There are many reasons that people go to college. Some go to college to gain exposure to a wide range of ideas and people, to become well-rounded individuals with a liberal arts degree. Others go to college to have a communal experience and to meet students from around the world.
But no matter what their reason for going, everyone who attends college wants the same thing when they leave: a good job.
HVAC (Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning, with sometimes an “R” added for “Refrigeration”) is one of the most stable and in-demand jobs available. More and more, people have come to rely on their heating and cooling units, both in businesses and in their personal homes. When one of these systems break, it causes severe discomfort.
For that reason, there will always be a demand for qualified HVAC technicians, trained professionals who understand the ins and outs of complicated machinery and can make it better again.
But where does one get that training? There are many options, but the most efficient choice is attending an HVAC program offered by colleges worldwide.
This list covers some of the best HVAC programs in the United States. Because there is no one-size-fits-all option, we have not ranked the list. Some of the programs below offer only certifications, others offer two-year associate’s degrees, while two offer full four-year bachelor’s degrees.
Some of these programs are face-to-face only, while others are online or and hybrid.
No matter what avenue you plan to take toward a career in HVAC, this list is the best place to start.
University of North Dakota (Grand Forks, ND)
The fully online HVAC program at the University of North Dakota allows students to earn their NATE or HVAC Excellence certification in less than a year. Conducted entirely through course videos and asynchronous classes, students can begin the program at any time without having to wait for when the traditional semester starts.
Even better, students can take the classes on their own time, without having to interrupt their work schedules.
The course instructor is Mike Baker, who has over ten years of experience teaching the subject. Before becoming an instructor, Baker worked as an HVAC technician for several decades, earning several certifications, including HVAC Excellence, Green Mechanical Council, and more.
Under Baker’s instruction, students learn the key subjects of the trade. Courses include electrical motors, all-weather systems, and other HVAC essentials.
Penn Foster College (Scottsdale, AZ)
With its online HVAC program, Penn Foster College lets professionals get their certifications on their own time. In only five months, students can gain their EPA certification, allowing them to pursue a greater number of jobs.
In the program, students gain their abilities over the course of eight classes. These classes cover everything from the fundamentals of HVACR to commercial registration systems.
Employing state-of-the-art distance learning systems, the HVACR program provides easy-to-understand lessons. The lessons combine fundamental concepts with practical instruction, helping students immediately apply what they’ve learned.
At the end of the program, Penn Foster gives students a voucher to take their certification test, along with a guide to help test-takers best succeed.
With certification from Penn Foster, students are ready to move onto careers as HVAC technicians, refrigeration mechanics, and more.
Ashworth College (Norcross, GA)
Upon finishing the career diploma program in heating and air conditioning at Ashworth College, students graduate with a voucher for taking their EPA Section 608 Certification, a digital textbook covering the fundamentals of HVAC/R, and online access to all the lessons in the program.
But, even better, they leave with connections to a community of students and graduates, connections that can lead to a lifetime of networking and education opportunities.
As an online program, the HVAC diploma track at Ashworth puts the student first. According to their schedule, Ashworth lets students advance their education while still working full time with classes that they can take on their own time.
Even better, Ashworth provides this training at a surprisingly affordable price. The entire program can be paid in one installment of $629, or in monthly installments of $55 each. For those who need it, Ashworth also offers financial aid.
Ferris State University (Big Rapids, MI)
Thanks to its fully accredited status and its remarkable resources, the HVAC School at Ferris State University is considered to be one of the best in the nation.
Where most of the schools on this list focus on certifications for working professionals, Ferris State has a complete set of offerings.
The school’s associate’s degree program focuses on the industry to provide students with the training they need to enter the field immediately. Combining classroom instruction and laboratory practice, the associate’s program gives students everything they need to become HVAC professionals, regardless of prior experience.
Ferris State is also one of only two institutions in the nation to offer a bachelor’s degree in HVAC. A fully-featured liberal arts degree, an HVAC BA not only gives students everything they need to become heating and cooling professionals, but also provides them with a well-rounded education. As a result, students with an HVAC degree become highly sought-after in several technical fields.
Excelsior College (Albany, NY)
If you want to be successful as an HVAC professional, you need to have a work-ready certificate. This certificate shows employers that you have the technical knowledge and skills required to install and repair complicated machinery.
