Heating and Cooling School Program Information

Programs for heating, ventilation and air conditioning, or HVAC, can prepare students to work for residential, commercial and government climate control companies. These programs may lead to a certificate, diploma or associate degree and can be completed full- or part-time.

Curricula for HVAC certificate, diploma and degree programs cover all types of heating, cooling and ventilation processes and allows students to work with traditional heating and cooling equipment and tools. Associate's degree programs also include general education classes with a focus on math, business and the liberal arts.

Top 10 Heating and Cooling Schools

There are many schools that can prepare individuals for HVAC work. Some of these community, technical and vocational colleges are outlined below.

College/University Location Institution Type Programs Offered Tuition and Fees (2015-2016)*
Arkansas Tech University Russellville, AK 4-year, Public Certificate $6,192 (In-state), $11,352 (Out-of-state)
Georgia Piedmont Technical College Clarkston, GA 2-year, Public Certificate, Associate's degree $2,840 (In-state), $4,976 (Out-of-state)
Elgin Community College Elgin, IL 2-year, Public Certificate, Associate's degree $2,868 (In-district), $10,439 (In-state), $11,959 (Out-of-state)
Brazosport College Lake Jackson, IL 4-year, primarily associate's, Public Certificate, Associate's degree $2,385 (In-district), $3,405 (In-state), $5,025 (Out-of-state)
Delta College University Center, MI 2-year, Public Certificate, Associate's degree $3,395 (In-district), $5,270 (In-state), $9,770 (Out-of-state)
William Rainey Harper College Palatine, IL 2-year, Public Certificate, Associate's degree $3,228 (In-district), $9,396 (In-state), $11,208 (Out-of-state)
San Jacinto Community College Pasadena, TX 2-year, Public Certificate, Associate's degree $1,408 (In-district), $2,416 (In-state), $3,688 (Out-of-state)
Midlands Technical College West Columbia, SC 4-year, primarily associate's, Public Certificate, Associate's degree $3,988 (In-district), $4,924 (In-state), $11,524 (Out-of-state)
Ferris State University Big Rapids, MI 4-year, Public Associate's degree $10,970 (In-state), $17,562 (Out-of-state)
Thaddeus Stevens College of Technology Lancaster, PA 2-year, Public Associate's degree $7,430

*Source: National Center for Education Statistics

Heating and Cooling School Selection Criteria

Important considerations when choosing a heating and cooling school include:

  • A student should consider whether credits from a certificate or diploma program would transfer to an associate's degree program if the student wishes to continue his or her education.
  • Students should also look for accredited schools that will qualify them to earn the EPA certifications required of technicians who handle refrigerants, which can include certification in small appliances, high-pressure refrigerants or low-pressure refrigerants.
  • Students interested in seeking an apprenticeship with experienced HVAC technicians should choose a school featuring relationships with local HVAC companies or apprenticeship organizations.
  • While apprenticeship programs can last up to five years, they usually make the transition to full-time employment much easier.

Certificate in Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning

An HVAC certificate program prepares students for entry-level HVAC careers or continued education through an associate's degree program or HVAC apprenticeship. Most certificate programs last one semester and allow students to work with different heating, cooling and ventilation systems. Students use HVAC tools and diagnostic processes to repair and maintain working systems. With a certificate in HVAC, individuals can work with heating and cooling contractors, retail companies and HVAC repair shops. Many courses are conducted in HVAC labs with actual tools and equipment that HVAC technicians use on a daily basis.

Associate of Applied Science (AAS) in Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning

An associate degree program in HVAC teaches students to install, repair and maintain heating, ventilation and cooling equipment. Students learn to understand blueprints and diagrams. Most programs provide students with access to the tools and equipment needed to gain valuable hands-on training. In the traditional courses, students learn about heating and cooling processes and theories, as well as study math and mechanics. Lab coursework allows students to work directly with heating and cooling equipment.

When considering an HVAC program, it is important to think about career goals, school accreditation and the level of overall education that is desired. The availability of lab work is another important consideration that can help students earn EPA certification and land a position after graduating.

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