Associate of HVAC and Refrigeration: Degree Overview
Students can learn all the appropriate skills for working with heating, ventilation, air-conditioning and refrigeration (HVACR) systems by earning an associate's degree in HVAC and refrigeration. Ahead are additional details about the program, such as courses, program eligibility and length. Information is also available on certification and licensure, potential salary and job outlook.
While earning an associate's degree in HVAC and refrigeration, students commonly learn how to operate, install, repair, troubleshoot and maintain heating, cooling and refrigeration systems. Programs typically include both classroom and practical instruction and take two years to complete. These programs are offered at community colleges and technical schools. A high school diploma or its equivalent is typically required for admissions.
The information they learn can prepare them for any necessary licensure or certification required by their state or within their area of specialty. For example, HVAC professionals handling refrigerants need to be state certified.
In addition to installation, upkeep and repair fundamentals, students also learn concepts like temperature regulation and designing equipment. Some typical classes include:
- Systems design
- Codes and ordinances
- Gas and electric heating
- Load estimates
- EPA certification preparation
- Duct and hydronic systems
- Electrical wiring
Employment Outlook and Salary
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment for HVAC and refrigeration mechanics and installers is expected to increase 21% between 2012-2022 (www.bls.gov). The continued need to replace older heating, cooling and refrigeration systems, and the persistent construction of homes and buildings, is expected to increase the demand for these professionals. Also, regular maintenance to keep systems functioning properly and replacing systems with newer and more energy-efficient systems may also keep the need for HVACR workers high.
The mean annual salary for HVAC and refrigeration mechanics and installers was $45,830 in May 2012, as reported by the BLS. Some workers belong to unions, such as the Sheet Metal Workers International Association and the United Association of Journeymen.
Certification and Continuing Education
Some states and jurisdictions require HVAC and refrigeration professionals to acquire licensure, which is obtained by passing an examination. Each region or state may also include other requirements. All workers who handle refrigerants must receive certification indicating they can handle refrigerants properly. Additional voluntary certifications are available to indicate an individual's proficiency in a specialized service or equipment.
Students may choose to pursue their education further by enrolling in a baccalaureate degree program. A few colleges offer bachelor's degree programs in heating, ventilation, air-conditioning and refrigeration where students can take more advanced classes and receive more hands-on training. These programs may provide business and management skills also.
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