Complete Guide to Online HVAC Certification
Online heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (commonly referred to as HVAC) certificates are available at a variety of schools. These programs discuss topics like energy management systems, ductwork, piping, HVAC design, LEED energy efficiency, and indoor air quality. Students learn how to design HVAC systems for residential and commercial buildings and how to troubleshoot existing HVAC issues. Most online HVAC programs require students to visit campus in order to participate in hands-on practicums. Graduates of the HVAC program can gain employment with building equipment contractors, hardware and plumbing wholesalers, and commercial equipment repair services.
Prospective HVAC degree students are advised to enroll in a program at an accredited school. Though there is no specific programmatic accrediting agency for the HVAC profession, attending an school that has received institutional accreditation will help ensure that you receive a high-quality education that will be valued by future employers.
Comprehensive List of Online Schools for HVAC Certificates
|Full List||Accreditation||Annual Tuition||Recommend Rate|
|Full List (4)|
|Penn Foster College||DEAC||Not Provided||59% (229 reviews)|
|Penn Foster Career School||DEAC||Not Provided||46% (160 reviews)|
|Pinnacle Career Institute Online||ACCSC||$18,115||27% (15 reviews)|
|University of California - Berkeley||WSCUC||$44,007||75% (4 reviews)|
Online HVAC Certificate Programs
A certificate is the most common entry point to the HVAC industry. You'll find most options at community colleges, technical colleges, and vocational schools, but some four-year colleges also offer online HVAC programs. Some schools refer to their programs as "HVACR" because they include training on commercial refrigeration systems.
You should consider only schools that are either regionally or nationally accredited because accreditation can help ensure the quality of your HVAC education. States that require licensure to work in HVAC typically insist that applicants hold a certificate from an accredited school.
Program Outcomes and Curriculum
The goal of a certificate program is the same whether you study online or in person: Learn the knowledge and skills you need for HVAC installation and repair. Ultimately, instructors hope to prepare you to pass a certification exam — see HVAC Certifications below.
You'll get lessons on installing, testing, troubleshooting, and repairing ducts, pipes, and electronic systems. Below are a few of the common courses you might encounter in an online program:
Program Length and Format
Most online HVAC certificates take 9-10 months to complete. You may be able to enroll in a six-month fast-track program.
Online programs can take several forms:
Classes might be asynchronous, with weekly assignments but no set meeting times. In this case, you log in to a learning management system to watch lectures and demonstrations, respond to discussion questions, and take exams.
Courses may be self-paced, meaning that you can work your way through all lectures, content, and tests on your own time as long as you finish by a set deadline.
The coursework could be online but supplemented with live lectures over a video conferencing application.
The HVAC trade requires hands-on mechanical work, so even online programs will have a live component. During these sessions, instructors observe you troubleshooting and repairing various kinds of HVAC or refrigeration systems. The frequency of live sessions differs by program.
Are you unsure about pursuing an HVAC program? Check out our Complete Guide to Online Vocational Schools & Programs to explore other options.
As HVAC systems become more technically complex, employers seek professionals with proven experience and up-to-date skills. An HVAC certification may help you demonstrate those skills to potential employers.
What Is HVAC Certification?
Certifications aren't always required for employment, but some employers may prefer candidates who hold certain credentials.
What Are the Different Types of HVAC Certifications?
Many organizations offer certifications to technicians who want to signal their competence in either general HVAC service or a narrow subject area. We name a few of these organizations below, though this list is not exhaustive. Available offerings range from entry-level credentials to certifications for experienced professionals.
Which Certification Is Best for HVAC?
This tends to vary by employer, so there isn't necessarily one "best" certification. But NATE's CHP-5 is one of the most commonly held credentials nationwide, and the EPA's Section 608 Technician Certifications are required if you work with any type of refrigeration.
How Much Does HVAC Certification Cost?
Costs vary by organization. The basic NATE certification exam costs $50, and official study guides are $20. The EPA authorizes several dozen firms to provide its certification tests, and each company charges a different amount.
Note that some certificate programs include the cost of a certification exam in their tuition. This is usually the case for programs that are designed to prepare students for particular certifications.
What Can You Do With an HVAC Certificate?
HVAC certificate programs are narrowly geared toward producing HVAC service technicians, which the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) calls HVAC mechanics and installers. The median annual salary for this occupation is $48,630.