Online HVAC Certification and Schools

What is an HVAC Technician?

HVAC stands for heating, ventilation, and air conditioners. HVAC technicians install and repair all things related to air quality in a building. They make sure units set rooms to proper temperatures. They maintain air ducts, water supply lines, fuel systems, and other components. They do all this to ensure that everything works well and without fault. An HVAC technician could work in many places. For example, in a store, a hospital, an office building, or a personal residence.

HVACR is related to HVAC. Some say it is one and the same. HVACR stands for heating, ventilation, air conditioners, and refrigeration. Because HVAC technicians also work on refrigeration, there is technically no difference between HVAC and HVACR technicians.

You have to have a certificate or associate’s degree to become an HVAC technician. It can take anywhere from six months to two years to earn a certificate or associate’s degree. You might also need to take part in a training program. Training programs might pay you or not and last from three to six months. In some states, you need to earn a license, which takes little time once you have knowledge and experience.

Some things to consider when choosing an online HVAC school

  • Having experience is important. To find work, you will need education (a certificate or degree) and training. Find a program that offers both if possible.
  • HVAC technicians who work with refrigerants have to pass a special exam. The Environmental Protection Agency requires it. Make sure that your education prepares you for the exam.
  • Several agencies offer other exams to people who want to work in HVAC. Earning these certifications may help you get a job. Look for certifications that North American Technician, HVAC Excellence, the National Occupational Competency Testing Institute, and the Refrigeration Service Engineers Society offer.
  • Before signing up for online HVAC classes, be sure they will prepare you to take HVAC certification exams.

HVAC Certification Courses

HVAC courses teach students how to service, troubleshoot, install, and operate HVAC systems. They can apply what they learn in residential, commercial, and industrial settings. Ideally, HVAC classes help students prepare to take HVAC certification tests.

Some examples of classes programs might offer include:

  • Air conditioning and refrigeration basics. In this kind of class, students learn the basics of AC and refrigeration theory. They also study safety, brazing, service tools, equipment, and other key parts of HVAC.
  • Electrical applications. In a class like this, students study basic electrical theory. They also learn how to use electrical diagrams to work with a range of air and refrigeration systems.
  • Heating technologies. This kind of class covers gas, electric, radiant, and boiler operated heating systems. Students learn how to manage and maintain furnaces, steam, and hot water boilers.
  • HVAC customer service and certification. A course like this covers communication skills, problem-solving, and interviewing skills. It also teaches students about HVAC laws and regulations.

This offers a sense of what you will study in an HVAC program. You will likely take many courses under each area listed above.

Top HVAC Schools

Last check, there were 598 schools that offer HVAC degrees or programs. From those schools, there were 18,236 degrees awarded to students. The majority (almost 100%!) of these degrees were associate’s degrees. The rest were one- to two-year certificates.

School2016 Grads Total/Degrees or Certificates AwardedTuition (Out of State)
Vista College475$15,450
Ivy Tech Community College341$7,932
Porter and Chester College System200$3,096
Lone Star College System200$3,096
Moraine Valley187$10,080

Online HVAC Schools

In 2016, HVAC students paid the following median prices for tuition:

  • $3,247 per year for in-state tuition at a public school
  • $15,013 per year for out-of-state tuition at a private school

Most HVAC students earned associate’s degrees. This type of degree takes one and a half to two years to earn. Many other HVAC students earned certificates. Certificates take six months, one year, or two years to earn. All require you to have a high school diploma to begin.

Sponsored Schools:

HVAC SchoolCourse DescriptionHow Long Will it Take?How Much Will It Cost?
Borough of Manhattan Community CollegeHVACR Technician - NATE Service Core This coursealso prepares you to take the North American Technician Excellence (NATE) Core Certification Exam, which provides the basics for entry-level and early career technicians to enrich the skills of installers and technicians andis a stepping stone to becoming a HVACR Certified Technician. The Core exam covers the foundational areas of safety, tools, basic construction, using basic science, achieving desired conditions, taking temperature and humidity measurements, and basic electrical.6 Months / 100 Course Hrs Self-Paced. Study on your own schedule$2,295 Get More Info on the HVACR Technician - NATE Service Core Course
Empire State LearningHVACR Controls/Building Automation Systems This course is designed for HVACR technicians, facility managers, and commercial maintenance technicians who have already completed an educational course for HVACR and/or have current industry work experience in the field. The course will build on your existing knowledge of HVACR fundamentals and equipment and help you learn HVACR Controls and Building Automation Systems.6 Months / 90 Course Hrs Self-Paced. Study on your own schedule$3,695

Get More Info On HVACR Controls/Building Automation Systems Course

Empire State LearningHVACR Certified Technician Do you love working with your hands? Do you want to work in an industry where there are always new things to learn? The HVACR industry (heating, ventilation, air conditioning, and refrigeration) is one of the most reliable career choices you can make, as there is currently a shortage of technicians with HVACR certifications in the U.S. Our HVACR Certified Technician course will help you embark on the path to nationally recognized certifications, whether you want to start a career or already work...12 Months / 277 Course Hrs Self-Paced. Study on your own schedule$3,795

Get More Info On the HVACR Certified Technician Course

Online HVAC Certification

Earning a certificate in HVAC is different from earning certification in HVAC. Like associate degrees, certificates offer classes and training in a school format. They help you learn what you need to learn to grow your skills. They help you prepare to test for certification. Certification, though, helps future employers see that you know HVAC and can follow HVAC laws and rules.

