Online HVAC Training Schools

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The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS 2023) reports that openings for heating, ventilation, air conditioning, and refrigeration (HVAC or HVACR) professionals will grow by 6 percent between 2022 and 2033, which is significantly faster than the average growth projected for all occupations during that time period (3 percent).

So what is the most convenient way for people to join this profession on the rise? One possibility is to enroll in an online HVAC training program.

With the widespread adoption of distance-based education through online certificates, degrees, and continuing education units (CEUs), aspiring HVAC professionals are now allowed to on-campus training programs. Online HVAC training options leverage streamed web lectures, digital simulation tools, and computer-based assignments. Through these innovative online HVAC programs, students can receive rigorous training in HVAC testing instruments and service equipment, residential and commercial HVAC set-ups, electrical and heat-pump systems, and more.

As coursework is done at a student’s own pace, online HVAC training is generally best suited to students who can self-motivate. For students who are currently working, cannot relocate or travel long distances for school, or for current professionals who wish to transition their careers, choosing to do one’s HVAC training online can be a way to gain career skills that don’t require the complete rearrangement of one’s life around school.

Please note that some online HVAC schools and colleges require an on-campus intensive or an externship component to ensure that HVAC candidates receive adequate hands-on training in the field. Although not in every case, the externships can be completed locally. Also, a majority of the HVAC certification boards (e.g., North American Technician Excellence [NATE], HVAC Excellence, Refrigeration Service Engineers Society [RSES]) require those seeking certification to come to an approved testing site to demonstrate their competencies.

Finally, the state licensing requirements for HVAC professionals vary, but generally require some formal training (e.g., diploma, certification, degree) and years of experience, in addition to continuing education units (CEUs) to maintain active licensure.

Read on to discover the variety of ways that one can receive online HVAC training, including certificates, degrees, and CEUs.

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Who Should Enroll in an Online HVAC Training Program?

While many may excel in a traditional classroom environment, others may discover that they are best suited for online learning. In making this decision, prospective students should carefully consider several different factors.

Anyone considering enrolling in an online program must fully understand the program’s campus visitation requirements. Some schools require an on-campus orientation, others an on-campus intensive at a regular interval, like once per semester or once per year, and still others may ask that you present your capstone project on-campus.

Online programs can be a highly attractive option for those who do not have the time to attend lectures, or who need to live closer to the campus to make travel practical. Others, however, may find it difficult to excel in such a program, particularly students who do not perform well without support from professors or their peers inside or outside the classroom in group study sessions.

Online HVAC Certificate Programs

Those who are interested in learning the fundamentals of HVAC systems—as well as current HVAC professionals interested in deepening their competencies in various subfields—have the option to gain HVAC training through online certificate programs. These programs are ideal for those looking for entry-level HVAC jobs, or for entry-level professionals looking to increase salaries. Students are prepared to take (and may receive vouchers for) specific HVAC certification exams as part of the programs.

Following are ten featured online certificate programs for HVAC professionals, aspiring and current:

University of North Dakota

The University of North Dakota (UND) offers two distance-based HVAC certificates: an HVAC/R certified technician program and an HVAC/R technician program.

Although both programs prepare graduates to work as HVAC techs, individuals looking for the most suitable training to enter the HVAC technician field should consider the HVAC/R certified technician program. It is designed to prepare installers and technicians to pass various national HVAC certification exams, including the EPA 608 Refrigerant Handling Exam, the R-410A Refrigerant Handling Qualification, and the students’ choice of certification exams from NATE or HVAC Excellence. Students receive vouchers to sit for the most common industry certification exams as part of the program.

Students for the HVAC/R certified technician program should have one to two years of industry experience as well as a high school diploma or GED. The HVAC/R technician program does not have any prerequisites.

Students will delve into topics such as refrigeration & refrigerants, tools & equipment, tubing & piping, system charging, fasteners, basic electricity & magnetism, application of motors, types of electric motors, compressors, condensers, special refrigeration systems, gas heat, electric heat, oil heat, air distribution & balance, and geothermal heat pumps, among others.

