional certificate program. Some states require licensure for technicians.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov) most technicians worked for heating, plumbing and air-conditioning contractors in 2015. HVAC specialists also find employment in industries that rely on climate-control systems such as schools, government agencies, office buildings and hospitals. In 2015, the median hourly wage for an HVACR installer or mechanic was $21.69 (BLS).
Fully online programs in HVAC are not common as a hands-on element is often required, but some coursework is available online. Common courses in hybrid programs include topics related to controls, theory, and performance of multiple HVAC appliances.