15 Affordable HVAC Certificate Programs

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The term HVAC refers to the field of heating, ventilation, and cooling, or refrigeration. All over the world, HVAC professionals enjoy a high demand, as climate and weather changes make it necessary to use heating and cooling systems. The United States, due to its size and varying geographical features, experiences many different climate types in its different parts. Add that regional climate variation to the large number of businesses dependent on temperature control technology and the demand for heating and cooling systems increases even more.

Students looking to take up this profession can look forward to a bright job outlook. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS 2023), job openings in the HVAC industry are set to grow 6 percent between 2022 and 2032, adding 37,700 positions nationally.

While one common route for a prospective HVAC professional is to take up an apprenticeship, students can also enroll in an HVAC certificate program. These programs introduce students to the fundamentals of heating, ventilation, and cooling; residential air conditioning; commercial air conditioning; and the installation, repair, and maintenance of these systems. The length of the program can vary, but it can generally be completed in one to two years. Most of the programs only require students to submit their high school transcripts for admission.

When choosing an HVAC certificate program, it is important to consider its accreditation status and the skills and knowledge that the coursework focuses on.

Here’s a compilation of 15 affordable HVAC certificate programs that have been accredited and train students to obtain licensure and certifications.

Featured Top HVAC Certificate Programs

Franklin Cummings Institute of Technology

The Franklin Cummings Institute of Technology offers a heating, ventilation, air conditioning, and refrigeration (HVAC/R) certificate program, providing its students with the skills and knowledge required for becoming successful HVAC/R technicians. This is available in both daytime and evening formats.

Courses in this 28-credit certificate include the fundamentals of electricity as applied to HVAC/R; electrical and mechanical for refrigeration; refrigeration fundamentals; commercial refrigeration and ice machines; gas heating and residential air conditioning; and commercial air conditioning and heat pumps.
To apply for the program, students must complete an online application and provide high school or GED transcripts.

Students will learn how to identify refrigerants and their relationship with pressure and temperature, troubleshoot electrical and mechanical malfunctions, use HVAC/R tools and measuring devices effectively, charge refrigeration and air conditioning systems, and detect system leaks and more. The program prepares students for the EPA certification, and graduates receive the R-410 A and 10-hour OSHA Safety certificates.

  • Location: Boston, Massachusetts
  • Accreditation: New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE)
  • Expected Time to Completion: Nine months
  • Estimated Tuition: Full-time ($9,153 per semester); part-time ($610 per credit)

Northern Michigan University

Northern Michigan University offers the HVAC/R technology certificate program, preparing students for employment in the HVAC/R industry. The program trains students to work with commercial and residential equipment.

This 44-credit program teaches students to master the skills to install, troubleshoot, and repair HVAC/R. Courses in the program include applied electricity for trades; basic heating; basic refrigeration; heating systems; ACR system principles and methods; principles of air delivery systems; and advanced commercial refrigeration.

Upon completing the program, graduates can apply to jobs in a wide range of settings, including maintaining, installing, and repairing HVAC/R units for residential and commercial customers. They may also be involved in diagnosing and repairing the mechanical, electrical, and electronic individual parts of these systems. They may also have opportunities to work in large facilities such as shopping centers, factories, transportation warehouses, hospitals, grocery stores, or universities to maintain heating and cooling systems and meet specific needs.

  • Location: Marquette, Michigan
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
  • Expected Time to Completion: 24 months
  • Estimated Tuition: Resident ($517 per credit); non-resident ($746 per credit)

Lanier Technical College

Lanier Technical College provides certificates in basic residential air conditioning system design and basic residential gas heat design. Both programs prepare students to become successful HVAC/R professionals. The skills and knowledge acquired in the program can help them get jobs and advance their career.

For admission to all these programs, students must be at least 16 years of age, they must have a high school diploma or GED before admission, transcripts from all colleges attended, and Accuplacer Testing, or submit ACT, SAT, ASSET, or COMPASS test scores.

These certificate programs are made up of 16 credits each. The basic residential air conditioning system design certificate coursework includes topics such as refrigeration fundamentals; refrigeration principles; refrigeration systems components; and AC system installation. The basic residential gas heat design certificate program coursework includes topics such as HVAC/R electrical fundamentals; HVAC/R electrical motors; HVAC/R electrical controls; and gas heat.

  • Location: Oakwood, Georgia
  • Accreditation: HVAC Excellence; Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
  • Expected Time to Completion: One semester each
  • Estimated Tuition: $100 per credit

Austin Community College

Austin Community College offers the heating, air conditioning, and refrigeration technology level certificate program training students in the fundamentals of repair and service. The program is ideal for individuals who wish to start a career in the HVAC/R field with minimal formal training. The program faculty includes renowned professors with extensive real-world experience.