Notably, UND also offers programs in HVAC/R simulations for field technicians; HVACR controls/building automation systems; and residential electricians, among others.

  • Location: Grand Forks, ND
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools
  • Expected Time to Completion: 12 months

Ashworth College

Ashworth College provides an online career diploma in heating and air conditioning that can be completed in as few as four months. This online HVAC training program was built to provide a flexible, convenient learning experience to busy students who need more time to commit to an on-campus program. This program offers them the flexibility of completing it entirely online from the comfort of their own home, at their own pace.

The comprehensive, self-paced program provides lessons on the field, which include an HVAC/R orientation, fundamentals for HVAC/R, HVAC/R systems, and HVAC/R system design, layout, and commercial applications.

Ultimately, the Ashworth College HVAC Career Diploma provides preparation for the EPA Section 608 Certification exam. The Ashworth program includes a voucher toward the student’s certification cost from ESCO. The program is ideal for anyone who wants to enhance their current skills and prepare for a high-demand field.

This program provides students with the essential skills and knowledge needed to successfully install, troubleshoot, and maintain HVAC systems in commercial and residential buildings.

  • Location: Norcross, GA
  • Accreditation: Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC)
  • Expected Time to Completion: Four months

Penn Foster College (Sponsor)

Penn Foster offers students a DEAC-accredited online career diploma that will help them take the first step toward becoming an HVAC/R technician. This online program is designed to help students prepare for HVAC certification and can be completed in six to nine months.

Through nine courses—the program includes topics such as electrical systems, math for the trades, and fundamentals of HVAC/R, refrigeration systems, residential and light commercial HVAC/R systems, commercial refrigeration systems, and HVAC/R system design and installation—students learn to install, repair, and maintain home and commercial systems. As part of their program, graduates of Penn Foster Career School’s HVAC/R technician program are also given a voucher for the EPA Certification Test.

Penn Foster also offers students an online career automotive mechanic diploma program that includes coursework in the essentials of automotive HVAC. The coursework covers automotive engine heating and cooling systems, EPA rules, regulations, and safety practices. It also includes automatic HVAC systems operations and industry procedures for diagnosing, servicing, and repairing automotive HVAC systems.

  • Location: Chandler, AZ
  • Accreditation: Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC)
  • Expected Time to Completion: Career diploma (six to nine months); Automotive HVAC (one to five months)

Air Conditioning Contractors of America

The Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA) offers an online residential HVAC certificate. It comprises three modules and 28 lesson units on subjects such as designing a ducted distribution system, sizing equipment appropriately, and performing residential load calculations. The certificates are valid for five years.

This program is ideal for contractors, design and utility personnel, technicians, wholesalers, licensing and code officials, energy commission officials, and others interested in learning about the importance of accurate residential load calculation procedures for system design.

ACCA also offers certification programs in light commercial HVAC design, EPIC instructor competencies, refrigerant handling (EPA 608), and two ACCA-developed Qtech certifications (quality installation and home performance).

  • Location: Alexandria, VA
  • Accreditation: N/A
  • Expected Time to Completion: 22 to 25 hours plus individual study time

HVAC Training Solutions

HVAC Training Solutions provides several online training programs, including commercial refrigeration, HVAC technician, contractor, and NATE certification training. The course allows students to learn at their own pace and consists of video lectures along with online simulations of HVAC repair and maintenance scenarios.

The HVAC technician course includes 20 training modules covering heat, temperature, and pressure; matter and energy; basic electricity and magnetism; troubleshooting electric motors; air-source heat pumps; and more. For those not sure about a future in HVAC, this course also offers a 30-day money-back guarantee.

The simplified approach offered here for learning HVAC is very non-traditional. When students learn the basics of HVAC, they will have the necessary skills to pursue their HVAC career.

