HVAC professionals are always in demand. To establish oneself as an HVAC technician and stand out from the competition, getting certified with one of the best online HVAC certification programs is an essential first step. These courses start students on their certification journey by providing critical education and strengthening skills so students can establish themselves as trusted experts. HVAC certification programs typically take 6 months to a couple of years to complete and can be an excellent supplement to on-the-job training. For those wondering what is the best online HVAC school to enroll in, keep reading to learn the answer and some crucial information to keep in mind when considering online HVAC certification.
- BEST OVERALL: University of North Dakota
- RUNNER-UP: Penn Foster Career School
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Ashworth College
- BEST CONTINUING EDUCATION: ASHRAE
What to Consider When Choosing One of the Best Online HVAC Certification Programs
Choosing the best online HVAC certification program is not simply a matter of choosing the cheapest option or the class with the shortest completion time. Students will want to find an accredited institution that offers a high quality of education in the class format, length, and price range that works best for them. Students will also want to ensure the program prepares them for any licensing and certification exams.
Class Format and Course Length
To choose the ideal program, students will want to consider how long a course will take to complete and the format in which it is taught. For example, some online schools offer live instructor-led sessions, while others provide self-paced lessons that allow students to log in and complete the course on their schedule. Different methods of instruction are more effective for specific students, so it’s essential to find a suitable class format.
Classes can range from a couple of months to about a year, depending on the class format and how quickly the student goes through each lesson.
Cost and Financing
When choosing from online schools for HVAC, the cost will play a significant factor in the decision. Depending on what a student is looking to get out of the school, an online certification program could cost between $800 to $3,000. However, resources such as textbooks and vouchers for taking certification exams are included in the tuition price for some programs. It’s also important to remember that online courses will typically be much less expensive than in-person ones: HVAC trade school could run as much as $15,000.
Some schools offer financing so students can enroll and pay for the course on a schedule instead of making a lump-sum payment at the beginning of the class. Many HVAC professionals find that they can quickly make back the money spent on these courses. As technicians elevate their careers as professionals, they can charge more for services as a result of their advanced knowledge and experience in the industry.
Certification and Licensing Preparation
Before choosing a school for HVAC certification, students should be aware that they will not automatically receive a license or certificate when they complete these courses. Instead, the course prepares students for the certification and licensing process. In most states, the fee for a license is around $100 to $300 for the initial license, followed by a $50 to $150 renewal fee per year. States individually regulate what kind of licensing and certifications HVAC technicians require. When choosing the best online HVAC training program, students should compare the program to their state’s requirements to ensure it will be relevant to their needs.
However, HVAC technicians must obtain standardized nationwide certification to work with air- conditioning installation, commercial refrigeration, and climate control systems. The EPA Section 608 Technician Certification authorizes HVAC service providers to work with refrigerants. The best online HVAC programs will prepare students for this exam, and many will provide an exam voucher as part of the student’s tuition. Students can also boost their credentials by obtaining certifications from organizations such as North American Technician Excellence (NATE).
Finding the best online HVAC school requires looking at the school’s accreditation. Students should seek programs accredited by a third party. This signifies the school’s curriculum has been evaluated by an outside organization that finds it meets educational standards. Accredited schools must also uphold accreditation, so students can trust that classes from accredited institutions are consistently updated. The Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC) is a common accrediting body for online programs. International Accreditors for Continuing Education and Training (IACET) is another accrediting body students may see, particularly for institutions that offer continuing education credits.
Our Top Picks
The best online HVAC programs will differ based on each student’s ideal learning method, financial situation, and state requirements. To ensure we offer the top choices for HVAC certification programs, we thoroughly reviewed each program and considered many factors to showcase only the best options. Below are our top picks for the best HVAC certification programs.
Why It Made the Cut: The University of North Dakota offers a comprehensive course for students of any level, with an abundance of perks and student assistance in a self-paced learning environment.
Students looking to learn the ins and outs of HVAC online will want to consider the University of North Dakota’s self-paced program. Students receive both the physical and PDF version of the textbook for access wherever they go—a perk that generally requires students to pay an additional fee or isn’t offered at all, particularly for online schools. In addition, students receive vouchers for both the EPA Section 608 Technician Certification and the HVAC Excellence Employment Ready Certificate. Although the latter certification isn’t required, it’s a beneficial certification that signifies a higher level of competency in the field to clients and potential employers.
