15 Top AC Technician Schools

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Air conditioning technicians are in high demand. Virtually every new building needs a trained technician to install its air conditioning system, to say nothing of the need for regular maintenance and repair. Certainly air conditioning (AC) is about providing a level of comfort, particularly in hot summer months, but it also helps keep hospitals safe, groceries fresh, and skating rinks cold.

So, air conditioning can be vital, and keeping AC systems running smoothly requires an understanding of sophisticated temperature control systems that are growing progressively more computerized and in many cases “green”. Understanding how to install and maintain such systems now requires the completion of either an apprenticeship program, which commonly takes four years, or a certificate or degree program, which typically takes two years.

New AC technicians must find a school that offers more than just a convenient location. Some schools are simply better equipped to provide the kind of job training necessary to secure employment in a competitive market. The following AC technician schools have proven that they are dedicated to training students through professional certification and employment, and have third-party accreditation and unique program offerings. Whether you want to learn refrigeration techniques at AVTEC in Alaska or air conditioning theory at LATTC in Los Angeles, the right school is out there to help you jump-start a new HVAC career today.

Atlanta Technical College

Students that are at least 16 years of age and have either a GED or high school diploma are eligible to enroll in the Air Conditioning Technology program at Atlanta Technical College (@AtlTechCollege). The program combines theoretical and practical training providing students the necessary knowledge and skills to begin a career as an AC tech.

The college offers an air conditioning technician assistant certificate which is made up of nine credits; a heating and air conditioning installation technician certificate which comprises 12 credits; and an air conditioning technology diploma which consists of 52 credits.

As part of the program, students will delve into topics such as refrigeration fundamentals, refrigeration principles & practice, HVAC/R electrical fundamentals, HVAC/R electrical motors, gas heat, heat pumps & related systems, and troubleshooting air conditioning systems, among others.

  • Location: Atlanta, GA
  • Accreditation: Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (COC-SACS)
  • Expected Time to Completion: Certificates (one term each); diploma (three terms)
  • Estimated Tuition: Certificates ($3,170 each); diploma ($8,209)

AVTEC

AVTEC is also known as Alaska's Institute of Technology and offers a variety of career-focused programs, including a Refrigeration program. For adult students, the program has minimum TABE scores in reading and math for admission. Students will experience an even balance of both classroom and hands-on training on their way to this refrigeration certification.

This program focuses on both refrigeration and air conditioning technologies over 630 training hours. The curriculum includes courses such as basic refrigeration, electricity, advanced refrigeration, and employability skills. During this program, students will receive training and testing for industry certifications such as:

  • The 10-hour OSHA Construction Safety Certification
  • Industry Competency Exam (ICE)
  • EPA 608 Refrigeration Technician
  • Industrial First Aid and CPR

Students in this fast-paced program will train on a variety of commercial and domestic refrigeration systems and will learn to install, troubleshoot, and repair refrigeration systems, heat pumps, air conditioning systems, evaporators, compressors, condensers, control valves, control devices, electrical wiring, and electrical controls and motors.

  • Location: Seward, AK
  • Accreditation: Council on Occupational Education (COE); PAHRA
  • Expected Time to Completion: 19 weeks
  • Estimated Tuition: $2,748

CBT College

The College of Business Technology, or CBT College (@CBTCollege), has three locations throughout Miami-Dade County, all of which are nationally accredited by ACICS.

The CBT College A/C and Refrigeration Technology program is designed to last 8 months and end in a technical diploma. Credits from the A/C diploma can be applied to the college's Associate Degree in Air Conditioning & Refrigeration Technology track. These hands-on programs will help students in developing the skills and knowledge for installing, maintaining, and repairing HVAC/R systems of all types.

The diploma consists of 24 credits, while the AS in A/C refrigeration technology program comprises 60 credits. Sample some of the courses in the curriculum: Electric motors application, fundamentals of refrigeration, principles & applications of electricity, refrigeration systems, air conditioning systems, blueprints & design code, advanced automatic controls, construction estimating, and chilled-water air conditioning systems, among others.

