AC Certification and Certificate Program Information
Air conditioning (AC) technicians are responsible for installing and maintaining air conditioning and refrigeration units. In AC certification programs, students learn to use and operate the potentially harmful refrigerants used in air conditioning systems. Certification programs are increasingly focused on green, energy-saving methods.
An AC certificate program teaches students to control indoor environments and provide comfortable conditions in an energy-efficient manner. Students develop in-depth technical knowledge and proficiency in AC systems. Opportunities are also available for those who want to learn the scientific and practical applications of system design, which enhances students' capabilities in this field.
Students looking to enter an AC certificate program must have a high school diploma or its equivalent. While in high school, students need to focus on classes involving math and reading.
The program coursework offers an understanding of a variety of engineering fundamentals and principles. Classes continue to focus on the emerging issues facing the AC industry regarding emissions and energy efficiency. Courses in this program include:
- AC system design
- AC control and energy management
- AC and green buildings
- Facilities management: systems and technology
- Codes and ordinances
- Tools and service techniques
- Refrigeration fundamentals
The EPA requires that all technicians be certified before performing installations, maintenance, repairs, or service of any appliances containing refrigerant chemicals. There are four types of certification:
- Type I - servicing small appliances
- Type II - servicing high and very high-pressure appliances
- Type III - servicing low pressure appliances
- Universal - servicing all appliances
To obtain certification at any of these levels, applicants must pass an exam that focuses on EPA regulations and recycling procedures, as well as sector-specific questions.
Applicants interested in becoming AC-certified must complete a certificate or degree program and become educated in the principles of AC systems and EPA requirements. Opportunities are also available through apprenticeships with an experienced AC technician.
Those enrolled in a certification program are educated on various AC systems and become familiar with AC equipment. Candidates also learn the proper safety practices and procedures related to AC systems and competency in refrigerant handling. Topics in a certification program include:
- EPA rules and regulations
- Leak detection
- Refrigerant oils
- DOT cylinders
- Servicing small appliances
- Servicing high-pressure appliances
- Servicing low-pressure appliances
Employment Outlook and Salary Info
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), career opportunities among all heating, air conditioning, and refrigeration mechanics and installers, including AC techs, are expected to increase 34% between 2010 and 2020. The median annual salary earned by these HVAC workers was estimated at $43,640 by the BLS in May 2012.
After completing a certificate program, graduates may choose to continue their education with an associate's degree in this field. An associate's degree program offers additional training in the service and repair of AC systems. Business classes are also available within this program for those interested in starting their own business.
Completing a degree program may offer promotional opportunities and increased pay with an employer. A bachelor's degree in AC engineering offers advanced education in the design and troubleshooting of AC systems. Students in this program focus on making AC systems more effective and energy efficient, while implementing new technology into homes and buildings.
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