Associate's programs typically take two years to complete and require students to have a high school diploma or GED for admission. Students learn how to interpret HVAC blueprints and diagrams and how to work with basic HVAC mechanical systems. After program completion, graduates may pursue entry-level employment or potentially an apprenticeship in the field.
Associate of Science in HVAC Technology
An associate degree program in HVAC technology adequately prepares students for careers as HVAC designers. Students study the technical processes behind heating, cooling, ventilation, and refrigeration. Programs allow students to work with industry-standard equipment and tools, giving students practical experience before seeking employment or an apprenticeship. Programs require two years of study and commonly include courses on:
- Heating and cooling theories
- Advanced ventilation systems
- HVAC system design
- Refrigeration applications
HVAC designers are required to be licensed in some states, though requirements vary widely by state. In states that require HVAC designers to be licensed, an exam and apprenticeship must be completed. In other states, HVAC designers are not required to seek licensure but must demonstrate competency through extensive experience and completion of a HVAC degree program or apprenticeship.
Employers typically hire HVAC designers with at least two years of experience. HVAC designers can gain this experience through an apprenticeship, which can last several years. Apprenticeships typically combine classroom training and hands-on experience under the supervision of an experienced HVAC designer. Unions and construction organizations often organize apprenticeships for beginning HVAC designers.
HVAC design workshops are offered by technical and vocational colleges that offer HVAC technology programs. Workshops address topics like HVAC cost estimation and calculations, heating and cooling system repairs and alterations, and advanced CAD skills. Employers may also offer training seminars to familiarize newly hired HVAC designers with an employer's policies and procedures.
Several organizations offer HVAC workshops as well, including North American Technician Excellence (NATE) and the Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors Association (PHCC). NATE offers online training seminars for HVAC technicians and other heating and cooling professionals. PHCC offers various courses through its educational foundation. The Air-Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute (AHRI) is another organization that may offer continuing education opportunities.
Individuals interested in becoming HVAC designers and installers can pursue an associate's degree in HVAC technology and in-field experience through a supervised internship. State licensure may be required in some cases, so students may want to check with the appropriate state agency for requirements. Continuing education opportunities are widely available in this field.