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Heating, Vent, A/C, and Refrigeration

A student working on an HVAC unit as instructor supervises.

Department: Heating, Vent, A/C, and Refrigeration

Program Type: Manufacturing

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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. In this field, well-trained professional technicians 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 with industry experience. 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.

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. On average, there are an estimated 40,100 job openings each year 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.


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.

Associate of Applied Science

Vocational Certificates

Basic Vocational Certificates

What career opportunities are available in HVAC?

Career opportunities in HVAC include HVAC technician, HVAC installer, HVAC maintenance technician, refrigeration technician, and HVAC sales representative. Studying at ECC gives you the necessary skills and knowledge to work in the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning industry.

What do HVAC Technicians do?

Heating, air conditioning, and refrigeration mechanics and installers (HVACR technicians) work on heating, ventilation, cooling, and refrigeration systems that control building temperature and air quality. 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 storing and transporting food, medicine, and other perishable items possible.

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

HVACR technicians specialize in one or more 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. A boilermaker sometimes installs boiler systems.

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 before being hired.

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

High school students should take vocational education, math, and physics courses. 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, including:

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

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 April 26, 2023).

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, and presses, forming rolls to cut, bend, block, and form or straighten materials are expected to decrease -1 percent in the next 10 years. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Sheet Metal Workers (accessed April 26, 2023).

See details about the salary and local job opportunities for a commercial HVAC duct systems career, fabricating or installing galvanized steel, copper, and stainless steel on 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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HVAC Program

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Heating, Vent, A/C, and Refrigeration