Students in HVAC associate degree programs typically explore concepts such as airflow, air quality, thermal comfort, air distribution, and general industry standards. Other courses cover on-the-job safety and electronics. Many schools also offer online classes for professionals who are unable to commit to an on-site degree program. Programs generally last two years.
Applicants generally need to have a high school diploma or GED, and some may require prior field training or experience as a technician. Standardized test scores may be required as well.
HVAC Associate Degree
Most schools require students to complete at least 90 hours of coursework before they are awarded an associate degree. In addition to HVAC-related studies, most programs also include general education requirements in English, math, natural science, and the social sciences. Course subjects specific to this field include:
- Temperature control
- HVAC troubleshooting skills
- Compressor installation and maintenance
- Air pressure tests and analysis
- Electric heating systems
- Furnace ignition systems
Employment Outlook and Salary Info
In the HVAC industry, employers prefer to hire individuals who have completed some type of school-based training. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the mean annual wage for heating, air conditioning, and refrigeration mechanics and installers was $47,380 as of May 2015. HVAC technicians are most commonly employed as maintenance and repair representatives for companies that manufacture HVAC equipment. Some are hired to do installation work, but technicians must also typically be able to maintain and repair systems. The BLS reported that heating, air conditioning, and refrigeration jobs were predicted to increase 14% from 2014-2024, which was much faster than average.
An associate degree in HVAC typically leads to an entry-level job in the field. However, some students go on to become apprentices, which allows them to engage in on-the-job training with a mentor who can teach them more advanced technical skills. Apprentices may go on to obtain certification before they finally enter the profession as full-time technicians. Entry-level certification exams for graduates of degree programs with less than one year of work experience are also available. More experienced technicians are eligible to take exams in specific maintenance and installation areas to work towards becoming specialists with particular types of equipment and systems.
Through classroom sessions and hands-on training, associate degree programs in HVAC technology prepare students for entry-level employment as HVAC technicians. In-person and distance courses are both available, and on-the-job training will help students become more skilled in specified areas.