  • Location: Online
  • Accreditation: N/A
  • Expected Time to Completion: Ten to 18 weeks


HVACRedu offers a NATE-certified HVAC technician program that is 100 percent online. In addition to incorporating learning objectives from the greater HVAC industry (HVAC Excellence, AHRI, NATE, ESES, HARDI, PAHRA, ACCA, etc.), this 256-hour program brings students sequentially through the NATE ready-to-work exam, the NATE CORE exam, the NATE air conditioning specialty exam, and then the EPA Section 608 certification. Coursework in the program includes building systems review, electrical common components, introduction to cooling system troubleshooting, and electrical motors.

This program is ideal for individuals new to the industry, non-certified technicians, and installers who want formal education to upskill their knowledge and prepare for licensing or certification exams.

  • Location: Heron, MT
  • Accreditation: N/A
  • Expected Time to Completion: 256 hours

Excelsior College

Excelsior College provides an online HVAC/R technician program that prepares students for entry-level employment in the industry by providing hands-on guidance for repair, solutions, and service. By completing this program, students will be ready to pass all seventeen HVAC Excellence Employment Ready Certificates, the NATE Ready to Work Certificate, and the EPA 608.

Students will also receive a voucher including one employment-ready certificate for electrical, one for air conditioning, and one for EPA 608 voucher.

This program is for students with little or no background in HVAC/R, so there are no prerequisites. However, it is recommended that students have a high school diploma or GED.

The curriculum includes automatic controls, electric motors, commercial refrigeration, all-weather systems, domestic appliances, commercial air-conditioning & chilled-water systems, safety, tools & equipment, and shop practices.

Upon completion, students learn about installing and operating HVAC systems. They also fully understand refrigerants’ recovery, recycling, and retrofitting.

  • Location: Albany, NY
  • Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education
  • Expected Time to Completion: 12 months

Midlands Technical College

Midlands Technical College offers several HVAC programs, including an HVAC entry-level certificate, an academic certificate in HVAC/R mechanics, an HVAC/R associate degree, and an HVAC/R technician diploma. These programs cannot be completed entirely online, but many of their courses have an online option. Combining hands-on training and classroom instruction, these programs prepare students for careers that encompass the planning, installation, operation, and maintenance of various HVAC systems.

The HVAC entry-level training certificate consists of 141 clock hours, and the academic certificate requires 35 credits. The associate degree comprises 71 credits, while the diploma comprises 45 credits. The curriculum includes courses such as HVAC electrical operation and diagnostics; heat pump operations and diagnostics; fundamentals of refrigeration; heating fundamentals; basic air conditioning; heat pumps, airflow design, measurement and diagnostics; and general psychology, among others.

Graduates can take up roles such as commercial refrigeration technician, residential service technician, HVAC/R installation technician, and physical plant maintenance technician.

  • Location: West Columbia, SC
  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
  • Expected Time to Completion: HVAC training certificate (141 clock hours); associate degree (five semesters); academic certificate and Diploma (three semesters each)

University of California, Berkeley Extension

UC Berkeley’s online certificate program in HVAC allows students to take classes in a live online format from anywhere with an internet connection. Students in this program will gain an in-depth understanding of the technical applications and principles needed for designing new HVAC systems and retrofitting existing systems to meet energy conservation and comfort standards.

There are no prerequisites for this certificate program, but a bachelor’s degree in engineering or previous HVAC experience is recommended.

Made up of 11 credits, the curriculum is approved by the UC Berkeley College of Environmental Design and overseen by industry and education leaders, ensuring that the education provided is relevant and current. The faculty includes working professionals who have years of practical experience. Sample some coursework: HVAC ductwork and piping systems; HVAC control & energy management systems; HVAC system design considerations; and HVAC system load calculations and psychrometry.

  • Location: Berkeley, CA
  • Accreditation: Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC)
  • Expected Time to Completion: Three semesters

Remington College

Remington College Online offers an HVAC diploma and associate of occupational studies program in HVAC. These programs offer courses in a hybrid format, which may include in-person (residential) and distance education (online) components. These programs provide in-depth training in HVAC systems, helping students learn about the basics of maintaining and troubleshooting today’s complex HVAC/R systems.