  • Location: Cutler Bay, FL; Miami, FL; Hialeah, FL
  • Accreditation: Accredited by Accredited Council of Independent Colleges & Schools (ACICS)
  • Expected Time to Completion: Diploma (eight months); AS degree (20 months)
  • Estimated Tuition: $498 per credit

Central Carolina Technical College

Central Carolina Technical College (@CentralCarolina), with several locations in South Carolina, is an excellent place to study air conditioning technology. The college offers a certificate in Basic Air Conditioning and Heating (BACH) with both day and evening classes. In 39 semester-hours, students learn the AC tech school basics including installation, maintenance, and even sales.

Some of the topics students will explore include basic electricity for HVAC/R, tools and service techniques, heating fundamentals, basic air conditioning, automatic controls, codes and ordinances, duct fabrication, domestic refrigeration, and heat pumps.

Graduates of the basic HVAC certificate program may enroll in the advanced HVAC certificate to further develop their skills. Completion of the advanced HVAC certificate requires an additional 22 semester-hours.

  • Location: Sumter, SC
  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges; HVAC Excellence
  • Expected Time to Completion: Day program (three semesters); evening (five semesters)
  • Estimated Tuition: Students from Clarendon, Lee, Kershaw, and Sumter Counties ($194 per credit); students from other counties in the state ($227 per credit); Students from out-of-state ($331 per credit)

College of Southern Nevada

The College of Southern Nevada, with locations in North Las Vegas, Charleston, and Henderson, offers four AAS degree programs and four certificates in air conditioning technology. Providing advanced HVAC/R training, these programs place special emphasis on hands-on methods and practical skills to prepare students in analyzing, synthesizing, and solving problems related to HVAC/R.

The certificate programs offered by the College of Southern Nevada include:

  • Air Conditioning Technology (40.5 credits)
  • Air Conditioning Technology: Central Plant (41 credits)
  • Air Conditioning Technology: Critical Systems (40 credits)
  • Air Conditioning Technology: Food Service Refrigeration (42.5 credits)

The AAS degree programs include:

  • Air Conditioning Technology (60 credits)
  • Air Conditioning Technology: Central Plant (60 credits)
  • Air Conditioning Technology: Critical Systems (60 credits)
  • Air Conditioning Technology: Food Service Refrigeration (61.5 credits)

The curriculum consists of courses such as residential gas heating, introduction to HVAC electrical theory and application, commercial refrigeration, heat pumps, copper fundamentals, boiler operation and maintenance, HVAC automatic controls, industrial electricity, equipment cooling, and equipment cooling, among others.

Graduates of these programs are prepared to obtain their EPA 608 certification as well as HVAC Excellence Employment Readiness certification. The college also offers an Entry-Level Air Conditioning Technician program which is made up of 18.5 credits.

  • Location: Henderson, NV; Las Vegas, NV; North Las Vegas, NV
  • Accreditation: Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU); PAHRA; HVAC Excellence
  • Expected Time to Completion: Certificates (one year each); AAS degrees (one years each)
  • Estimated Tuition: Lower-division courses ($109.75 per credit); Upper-division courses ($180 per credit)

Dallas County Community College

The Dallas County Community College campuses in Cedar Valley and Eastfield both offer students the opportunity to study Air Conditioning and Refrigeration Technology. These programs prepare students for the EPA Section 608 exam as well as for the ICE and state contracting exams.

The college offers two certificates and two degrees in HVAC technology. The programs include several residential technician certificates and AAS degrees.

The technician I residential certificate consists of 24 credits including courses such as air conditioning control principles, basic electricity for HVAC, refrigeration principles, gas & electric heating, heat pumps, and residential air conditioning.

The level II residential certificate is made up of 48 credits and includes all courses from the technician I certificate. Additional courses in this program include a composition and math elective, air conditioning installation and startup, residential air conditioning systems design, and air conditioning troubleshooting.

The residential AAS requires successful completion of 60 credits. It includes all courses mentioned above, with additional coursework in the introduction to speech communication, humanities/fine arts, general psychology, and cooperative education-HVAC/R.

Finally, the air conditioning and refrigeration technology AAS comprises 60 credits, including coursework similar to that of the residential AAS. This program only replaces the residential air conditioning systems design, and air conditioning installation and startup courses with commercial refrigeration and air conditioning.

