How to Pick the Right HVAC Certificate Program near Lafayette California
Now that you have decided on a career as a heating and air conditioner specialist, the next step is to locate an HVAC technical school near Lafayette CA. But with so many to choose from, how do you decide on the right one to receive the training that you need? Some future students will make their selection based exclusively on the cost of tuition or how close the school is to their home. While these are significant concerns, they are not the only ones to investigate. Some of the other details 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. Those and additional criteria will be covered in more detail later in this article. But before we explore how to pick an HVAC vocational school, let’s take a look at what a heating and a/c specialist does to become a licensed skilled tradesman.
Becoming an HVAC Tech
HVAC is an acronym that is frequently used in the trade that stands for “Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning”. HVAC technicians provide services for the installation, maintenance and repair of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are commonly mandated to be licensed, however each state and regional municipality has its own prerequisites. Acquiring professional certification is not mandatory, but a voluntary means for Lafayette CA HVAC technicians to prove that they are highly skilled and knowledgeable in their area of expertise. There are several respected certifications within the trade that are available. Following are some of the important ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally recognized certification for HVAC technicians. The certification is attained by passing a competency exam 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 as well as passing a comprehensive examination are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have three years of experience along with a passing score on the professional level exam. As with NATE, certifications are provided in several specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is mandatory for specialists that handle refrigerants. There are three types of certification obtainable, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Because licensing may be required in your location, and you may also intend to obtain certification, it’s important that you select an HVAC vocational school that will prepare you for both. And since you will most likely be handling refrigerants, make sure that the program you decide on readies you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
HVAC Degree Classes
There are a number of options offered for HVAC instruction in a technical or vocational school. You can attain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor’s Degree. Acquiring a certificate will take the lesser period of time, typically achieved in just six months, though some programs are longer. A certificate will train you for most HVAC positions, particularly if you are licensed and have certification related to the position. The degree training programs can provide a competitive advantage for securing employment and will furnish more in-depth training than the certificate programs. Below is a short summary of each option offered near Lafayette CA.
- Certificate. Generally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among entry level commercial or residential HVAC technicians. They furnish a solid foundation of skills for job opportunities within the industry.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program delivers a more comprehensive background of heating and a/c systems than the certificate program. Usually taking 2 years to complete, many degrees include an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor’s Degree. The Bachelor’s Degree in HVAC is geared more for a career in management or even business ownership. Some programs call for an Associate Degree, while others are a standard 4 year program. In addition to mastering how to service and maintain heating and air conditioning systems, you will also study how to design them.
Picking the right credential program will be dependent on what your future career goals are, along with the time and financial resources that you have to commit. One option is to begin with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after gaining some experience in the trade in Lafayette CA, later returning to obtain a Bachelor’s Degree. If this is your tactic, be sure to ask the HVAC technician school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Courses Online
Enrolling in an HVAC program online is one alternative to obtaining your training and receiving a degree or certificate. Nearly all schools will require some attendance on campus to complete hands on training. Some also sponsor internship or work-study programs in addition to or instead of practical lab work. But since the rest of the classes can be participated in online, this option may be a more accessible solution for some Lafayette CA students that are short on time. And some online degree programs are more economical than other on campus alternatives. Even commuting expenses from Lafayette and study supplies can be lessened, helping to make education more budget-friendly. And a large number of online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your career or family obligations have left you with limited time to attend classes, maybe an online HVAC degree program will make it easier to accommodate school into your active lifestyle.
