How to Choose HVAC Vocational Schools Larkspur CA

How to Select the Right HVAC Program near Larkspur California

air conditioner condensers in Larkspur CAOnce you have made a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioning technician, the next action is to find an HVAC vocational school near Larkspur CA. But with so many to select from, how do you pick the right one to receive the training that you need? Some prospective students will make their choice based solely on the cost of tuition or how near the school is to their home. Although these are important considerations, 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 rates of the HVAC schools, their reputations, and if they are accredited by professional trade organizations. Those and additional benchmarks will be discussed in more detail later within this article. But before we explore how to pick an HVAC vocational school, let’s look at what a heating and a/c contractor does to become a licensed professional tradesman.

How to Become an HVAC Tech

Larkspur CA HVAC Tech installing water heaterHVAC is an acronym that is commonly used in the business that stands for “Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning”. HVAC technicians specialize in the installation, repair and maintenance of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are commonly required to be licensed, however every state and local municipality has its own prerequisites. Acquiring professional certification is not mandatory, but an alternative way for Larkspur CA HVAC specialists to demonstrate that they are exceptionally qualified and knowledgeable in their area of expertise. There are many recognized certifications within the trade that are offered. Here are some of the significant ones.

  • North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally recognized certification for HVAC techs. The certification is achieved by passing a proficiency exam and may be received in one or more specialties.
  • HVAC Excellence. This certification offers both a professional and a master specialist credential. 2 years of field experience together with passing a comprehensive exam are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have three years of experience together with a passing result on the professional level examination. As with NATE, certifications are offered in several specialties.
  • EPA Section 608. This certification is required for specialists that work with refrigerants. There are 3 forms of certification offered, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.

Because licensing may be mandated in your area, and you may also wish to acquire certification, it’s imperative that you choose an HVAC trade school that will train you for both. And since you will probably be dealing with refrigerants, make sure that the school you select readies you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.

HVAC Certificate and Degree Classes

radiator heater in Larkspur CA homeThere are a variety of options available for HVAC training in a vocational or trade school. You can earn a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor’s Degree. Obtaining a certificate will take the least amount of time, often accomplished in as little as six months, although some programs are longer. A certificate will qualify you for most HVAC positions, especially if you are licensed and have certification relevant to the position. The degree training programs might provide a competitive advantage in the job market and will deliver more comprehensive training than the certificate programs. Below is a short explanation of each credential offered near Larkspur CA.

  • Certificate. Usually requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among beginning commercial or residential HVAC professionals. They furnish a strong foundation of skills for job opportunities within the industry.
  • Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program delivers a more extensive understanding of heating and cooling systems than the certificate program. Normally taking 2 years to complete, a number of degrees include an internship or work-study program.
  • Bachelor’s Degree. The Bachelor’s Degree in HVAC is tailored more for a career in management or even business ownership. Some programs require 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 right credential program will be based on what your long term career objectives are, together with the time and financial resources that you have to invest. One approach is to start with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after gaining some experience in the field in Larkspur CA, subsequently going back to obtain a Bachelor’s Degree. If this is your approach, be sure to ask the HVAC technician school you are considering about how their returning student program works.

HVAC Online Classes

Larkspur CA student attending HVAC school onlineAttending an HVAC program online is one option to attaining your training and receiving a certificate or degree. Most schools will require some attendance on campus to participate in practical training. A number 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 via the internet, this approach may be a more accessible solution for many Larkspur CA students that are short on time. And a number of online degree programs are cheaper than other traditional choices. Even commuting expenses from Larkspur and study supplies can be minimized, helping to make education more affordable. And many online programs are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your job or family obligations have left you with limited time to attend classes, maybe an HVAC online training program will make it more convenient to accommodate school into your busy schedule.

Questions to Ask HVAC Training Classes

Questions to ask Larkspur CA HVAC training schoolsAfter you have decided on the type of certificate or degree that you wish to earn, either online or on campus, you can begin to decrease your list of schools. As you are probably aware, there are many HVAC vocational schools in the Larkspur CA area and all over the Country to select from. That’s why it is extremely important to have a checklist of relevant qualifications when making school comparisons. As formerly stated in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will undoubtedly be the initial two aspects you will consider. Following are several additional ones that you should investigate before enrolling in your school of choice.