This certificate program consists of 25 credits, including courses such as basic electricity for HVAC; air conditioning control principles; refrigeration principles; residential air conditioning; gas and electric heating; and advanced electricity for HVAC. Students participate in an internship on completion of their coursework. Students can apply the credits earned in this certificate toward the associate of applied science degree in HVAC/R.

Upon completion of this certificate program, students will have developed skills and knowledge to repair and troubleshoot cooling and heating split systems, which are typically found in residences and apartment complexes. At the end of the program, graduates can pursue opportunities in heating and air conditioning installation, A/C and HVAC technology, and refrigeration repair.

  • Location: Austin, Texas
  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
  • Expected Time to Completion: 12 months
  • Estimated Tuition: In-district ($85 per credit); out-of-district ($286 per credit); out-of-state and international students ($353 per credit)

Laredo College

Laredo College offers three HVAC/R certificate programs:

  • Commercial air conditioning and refrigeration
  • Residential air conditioning and refrigeration
  • HVAC/R assistant certificate.

The programs provide students with basic skills in repairing and servicing commercial and residential units.

The commercial HVAC/R certificate’s curriculum includes topics such as refrigeration principles; basic electricity for HVAC; refrigerators, freezers & window A/Cs; EPA recovery certification preparation; air conditioning installation and start-up; gas and electrical heating; advanced electricity for HVAC; heat pumps; commercial air conditioning; commercial refrigeration; and cooperative education heating, air conditioning, and refrigeration technology. A minimum of 38 credits is necessary to earn the certificate.

The residential HVAC/R certificate courses include almost the same classes as the first certificate. Their additional curriculum includes residential air conditioning classes, troubleshooting; and energy management. They complete a total of 40 credits to earn their certificate.

The HVAC/R assistant certificate comprises 15 credits and includes courses in refrigeration principles; basic electricity for HVAC; refrigerators, freezers & window A/Cs; and EPA recovery certification preparation.

Students have the option of completing either of the certificate programs. If they wish to develop competencies in commercial and residential HVAC/R systems, then they can opt for all three certificates.

  • Location: Laredo, Texas
  • Accreditation: HVAC Excellence; Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
  • Expected Time to Completion: Commercial and residential certificate (three semesters each); HVAC/R assistant certificate (one semester)
  • Estimated Tuition: In-district ($50 per credit); out-of-district ($100 per credit); out-of-state ($200 per credit)

Washtenaw Community College

Washtenaw Community College offers a heating, ventilation, air conditioning, and refrigeration (residential) certificate program. This program can help students acquire entry-level positions in hospitals, HVAC contracting companies, schools, HVAC service companies, and other public institutions. They also can seek apprenticeships in supply houses and large manufacturing plants. Notably, the program prepares graduates for EPA certification.

Comprising 25 credits, courses in the program include heating, ventilation, and air conditioning; residential and light commercial heating systems; HVAC sheet metal fabrication; residential HVAC competency exams and codes; residential and light commercial air conditioning systems; and soldering and brazing.

The program teaches students how to service heating, ventilation, and air conditioning equipment. They are prepared to take up roles such as electromechanical engineering technologists, electronics engineering technologists, and heating and air conditioning mechanics and installers.

  • Location: Ann Arbor, Michigan
  • Accreditation: HVAC Excellence; Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
  • Expected Time to Completion: Less than 24 months
  • Estimated Tuition: In-district ($95 per credit); out-of-district ($169 per credit); out-of-state ($239 per credit); international ($287 per credit)

Front Range Community College

Front Range Community College offers the following four HVAC/R certificates:

Residential Air Conditioning and Heating Certificate – Exploring all phases of residential air conditioning and heating systems, students in this 35-credit program learn to design, diagnose, repair, and service residential hot-water heating systems and HVAC systems. Courses in this program include an introduction to air conditioning and refrigeration; basic refrigeration; basic electricity; electrical components; advanced air conditioning; and hot water heating systems.

Light Commercial Air Conditioning and Heating Certificate – Focussed on light commercial HVAC systems, this certificate provides students training in designing, diagnosing, servicing, and repairing light commercial and residential HVAC systems, including commercial building controls. Courses in this 37-credit program include international residential codes; heating for commercial applications; troubleshooting and customer service; industrial controls; and air conditioning.