  • Location: Dallas County, TX
  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on ​​Colleges
  • Expected Time to Completion: AAS degrees (four semesters each); residential technician I certificate (four semesters); residential technician III level II certificate (three semesters)
  • Estimated Tuition: Dallas County residents ($79 per credit); out-of-county residents ($135 per credit)

Elgin Community College

Elgin Community College, located in Elgin, Illinois, offers an AAS degree program in HVAC which comprises 62.5 credits. The college also offers three vocational certificates in sheet metal mechanics (34.5 credits), HVAC facilities maintenance technician (46.5 credits), and light commercial HVAC service tech (38.5 credits), and three basic certificates in residential HVAC systems (12.5 credits), residential HVAC service technician (26.5 credits), and refrigeration service technician (18.5 credits).

Some of the topics students will explore include air conditioning and refrigeration, basic electricity and HVAC/R controls, basic sheet metal, basic heating gas/oil, refrigerant recovery certification, commercial air conditioning, blueprint reading for heating and AC, electrical motor control, and heat pumps and electrical heat, among others.

Students in these programs will be prepared to pursue high-paying careers in the HVAC industry. They will be able to work in both residential as well as commercial settings. The faculty of the program include professionals who have years of experience in HVAC.

  • Location: Elgin, IL
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission; PAHRA
  • Expected Time to Completion: AAS (four semesters); sheet metal mechanics (two semesters); light commercial HVAC service tech (three semesters); residential HVAC service technician (two semesters); residential HVAC systems (one semester); HVAC facilities maintenance tech (four semesters); refrigeration service technician (one semester)
  • Estimated Tuition: In-district resident ($132 per credit); out-of-district Resident ($297 per credit); out-of-state ($396 credit)

Honolulu Community College

Honolulu Community College in Hawaii (@HonoluluCC) is not a surprising place to find a program in Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Technology. The hot and humid climates of Hawaii are exactly the conditions in which a trained AC tech would be required. Students can earn an Associate of Applied Science degree or a Certificate of Achievement. Prospective students must demonstrate proficiency in math and English before enrolling in the Air Conditioning program.

The certificate of achievement is made up of 48 credits, while the associate of applied science degree consists of 63 credits. Sample some of the courses in the curriculum: technical college mathematics, basic refrigeration, composition I advanced technical writing, commercial refrigeration, air conditioning I and II, and additional general education courses.

Upon successful completion, graduates will be able to repair and maintain HVAC/R equipment as per National Standards and gain employment in the HVAC field. They will gain the technical knowledge and hands-on skills required for becoming efficient and successful HVAC/R technicians. Students will also be prepared to pass the EPA Refrigerant Handling Certification.

  • Location: Honolulu, HI
  • Accreditation: Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC), Western Association of Schools and Colleges,
  • Expected Time to Completion: 24 months
  • Estimated Tuition: Resident ($131 per credit); non-resident ($345 per credit)

Houston Community College

It may come as no surprise that there is quite a demand for AC technicians in Houston, Texas. Houston Community College is well aware of their market and as such has created an AC technician school program that zeros in on those skills necessary for air conditioner maintenance and repair.

It offers two certificates and one associate of applied science degree in heating, air conditioning & refrigeration for aspiring HVAC workers. Students in these programs are introduced to emerging and new technologies in HVAC/R, which allows them to efficiently operate systems and buildings.

The basic certificate in HVAC/R comprises 21 credits. It introduces students to topics such as basic electricity for HVAC, electrical calculations, EPA recovery certification preparation, refrigeration principles, air conditioning control principles, gas & electric heating, and residential air conditioning.

The advanced certificate in HVAC/R consists of 42 credits and includes all the above courses, with the addition of commercial refrigeration, advanced air conditioning controls, commercial air conditioning, air conditioning troubleshooting, heat pumps, residential air conditioning systems design, and commercial air conditioning system design.

Finally, the AAS degree program is made up of 60 credits covering all the coursework from the two certificates discussed above as well as building control systems, learning framework, and many other electives.