Those with any level of experience can enroll at the University of North Dakota. Students with no experience will benefit from the HVAC/R Technician course, while those with one or more years of experience can apply for the HVAC/R Certified Technician course. The latter allows students to sit for a higher level of the HVAC Excellence certification. While the University of North Dakota’s cost is on the high end, the school offers tuition support through government-subsidized assistance.
- Class format: Self-paced
- Course length: 12 months
- Cost: $2,895
- School accreditation: Higher Learning Commission
- Programs for students of all levels, from entry-level to experienced
- Tuition covers the cost of both the physical and PDF versions of the textbook
- Tuition covers vouchers for HVAC Excellence Employment Ready Certificate and EPA
- Section 608 Technician Certification exams
- Additional tuition assistance available through government and military funding
Why It Made the Cut: Penn Foster Career School offers a self-paced course that students typically complete in a few months—meaning they can get started in their careers faster.
Penn Foster Career School offers a self-paced program that is accredited by three accrediting bodies: DEAC, IACET, and Middle States Association Commissions on Elementary and Secondary Schools (MSA-CESS). These three accreditations help ensure education quality at Penn Foster, as the school and its programs are under more scrutiny and monitoring.
The website’s FAQ section is somewhat limited—it mainly covers the HVAC career path rather than the school’s HVAC program, so prospective students may need to contact student support with any questions. However, the school offers thorough, comprehensive, interactive learning materials, making the course easier to grasp and more engaging for students. Those enrolled also have access to resources such as digital study guides, presentations and animations, and simulations and videos for expanding learning.
The program costs just over $1,000, and Penn Foster offers three flexible payment options (full up-front payment, monthly online payments, and monthly mail-in payments) to ensure students in any financial situation can enroll.
- Class format: Self-paced
- Course length: 6 to 9 months
- Cost: $1,089
- School accreditation: DEAC, MSA-CESS, IACET
- Comprehensive, interactive learning materials
- Accredited by DEAC, MSA-CESS, and IACET
- Three flexible tuition payment options
- FAQ section is somewhat limited
Why It Made the Cut: Ashworth College’s affordable price, self-paced course, and continued access to learning materials after course completion make it a great value for the money.
Ashworth College’s HVAC certification program allows students to develop skills on a schedule that works for them. Students who pay the total tuition payment up front can receive a discount, which is excellent for those looking to save on schooling costs in the long run. The course is listed as $1,089, but students who opt for the up-front payment can pay as little as $799. Students may want to consider watching the prices for a few weeks before enrolling to ensure they get the best deal.
While Ashworth College provides students with an array of supplemental materials, some students have reported difficulty communicating with the school’s customer service. The cost of tuition grants students access to resources during and after course completion, including Ashworth College Central Network, a network of professionals and teachers who can help students find a job, prepare for the field with cover letters and resume writing, and build soft skills. Students also get access to ProQuest during the course, which is an online repository of academic studies that can help students enhance their learning.
- Class format: Self-paced
- Course length: 12-month maximum
- Cost: $799 to $1,089
- School accreditation: DEAC
- Discounted price available for full up-front tuition payment
- Continued access to Ashworth College Central Network after course completion
- Tuition covers ProQuest digital access
- Reports of customer support being difficult to communicate with
Why It Made the Cut: HVAC technicians looking to continue their education and find ways to stand out from the crowd will want to consider ASHRAE’s specialized classes.
Although ASHRAE doesn’t offer courses for entry-level students, established professionals looking to continue their education or work on a specific skill will find this professional HVAC association’s courses highly beneficial. ASHRAE’s stand-alone classes focus on particular topics about the HVAC field and are an excellent way for professionals to distinguish themselves among competitors while becoming more knowledgeable within their industry.
The school offers various class formats, such as self-paced and live instructor-led training sessions. The latter delivers an opportunity for students to have discussions with students and have questions answered in real time, and classes can be 1- to 6-hour blocks. ASHRAE members can also benefit from discounted rates on classes.
- Class format: Self-paced; live instructor-led training sessions
- Course length: Varies by class
- Cost: $42 to $60 per class; $99 to $495 for instructor-led training
- School accreditation: N/A
- Classes focus on continuing education and professional development
- Live instructor-led training courses offered
- Discounts available for ASHRAE members
- No class options for entry-level students
We recommend the University of North Dakota as the best online HVAC school for its comprehensive materials and courses, as well as its tuition options for students with little to no experience in the field. For those looking for a more affordable program, we recommend Penn Foster Career School for its self-paced, affordable classes that can be completed within 9 months.