You might test for certification through one of these agencies:

North American Technician Excellence (NATE)

NATE offers tests for certificates and certification at four levels. The first two levels allow people to earn entry-level and new-worker certificates. These levels test people’s basic knowledge of HVAC. The third and fourth levels of tests lead to NATE certification. NATE certification is for people who have worked in HVAC for two to five years or longer. These certifications show that people have high-level skills and knowledge in HVAC.

People can also earn certifications in installation and service specialties through NATE.

For the first level of certificate, people can take the test online. The next three levels ask people to test for a certificate or certification at a testing center. This is because they require someone to supervise the test taking.

HVAC Excellence

HVAC Excellence plays two roles. One is to make sure that schools offer quality HVAC programs to students. Another is to allow people to test for different levels of certification. Levels of certification include employment-ready, specialty, professional, and master specialist. At each of these levels, people can earn certifications in many subjects. Before testing at these levels, people have to pass a core exam. They also have to have two years of experience in the field.

People take HVAC Excellence tests at testing centers across the country. This allows HVAC Excellence to monitor tests.

The National Occupational Competency Testing Institute (NOCTI)

NOCTIoffers many types of certificates and certifications to people and schools. NOCTI’s options include job ready, pathway, state customized, and other types of certifications. Each certification tests a certain kind and level of knowledge. They help workers show that they have key skills and knowledge.

People can take some NOCTI tests online. But, people most often take NOCTI tests at testing centers. This allows NOCTI to monitor tests.

The Refrigeration Service Engineers Society (RSES)

RSES is a training and testing center for people who work in HVAC. It offers online web courses to prepare for test taking. It also offers NATE and other core certifications for those who are ready. People can join RSES to grow their knowledge as their career develops.

People can study RSES materials online. However, they must take their tests at a testing center. This is so that RSES can monitor tests.

The EPA 608 Universal Certification Online

Law requires HVAC technicians to earn the EPA 608 Universal Certification. This certification shows that technicians know how to maintain, service, repair, and dispose of HVAC equipment correctly. The standards for this certification are set by the Environmental Protection Agency. This certification is offered online and at testing centers across the country. It is offered by NATE, HVAC Excellence, NOCTI, RSES, and other agencies.

HVAC Technician Careers

People with HVAC skills and knowledge work in many roles. In 2016, 792 people worked in general maintenance and repair. That same year, an additional 76 people worked specifically in HVAC. Jobs for people in this area could grow by 15 percent between 2016 and 2026. This is much faster than average.

On average, people in HVAC were 43.5 years old in 2016. The majority (97.7%) of people who earned a degree in HVAC that year were men.

Top states for HVAC Jobs

StateEmploymentAnnual Mean Wage
Flordia29,450$42,260
California25,010$56,350
Texas23,520$45,410
New York18,500$57,680
Pennsylvania14,120$51,360

Top Paying States for HVAC Technicians

StateEmploymentAnnual Mean Wage
Washington D.C.350$67,920
Alaska310$64, 040
Hawaii1,140$62,540
Illinois7,680$62,430
Connecticut3,870$61,220

How Much to HVAC Techs Make?

There are many occupations similar to an HVAC technician. Many of them require the same amount of mechanical skill and mastery of a particular trade. The learning principles may be very alike, and the content of the work follows. Study which options may be available using statistics compiled by the BLS.

Heating, Air Conditioning, and Refrigeration Mechanics and Installers (i)

Pristine air quality, efficient energy systems and proper climate control are the goals of the HVAC technician, and this can require very complex work depending on the facility that is being improved. Technicians work in hospitals, factories, big office buildings, schools and residential homes. The goals are often various, and analyzing particular components and necessary repairs can be difficult based on the size and scope of the job.

  • Median Salary: $47,080 per year 
  • Job growth through 2026: 15%  (Much faster than average)
  • Typical Entry-level education: Postsecondary nondegree award

Boilermakers (ii)

These professionals assemble and repair boilers and large closed vats that hold liquids or gas. They are proficient at analyzing blueprints and determining what parts are necessary for repair or installation of boilers. They often work with particular tools, such as robotic welders, a plethora of power tools and other equipment, to complete a job. They often live away from home at a job site for long periods.

  • Median Salary: $62,260 per year 
  • Job growth through 2026: 9%  (As fast as average)
  • Typical Entry-level education: High school diploma or equivalent

(i) bls.gov/ooh/installation-maintenance-and-repair/heating-air-conditioning-and-refrigeration-mechanics-and-installers.htm | (ii) bls.gov/ooh/construction-and-extraction/boilermakers.htm