Top HVAC Associate Degree Programs

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HVAC technicians are essential to the U.S. economy. From keeping residences comfortable in extreme weather to providing the technical knowledge required to refrigerate warehouses, keep food fresh, and even keep the air in hospitals clean and circulating, HVAC technicians excel in a number of different capacities, often working behind the scenes to make things go, to little fanfare. Often mechanically inclined problem-solvers by nature, HVAC technicians must train for the role via a lengthy apprenticeship (4 years is the norm) or by enrolling in a formal HVAC education program. Although aspiring technicians may enroll in a 4-year bachelor’s degree program, those are relatively uncommon and perhaps best suited to those interested in learning as much about the business side of an HVAC operation as about the more technical, applied side. The 2-year associate degree can be an attractive proposition for students who may not want to, or be able to, attend a four-year program, but who still want to complete a rigorous technically-oriented HVAC education. Earning an Associate of Applied Science degree is a great launching pad for an HVAC career because it shows dedication, and signifies a thorough basic technical knowledge of HVAC systems.

An HVAC associate degree, such as those offered by the schools on this list, includes instruction in more than just the fundamentals of HVAC system. An AAS degree in HVAC requires courses in a range of topics, from communication to mathematics to liberal arts. This breadth of knowledge will be invaluable in a competitive job market.

Many HVAC students have no problem finding employment quickly in this profession, which is expected to grow at a rate of more than 20% through the year 2020 (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2014).

The schools on this list each offer an associate degree in HVAC technology or a more specialized degree such as refrigeration and have all been accredited by recognized accreditation organizations. Many even have the option of transferring earned credits to a four-year school upon graduation, for even more career and earning opportunities.

Bevill State Community College

For a total of 74 credit hours, students at Bevill State Community College can earn an Associate of Applied Science degree in Air Conditioning and Refrigeration. This degree also includes instruction in heating and ventilation, making it a complete program for prospective HVAC technicians. The college offers courses at five different campuses throughout Alabama, including Hamilton and Sumiton.

Central New Mexico Community College

Central New Mexico Community College, located in Albuquerque, New Mexico, has multiple HVAC sprograms of study including an Associate of Applied Science degree in Heating, Ventilating, Air Conditioning, and Refrigeration. Before obtain entrance to the AAS program, students must demonstrate proficiency in math, reading, and English. Upon the successful completion of five terms or 67 credit hours, students will be awarded an AAS degree and be ready to enter the workforce as an HVAC technician.

College of Lake County

College of Lake County, in Grayslake, Illinois, offers an Associate of Applied Science degree in HVAC/R Engineering Technology. The degrees fall under the school's Service Technologies academic division. The program prepares graduates to enter the workforce immediately with a specialized knowledge base that can only be learned by dedicating the appropriate time.

College of Southern Idaho

The College of Southern Idaho is located in Twin Falls and offers an Air Conditioning, Refrigeration, and Heating program of study. Graduates of the CSI program of study can earn an Associate of Applied Science degree in two years. The entire program consists of 64 credit hours, seven of which may be elective courses. In keeping with the ideal of technological advancement, a computer literacy component is also required.

Gadsden State Community College

At Gadsden State Community College in Gadsden, Alabama, students can earn an Associate of Applied Science degree in Air Conditioning and Refrigeration. Students are required to take general education courses in addition to technical courses in electrical circuitry, residential air conditioning, and other HVACR techniques and theories. The program demands a total of 76 hours of classroom training and a high school diploma or GED is required for admission.

Georgia Piedmont Technical College

Georgia Piedmont Technical College, with campuses in Clarkston and Covington Georgia, offers an Associate Degree program in Air Conditioning Technologies. The program is part of the college's Industrial and Transportation Technologies schools, which also offers a degree in Commercial Refrigeration. The degree in Air Conditioning Technologies requires a minimum 66 credit hours and includes courses in electrical fundamentals and residential as well as commercial HVAC systems.

Greenville Technical College

Greenville Technical College in Greenville, South Carolina, allows students the opportunity to earn a diploma of Applied Science in Heating Ventilation Air Conditioning & Refrigeration (HVAC-R). This diploma provides a foundation for students to continue their education and earn an Associate Degree in Applied Science with a concentration in General Technology. This option can be a more leisurely way to earn an associate degree for those students who must work full time and have fewer resources to commit.

Hennepin Technical College

It should come as no surprise that some of the best heating technology training programs are located in the frigid north in Minnesota. Hennepin Technical College, with campuses in Brooklyn Park and Eden Prairie, Minnesota, offers an Associate of Applied Science HVAC degree. Some of the courses required to complete the degree include Basic Refrigeration, Psychometrics, and general education courses like Interpersonal Communication. A total of 72 credit hours are required.

Illinois Central College

At Illinois Central College in Peoria, Illinois, students can earn an Associate of Applied Science degree in HVAC/R Technology. In order to obtain admission, students must have completed at least one year of high school algebra with a grade of "C" or higher. In order to graduate from the program, students must take and pass Industrial Competency Exams in both Residential and Light Commercial Refrigeration.