Commercial Refrigeration Certificate – This certificate trains students in the diagnosing, servicing, and repair of commercial ice makers, freezers and walk-in coolers, and self-contained refrigeration units. Made up of 28 credits, coursework in this program includes troubleshooting and customer service; industrial controls; electrical components; basic electricity, and basic refrigeration.

HVAC/R Fundamentals Certificate – Made up of just 15 credits, students in this program explore all aspects of refrigeration, air conditioning, electrical components, and electrical theory. They learn fundamental skills in HVAC/R such as brazing or soldering, basic electrical skills, copper tubing fabrication, and EPA certification. Courses in this program include an introduction to air conditioning and refrigeration; basic refrigeration; basic electricity; and electrical components.

  • Location: Westminster, Colorado
  • Accreditation: Partnership for Air Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Accreditation (PAHRA); Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
  • Expected Time to Completion: Residential A/C and heating (three semesters); light commercial A/C and heating (three semesters); commercial refrigeration (two semesters); HVAC/R fundamentals (one semester)
  • Estimated Tuition: Resident ($260.40 per credit); non-resident ($641.80 per credit)

Georgia Piedmont Technical College

Georgia Piedmont Technical College offers two certificates: air conditioning electrical technician and air conditioning technician assistant. The A/C technician assistant certificate prepares students to apply refrigeration practices and principles to various HVAC/R systems. It also prepares them for inspecting, servicing, installing, and repairing refrigeration system components and troubleshooting refrigeration systems. The A/C electrical technician certificate provides students with competencies in installing, servicing, and maintaining electrical systems.

The A/C technician assistant option comprises 12 credits, including courses such as refrigeration fundamentals; refrigeration principles and practices; and refrigeration systems components.

The A/C electrical technician option also comprises 12 credits, with courses such as HVAC/R electrical fundamentals; HVAC/R electrical motors; and HVAC/R electrical components and controls.

  • Location: Clarkston, Georgia
  • Accreditation: Partnership for Air-Conditioning, Heating, Refrigeration Accreditation (PAHRA); Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
  • Expected Time to Completion: One semester
  • Estimated Tuition: Georgia resident ($100 per credit); USA resident ($200 per credit); non-resident ($400 per credit)

Mercer County Community College

Mercer County Community College, in collaboration with the Mercer County Technical Schools, offers a certificate of proficiency in heating, refrigeration, and air conditioning. The program prepares students to take up jobs in commercial industries and establishments. They can take up positions such as furnace installer and repairer, refrigeration mechanic, commercial A/C mechanic, gas heating system servicer, oil burner installation and service technician, and mobile A/C system mechanic.

To get accepted into the program, applicants must have a high school diploma or equivalent with a year of applied mathematics or algebra.

Consisting of 31 credits, this program includes courses such as fundamentals of electronics; the principles of ACR; ACR electrical controls; domestic heating and air conditioning systems; light commercial systems; and heavy commercial systems.

The program trains students to use mechanical and electrical metering devices, test equipment, service, troubleshoot, and repair commercial and domestic air conditioning and refrigeration components and systems, and determine air conditioning and heating size requirements.

  • Location: West Windsor, New Jersey
  • Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE)
  • Expected Time to Completion: Two semesters
  • Estimated Tuition: Resident ($201.85 per credit); non-resident ($256 per credit)

Central Texas College

Central Texas College offers three HVAC certificate programs: a level I certificate for HVAC technician assistants, a level I certificate in residential HVAC/R, and a level II certificate in HVAC.

Students in all these programs have an internship option for acquiring hands-on training. These certificates prepare students to work in commercial and residential A/C and refrigeration by providing hands-on and industry-approved training with the latest techniques and equipment.

The 19-credit level 1 air conditioning and refrigeration technicians assistant certificate curriculum includes instruction in refrigeration principles; basic electricity for HVAC; gas and electric heating; residential air conditioning; and air conditioning control principles.

Students who have completed the level 1 certificate for HVAC technician assistants can take the coursework for the 20-credit residential heating, air conditioning, and refrigeration certificate. Their additional coursework includes heat pumps; air conditioning installation and startup; air conditioning troubleshooting; advanced electricity for HVAC; and residential air conditioning system design.

Lastly, the level II heating, air conditioning, and refrigeration certificate is made up of 45 credits. The curriculum of this program includes all courses from the two certificates mentioned above, with the addition of commercial air conditioning and commercial refrigeration. Students must also complete an internship.

  • Location: Killeen, Texas
  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
  • Expected Time to Completion: One semester
  • Estimated Tuition: In-district ($105 per credit); out-of-district ($130 per credit)

Pickens Technical College

Pickens Technical College offers the heating and air conditioning service technology certificate program, providing students with entry-level skills and knowledge. The program also prepares students for industry-based certifications such as EPA Certificate Universal and the 10-hour OSHA Certificate.

