How to Choose the Right Heating and Cooling Training Class near Alamo California
Now that you have come to a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioning specialist, the next action is to look for an HVAC vocational school near Alamo CA. But with so many to select from, how do you pick the best one to receive the training that you require? Some potential students will make their selection based entirely on the price of tuition or how close the school is to their residence. Even though these are necessary considerations, they are not the only ones to investigate. Just some of the other things that you need to look into are the graduation completion rates of the HVAC schools, their reputations, and if they are accredited by professional trade organizations. These and additional benchmarks will be addressed in more detail later in this article. But before we tackle how to pick an HVAC technical school, let’s look at what a heating and a/c technician does to become a licensed qualified tradesman.
Becoming an HVAC Tech
HVAC is an acronym that is extensively used in the business that stands for “Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning”. HVAC technicians provide services for the installation, repair and maintenance of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are generally required to be licensed, although each state and regional municipality has its own requirements. Acquiring professional certification is not mandatory, but an alternative means for Alamo CA HVAC specialists to demonstrate that they are exceptionally proficient and accomplished in their area of expertise. There are a number of respected certifications within the trade that are offered. Here are a few of the important ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally recognized certification for HVAC techs. The certification is achieved by passing a proficiency examination and may be received in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification makes available both a professional and a master specialist credential. Two years of field experience in addition to passing a comprehensive examination are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have 3 years of experience in addition to a passing score on the professional level examination. Similar to NATE, certifications are made available in multiple specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is required for technicians that handle refrigerants. There are three types of certification obtainable, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Since licensing might be required in your area, and you may also wish to obtain certification, it’s important that you pick an HVAC technical school that will train you for both. And since you will more than likely be dealing with refrigerants, make sure that the program you select preps you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
HVAC Degree and Certificate Courses
There are a variety of options available for HVAC training in a technical or trade school. You can obtain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor’s Degree. Obtaining a certificate will take the minimum period of time, usually completed in just 6 months, however some courses are longer. A certificate will qualify you for the majority of HVAC positions, particularly if you are licensed and have certification applicable to the position. The degree programs may provide a competitive edge in the job market and will provide more comprehensive training than the certificate programs. Below is a short explanation of each option offered near Alamo CA.
- Certificate. Usually requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among entry level residential or commercial HVAC specialists. They furnish a solid foundation of skills for job opportunities within the industry.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program provides a more detailed knowledge of heating & cooling systems than the certificate program. Typically taking two years to finish, some degrees incorporate an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor’s Degree. The Bachelor’s Degree in HVAC is tailored more towards a career in management or even business ownership. Some programs call for an Associate Degree, while others are a traditional 4 year program. In addition to being taught how to service and maintain heating and cooling systems, you will also study how to design them.
Selecting the ideal credential program will be dependent on what your future career goals are, along with the time and money that you have to commit. One possibility is to start with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after getting some experience in the trade in Alamo CA, subsequently going back to acquire a Bachelor’s Degree. If this is your strategy, be sure to ask the HVAC technician school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Online Classes
Choosing an HVAC program online is one possibility to getting your training and receiving a certificate or degree. Almost all schools will call for some attendance on campus to complete hands on training. Many also provide internship or work-study programs in addition to or as an alternative to practical lab work. But since the rest of the classes may be participated in via the internet, this approach may be a more convenient solution for many Alamo CA students that are pressed for time. And a number of online degree programs are less expensive than other on campus alternatives. Even commuting expenses from Alamo and study supplies can be reduced, helping to make schooling more budget-friendly. And a large number of online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your work or family obligations have left you with little time to attend classes, perhaps an online HVAC degree program will make it more convenient to accommodate school into your active lifestyle.