IntelliTec College

Unlike many of the other schools on this list, students in the HVAC program at IntelliTec College in Colorado are able to work towards an Associate of Occupational Studies Degree, rather than an Associate of Applied Science. The AOS degree is designed to be completed in only 18 months, which can put students on a fast track to starting their career. Further, IntelliTec College focuses on preparing HVAC technicians to work with the systems of the future by placing emphasis on computer systems and more advanced technologies.

Jefferson College

Jefferson College in Hillsboro, Missouri, offers an Associate of Applied Science degree in Heating, Refrigeration, and Air-conditioning Technology. The college has a robust listing of general education courses to ensure that students receive a well-rounded education in addition to proven technical instruction from highly experienced instructors.

John A. Logan College

John A. Logan College offers an Associate of Applied Science degree in Heating and Air Conditioning. The degree requires 70 total classroom hours in technical HVAC training in addition to 15 total semester hours of general education requirements. All courses, apart from the internship component, take place at the college's Carterville campus. Those students who are unable to commit to an AAS degree are able to train for and obtain certificates in Heating and Air Electrical or Residential Cooling and Refrigeration.

Lone Star College

The Lone Star College system, with nine campuses throughout Texas, offers many courses of HVAC instruction. Students can earn an HVACR Associate of Applied Science degree with at least 60 credit hours of study, 15 of which must fulfill general education requirements. The Lone Star College system has been accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools since 1972.

Minneapolis Community & Technical College

Only 72 credit hours are required to obtain an Associate of Applied Science HVAC-R degree from Minneapolis Community & Technical College. The school has reported an 88% placement rate for recent HVAC graduates, meaning the demand for MCTC graduates is quite high. The average wage for these graduates is $20.96 per hour, making it an easily livable occupation for Minnesota.

Moraine Park Technical College

The West Bend, Wisconsin campus of Moraine Park Technical College offers an Associate of Applied Science degree in HVAC/R. The program includes not only classroom instruction but also plenty of hands-on experience in fields including Supermarket Refrigeration, Residential Energy, and Hydronic Environmental Systems. Tuition at MPTC is charged on a per credit basis and discounts are available for in-state enrollees.

Oakton Community College

Oakton Community College, with campuses in Des Plaines and Skokie, Illinois, has an Air Conditioning, Heating and Refrigeration department that offers an Associate of Applied Science degree along with a number of professional certificates. Graduates of the AAS program will have completed 42 semester credit hours of technical courses and at least 18 credit hours of general education requirements such as communications, mathematics, and humanities.

Southcentral Kentucky Community & Technical College

The Southcentral Kentucky Community & Technical College, abbreviated to SKYCTC, offers an Associate of Applied Science degree in Air Conditioning Technology. The program, accredited by HVAC excellence, is designed to prepare HVAC technicians to enter the workforce immediately upon graduation, with knowledge in air conditioning technology as well as heating, ventilation, and refrigeration.

Southern Technical College

Southern Technical College, with campuses throughout Florida, offers a unique HVAC training program. Students who are accepted can earn an Associate of Applied Science degree in Applied Electronics Technology with an emphasis on HVAC. This degree allows students to obtain specialized knowledge in HVAC repair and installation while also giving them a bigger picture view of HVAC systems and electrical theory overall.

Western Technical College

HVAC students at La Crosse, Wisconsin's Western Technical College are able to learn in the school's high-tech HVAC training lab that allows them to test and repair sample HVAC systems for an ideal hands-on experience. Graduates from the program can earn an Associate of Applied Science degree in as few as 64 credit hours. Prior to admission, students must prove their competence in Reading, Writing, and Math through standardized testing or previous classroom experience.

Methodology

Earning an Associate Degree in HVAC technology can mean committing a great deal of time and money to a program of study. The schools on this list were chosen for their rigorous curriculums, past performance, and overall record as upstanding institutions of learning.

  1. Accreditation Accreditation is one of the first things to look for when choosing an HVAC program. The majority of schools on this list have been accredited by either the Partnership for Air-conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Accreditation or HVAC Excellence. Both of these organizations were formed specifically to evaluate HVAC training programs for their efficacy and value.

  2. Degree Options Many HVAC programs offer only a professional certificate or diploma, but every school included here has an Associate of Applied Science degree program. This means that students are required not only to learn the technical skills necessary to begin a career as an HVAC technician, but also basic general education requirements that will serve them well throughout their lives. Each college is different but courses usually include writing, basic mathematics, and at least some humanities education.

  3. Geographic Diversity

    To create an inclusive list, we chose to find programs that represent most regions of the U.S. This is particularly relevant in choosing HVAC programs because many states have different licensing requirements. Educators in different states can shed light on the requirements in that particular state, making it easier for student to obtain the right license and build a career there.

Barry Franklin

Barry is the Editor in Chief of HVACClasses.org, operated by educational web publisher Sechel Ventures, which he joined as partner in 2013 after almost 20 years in the financial software industry.

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