The “heating block” provides students with instruction in basic electricity, airflow problems, job safety, forced air gas furnace service, hydronic service, troubleshooting gas-fired equipment, and duct sizing. The “air conditioning block” consists of refrigerant recovery training, basic refrigeration, principles of A/C operation, further airflow problems, heat pumps, and analysis and troubleshooting of the total system.

Courses in this 35-credit program include an introduction to service tech training; the fundamentals of gas heating; residential load/duct design; servicing forced air systems; basic electricity; basic refrigeration; piping skills for HVAC; and refrigerant recovery training.

  • Location: Aurora, Colorado
  • Accreditation: Council on Occupational Education
  • Expected Time to Completion: Two semesters
  • Estimated Tuition: Semester one ($2,430); semester two ($2,570)

Gwinnett Technical College

Gwinnett Technical College offers the following HVAC certificate programs:

Air Conditioning Electrical Technician (12 credits): Courses in this program include HVAC/R electrical fundamentals; HVAC/R electric motors; and HVAC/R electrical components and controls.

Air Conditioning System Maintenance Technician (12 credits): Courses in this certificate include refrigeration fundamentals; refrigeration principles and practices; and HVAC/R electrical fundamentals.

Refrigeration System Service Technician (20 credits): Courses in this program include refrigeration fundamentals; refrigeration principles and practices; refrigeration systems components; HVAC/R electrical fundamentals; and HVAC/R electric motors.

Students in these programs learn about installing, maintaining, and repairing HVAC systems. They will also learn about reviewing blueprints, testing systems for proper functioning, performing emergency repairs, maintaining tools, ordering supplies, and making routine adjustments to maximize operational efficiency. Additionally, they can become experts at recording data such as fuel consumption, hours of operation, and equipment temperature while inspecting systems.

Students might find it helpful that Gwinnett Tech’s Air Conditioning Technology program offers HOPE Career Grants. These grants provide students with free tuition assistance. Graduates of these programs are well prepared to serve as air conditioning service technicians.

  • Location: Lawrenceville, Georgia; Alpharetta, Georgia
  • Accreditation: Partnership for Air-Conditioning, Heating, Refrigeration Accreditation (PAHRA); Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
  • Expected Time to Completion: One to two semesters
  • Estimated Tuition: In-state ($578 per credit); out-of-state ($678 per credit); international ($878 per credit)

El Paso Community College

EPCC offers the following HVAC certificate programs:

Residential HVAC Technician – This 23-credit program helps students develop skills in servicing AC refrigeration, AC systems/units, and furnaces. Courses in this program include blueprint reading and sketching; basic electricity for HVAC; refrigeration principles; gas and electric heating; and air conditioning control principles. Graduates of this program can take up roles such as residential service technicians, apartment service technicians, and HVAC crew leaders.

Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning (HVAC) – With 30 credits, this program helps students learn how to service refrigeration, air conditioning, furnaces, freezers, ice machines, and AC systems/units.

Graduates of the program can take the 410A certification (with a passing rate of 70 percent or better) exam and the 10-hour OSHA Safety certification. Some of the courses in the curriculum are air conditioning control principles; residential air conditioning; commercial refrigeration; refrigeration principles; and gas and electric heating. Graduates of the program will be well-equipped to work as HVAC/R technicians, HVAC service technicians, and HVAC crew leaders.

Students in these programs are well-prepared to work in the heat transfer industry as crew leaders or service technicians. They learn how to service commercial AC, domestic/commercial refrigeration, AC systems/units, furnaces, commercial ice machines, and walk-in freezers.

  • Location: El Paso, Texas
  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. (SACSCOC)
  • Expected Time to Completion: One year each
  • Estimated Tuition: Resident ($116 per credit); non-resident ($201 per credit)

Central New Mexico Community College

The HVAC/R technology program at Central New Mexico Community College provides students the opportunity to gain technical skills and knowledge for entry into the HVAC/R field in installation, maintenance, service, energy efficiency, and green building standards. Hands-on labs will provide students with an in-depth background in HVAC/R fundamentals.

At Central New Mexico Community College students will have two HVAC certificate options:

Residential HVAC, Certificate of Completion – This certificate will provide students with the basic knowledge for entering the residential HVAC workforce. Made up of 28 credits, the program includes courses such as refrigerant fundamentals; basic electricity; refrigerant management; motors & controls; code and safety; air conditioning and controls; system design, installation & retrofit of heating/cooling systems; and heating and heating control systems.

