HVAC and Refrigeration Associate Degree

Heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration (HVAC-R) technicians install, maintain and repair those systems in all kinds of buildings, ranging from single-family homes and apartments to large businesses. Learn about the courses in an associate's degree program in heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration, and find out about career info for HVACR technicians. Schools offering Heating Ventilation & Air Conditioning degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

How Can I Earn an HVAC and Refrigeration Associate's Degree?

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, there are nearly 280 colleges and technical schools that offer associate's degree programs in heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration engineering and maintenance technology. You can usually find HVAC-R programs offered through a school's department or division of business and technology, engineering technology, applied science trade technology or industrial technology (www.nces.ed.gov).

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), some schools have entered into partnership with associations such as Air Conditioning Contractors of America, the Association of Building Contractors or the National Association of Home Builders, to develop apprenticeship programs. Apprenticeship programs can last 3-5 years and consist of a combination of classroom work and on-the-job training. While an apprenticeship doesn't specifically lead to a degree, you may be able to get some college credit for your apprenticeship experience (www.bls.gov).

Degree Overview Offered at colleges and technical schools, apprenticeship programs are available
Common Courses Electricity for HVACR technicians, systems installation, heat pumps, refrigeration fundamentals, sheet metal fabrication
Online Availability Online programs are available
Career Preparation Some states require HVAC certification, state or local examinations are administered
Median Salary (2018)$47,610* (for heating, air conditioning, and refrigeration mechanics and installer)
Job Outlook (2016-26)15% growth* (for all heating, air conditioning, and refrigeration mechanics and installers)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Will I Learn?

A 2-year program consists of around 63-70 credits and may include a summer session, in addition to the standard fall and spring semesters. Depending on the school, completion of a program could lead to an Associate of Science or Associate of Applied Science in HVAC or in occupational technology with a major in HVACR technology.

Common course topics include HVACR principles, refrigeration fundamentals, systems installation, sheet metal fabrication, heat pumps, electricity for HVACR technicians, local codes and EPA refrigeration certification preparation. You'll also be required to take a few general education courses for graduation, such as those in the humanities, sciences and math.

Are There Online Programs Available?

Though you may be able to locate online HVACR associate's degree programs, they are quite rare. Online certificate programs are more available to you. Online programs are usually self-paced and geared toward preparing you for certification and licensure examinations. In order to take advantage of online programs, it's recommended that you have the most appropriate and up-to-date technology.

Am I Licensed and Certified When I Graduate?

Though graduation doesn't confer certification or licensure, it can prepare you to sit for qualifying examinations. The BLS mentions that not all states require HVACR technicians to hold licenses. Those that do mandate that you sit for a state- or locally-administered license exam. Eligibility requirements for taking the exam, which can include experience, education or both, vary from state to state. States may also require that you hold individual HVAC equipment certifications.

The BLS further states that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) insists that if you handle or purchase refrigerants, you must pass a certification examination administered by an EPA-approved agency. You can also sit for individual industry competency certification examinations, administered by organizations such as the Air Conditioning, Heating and Refrigeration Institute or HVAC Excellence.

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:
The schools in the listing below are not free and may include sponsored content but are popular choices among our users. Tuition and costs will vary across programs and locations. Be sure to always request tuition information before starting a program.

Popular Schools

  • Ferris State University

    Campus Locations:

    • Michigan: Big Rapids
  • Northern Michigan University

    Campus Locations:

    • Michigan: Marquette
  • Dunwoody College of Technology

    Campus Locations:

    • Minnesota: Minneapolis
  • Milwaukee Area Technical College

    Campus Locations:

    • Wisconsin: Milwaukee
  • Wor-Wic Community College

    Campus Locations:

    • Maryland: Salisbury
  • Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College

    Campus Locations:

    • Wisconsin: Shell Lake
  • Western Texas College

    Campus Locations:

    • Texas: Snyder
  • Western New Mexico University

    Campus Locations:

    • New Mexico: Silver City
  • Western Iowa Tech Community College

    Campus Locations:

    • Iowa: Sioux City
  • Western Dakota Technical Institute

    Campus Locations:

    • South Dakota: Rapid City