How to Pick the Right HVAC Degree Program near Desert Center California
Once you have made a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioning technician, the next step is to choose an HVAC vocational school near Desert Center CA. But with so many to choose from, how do you choose the ideal one to get the training that you need? A number of potential students will make their selection based exclusively on the cost of tuition or how near the school is to their home. Even though these are important considerations, they are not the only ones to evaluate. Just some of the other things that you need to look into are the graduation rates of the HVAC schools, their reputations, and if they are accredited by professional trade organizations. Those and additional criteria will be discussed in more detail later within this article. But before we explore how to select an HVAC vocational school, let’s look at what a heating and a/c technician does to become a licensed skilled tradesman.
Becoming an HVAC Specialist
HVAC is an acronym that is commonly used in the business that stands for “Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning”. HVAC techs specialize in the installation, repair and maintenance of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are typically mandated to be licensed, although each state and local municipality has its own requirements. Acquiring professional certification is not mandatory, but a voluntary way for Desert Center CA HVAC technicians to prove that they are highly proficient and accomplished in their area of expertise. There are several respected certifications within the industry that are available. Below are some of the important ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally acknowledged certification for HVAC technicians. The certification is earned by passing a competency exam and can be received in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification makes available both a professional and a master specialist credential. 2 years of professional experience in addition to passing a comprehensive exam are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have three years of experience along with a passing score on the professional level exam. Similar to NATE, certifications are offered in several specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is mandatory for specialists that handle refrigerants. There are 3 types of certification offered, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Considering that licensing may be required in your area, and you may also wish to obtain certification, it’s important that you select an HVAC trade school that will prepare you for both. And since you will probably be handling refrigerants, make certain that the program you select preps you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
HVAC Degree Courses
There are a number of options offered for HVAC instruction in a vocational or trade school. You can earn a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor’s Degree. Acquiring a certificate will take the least amount of time, often achieved in just six months, though some courses are longer. A certificate will qualify you for the majority of HVAC positions, particularly if you are licensed and have certification related to the position. The degree programs may provide a competitive advantage for securing employment and will provide more in-depth training than the certificate programs. Following is a brief summary of each option offered near Desert Center CA.
- Certificate. Normally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among entry level commercial or residential HVAC technicians. They provide a solid foundation of skills for job opportunities within the trade.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program delivers a more extensive background of heating & cooling systems than the certificate program. Typically taking 2 years to finish, a number of degrees feature an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor’s Degree. The Bachelor’s Degree in HVAC is suited more towards a career in management or even business ownership. Some programs call for an Associate Degree, while others are a conventional 4 year program. In addition to learning how to service and maintain heating and cooling systems, you will also study how to design them.
Selecting the appropriate credential program will be based on what your future career aspirations are, together with the time and money that you have to commit. One option is to start with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after gaining some experience in the field in Desert Center CA, subsequently going back to obtain a Bachelor’s Degree. If this is your strategy, make certain to ask the HVAC technician school you are considering about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Online Training
Attending an HVAC program online is one possibility in getting your training and receiving a degree or certificate. Nearly all schools will require some attendance on campus to participate in hands on training. Some also sponsor internship or work-study programs in addition to or as an alternative to practical lab work. But since the remainder of the classes can be attended on the web, this alternative may be a more accessible solution for many Desert Center CA students that are short on time. And many online degree programs are less costly than other on campus choices. Even driving expenses from Desert Center and study supplies may be minimized, helping to make schooling more economical. And numerous online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your job or family obligations have left you with minimal time to attend classes, maybe an HVAC online training program will make it easier to fit school into your hectic schedule.
Questions to Ask HVAC Training Programs
As soon as you have picked the type of certificate or degree that you wish to acquire, either online or on campus, you can begin to decrease your selection of schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are many HVAC vocational schools in the Desert Center CA area and across the Country to choose from. That’s why it is essential to have a checklist of important qualifications when making school comparisons. As previously stated in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will probably be the first 2 variables you will consider. Following are several additional ones that you will want to research before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Many HVAC trade programs in the Desert Center CA area have acquired either a regional or a national accreditation. They can acquire 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 and program are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization, such as the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping ensure that you acquire an excellent education, it can assist in securing financial aid or student loans, which are often not available for non-accredited programs. Additionally, a number of states require that the HVAC training course be accredited for it to qualify for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the HVAC schools you are looking at what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage of students who enroll in and complete the program. A lower completion rate may signify that students were disappointed with the program and dropped out. It may also mean that the teachers were not competent to train the students. It’s similarly imperative that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive list of graduates, which may mean more contacts for the school to employ for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate can not only validate that the school has an excellent reputation within the industry, but also that it has the network of Desert Center CA HVAC employers to help graduates secure apprenticeships or jobs.
