Heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) technician programs include training in heating systems, commercial refrigeration, domestic appliances and air conditioning technology. Online HVAC programs, like those conducted on-campus, prepare students for certification as HVAC technicians. While hybrid programs offer online coursework, examinations and lab work may need to be performed on campus. Most individuals who pursue postsecondary training in this field earn a certificate, diploma, associate's or bachelor's degree. Applicants to the bachelor's degree must hold a HVAC associate degree and have work experience. Degrees in this field are typically earned from a two-year community college or a private vocational school.
Program Information and Requirements
Due to the hands-on nature of the work, HVAC degree programs are rarely offered fully online. Some schools offer online certification training or preparation programs through their continuing education departments. These are usually self-paced and can be completed in months whereas associate's degrees usually take around two years to earn. Although distance learning associate's degree programs are rare, schools may offer several general education courses online, which could help make program completion more convenient for students seeking flexibility. Selected HVAC courses may be offered in a hybrid format as well.
Bachelor's degree programs - online or on-campus - are uncommon because HVAC technicians usually do not need a degree at this level to successfully work in the field. Bachelor's programs that are available online are degree completion programs that require students to already have an HVAC associate's degree and possibly relevant work experience.
Because the general education and initial HVAC training has already been completed, these online degree programs typically only take about two years to finish. Some programs at this level focus on HVAC engineering technology, which teaches students about the design, testing and maintenance of HVAC equipment as well how to perform efficiency evaluations.
Schools offering distance learning HVAC training programs at the certificate or diploma level typically use online lessons or modules containing virtual lectures, videos, graphics, handouts and assessments to teach students the material at their own pace. Schools offering associate's and bachelor's degree programs with online components utilize virtual classroom environments containing lecture materials, assignments and a variety of tools for interaction such as discussion boards or class chat rooms.
Students enrolled in hybrid classes complete a portion of the coursework online and then attend campus on a regular basis to complete HVAC labs or examinations. Some online HVAC degree programs require students to attend on-site laboratory experiences over a period of days once they reach a certain point in the curriculum.
Automotive HVAC Programs
Along with general HVAC technician training programs, some schools offer training in automotive HVAC. These programs include the study of heating and cooling systems, EPA regulations, testing, servicing and troubleshooting. Automotive HVAC programs are intended for students with a work-related background in the basics of automotive repair.
Like those on-campus, students who are studying online learn many facets of HVAC systems, including foundational study of electricity, current and magnetism. Safety is also a major component of HVAC programs, since technicians can work with potentially dangerous systems. HVAC technician and automotive HVAC programs include training in many of the same areas. Though automotive HVAC programs naturally focus on HVAC systems as they exclusively relate to automobiles, they likewise require training in everything from types of refrigerants to troubleshooting heating systems.
Online HVAC degree programs often include the following courses:
- Refrigeration and air conditioning concepts
- Safety tools and equipment
- Nature of electricity
- System evacuation, refrigerants and system charging
- Basic heating systems
- All-weather systems
Graduates of online HVAC degree programs often find steady work because heating, air conditioning and refrigeration units of all size require maintenance and repairs. HVAC technicians have much independence in their career. Some work in or start their own repair shop, while others work as independent contractors, finding employment in the following industries:
- New home construction
- Home remodeling
- Auto repair shops
- Gas Utilities
- Food store chains
- School systems
- Cold storage companies
HVAC degree programs are offered online at the associate's and bachelor's degree levels, with certificate programs also available. These programs typically require significant hands-on practical work, teaching students to use the tools of the trade and understand various HVAC systems.