The curriculum within an online heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) program may combine a handful of courses geared toward installing, inspecting, and repairing HVAC systems in residential and commercial buildings. Students enrolled in these programs may learn how to describe the basic theory of the refrigeration cycle and the components of heating and cooling systems. Some courses may cover the fundamental concepts of HVAC, such as troubleshooting issues pertaining to water chillers, thermostats, heat pumps, and compressors. Students may also learn how to work with different types of heat, including gas, oil, and electric. In addition, they may study installation of electrical wiring and controls to test for proper operation. Popular online HVAC courses may include the following:
- Commercial Environmental Systems
- Electrical Systems
- HVAC/R Installation, Maintenance, and Troubleshooting
- Residential Air Conditioning Systems
- Heat Pump Systems
- Commercial Refrigeration Systems
- HVAC/R System Design, Sizing, and Layout
Students interested in pursuing a career in HVAC may enroll in a career diploma or certificate program. The career diploma program may take just a few months to complete, and provide students with a solid foundation to start entry-level employment. The certificate program may also take several months to complete and prepare students with the industry skills and training needed to pass certification exams. Upon completion of select programs, students may qualify to sit for the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Section 608 certification exam. Successfully passing this exam may allow individuals to handle refrigerant when working with residential and commercial properties.
Job Outlook & Salary
Graduates of online HVAC programs may find career opportunities working for building contractors, hardware wholesalers, commercial and industrial machinery repair companies, and direct selling establishments. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment opportunities for those pursuing careers as heating, air conditioning, and refrigeration mechanics and installers are expected to increase by 34% from 2010-2020, which is higher than the national average. This projected increase is due to an increase in commercial and residential building construction as well as a shift to installing more energy-efficient systems. Job prospects may be better for those who have completed training at a technical or vocational school or through a formal apprenticeship. The BLS also reports that as of 2012, the median hourly rate was $20.98 and median annual salary was $43,640 for HVAC technicians.