Apprenticeship Programs. Most HVAC trade programs are taught in conjunction with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating vocational and trade schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of Heating and Cooling contractors or labor unions. Ask if the schools you are reviewing have working partnerships with local Desert Center CA HVAC companies. An apprenticeship not only offers a rewarding experience by furnishing hands-on training, but it also furnishes job opportunities and helps to establish relationships in the regional HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make certain that the campus facilities and the equipment that you will be instructed on are state-of-the-art and what you will be using in the field. If you are presently in an internship or an apprenticeship, talk to the HVAC tech you are working with regarding what you should be expecting. Otherwise, ask a local Desert Center CA HVAC contracting company if they can give you some pointers. Also bear in mind that unless you are willing to move, the school needs to be within driving distance of your Desert Center CA home. Take note that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to moving costs there might be increased tuition fees compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It’s desirable that you receive as much personalized training as possible, which can be challenging in larger classes. Ask if you can sit in on a few of the classes so that you can see how big they are and witness first hand the interaction between instructors and students. Speak to some of the students and get their feedback relating to class sizes and instruction. Finally, speak with some of the teachers and learn what their level of expertise is and what degrees or certifications they have earned.
Flexible Scheduling. Make sure that the class schedules for the schools you are evaluating are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you are only able to attend classes at night or on weekends near Desert Center CA, verify that the programs you are considering provide those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Additionally, check out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, sickness or family emergencies.
Considering an HVAC School near Desert Center CA?
Perhaps you are considering enrolling in an HVAC training program in the Desert Center California area. If so, you may find the following background information about the location of your new school campus both interesting and informative.
Desert Center, California
Desert Center is a census designated place in the Colorado Desert in Riverside County, California. It is in southern California, between the cities of Indio and Blythe at the junction of Interstate 10 and State Route 177 (Desert Center-Rice Road), about halfway between Phoenix and Los Angeles. The ZIP Code is 92239, and the community is in telephone area codes 442 and 760. The elevation is 656 feet (200 m). The population was 204 at the 2010 census.
The town was founded in 1921 by Stephen A. Ragsdale, also known as "Desert Steve", and his wife, Lydia. Ragsdale was an itinerant preacher and cotton farmer, originally from Arkansas. In 1915, he left his farm in the Palo Verde Valley along the Colorado River to attend to some business in Los Angeles. The road between Phoenix and Los Angeles was mostly sand, and Ragsdale's vehicle broke down near a place called Gruendyke's Well. This featured a hand-dug well and was inhabited by a prospector named Bill Gruendyke. Gruendyke rescued Ragsdale and gave him food, shelter, and water until his vehicle was repaired and he could resume his journey to Los Angeles.
Upon his return, Ragsdale bought out Gruendyke and moved his family to the remote spot, where they constructed a small shack with a lean-to that served as a repair garage. A Model T truck was modified to serve as a tow car. Gasoline was pumped by hand from a 55-gallon drum. Lydia served food and refreshments to thirsty and weary travelers. In spite of the remote location—50 miles (80 km) in any direction from anything—the Ragsdales prospered. Ragsdale named his outpost "Desert Center". In 1921, it was announced that the sand road running through Desert Center would be relocated about 5 miles (8.0 km) north, straightened, paved, and named U.S. Route 60, a modern "high-speed" highway. Ragsdale abandoned "old Desert Center" and built a poured-concrete café in the adobe style with an attached gasoline station and a huge service garage. Across the road, a series of wooden structures were built, including a market (which at one time was the largest Coleman camping equipment dealer in the country), and a post office. He also built several cabins for travelers, and a large "plunge" (swimming pool) next to the café where travelers could escape the desert heat.
Heating and Air School Desert Center CA
Selecting the ideal HVAC training program is an important first step toward a rewarding career in the heating and air conditioning industry. You originally came to this website because you wanted more information regarding Heating and Air School. However, as we have covered in this article, you should pick an Heating and Cooling vocational school and a degree or certificate program that are both accredited and have outstanding reputations within the HVAC field. Other things to look for are plenty of practical training and state-of-the-art facilities. You need to visit each of the schools in person that you are most interested in to explore 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. Additionally, ask about scheduling choices and if night or weekend classes are offered if needed. And don’t forget to ask about financial assistance and student loan options as well. If you ask the proper questions as we have outlined in our checklist for comparing schools, you’ll be able to narrow down your options so that you can make an informed decision. With the right training, hard work and dedication, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC specialist in Desert Center CA.
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