Heating, Vent, A/C, and Refrigeration

Overview

The Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning, and Refrigeration (HVACR) program will prepare you to pursue a well-paid career in an industry where there is a high demand for skilled labor as an HVAC Tech. The well-trained women and men in this field install, service, and maintain HVACR equipment to maximize indoor comfort while minimizing energy use.

As a student at Elgin Community College’s HVACR program, you will gain practical skills and knowledge from seasoned faculty who have many years of experience in the industry. Modern, well-equipped labs feature state-of-the-art equipment, including heat pumps and roof-top units, so you can experience working on existing systems that you will encounter as a working professional doing the installation and repair tasks.

Get additional information, including course listings and class descriptions.

Planning to Transfer? Learn more about earning a Bachelor’s degree, earning summer credits for transfer, or dual admissions with a university by visiting University Transfer & Partnerships.

Prepare for Immediate Employment

The future employment outlook for Heating, Air Conditioning, and Refrigeration (HVACR) is positive. Growth is attributed to increasing demand for HVACR services in new construction projects and the need to replace and maintain existing systems. Additionally, the growing emphasis on energy efficiency and environmental sustainability is expected to drive demand for HVACR technicians who can install and maintain energy-efficient systems. There are an estimated 40,100 job openings each year, on average, over the next decade.

Overall, the HVACR industry is expected to have a strong job market in the coming years, providing plenty of opportunities for those interested in pursuing a career in this field. Refer to Career Coach for more information regarding similar occupations and compensation.

Median Pay Rates

Plan of Study and Course Descriptions

Review the ECC catalog for details about the Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning, and Refrigeration plan of study and course descriptions.

Associates of Applied Science

Vocational Certificates

Basic Vocational Certificates

What is an HVAC Technician?


Heating, air conditioning, and refrigeration mechanics and installers (HVACR technicians) work on heating, ventilation, cooling, and refrigeration systems that control temperature and air quality in buildings. Heating, air conditioning, and refrigeration mechanics and installers typically do the following:

  • Install, clean, and maintain HVACR systems
  • Install electrical components and wiring
  • Inspect and test HVACR systems and components
  • Discuss system malfunctions with customers
  • Repair or replace worn or defective parts
  • Recommend maintenance to improve system performance
  • Keep records of work performed

Heating and air conditioning systems control the temperature, humidity, and overall air quality in homes, businesses, and other buildings. By providing a climate-controlled environment, refrigeration systems make it possible to store and transport food, medicine, and other perishable items.

When installing or repairing air conditioning and refrigeration systems, technicians follow government regulations regarding the conservation, recovery, and recycling of refrigerants. The regulations include the proper handling and disposal of fluids and pressurized gases.

HVACR technicians specialize in one or more specific aspects of HVACR, such as radiant heating systems, solar panels, testing, and balancing, or commercial refrigeration. They also maintain heating and cooling systems through services that include system inspection, duct cleaning, filter replacement, and checking refrigerant levels.

Related professions include sheet metal workers, electrical work by electricians, and pipework by plumbers, pipefitters, and steamfitters. Boiler systems are sometimes installed by a boilermaker.

How to become an HVAC Technician?


Because HVACR systems have become increasingly complex, employers generally prefer applicants with postsecondary education or those who have completed an apprenticeship. Some states and localities may require technicians to be licensed. Workers may need to pass a background check prior to being hired.

Many HVACR technicians receive postsecondary instruction from technical and trade schools or community colleges that offer programs in heating, air conditioning, and refrigeration. These programs generally last from 6 months to 2 years and lead to a certificate or an associate’s degree.

High school students should take courses in vocational education, math, and physics. Knowledge of plumbing or electrical work and a basic understanding of electronics is also helpful.

Some technicians receive their training through an apprenticeship lasting 3 to 5 years. Several groups, including unions and contractor associations, sponsor apprenticeship programs.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requires all technicians who buy, handle or work with refrigerants to be certified in proper refrigerant handling. Many trade schools, unions, and employer associations offer training programs designed to prepare students for the HVACR requirements include:

  • Customer-service skills
  • Detail oriented
  • Math skills
  • Mechanical skills
  • Physical stamina
  • Physical strength
  • Time-management skills
  • Troubleshooting skills

Refer to Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning, and Refrigeration for more information.

Getting a Job as an HVAC/R Technician


If you’re interested in a career as an HVAC mechanic troubleshooting, diagnosing, servicing, repairing, and performing maintenance on heating and cooling systems, you’ll enjoy a career in a growing field. The U.S. Department of Labor estimates that this profession will grow by 5 percent by 2030 according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Heating, Air Conditioning, and Refrigeration Mechanics and Installers (accessed December 22, 2021).

ECC’s program prepares you to take the EPA 608 Technician Certification exam. See details about the salary and local job opportunities for HVAC Engineers, HVAC Installers, Automotive HVAC Technicians, and other career options with this degree or certificate on the ECC Career Coach site.

Is Being a Sheet Metal Worker a Good Career?


The U.S. Department of Labor estimates that sheet metal fabricators operating fabricating machines such as shears, brakes, presses, forming rolls to cut, bend, block, and form or straighten materials are expected to grow 4 percent in the next 10 years. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Sheet Metal Workers (accessed December 22, 2021).

See details about the salary and local job opportunities for a career in commercial HVAC duct systems, fabricating or installing galvanized steel, copper, and stainless steel ion the ECC Career Coach site

Learn more about how hands-on training at ECC can prepare you for a career in the HVAC industry!

Earning an AAS degree or certificate at Elgin Community College can set your career in motion.

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