The diploma comprises 59 credits, while the AOS degree comprises 95 credits. The curriculum includes basic refrigeration theory; residential heating; basic electricity; fundamental HVAC maintenance; hydronic systems; ventilation & airflow; commercial refrigeration systems; motors & motor control; domestic appliances & cold water air conditioning; and residential heating, among others.

At the end of the program, graduates will be ready for entry-level positions in the HVAC industry such as in commercial or industrial heating and cooling, residential, commercial, or industrial refrigeration & freezers, and residential heating and cooling. They can find opportunities with manufacturers, contracting companies, refrigeration appliance installation & repair, and commercial freight and air conditioning.

  • Location: Knoxville, TN
  • Accreditation: Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC)
  • Expected Time to Completion: Diploma (12 months); AOS degree (24 months)

Online HVAC Degree Programs

Although most degree-granting (associate or bachelor’s) HVAC programs are campus-based, some exceptions exist. The online HVAC training programs listed here are degree-completion programs, which assume students have some formal training in HVAC (typically an approved certificate or diploma) and do not admit students without experience. Prospective students are encouraged to ensure that their experience and credentials qualify them for enrollment before applying.

Here are two standout options for online HVAC degrees:

Charter College

Charter College has an online associate of applied science (AAS) degree in applied technology. This program is designed to help those who already hold an HVAC certificate or for those who already completed extensive formalized non-degree HVAC training to transform their HVAC training into a degree.

This online AAS prepares students for leadership and management. The 20-week, 36-credit online HVAC training program courses include customer-focused management, developing and implementing projects, academic success strategies, written and oral communication practices, and environmental science. Charter College’s online AAS is open to applicants with at least 54 credits in a trade concentration or Charter College trade program graduates.

Upon successful completion, graduates should be able to apply critical thinking logic and skills for evaluating and solving problems, analyze and apply project management concepts using project management software, and apply customer service knowledge and skills necessary to collaborate and engage with clients and customers successfully.

  • Location: Vancouver, WA
  • Accreditation: Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools
  • Expected Time to Completion: Five months

Ferris State University

Ferris State University’s online bachelor of science (BS) in HVAC/R engineering technology takes students deeper than traditional certificate or diploma programs, focusing on turning out experts in HVAC design, controls, retrofitting, testing, and other skills.

This online HVAC training program does have one on-campus requirement, where students complete a seven-day lab with the opportunity to perform HVACR analyses for local West Michigan businesses and residents. Students enrolled at Ferris State also will be expected to complete a summer internship where they gain a variety of commercial and industrial systems and energy-related experiences. This program is open only to those who already hold an associate degree in HVAC.

Students in this 124-credit program will delve into topics such as HVAC systems design using business information modeling (BIM); control theory and application; HVAC air system selection and design; HVAC hydronic systems selection and design; load analysis and energy modeling; and contracting issues in HVAc/R, among others.

  • Location: Big Rapids, MI
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission
  • Expected Time to Completion: 24 months

Online HVAC Continuing Education Programs

Several online training options for HVAC continuing education units (CEUs) are required to maintain active licenses and certifications in some states. Although many state government websites (e.g., Texas Department of Licensing and Registration [TDLR], Kentucky Department of Housing, Buildings & Construction) provide links to approved HVAC continuing education facilities, online CEU opportunities are offered through universities and training institutes.

Before enrollment, applicants must verify online CEUs are valid to maintain their chosen certifications or licenses. Interested students should check with licensing bodies, certification providers, or CEU program coordinators to ensure eligibility.


The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-conditioning Engineers
(ASHRAE) has several online classes, valid for 3.5 CEUs each, including fundamentals of air system design, heating and cooling loads, psychometrics, and refrigeration fundamentals, among others.