Questions For HVAC Schools
After you have selected the type of certificate or degree that you want to attain, either on campus or online, you can start to narrow down your selection of schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are many HVAC technical schools in the Lafayette CA area and throughout the USA to select from. That’s why it is imperative to have a checklist of key qualifications when making school comparisons. As formerly stated in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will undoubtedly be the initial two factors you will take into consideration. Following are several additional ones that you need to investigate before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Many HVAC vocational schools in the Lafayette CA area have acquired either a regional or a national accreditation. They may receive Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school’s programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to an individual program, for example HVAC technology. Verify that the school and program are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting organization, for example the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping make certain that you receive a quality education, it may help in securing financial aid or student loans, which are frequently not available for non-accredited programs. Also, a number of states mandate that the HVAC training program be accredited in order to qualify for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the Heating and Air Conditioning schools you are looking at what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage of students who enroll in and finish the course. A lower completion rate could signify that students were dissatisfied with the program and dropped out. It could also signify that the teachers were not qualified to train the students. It’s similarly important that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive list of graduates, which may produce more contacts for the school to utilize for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate will not only validate that the school has a good reputation within the trade, but also that it has the network of Lafayette CA HVAC employers to assist grads obtain apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. Numerous HVAC vocational programs are taught along with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating vocational and trade programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of HVAC businesses or labor unions. Find out if the schools you are comparing have referring relationships with local Lafayette CA HVAC specialists. An apprenticeship not only provides a rewarding experience by providing practical training, but it also furnishes job opportunities and helps to build relationships in the local HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make certain that the school facilities and the tools that you will be trained on are up-to-date and what you will be working with in the field. If you are presently in an internship or an apprenticeship, consult with the HVAC specialist you are working with concerning what you should be expecting. If not, ask a local Lafayette CA HVAC company if they can give you some pointers. Also bear in mind that unless you are able to relocate, the school must be within driving distance of your Lafayette CA residence. Take note that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides the added moving costs there might be higher tuition charges compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It’s important that you get as much personalized instruction as possible, which can be challenging in larger classes. Ask if you can sit in on some of the classes so that you can see how large they are and experience the interaction between teachers and students. Speak with several of the students and get their feedback regarding class sizes and instruction. Finally, talk with a few of the instructors and learn what their level of expertise is and what degrees or certifications they hold.
Flexible Scheduling. Confirm that the class schedules for the schools you are evaluating are flexible enough to handle your needs. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Lafayette CA, check that the schools you are reviewing offer those choices. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Finally, ask what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, illness or family emergencies.
Considering an HVAC School near Lafayette CA?
Perhaps you are considering enrolling in an HVAC training program in the Lafayette California area. If so, you may find the following background information about the location of your new school campus both interesting and informative.
Lafayette (formerly, La Fayette) is a city in Contra Costa County, California, United States. As of 2011, the city's population was estimated to be 24,285. It was named after the Marquis de La Fayette, a French military hero of the American Revolutionary War. Today Lafayette is known for its pastoral rolling hills, good schools, and wealthy inhabitants. In 2016, the median household income in Lafayette was over $140,000, more than twice the statewide average and about two and half times the national median.
Before the colonization of the region by Spain, Lafayette and its vicinity were inhabited by the Saclan tribe of the indigenous Bay Miwok. Ohlone also populated some of the areas along Lafayette Creek. The indigenous inhabitants' first contact with Europeans was in the late 18th century with the founding of Catholic missions in the region. These initial contacts developed into conflict, with years of armed struggle, including a battle on what is currently Lafayette soil in 1797 between the Saclan and the Spanish, and eventually resulting in the subjugation of the native population.
Most of what is currently Lafayette was given as a Mexican land grant, Rancho Acalanes to Candelario Valencia in 1834. The name Acalanes seems to have come from the name of a native village in the area, Ahala-n.
Best HVAC Training Schools Lafayette CA
Enrolling in the ideal HVAC school program is an important first step toward a rewarding career in the heating & cooling industry. You originally came to this website because you wanted more information regarding Best HVAC Training Schools. However, as we have addressed in this article, you should choose an Heating and Cooling vocational school and a certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have exceptional reputations within the HVAC field. Other things to search for are ample practical training and state-of-the-art facilities. You should check out each of the schools in person that you are most interested in to inspect the campus and talk with both the faculty and current students. Try to get a feel for the quality of the training and the interaction between them. Also, inquire about scheduling choices and if night or weekend classes are offered if needed. And remember to ask about financial aid and student loan options as well. If you ask the appropriate questions as we have outlined in our checklist for evaluating schools, you’ll be able to filter your options so that you can make an educated decision. With the proper training, hard work and commitment, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC contractor in Lafayette CA.
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