How to Enroll In the Right HVAC Certificate Program near Lancaster California
Once you have come to a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioning professional, the next action is to choose an HVAC technical school near Lancaster CA. But with so many to select from, how do you select the right one to get the training that you require? Some potential students will make their choice based exclusively on the price of tuition or how near the school is to their residence. While these are important concerns, they are not the only ones to take into account. A few of the other factors 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 within this article. But before we explore how to select an HVAC technical school, let’s look at what a heating and a/c contractor does to become a licensed professional tradesman.
Becoming an HVAC Technician
HVAC is an acronym that is commonly used in the trade that stands for “Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning”. HVAC contractors provide services for the installation, maintenance and repair of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are typically mandated to be licensed, though each state and regional municipality has its own requirements. Obtaining professional certification is not compulsory, but an alternative way for Lancaster CA HVAC techs to demonstrate that they are highly proficient and knowledgeable in their area of expertise. There are a number of respected certifications within the trade that are available. Below are some of the significant ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally acknowledged certification for HVAC technicians. The certification is earned by passing a proficiency exam and may 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 examination 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 various specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is required for techs that handle refrigerants. There are three forms of certification obtainable, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Considering that licensing could be mandated in your area, and you may also intend to acquire certification, it’s imperative that you choose an HVAC vocational school that will train you for both. And since you will probably be handling refrigerants, make sure that the school you choose preps you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.
HVAC Degree Training Programs
There are a variety of options offered for HVAC instruction in a technical or vocational school. You can obtain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor’s Degree. Earning a certificate will take the least amount of time, often completed in just six months, though some programs are longer. A certificate will train you for most HVAC positions, especially if you are licensed and have certification applicable to the position. The degree training programs may provide a competitive advantage in the job market and will furnish more in-depth training than the certificate programs. Below is a short description of each option offered near Lancaster CA.
- Certificate. Usually requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among beginning commercial or residential HVAC technicians. They provide a strong foundation of skills for employment within the trade.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program provides a more extensive understanding of heating & cooling systems than the certificate program. Typically requiring two years to finish, a number of degrees incorporate an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor’s Degree. The Bachelor’s Degree in HVAC is geared more for a career in management as well as business ownership. Some programs require an Associate Degree, while others are a conventional 4 year program. In addition to learning how to service and maintain heating and air conditioning systems, you will also study how to design them.
Choosing the ideal credential program will be based on what your long term career objectives are, as well as the time and financial resources that you have to commit. One approach is to begin with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after acquiring some experience in the field in Lancaster CA, eventually returning to acquire a Bachelor’s Degree. If this is your approach, make sure to ask the HVAC tech school you are considering about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Classes Online
Enrolling in an HVAC program online is one possibility to attaining your education and receiving a degree or certificate. Nearly all schools will call for some attendance on campus to take part in hands on training. A number also offer internship or work-study programs in addition to or as an alternative to practical lab work. But since the remainder of the classes may be attended online, this option may be a more accessible solution for many Lancaster CA students that are pressed for time. And a number of online degree programs are cheaper than other traditional choices. Even driving expenses from Lancaster and study materials can be lessened, helping to make education more budget-friendly. And a large number of online programs 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 less complicated to accommodate school into your hectic lifestyle.