Trane, a company that patented its first air conditioner in 1931, hosts many more specialized online CE courses approved by the United States Green Building Council (USGBC) and the American Institute of Architects (AIA). Trane offers classes in coil selection and optimization (1 CEU); air handling systems (1); air-to-air energy recovery (1.5); and applying variable refrigerant flow (1.5). These more advanced courses may qualify for state-licensed professional CEUs.

State CE

State CE, a multi-industry CE provider that has helped more than 100,000 professionals meet their needs since 2001, provides a wealth of state-specific online CE programs with training in HVAC fundamentals; rules, law, safety & health; and systems and standards. Experienced HVAC professionals prepare all CE course materials to ensure thoroughness, relevance, and accuracy.

All programs are certified by the appropriate state licensing bodies. The self-study courses allow students to take control of their learning process. They won’t feel the need to keep up with other students. They can repeat the lessons as often as they wish until they have mastered the materials to their satisfaction.

Penn Foster (Sponsor)

Penn Foster’s online HVAC program (profiled above in “online HVAC certificate programs”) can also be used for continuing education units (CEUs) through select state government and certification organizations.

University of North Dakota

Although students must check to see if these programs count for CEUs with their regional certifying bodies, HVAC professionals looking for professional development can enroll in HVAC/R simulations for field technicians and HVAC/R controls/building automation systems—both available from the University of North Dakota.

HVAC/R simulation is an 18-hour, six-month course that enables entry-level HVAC professionals to practice real-life troubleshooting of HVAC systems in a simulated environment. HVAC/R controls/building automation is a 90-hour, six-month course for experienced HVAC/R professionals who want to expand their knowledge of systems and controls from a professional with 38 years of industry experience.


HVACRedu offers two advanced online HVAC training programs in commercial refrigeration and commercial building automation systems. The commercial refrigeration program is recognized to provide 18 hours of continuing education (CEH) for NATE recertification. The commercial building automation systems program provides several hours of professional development that complies with ACCA quality installation and maintenance standards, and is NATE recognized for 126 CEH.

Accreditation for Online HVAC Degrees

Several types of accreditation are applied to various HVAC schools and training programs. Although program accreditation may not be mandatory to secure work in the HVAC industry, it helps students exercise quality control with their program selection. Some employers may prefer candidates who have completed accredited training.

First, there are HVAC-specific accrediting bodies such as HVAC Excellence, which since 1999, has accredited programs in 30 states. Criteria for program approval include an examination of the program mission, instructor training, and other elements of a school. The HVAC Excellence website has a list of accreditation team leaders and accredited schools.

The Partnership for Air-Conditioning, Heating, Refrigeration Accreditation (PAHRA) is one of the two main national accreditation bodies for HVAC programs. PAHRA-accredited programs must use the industry competency exams (ICE) for graduating students, testing knowledge in residential AC and heating, light commercial AC & heating; and commercial refrigeration. These exams are administered by North American Technician Excellence (NATE).

The International Association for Continuing Education and Training (IACET) offers accreditation for continuing education courses. To seek accreditation, a school must have been in business for at least one year and have courses and programs that meet the IACET’s prescribed accreditation standards.

Institutional accreditation bodies also apply to schools as a whole. The Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC), recognized by the U.S. Department of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA), approves online education providers.

Other recognized institutional accrediting authorities in higher education include:

  • Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS)
  • Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
  • Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE)
  • Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC)
  • Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU)
  • New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC)
  • Commission on Colleges for the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS)

Jocelyn Blore

Jocelyn Blore is the chief content officer of Sechel Ventures and the co-author of the Women Breaking Barriers series. She graduated summa cum laude from UC Berkeley and traveled the world for five years. She also worked as an addiction specialist for two years in San Francisco. She’s interested in how culture shapes individuals and systems within societies—one of the many themes she writes about in her blog, Blore’s Razor (Instagram: @bloresrazor). She has served as managing editor for several healthcare websites since 2015.