Accreditation.  Numerous HVAC trade programs in the Larkspur CA area have acquired either a regional or a national accreditation. They can attain Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school’s programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to an individual program, such as HVAC technology. Verify that the school and program are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting agency, for example the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping make certain that you get a quality education, it may assist in securing financial aid or student loans, which are in many cases unavailable for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of states require that the HVAC training course be accredited for it to be approved for licensing.

High Completion Rates.  Ask the Heating and Cooling schools you are reviewing what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students who enroll in and finish the course. A lower completion rate may indicate that students were dissatisfied with the program and quit. It could also suggest that the teachers were not competent to train the students. It’s similarly imperative that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader 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 will not only affirm that the school has an excellent reputation within the industry, but additionally that it has the network of Larkspur CA HVAC employers to help grads obtain apprenticeships or jobs.

Apprenticeship Programs.  Many HVAC technical programs are taught together 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 HVAC businesses or labor unions. Ask if the schools you are comparing have working relationships with local Larkspur CA HVAC contractors. An apprenticeship not only offers a rewarding experience by furnishing hands-on training, but it also supplies job opportunities and helps to establish relationships in the regional HVAC professional community.

Modern Facilities.  Make sure that the campus facilities and the equipment that you will be instructed on are up-to-date and what you will be working with in the field. If you are already in an internship or an apprenticeship, talk to the HVAC tech you are working with regarding what you should be expecting. If not, ask a local Larkspur CA HVAC contractor if they can provide some suggestions. Also keep in mind that unless you are willing to relocate, the school needs to be within commuting distance of your Larkspur CA home. Take note that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to moving costs there may be higher 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 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 students and instructors. Speak to several of the students and get their comments concerning class sizes and instruction. Last, speak with some of the teachers and learn what their level of expertise is and what degrees or certifications they have earned.

Flexible Scheduling.  Confirm that the class schedules for the schools you are evaluating are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you are only able to go to classes at night or on weekends near Larkspur CA, verify that the programs you are looking at offer those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Also, check out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, sickness or family issues.

Considering an HVAC School near Larkspur CA?

Perhaps you are considering enrolling in an HVAC training program in the Larkspur California area.  If so, you may find the following background information about the location of your new school campus both interesting and informative.

Larkspur, California

Larkspur is a city in Marin County, California, United States. Larkspur is located 3 miles (4.8 km) south of San Rafael,[8] at an elevation of 43 feet (13 m).[1] As of the 2010 Census, the city's population was 11,926. Larkspur is located north of San Francisco near Mount Tamalpais. Larkspur's Police Department is shared with that of the neighboring Corte Madera and town of San Anselmo as the Central Marin Police Authority. Intersecting Larkspur's downtown is Madrone Canyon, a residential area amidst a redwood grove.

Charles W. Wright laid out the town in 1887.[8] The first post office opened in 1891.[8] Larkspur incorporated in 1908.[8]Larkspur's Downtown Historic District, known also as Old Downtown Larkspur, is a historic district that was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1982. The restored Art Deco Lark Theater is part of this downtown district.

In the United States House of Representatives, Larkspur is in California's 2nd congressional district, represented by Democrat Jared Huffman.[14] From 2008 to 2012, Huffman represented Marin County in the California State Assembly.

How to Choose HVAC Vocational Schools Larkspur CA

Choosing the ideal HVAC school course is an important beginning toward a rewarding career in the heating and cooling trade. You originally came to this website because you wanted more information regarding How to Choose HVAC Vocational Schools. However, as we have discussed in this article, you need to pick an HVAC vocational school and a degree or certificate program that are both accredited and have excellent reputations within the HVAC profession. Other factors to search for are plenty of practical training and state-of-the-art facilities. You need to go to each of the schools personally that you are most interested in to inspect the campus and speak with both the current students and faculty. Attempt to get a feel for the quality of the training and the interaction between them. Additionally, ask about scheduling choices and whether or not night or weekend classes are offered if needed. And don’t forget to ask about financial assistance and student loan options also. If you ask the proper questions as we have laid out in our checklist for comparing schools, you’ll be able to narrow down your choices so that you can make an informed decision. With the proper training, hard work and dedication, you can eventually become a licensed HVAC technician in Larkspur CA.

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