How We Chose the Best Online HVAC Certification Programs
When researching HVAC online schools, we took many considerations into account to select the best programs. Our primary focus when looking at HVAC online degrees was to choose the programs that would cater to different students’ learning styles and needs. Throughout our extensive research, we also looked for affordable programs that had tuition programs or payment plans. Though prices vary among our top choices, the selected programs give students the best value for their money
School accreditation was another essential factor we looked into. For clients and customers to have confidence in their HVAC repair provider, they need to know the professional has met certain levels of quality and compliance. Many of our top schools are accredited by the appropriate agencies to ensure customer trust and to provide the highest-quality and most up-to-date resources for HVAC service providers.
Before You Enroll in One of the Best HVAC Certification Programs
The HVAC career may not be for everyone. Technicians work in all conditions, including outdoors and in tight or hot places. While HVAC professionals typically work full-time weekday hours, it is not unusual for them to work nights and weekends. During peak heating and cooling seasons, technicians are expected to work longer hours to fulfill demand.
Those who install and maintain HVAC systems need to be tech savvy as well. While some of the programs listed accept those with no prior HVAC experience, a prospective student should be technically proficient and have strong attention to detail. HVAC technicians must also be flexible and able to solve problems in different situations quickly.
Cost of Enrolling in One of the Best Online HVAC Certification Programs
The cost of enrolling in one of the best online HVAC certification programs depends on several factors. Enrolling in an in-person HVAC trade school can cost between $1,500 and $15,000; comparatively, a complete beginner-level online HVAC certification can cost as little as $799. Select programs may offer tuition reimbursement upon completion of a certification program for students who work for specific companies. Other programs may provide financing to avoid the burden of paying one large sum of money up front.
The Advantages of Enrolling in One of the Best Online HVAC Certification Programs
There are many benefits to enrolling in one of the best online HVAC certification programs. A significant one is the time it takes to complete training and become certified. Many careers, at minimum, require a bachelor’s degree. Schools for HVAC take less than a year to complete, letting technicians enter the field more quickly.
As many buildings and homes are heated and cooled by an HVAC system, there’s always available work for qualified technicians. HVAC systems will always need to be serviced, installed, and replaced. Technicians who are busy enough can also choose if they work indoors or outdoors, depending on their preference.
The most proficient and successful HVAC technicians can quickly elevate their careers. Technicians who get additional training and specialized certifications can offer more services to their clients. An experienced technician can go on to manage their company’s operations or start their own businesses.
The top advantages of enrolling in one of the best HVAC certification programs include:
- Quick training time
- Consistent and active work
- Career advancement
Prospective HVAC students and homeowners looking to hire technicians often have many questions about the profession and its certification programs. Here are some of the most common questions on HVAC technicians and online certification programs.
Q. What does an HVAC technician do?
An HVAC technician’s responsibilities vary based on the job they’re called in for. Primarily, HVAC professionals maintain and fix heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems through various services. These services include testing pipes and electrical circuits, changing filters, and connecting equipment to other sources.
Q. Where do HVAC technicians work?
HVAC technicians primarily work in schools, homes, hospitals, and office buildings. Depending on the building’s layout and system, a technician may work indoors and outdoors.
Q. Are there many women working in HVAC?
According to Air Conditioning Contractors of America, female HVAC technicians only make up about 9 percent of the HVAC industry.
Q. How long does it take to become an HVAC technician?
The time it takes to become a technician depends on the program and the student’s schedule. The time could range from a few months to a few years. Attaining the level of experience required to run one of the best air duct cleaning services or best HVAC companies could take years of professional experience.
Q. Can I become an HVAC technician without going to HVAC school?
Federal law does not require a person to attend HVAC school before they can work on systems. However, many states have their own training laws, and students in the United States must pass the EPA Section 608 Technician Certification to work with refrigerants. Additionally, clients are more likely to trust and hire a professional who has received training.
Q: Are there certification exams for HVAC technicians?
Requirements for certification exams vary by state; however, all HVAC technicians must pass the EPA Section 608 Technician Certification.
Q. How many hours do I need to devote to an online HVAC certification program to become a licensed technician?
The specific number of required hours depends on the program in which a person is enrolled. A professional can expect to dedicate 9 to 10 months in training.