When choosing a school, it is essential to determine if it is accredited and by which organization. Accreditation is a process by which an independent agency evaluates the quality of the program, including both the curriculum and the instructors.
HVAC programs are evaluated by two industry organizations. HVAC Excellence has awarded accreditation to Guilford Technical Community College (Greensboro Campus). The Partnership for Air-Conditioning, Heating, Refrigeration Accreditation (PAHRA) has accredited Pitt Community College. Although attending either school would require Raleigh and Durham students to commute, they are included in the profiles provided below due to their accreditation status. All other schools profiled have regional accreditation.
The North Carolina Community College System has 58 campuses throughout the state. Wake Technical College is located in Raleigh, and Durham is the home of Durham Technical College. The community colleges offering HVAC and HVAC/R programs that are the closest to Raleigh and Durham are:
- Wake, Raleigh, NC
- Durham, Durham, NC
- Vance-Granville, Henderson, NC
- Johnston, Smithfield, NC
- Alamance, Graham, NC
- Fayetteville, Fayetteville, NC
- Guilford, Greensboro, NC
- Pitt, Winterville, NC
The specific programs at the colleges vary, and not all are available at all times.
Credits earned in a certificate program may be applied to the diploma or degree program, and some credits earned in the diploma program may be applied to the degree program.
The colleges offer their programs in day and evening classes. Students may attend part-time or full-time. After consulting with their advisor, students may be able to complete some general education coursework online.
The certificate programs offered and curriculum details vary from school to school and are available as demand warrants. A sampling includes:
- Comfort cooling
- Commercial building automation
- Heat pumps
- HVAC design and installation
- Residential technician
Students take introductory courses in refrigeration, electricity, HVAC, and job safety, as well as courses specific to their chosen certificate. Coursework is divided between classroom lectures and hands-on training in labs. Certificate programs require 12 to 18 credit-hours to complete and prepare students for entry-level employment.
The air conditioning, heating, and refrigeration technology diploma program builds on the certificate programs with additional coursework that includes HVAC and HVAC/R basics, electronics, reading blueprints and schematics, technical math, building codes, air quality, energy management, customer relations, and general education electives.
The coursework includes time in classroom lectures and hands-on training. Graduates complete 36 to 48 credit-hours to earn their diploma.
General education courses in the associate of applied science (AAS) in HVAC/R technology program include oral and written communication and electives from the humanities, behavioral sciences, and natural sciences. The technical coursework includes the basics covered in the certificate and diploma programs, with the addition of instruction in HVAC and HVAC/R technology, system design, controls, hydronics, thermodynamics, computers, and ducting. Students complete 62 to 76 credit-hours to earn their degree.
- Locations: Noted above
- Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools for all colleges in the system; HVAC Excellence at Guilford Technical Community College; PAHRA at Pitt Community College
- Tuition: $76 per credit-hour; $48 technology fee per term; fees for registration, books, and supplies vary
- Program length: Certificate (6 to 12 months); diploma (12 to 18 months); degree (two years)
Students who are unable to attend on-campus schools may find that distance-based, or online, institutions can better meet their needs. Several accredited online schools offer HVAC and HVAC/R programs. For details on programs available, visit the online HVAC training page on this site.