Questions to Ask HVAC Certification Classes
Once you have decided on the type of degree or certificate that you wish to earn, either on campus or online, you can begin to limit your selection of schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are numerous HVAC technical schools in the Alamo CA area and throughout the USA to select from. That’s why it is imperative to have a list of important qualifiers when making school evaluations. As earlier mentioned in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will probably be the first 2 aspects you will consider. Following are some additional ones that you should explore before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. A large number of HVAC trade schools in the Alamo CA area have attained either a regional or a national accreditation. They may earn Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school’s programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to an individual program, for instance HVAC technology. Verify that the school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency, which includes the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping make certain that you acquire an excellent education, it can help in securing financial aid or student loans, which are in many cases not available for non-accredited schools. Furthermore, many states require that the HVAC training program be accredited for it to be approved for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the Heating and Cooling schools you are considering what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage or portion of students who enroll in and finish the course. A lower completion rate may signify that students were disappointed with the program and dropped out. It might also signify that the teachers were not competent to instruct the students. It’s also important that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive list of graduates, which can mean more contacts for the school to use for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate can not only affirm that the school has a good reputation within the trade, but also that it has the network of Alamo CA HVAC employers to help grads acquire apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. Most HVAC vocational programs are taught in conjunction with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating technical and vocational schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of Heating and Cooling businesses or trade unions. Find out if the schools you are considering have working relationships with local Alamo CA HVAC companies. An apprenticeship not only offers a rewarding experience by furnishing hands-on training, but it also furnishes employment opportunities and helps to build relationships in the regional HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make certain that the campus facilities and the tools that you will be instructed on are state-of-the-art and what you will be working with in the field. If you are already in an internship or an apprenticeship, consult with the HVAC tech you are working with concerning what you should be looking for. If not, ask a local Alamo CA HVAC contracting company if they can provide some pointers. Additionally keep in mind that unless you are able to relocate, the school needs to be within commuting distance of your Alamo CA home. Take note that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides the added moving costs there might be increased tuition fees compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It’s desirable that you get as much one-on-one instruction as possible, which can be challenging in bigger classes. Ask if you can sit in on a couple of the classes so that you can see how large they are and witness first hand the interaction between students and instructors. Speak with some of the students and get their opinions regarding class sizes and instruction. Finally, speak with some of the instructors and learn what their level of expertise is and what certifications or degrees they hold.
Flexible Scheduling. Verify that the class schedules for the schools you are reviewing are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you are only able to attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Alamo CA, verify that the programs you are reviewing provide those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, be sure that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Additionally, ask what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Considering an HVAC School near Alamo CA?
Perhaps you are considering enrolling in an HVAC training program in the Alamo California area. If so, you may find the following background information about the location of your new school campus both interesting and informative.
Alamo is an unincorporated community and census-designated place (CDP) in Contra Costa County, California, in the United States. It is a suburb located in the San Francisco Bay Area's East Bay region, c. 28 miles (45 km) east of San Francisco. Alamo is equidistant between the city of Walnut Creek and the incorporated town of Danville. As of the 2010 census, the population was 14,750. The community of Alamo is well known for its bucolic country lifestyle and its notable residents, with the median home price being $1,890,000.
As an unincorporated community, Alamo does not have a government of its own. Police services are provided by the Contra Costa County Office of the Sheriff. Fire and EMS services are provided by the San Ramon Valley Fire Protection District.
Alamo has a median household income of $140,561 (as of 2011[update]). In August, 2007, a group of citizens launched a new initiative to incorporate the community, the latest in a series of attempts that go back to the early 1960s or before. Previous failed Alamo incorporation efforts always included parts of other nearby unincorporated areas: Alamo-Danville (1964) and Alamo-Danville-San Ramon (1976). This latest Alamo incorporation effort was defeated by referendum in March, 2009.
Associates Degree in HVAC Alamo CA
Picking the ideal HVAC training course is an important first step toward a gratifying career in the heating & cooling industry. You originally came to this website because you wanted more information regarding Associates Degree in HVAC. However, as we have addressed in this article, you should choose an Heating and Cooling training program and a certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have excellent reputations within the HVAC community. Other factors to look for are lots of hands-on training and state-of-the-art facilities. You should go to each of the schools personally that you are most interested in to tour the campus and speak with both the faculty and current students. Attempt to get a feel for the quality of the teaching and the interaction between them. Also, inquire about scheduling choices and if night or weekend classes are offered if needed. And remember to inquire about financial aid and student loan options too. If you ask the right questions as we have detailed in our guidelines for evaluating schools, you’ll be able to narrow down your choices so that you can make an informed decision. With the appropriate training, hard work and dedication, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC specialist in Alamo CA.
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