Refrigeration, Air Conditioning, Heating & Gas Technology Associate's Degree

Heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration technology is usually referred to as HVAC or HVAC-R. This article shows you the kind of training in furnaces and refrigeration you will find in an associate degree program, and gives you an idea of the typical salary you can expect after graduation. Schools offering Heating Ventilation & Air Conditioning degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Will My Program Be Like?

A program generally takes two years to complete and can consist of 62-75 credits. The most common degree you might earn is an Associate of Applied Science. The emphasis is on heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration (HVAC-R) or something similar. Although gas is not usually mentioned in the degree title, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) attests that all programs contain training dealing with the handling of various types of fuel, including natural gas.

Typical courses you might encounter include gas, oil and electric furnaces and heating systems, commercial and residential air conditioning, principles of refrigeration, hydronic heating, heat pumps, HVAC troubleshooting, computer aided drafting (CAD) for HVAC, technical math and system sizing. There is a fair amount of practical lab work dealing with each discipline. You may also have the opportunity to serve an internship at a school-approved independent facility.

Common CoursesHVAC troubleshooting, refrigeration principles, heat pumps, technical math
Program FormatOn campus; some classes may be completed online
Education Requirements for EmploymentPostsecondary training program and/or apprenticeship
Job Growth (2014-2024)*14% for heating, air conditioning, and refrigeration mechanics and installers

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Sort of Online Training is Available?

Because of the necessity of hands-on, practical instruction your opportunities for online training leading to an associate's degree are somewhat limited. You may be able to find some individual didactic courses online or certain certificate programs.

If you already hold an associate's degree, you may be able to locate a degree-completion program online that leads to a bachelor's degree. There are also some partially online apprenticeship programs offered by professional organizations. However, you must complete the hands-on portions of the program under the supervision of a participating independent employer.

How Necessary Is a Refrigeration, Air Conditioning, Heating and Gas Technology Associate's Degree?

According to the BLS, you may qualify for employment by completing a non-degree-granting apprenticeship program. Associations like Air-Conditioning Contractors of America, the Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors Association and the Mechanical Contractors Association of America offer apprenticeship programs. However, the BLS further stated that employers are very likely to hire graduates of formal training programs that lead to associate's degrees, offered by community colleges or postsecondary technical schools.

There are a number of sources you can use to help you locate a suitable program. HVAC Excellence offers an online directory of accredited postsecondary technical schools and community colleges that offer degree-granting programs. The Partnership for Air-Conditioning, Heating and Refrigeration Accreditation also maintains an online list of accredited educational institutions. If you search the online directory maintained by the National Center for Education Statistics, you can find nearly 200 schools that may offer associate's degrees dealing with heating, ventilation air conditioning and refrigeration.

What Is the Occupational Outlook?

Though the training you receive can prepare you for employment in a wide range of HVAC-R areas, you may want to specialize, or you may secure employment with a company that specializes, in one area such as refrigeration, heating or hydronics.

Once you graduate, in order to practice your trade, you must be licensed or registered, according to the policy of most states or localities. The content of licensure exams vary by location. In addition, if you handle refrigerants, you must sit for one of three certification examinations mandated by the Environmental Protection Agency.

In 2014, the BLS projected that employment opportunities for heating, refrigeration and air conditioning mechanics and installers would increase 14% from 2014-2024. At the same time, the median annual wage was determined to be $44,630.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

  • 1. Degree Options:

Popular Schools

  • Dunwoody College of Technology

    Campus Locations:

    • Minnesota: Minneapolis
  • Oklahoma State University

    Campus Locations:

    • Oklahoma: Okmulgee
  • Yakima Valley Community College

    Campus Locations:

    • Washington: Yakima
  • Wiregrass Georgia Technical College

    Campus Locations:

    • Georgia: Valdosta
  • Wichita Area Technical College

    Campus Locations:

    • Kansas: Wichita
  • Westmoreland County Community College

    Campus Locations:

    • Pennsylvania: Youngwood
  • Western Dakota Technical Institute

    Campus Locations:

    • South Dakota: Rapid City
  • West Virginia Northern Community College

    Campus Locations:

    • West Virginia: Wheeling
  • Wenatchee Valley College

    Campus Locations:

    • Washington: Wenatchee
  • Waubonsee Community College

    Campus Locations:

    • Illinois: Sugar Grove