Commercial, Industrial HVAC & Building Performance, Certificate of Completion – this certificate provides students with an in-depth background in industrial and commercial refrigeration, hot water boilers, chiller controls, building automation controls, and green building performance. Comprising 47 credits, this program includes all courses from the residential certificate with the addition of advanced hydronics and controls; chilled water systems; refrigeration application; commercial refrigeration; industrial refrigeration; and hot water & steam generation systems & controls, among others.

  • Location: Albuquerque, New Mexico
  • Accreditation: HVAC Excellence; Partnership for Air-Conditioning, Heating, Refrigeration Accreditation (PAHRA); Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
  • Expected Time to Completion: Residential (two semesters); commercial (four semesters)
  • Estimated Tuition: New Mexico residents ($66 per credit); non-New Mexico residents ($334 per credit)

Santa Fe Community College

Santa Fe Community College offers the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning certificate program providing technical training to students inclined towards HVAC. Designed for developing and improving job prospects, this program prepares students who wish to obtain licensure in HVAC and take up apprenticeships.

The program provides students with the most current information on the technical and safe aspects of the maintenance and operation of HVAC systems. Consisting of 31 credits, the program includes courses such as basic blueprint reading; construction industry workplace health and safety; basic commercial refrigeration; basic electricity and controls; application of refrigeration systems; air conditioning and electric motor application; and gas heating furnaces.

Students can apply the knowledge gained in the coursework while working on commercial and residential HVAC projects; identify and explain HVAC materials; methods, and systems, including sustainability strategies and green building; and provide leadership in creating and maintaining a safe working environment.

Graduates can take up roles such as maintenance technicians, building control specialists, heating and cooling specialists, gas fitter and installers, greenhouse climate control operations, and appliance repairers.

  • Location: Santa Fe, New Mexico
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
  • Expected Time to Completion: 12 months
  • Estimated Tuition: In-district resident ($49 per credit); out-of-district resident ($61 per credit); out-of-state ($144 per credit)

Methodology

To select programs for this list, we looked at a few important criteria, such as affordability, accreditation, and how well the program prepares students for jobs in the future.

Affordability

As the article’s name suggests, affordability is one of the major criteria we looked at when compiling this list. Universities such as Benjamin Franklin University also offer tuition-free plans for low-income students. With a few exceptions, most of these programs were offered to in-district students at $200 (or less) per credit.

Accreditation Status

HVAC professionals are encouraged to verify that they have graduated from an accredited program. The accreditation process sets up high standards for training in HVAC, ensuring that the concerned school imparts necessary skills to students, while also keeping in mind government and climate control regulations.

Two main organizations offer accreditation to HVAC programs: HVAC Excellence and the Partnership for Air-Conditioning, Heating, Refrigeration Accreditation (PAHRA).

Finally, there are several organizations providing accreditation to schools as a whole, including the Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC), as well as seven other regional bodies which have been recognized by the US Department of Education:

  • Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE)
  • Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
  • WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC)
  • New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE)
  • Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU)
  • Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
  • Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC) Western Association of Schools and Colleges

Each of the programs covered in the list above has received regional accreditation, and a few of them have also been accredited by HVAC Excellence and PAHRA.

HVAC Licensing and Certification Readiness

These programs are designed to prepare graduates for various professional certification exams.

There are several national and regional certifications available for HVAC professionals. Through certification, prospective clients and employers come to know if the concerned person has achieved competence in specific fields of HVAC.

Of the many certifications, one mandatory certification for all HVAC professionals handling refrigerants is the EPA Section 608 certification. Therefore, almost every HVAC program prepares its students for this certification. The EPA Section 608 certification is divided into the following four types:

  • Small appliances (Type I)
  • High-pressure appliances (Type II)
  • Low-pressure appliances (Type III)
  • All types of equipment (Universal or Type IV)

Several organizations providing professional HVAC certifications include:

  • HVAC Excellence
  • North American Technician Excellence (NATE)
  • The Refrigeration Service Engineers Society (RSES)

The programs in this list train students to sit for the EPA 608 certification, and also take up apprenticeships after completion of the course. This increases their prospects of getting lucrative jobs. To learn more about credentialing in this profession, please visit the HVAC certification page.

Farheen Gani

Farheen is a freelance writer, marketer, and researcher. She writes about technology, education, and marketing. Her work has appeared on websites such as Tech in Asia and Foundr, as well as top SaaS blogs such as Zapier and InVision. You can connect with her on LinkedIn and Twitter (@FarheenGani).

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