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Valerie Brown at work Women in Trades Women in Industry and Technology
Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning & Refrigeration (HVACR) Program
Valerie Brown

"As a woman I can do anything I put my mind to. Finishing something that I started and getting my degree has given me confidence; it has put a little pep in my step!"
Read Valerie Brown's story.

Approx. Starting
$15 - $28 per hour for graduates with A.S. degree; at the high end, graduates in starting positions at ABM Engineering, a facilities maintenance company, earn $28 per hour. Graduates with certificates earn $8 - $15 per hour.
Average Salary: Experienced workers earn $25 - $60 per hour, depending on skill level and experience.
Average Wage
at Placement:
$15 per hour
Placement Rate:98% of students are placed. Students have been recruited right from school and sometimes work while continuing their classes part-time. The HVACR program at El Camino works with a wide variety of companies to ensure that students are placed in jobs.
Labor Market:Demand for workers is high due to the need for more efficient energy management, use of air conditioning in most buildings, and extensive use of computers and technology. Many experienced workers are retiring, opening up additional jobs. Nationally, there is a labor shortage of 100,000 workers in this field.
Career Information

"There's no reason why women can't do this job. I did the job for 25 years, and I don't think there's anything out there that I did that a woman can't do. This industry needs to focus more on women, because they're a market that is untouched, and we need to bring them in. Anybody who I want to get out into the field [in a job] I can get out there, [placing students] is not a problem. Our industry has a shortage of over 100,000 technicians in the United States right now, and it gets worse every year. One of the ways that will help us solve it is to invite women into the program. That idea [that a woman can't fix something] is crazy, and has got to change. They can do it too. We need them."
Vic Cafarchia, Professor, HVACR Program, El Camino College

Career Path: Graduates enter the Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning and Refrigeration (HVACR) field in entry level positions. With more experience, workers can advance to jobs such as estimator, sales engineer, electrical appliance service technician, building maintenance person, boiler repair person, mechanic, installer, and HVACR service technician. In larger companies, workers often receive ongoing training supplied by their employers, which helps them advance to higher level positions.

Nature of the Work: Much of the work in HVACR is technical and mechanical. Positions include repair of consumer appliances, repair and maintenance of industrial equipment used to heat, ventilate, and air condition buildings, managing energy utilization, and maintenance of aircraft cooling systems. Many positions require hands-on mechanical repairs. Other positions, such as working in controls or energy management, require working with computerized systems. The work may also require knowledge of plumbing, electrical, and construction work. Some workers trained in HVACR are also hired into sales and estimating positions.

Work Environment: Work environments are varied. HVACR consumer repair technicians do repairs in homes, working from a truck or van that contains the required tools. Building maintenance workers commonly work outside on roofs, in basements, and in other building equipment rooms where heating and cooling equipment (such as chillers and boilers) is maintained. Aircraft technicians work at airports. Some positions are located in retail showrooms or at a computer in an office environment.

Specific Jobs Available to Graduates: Graduates with an A.S. degree enter the HVACR industry in entry level jobs in sales, refrigeration service, air conditioning service, counter sales, energy management, control programming, and controls technician.

Graduates of a certificate program can expect to find entry-level work as a maintenance engineer or filter changer. The higher the certification or degree, the higher the starting salary.

Industries Employing Graduates of this Program: Graduates of HVACR programs can find work in a wide variety of industries, including state, local, and federal governments, schools, airports, hospitals, airlines, retail sales, and corporations.

El Camino College works directly with many companies, through an HVACR advisory board and the Women in Industry and Technology (WIT) advisory board. The HVACR board advises El Camino on industry requirements. Involved companies include C & L, ACCO, Northrup Grumman, Carrier, Trane, Honeywell, Source Refrigeration, ABM Engineering, and Emcor, among others.

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Course Information

Course Description: The Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning & Refrigeration (HVACR) program provides both an A.S. degree and multiple certificate programs in specific niche areas.

Upon completion of the degree or certificate requirements, graduates gain proficiency in service, troubleshooting, and installation of residential, commercial, and industrial heating, air conditioning, and refrigeration systems.

Courses include:

  • Electrical Applications
  • Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Control Systems
  • Uniform Mechanical Code - Residential and Light Commercial
  • Uniform Mechanical Code - Commercial and Industrial Applications
  • Air Conditioning Fundamentals
  • Basic Refrigeration
  • Commercial Refrigeration Applications
  • Residential Air Conditioning
  • Heating Technologies
  • Electric Controls
  • HVACR Electronics
  • Fundamentals of Pneumatic Controls
  • HVACR Customer Service
  • Special Topics in Air Conditioning and Refrigeration
  • Cooperative Career Education (program for working and attending school at the same time in a job related to the major or career goal, or alternating work and school courses)
  • Independent study

Prerequisites: There are no specific prerequisites for this program, although basic computer skills are recommended.

Hours Offered: Courses are offered during both daytime and evening hours. Class schedules vary by semester.

Length of Program: The A.S. Degree program in Air Conditioning and Refrigeration takes 2 to 2-1/2 years to complete. The program requires 38 units in HVACR courses, plus general education requirements to total 60 units. Some students spread their coursework over a longer period if family or work obligations prevent them from attending school full-time.

There are several certificate programs of varying lengths in HVACR. The full Certificate of Achievement requires 38 units and can be completed in 1-1/2 years. Other certificates directed toward specific specialty areas such as Air Conditioning, Refrigeration, or Air Conditioning and Refrigeration Electric Controls require from 13 to 17 units, and can be completed in two semesters.

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Tutoring is available for women in the Electronics program through the Women in Technology (WIT) program.

For additional tutoring services, view a list of on-campus specialized tutoring services, visit the Learning Resources Center or view the tutoring schedule for a variety of classes.


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A little preparation will help make your days in the classroom go more smoothly. Visit the CalWomenTech Learning Library to find software and other tools to advance your math, spatial reasoning skills and much more. Learn about El Camino College's Tutoring Resources to find out how tutoring can help.

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