Students in all of these programs will be prepared for the section 608 EPA certification and will also have the opportunity to receive the OSHA 10 certification. They will gain proficiency in servicing, maintaining, repairing, and troubleshooting all types of HVAC equipment, and will also learn about regulations and safety rules surrounding the industry.

  • Location: Houston, TX
  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACSCOC)
  • Expected Time to Completion: AAS (two years); certificates (one year each)
  • Estimated Tuition: In-district ($84.50 per credit); out-of-district ($180.50 per credit); out-of-state ($227 per credit)

Lanier Technical College

With the addition of Lanier Technical College (@LanierTech) in Oakwood, Georgia to this list it becomes pretty clear that Georgia is a great place to find this type of training. At Lanier Technical College, students can choose to pursue a diploma in air conditioning technology, a certificate in basic residential air conditioning system design, or a certificate in basic residential gas heat design. All three tracks require classroom and on-site training and will prepare students to launch a career as an AC tech or apprentice immediately.

To get accepted into the program, applicants must be at least 16 years of age, have a high school diploma or GED before admission, official transcripts from all colleges attended, and Accuplacer Testing, or submit SAT, ACT, COMPASS, or ASSET test scores.

The diploma is made up of 51 credits, while the certificate programs consist of 16 credits each. Some of the courses in the curriculum are HVACR electrical fundamentals, refrigeration fundamentals, HVACR electrical motors, gas heat, troubleshooting ac systems, heat pumps/related systems, and foundations of mathematics.

  • Location: Oakwood, GA
  • Accreditation: HVAC-Excellence; Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
  • Expected Time to Completion: Diploma (four semesters); certificates (one semester each)
  • Estimated Tuition: $100 per credit

Los Angeles Trade-Tech College

Los Angeles Trade-Tech College, or LATTC (@LATTC), offers an associate of science degree in HVAC/R mechanics as well as a certificate of achievement for those that want to start working as quickly as possible. With both day and night classes, the program is ideal for those individuals who want to expand their career options while still working full time.

The certificate of achievement requires successful completion of 48 credits, while the AAS degree program requires 42 credits of required courses, 6 credits of major electives, and 21 credits of general education courses.

As part of the program, students will delve into topics such as indoor air quality, refrigeration fundamentals, fundamentals of D.C. electricity, compression systems of refrigeration, applied calculations and measurements, pipe and tube joining processes, refrigeration electrical circuits and controls, and refrigeration system components, among others.

Upon completion, students will be able to repair and maintain HVAC/R systems using the right tools and instruments safely and effectively. By applying the principles of electrical theory and thermodynamics, they will be able to properly analyze the operation of HVAC/R systems.

  • Location: Los Angeles, CA
  • Accreditation: Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior College, Western Association of Schools and Colleges
  • Expected Time to Completion: Four semesters
  • Estimated Tuition: $3,936 per semester

Milwaukee Area Technical College

At the Oak Creek Campus of Milwaukee Area Technical College, students can earn an Associate Degree in Air Conditioning and Refrigeration Technology. The program is intended to train students in the design, supervision, and sales aspect of the AC technician job. Incoming students must have at least one year of high school Algebra to be admitted to the program.

Comprising 64 credits, the program includes courses such as principles of sustainability, introduction to the HVAC industry, air conditioning fundamentals, electrical fundamentals, architectural & mechanical fundamentals, heating systems, digital energy management systems, and heat pumps.

Graduates of the program will be able to install, service, troubleshoot, and evaluate HVAC/R systems. They will be able to take up roles such as air conditioning technician, sales representative, refrigeration technician, system design technician, system supervisor, and system designer.

The college also offers a 30-credit technical diploma which ladders into the associate degree.

  • Location: Milwaukee, WI
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
  • Expected Time to Completion: Associate degree (2 years)
  • Estimated Tuition: Resident (associate degree - $157.30 per credit and diploma - $157.30 per credit); non-resident (associate degree - $227.80 and diploma - $227.80 per credit)

Pennsylvania College of Technology

The Pennsylvania College of Technology is one of the only schools on this list that exclusively offers a degree program encompassing heating, ventilation, air-conditioning, and refrigeration. However, the fact that this school also began the first student chapter of the Air Conditioning Contractors of America demonstrates the school's commitment to the air conditioning program and training opportunities therein.

