Should You Get a Certificate or an HVAC Associate Degree?

Are you thinking about becoming an HVAC technician? You’re not alone. The field is still growing with a current 330,000 active HVAC technicians in the US. Well, the jobs are in high demand and they will be around for a long time, so now is a good time to join, but first, you need education. Let’s talk about whether you should get an HVAC certificate or an HVAC associate degree.

Qualifications For HVAC Technician

Every state has different requirements for HVAC technicians, so you will have to look at your own state’s requirements. However, every state does require licensure, and this usually comes after a certain amount of education and on-the-job experience.

It’s very difficult to land an apprenticeship without some type of education, and most states won’t even allow it. So, if you’re looking to achieve HVAC licensure, it starts with education.

First, you need to be at least 18 years of age and have the right to work in the United States.

Next, you need to enroll in some type of training program at a vocational school, community college, or elsewhere before getting an apprenticeship. You have two options for school: a certificate, or an associate’s degree.

Pros and Cons of an HVAC Certificate

If you’re looking to fast-track your way into a lucrative career that will be around for the rest of your life, then you’ve probably looked into HVAC certificate programs. Well, here are the perks and the downsides.

Pro: Get To Work Sooner

The best part about a certificate is that you can take a quick course and be ready for your HVAC apprenticeship within a year. A certificate course could take anywhere from 3 months to 2 years depending on the program, and programs vary widely.

After that, you will have your certificate, which will allow you to apply for an apprenticeship. Apprenticeships require some education in most states before you can begin, and a certificate program is the quickest way to start earning.

Also, you will still be able to advance from an apprenticeship to an HVAC technician later on after you complete your required hours (varies by state).

Con: Lower Growth Prospects

It won’t necessarily be difficult to land a job with an HVAC certificate, as the jobs are in such high demand. You’ll likely have no trouble landing an apprenticeship.

With a certificate, you could become an HVAC technician and be earning up to $50,000 in your career, but it is less likely that you will advance much further without becoming an independent contractor.

A certificate may limit you in your career growth down the line or even salary or employment status, but it will still get your foot in the door if you want to start. However, this depends heavily on the company, union, or organization for which you work, but a certificate may limit your future ambitions.

Pros and Cons of an HVAC Associate’s Degree

If you want to play it safe and secure a career in HVAC, then there’s no better way to start than with the proper education. Here’s what you need to know about HVAC associate’s degrees.

Pro: Salary & Job Prospects

An associate’s degree is the best way to prepare you for the HVAC licensure test and, more importantly, the job itself. Associate’s programs extensively cover all of the skills and knowledge of the industry, which puts you in a good position right off the bat.

With an associate’s degree in HVAC, you will have a leg-up on the competition. Skilled HVAC workers are in high demand, and with the right education and an apprenticeship, the sky is the limit. HVAC associate programs are found in every state, so there are plenty of opportunities.

The average HVAC technician salary with an associate’s degree is between $55,000 and $60,000 a year. While that is the national average, the range is even higher in certain states.

Students who obtain a degree are far more likely to achieve supervisory roles within their HVAC companies, and many HVAC supervisors earn over $80,000 a year.

Also, in the future, when you are looking for a promotion within a company, having the proper education will help. Not only will the degree help you land a career, but it will also help you hold onto and grow within that career.

Con: More School

The only downside to the associate’s degree is that it will take a little more time to earn. However, once you earn it, you have it for life.

Generally, it takes students around two years to complete these programs as full-time students. However, if you’re only able to complete 2 or 3 classes per semester, this could take as long as four years, so an associate’s degree is more of a commitment.

This doesn’t have to be a downside for everybody. Not only do some certificate programs last just as long, but there are ways to get through school without interfering with your busy schedule. Let’s talk about that.

Pro: School Can Be Done Online

If you’re looking to earn a certificate or even an HVAC associate’s degree online, you’re in luck. There are plenty of online programs to choose from and you will have no trouble landing an apprenticeship in the future. You can achieve the same degree on your own time without interfering with your busy schedule! You can always look and find programs near you and see if you can enroll! It could be the best decision of your life!