Students may pursue an education in air conditioning repair through vocational or apprenticeship training, which can be found at a school or home repair association. Combined training is also available and pairs air conditioning repair with heating, ventilation and refrigeration.
Vocational training takes six months to two years to complete, and apprenticeship training lasts for 3-5 years.
Air conditioning mechanics and technicians can learn to install and repair both residential and commercial air conditioning systems as part of vocational training programs. Courses can be taken on campus, online or through some other form of distance education. Students typically earn a diploma or certificate upon completion, but some schools may award an associate's degree. Students can expect to take classes in the following subjects:
- Blueprint reading
- Professional safety
- HVAC fundamentals
Formal apprenticeship programs are also available to those interested in air conditioning repair careers. Apprenticeship programs in air conditioning repair combine paid job training with classroom instruction. These programs are sponsored by organizations like the National Association of Home Builders.
Because training in air conditioning repair is often paired with training in heating and ventilation (HVAC) and training in heating, ventilation and refrigeration (HVACR), courses tend to cover topics in those areas as well. Some general course topics include:
- Installation, troubleshooting and repair of heating and cooling systems
- Industrial refrigeration
- Blueprint reading
- Choosing the best tools for each individual job
Job Outlook and Salary Information
The 2014-2024 job outlook for heating, air conditioning, and refrigeration mechanics and installers is projected to grow by 14%, which is much faster than average, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). As of May 2015, the median annual salary for these professions is $45,110.
Obtaining certification is required by the EPA for workers who purchase and handle air conditioning refrigerants. Some HVAC training programs provide certification preparation to their students. Certification can be obtained through HVAC Excellence, Partnership for Air-Conditioning, Heating and Refrigeration Accreditation (PAHRA), the Refrigeration Service Engineers Society (RSES) and other agencies.
These agencies set academic and competency standards for professionals in the fields of heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration. Criteria for certification vary by agency, but it generally requires several years of field experience in maintenance and installation. Certification exams cover topics such as residential and commercial heating and cooling, electricity, soldering, energy conservation, piping and trade mathematics.
Aspiring air conditioning mechanics can choose from vocational training, apprenticeship training, or programs that combine air conditioning repair instruction with other courses in heating, ventilation systems or refrigeration. Further certifications are required by the EPA for professionals who work with air conditioning refrigerants, and some programs include preparations for these certification exams in their curriculum.