Combining classroom instruction with hands-on training in a lab, this AAS degree program prepares students to tackle all types of HVAC projects. Consisting of 70 credits, the program includes courses in introduction to refrigeration, mechanical systems design and operation, HVAC/R electricity, air conditioning systems, residential HVAC system design, basic heating systems, advanced HVAC system service, and warm-air heating and duct design.

Graduates of the program will be prepared to take up roles such as HVAC/R equipment technician, sales representative, estimator, industrial physical plant maintenance, environmental control specialist, and air conditioning technician.

  • Location: Williamsport, PA
  • Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education; PAHRA
  • Expected Time to Completion: Four semesters
  • Estimated Tuition: In-State ($587 per credit); Out-of-State ($839 per credit)

Texas State Technical College

At the Texas State Technical College campus in Waco, Texas (@TSTCWaco) students can work towards a Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning Technician Certificate. Students that can commit to the certificate full-time can earn certification in just one year. Upon completion of the certification requirements, students can apply their credits towards an Associate of Applied Science degree in Air Conditioning and Refrigeration Technology.

The certificate is made up of 36 credits, while the AAS degree program comprises 60 credits. Sample some of the coursework: basic electricity for HVAC, refrigeration principles, HVAC shop practices and tools, gas and electric heating, residential air conditioning, commercial refrigeration, and heat pumps, among others.

The college also offers an occupational skills award in HVAC which consists of nine credits. Graduates of these programs will be able to pursue a successful career as an HVAC technician.

  • Location: Waco, TX
  • Accreditation: Southern Association for Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
  • Expected Time to Completion: AAS (20 months); certificate (12 months); skills award (four months)
  • Estimated Tuition: AAS ($11,100); certificate ($6,660); skills award ($1,944)

University of Northwestern Ohio

The University of Northwestern Ohio offers an associate degree and a diploma in HVAC/R. These programs combine classroom lectures with hands-on training in a lab providing students with working knowledge of commercial and residential units. Students develop an understanding of government regulations and learn to install and repair HVAC systems.

The diploma requires the completion of 61 credits. Students gain entry-level skills through coursework that covers HVAC/R systems and controls, electronics and electrical, services and procedures, heat pumps, and special topics. The curriculum also requires a capstone. General education subjects include communication, technical math, and digital documents.

The AAS degree comprises 88 credits. All courses from the diploma are included in this degree program, with the addition of general education courses such as composition, psychology, politics, earth science, customer relations, and diversity issues.

  • Location: Lima, OH
  • Accreditation: HVAC Excellence; PAHRA; Higher Learning Commission
  • Expected Time to Completion: AAS degree (20 months); diploma (16 months)
  • Estimated Tuition: $1,700 per six-week session

Methodology

The high demand for AC technicians means that there is also a high demand for training programs. The right school for any individual will be the one that best suits their needs in terms of programs but also tuition, location, and other personal factors. That said, the AC technician schools on this list were chosen for a few specific reasons including accreditation, a focus on air conditioning technology, and the availability of AC-specific certifications.

  1. Accreditation: All institutions of higher learning should be accredited in some way or another. For AC tech schools, several accrediting bodies were evaluated for this list. HVAC Excellence and the Partnership for Air Conditioning, Heating, Refrigeration Accreditation were both considered as they are the main accrediting bodies for HVAC training programs. Some schools on this list are instead accredited by nationally recognized higher education accrediting bodies such as the Council on Occupational Education.

  2. Air Conditioning Technology Focus: While it is easy to find schools that offer degrees and certificates with an HVAC focus, it is more difficult to find those that offer a specific AC technician program. The majority of the programs on this list offer diplomas or certificates with an emphasis solely on air conditioning and refrigeration, for those students who want to devote their time and resources to this side of the HVAC business.

  3. EPA Certification Training: Any AC technician school that truly prepares its students for work in the field must include refrigerant handling EPA certification training in their program. These air conditioning technology programs offer training and testing for EPA certification so that students are ready to work in the field safely upon graduation.

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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