Questions to Ask HVAC Training Classes
As soon as you have picked the type of certificate or degree that you want to earn, either on campus or online, you can start to narrow down your selection of schools. As you are certainly aware, there are many HVAC vocational schools in the Lancaster CA area and across the United States to choose from. That’s why it is imperative to have a checklist of important qualifiers when making school comparisons. As earlier mentioned in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will most likely be the initial two factors you will consider. Following are some additional ones that you will want to explore before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Many HVAC vocational schools in the Lancaster CA area have attained either a regional or a national accreditation. They may attain Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school’s programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to an individual program, such as HVAC technology. Confirm that the school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting organization, which includes the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping make certain that you receive a superior education, it can assist in securing financial assistance or student loans, which are often unavailable for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of states require that the HVAC training course 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 or portion of students who enroll in and complete the course. A lower completion rate might signify that students were unhappy with the course and dropped out. It might also suggest 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 broader directory of alumni, which may produce 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 Lancaster CA HVAC employers to assist grads acquire apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. Most HVAC technical 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 Heating and Cooling businesses or labor unions. Ask if the schools you are considering have referring partnerships with local Lancaster CA HVAC specialists. An apprenticeship not only provides a valuable experience by supplying practical training, but it also supplies job opportunities and helps to form relationships in the regional HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make certain that the school 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, talk to the HVAC specialist you are working with regarding what you should be looking for. Otherwise, ask a local Lancaster CA HVAC contracting company if they can provide some suggestions. Also keep in mind that unless you are willing to relocate, the school must be within driving distance of your Lancaster CA residence. Remember that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to moving costs there can be higher tuition charges compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It’s desirable that you receive as much one-on-one training as possible, which can be difficult in larger classes. Ask if you can sit in on a few of the classes so that you can observe how large they are and witness first hand the interaction between students and teachers. Talk with some of the students and get their feedback regarding class sizes and instruction. Finally, talk with a few of the instructors and find out what their level of experience is and what degrees or certifications they hold.
Flexible Scheduling. Verify that the class schedules for the schools you are reviewing are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Lancaster CA, check that the programs you are reviewing offer those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, be sure that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Also, check out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, illness or family emergencies.
Considering an HVAC School near Lancaster CA?
Perhaps you are considering enrolling in an HVAC training program in the Lancaster California area. If so, you may find the following background information about the location of your new school campus both interesting and informative.
Lancaster /ˈlæn.kæstər/ is a charter city in northern Los Angeles County, in the Antelope Valley of the western Mojave Desert in Southern California. As of 2013, Lancaster was the 31st largest city in California. Lancaster is part of a twin city complex with its southern neighbor Palmdale and together they are the principal cities within the Antelope Valley region.
Lancaster is located approximately 61 miles (98 km) north (by highway) of downtown Los Angeles, near the Kern County line. It is separated from the Los Angeles Basin by the San Gabriel Mountains to the south, and from Bakersfield and the San Joaquin Valley by the Tehachapi Mountains to the north. The population of Lancaster grew from 37,000 at the time of its incorporation in 1977 to over 156,000 in 2010. According to the Greater Antelope Valley Economic Alliance report of 2015, Lancaster has a population of 168,049.
The area where Lancaster is now located, known as the Antelope Valley, was originally home to the Paiute Indians. Lancaster's origins as a settlement start with the Southern Pacific Railroad, which is believed to first use the name Lancaster, where a station house, locomotive watering facilities and section gang housing were built when the railroad laid track through the town's future location. In 1876 the Southern Pacific completed the line through the Antelope Valley, linking San Francisco and Los Angeles. The origin of Lancaster's name is unclear, attributed variously to the surname of a railroad station clerk, the moniker given by railroad officials, or the former Pennsylvania home (Lancaster, Pennsylvania) of unknown settlers. Train service brought passengers through the water-stop-turned-community, which, with the help of promotional literature, attracted new settlers. The person credited with formally developing the town is Moses Langley Wicks, who in 1884 bought property from the railroad for $2.50 per acre, mapped out a town with streets and lots, and by September was advertising 160-acre tracts of land for $6 an acre. The following year, the Lancaster News started publication, making it the first weekly newspaper in the Antelope Valley. By 1890, Lancaster was bustling and booming, and thanks to adequate rainfall, farmers planted and sold thousands of acres of wheat and barley.
How to Choose HVAC Technical Schools Lancaster CA
Selecting the right HVAC school course is an important first step toward a rewarding career in the heating and cooling field. You originally came to this website because you wanted more information regarding How to Choose HVAC Technical Schools. However, as we have covered in this article, you need to choose an Heating and Cooling training program and a certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have exceptional reputations within the HVAC profession. Other features to look for are sufficient 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 inspect the campus and talk with both the current students and faculty. Try to get a feel for the quality of the teaching and the interaction between them. In addition, ask about scheduling options and whether or not evening or weekend classes are offered if needed. And remember to inquire about financial assistance and student loan options also. If you ask the right questions as we have detailed in our guidelines for comparing schools, you’ll be able to filter your choices so that you can make an educated decision. With the proper training, hard work and dedication, you can eventually become a licensed HVAC technician in Lancaster CA.
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