At Excelsior College, a work-ready certificate is the focus of their HVAC/R Technician program. The program gives students everything they need to earn the certificate, including a waiver for state testing. With certification, students can then work under a licensed professional to become master technicians.
Fully online and taught by an instructor with decades of hands-on experience installing and repairing systems, Excelsior’s HVAC/R program lets students get the training they need as quickly as possible. Students learn about safety protocols, machinery essentials, and more.
With impressive support and clear lesson plans, Excelsior College is an excellent pick for HVAC professionals across the country.
Northern Michigan University (Marquette, MI)
To be successful, every HVACR professional needs to understand the technical functions of the equipment. Students at Northern Michigan University have two options for getting that training.
The school’s HVACR technology certificate program can be completed in two years. While earning the 44 credits required for certification, students work with experienced specialists. They learn the techniques needed to create comfortable and energy-efficient environments for a variety of industries.
For those who want more advanced training, NMU offers a two-year associate’s degree in applied science. This rigorous track involves all the specialized courses taken in the certification track and liberal arts classes.
Through this option, students gain a greater level of education, allowing them to not only go straight into the field but also continue on to a bachelor’s degree while working as an HVACR professional.
Oklahoma State University Institute of Technology (Okmulgee, Oklahoma)
At Oklahoma State University’s Institute of Technology, the air conditioning and refrigeration degree gives students everything they need to become professionals. Taught by certified technicians with decades of experience, OSU’s program provides students with first-class expertise in installing, maintaining, and repairing even the most complex heating and cooling systems.
But OSU doesn’t limit its teaching to the classroom. Instead, every student is required to participate in an internship program. The school places each student into a partnership with working professionals, letting them gain hands-on experience working on equipment.
Furthermore, OSU allows students to receive credit for prior learning, encouraging them to bring their expertise to the process. By bringing out the best in their students, OSU fosters a vibrant learning community in which collaboration and cooperation lead to success.
Benjamin Franklin Institute of Technology (Boston, MA)
Students who become HVACR technicians know that they need specialized training. But they don’t want to waste time sitting in classrooms when there’s work to be done.
That’s why the Benjamin Franklin Institute of Technology gets right down to business. Their certificate program completes 800 hours in 8-months, giving students everything they need and letting them get out into the field. With plenty of evening and day class options, students can plan a schedule that best fits their needs.
Even better, the Institute knows that college can be expensive. They help out their students with their unique MentorWorks initiative. This option allows students to hold off on paying for tuition until they start earning money in their careers.
UC Berkeley Extension (Berkeley, CA)
UC Berkeley has long been known as one of the nation’s best universities. So, there’s no surprise that its continuing education extension is equally excellent.
Using a curriculum of carefully designed lessons, the certificate program in HVAC focuses on the fundamentals. Students in the program gain all the technical and scientific knowledge they’ll need to install, repair, and even design HVAC systems.
That preparation includes accomplishment certification from the Golden Gate Chapter of the most important professional organization in the industry, the American Society for Heating, Refrigeration and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE).
There are many ways of measuring the program’s success, but none better than testimonials from its alumni. HVAC certificate graduate Gordon Ludwick was able to move past his job as a stationary engineer into a more satisfying career as an HVAC technician. Thanks to the school’s rigorous program and student-friendly scheduling options, Ludwick could transition into his new role without losing time or money on his day job.
University of Northern Ohio (Lima, OH)
Located in the heart of the Rust Belt, the University of Northern Ohio is the ideal home for a degree in HVAC/R technologies. UNO offers two distinct tracks for students seeking to expand their skills, thereby giving them options that fit their scheduling needs.
The two-year associate’s degree gives students the certification required to become an HVACR technician, while the four-year bachelor’s degree adds a full liberal-arts education.
No matter which track they choose, students will leave the program with hands-on knowledge of HVAC/R and with an understanding of the laws regulating the industry. Students are ready to take their skills into the field, immediately become employable experts.
UNO ensures student success with classes capped at 20 students and with an emphasis on hands-on training. 70% of students’ time is spent actually working on HVAC/R units, under the supervision of experienced professionals.