How to Find the Right Heating and Cooling Degree Program near Millbrae California
Once you have made a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioner professional, the next step is to choose an HVAC vocational school near Millbrae CA. But with so many to select from, how do you decide on the ideal one to get the training that you need? Some future students will make their selection based solely on the price of tuition or how near the school is to their residence. Although these are important considerations, they are not the only ones to evaluate. Some of the other details that you need to investigate are the graduation completion rates of the HVAC schools, their reputations, and if they are accredited by professional trade organizations. These and other benchmarks will be addressed in more detail later within this article. But before we discuss how to choose an HVAC technical school, let’s take a look at what a heating and air conditioning professional does to become a licensed professional tradesman.
Becoming an HVAC Pro
HVAC is an acronym that is frequently used in the industry that stands for “Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning”. HVAC contractors provide services for the installation, maintenance and repair of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are commonly required to be licensed, though each state and local municipality has its own criteria. Obtaining professional certification is not mandatory, but a voluntary way for Millbrae CA HVAC techs to demonstrate that they are highly skilled and knowledgeable in their area of specialization. There are a number of respected certifications within the industry that are available. Below are some 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 competency examination and may be earned in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification makes available both a professional and a master specialist credential. 2 years of professional experience together with passing a comprehensive examination are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have 3 years of experience as well as a passing score on the professional level exam. Similar to NATE, certifications are made available in multiple specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is mandatory for techs that handle refrigerants. There are 3 types of certification obtainable, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Considering that licensing could be mandated in your location, and you may also intend to earn certification, it’s essential that you pick an HVAC technical school that will train you for both. And since you will more than likely be handling refrigerants, make sure that the program you choose readies you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
HVAC Certificate and Degree Courses
There are a number of choices offered for HVAC training in a technical or vocational school. You can attain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor’s Degree. Obtaining a certificate will take the least amount of time, typically completed in as little as six months, though some programs are longer. A certificate will qualify you for most HVAC positions, particularly if you are licensed and have certification appropriate to the position. The degree programs might provide a competitive edge in the job market and will furnish more in-depth training than the certificate programs. Following is a short explanation of each option offered near Millbrae CA.
- Certificate. Normally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among entry level residential or commercial HVAC technicians. They furnish a strong foundation of skills for job opportunities within the industry.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program provides a more extensive knowledge of heating and a/c systems than the certificate program. Normally taking 2 years to complete, some degrees include an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor’s Degree. The Bachelor’s Degree in HVAC is suited more towards a career in management as well as business ownership. Some programs require an Associate Degree, while others are a conventional four year program. In addition to being taught 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 based on what your long term career goals are, as well as the time and money that you have to invest. One possibility is to begin with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after gaining some experience in the field in Millbrae CA, later going back to obtain a Bachelor’s Degree. If this is your strategy, make sure to ask the HVAC technician school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Classes Online
Enrolling in an HVAC school online is one option to obtaining your training and earning a degree or certificate. Most schools will require some attendance on campus to take part in practical training. A number also offer internship or work-study programs in addition to or in place of practical lab work. But since the remainder of the classes may be participated in via the internet, this option may be a more practical solution for many Millbrae CA students that are pressed for time. And a number of online degree programs are more economical than other traditional alternatives. Even driving expenses from Millbrae and study supplies can be reduced, helping to make education more economical. And many online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your career or family commitments have left you with limited time to attend classes, perhaps an online HVAC degree program will make it easier to fit school into your hectic schedule.
What to Ask HVAC Schools
After you have selected the type of certificate or degree that you desire to earn, either online or on campus, you can begin to limit your selection of schools. As you are probably aware, there are a large number of HVAC technical schools in the Millbrae CA area and throughout the USA to pick from. That’s why it is imperative to have a checklist of important qualifications when making school comparisons. As earlier mentioned in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will undoubtedly be the initial two aspects you will look at. Following are some additional ones that you should research before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Numerous HVAC trade schools in the Millbrae CA area have earned either a regional or a national accreditation. They can receive Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school’s programs overall, 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 recognized accrediting organization, such as the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping ensure that you acquire a quality education, it can assist in securing financial aid or student loans, which are often unavailable for non-accredited programs. Furthermore, some states require that the HVAC training course be accredited in order 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 course. A lower completion rate could signify that students were unhappy with the course and quit. It could also indicate that the instructors were not qualified to instruct the students. It’s also essential that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive directory of alumni, which may mean more contacts for the school to utilize 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 field, but additionally that it has the network of Millbrae CA HVAC employers to help graduates acquire apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. A large number of HVAC trade programs are taught in conjunction with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating trade and vocational schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of Heating and Cooling companies or trade unions. Ask if the schools you are comparing have referring partnerships with local Millbrae CA HVAC professionals. An apprenticeship not only offers a valuable experience by supplying hands-on training, but it also provides employment opportunities and helps to build relationships in the area HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make sure that the campus facilities and the tools that you will be trained on are state-of-the-art and what you will be using in the field. If you are already in an internship or an apprenticeship, talk to the HVAC specialist you are working under concerning what you should be looking for. Otherwise, ask a local Millbrae CA HVAC contracting company if they can provide some suggestions. Also keep in mind that unless you can relocate, the school needs to be within commuting distance of your Millbrae CA home. Take note that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, besides the added relocation costs there might be higher tuition charges compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It’s desirable that you get as much personalized instruction as possible, which can be challenging in larger classes. Ask if you can monitor a few of the classes so that you can observe how big they are and witness first hand the interaction between students and instructors. Talk with some of the students and get their comments regarding class sizes and instruction. Finally, speak with some of the instructors and find out what their level of expertise is and what degrees or certifications they hold.
Flexible Scheduling. Make sure that the class schedules for the schools you are reviewing are flexible enough to handle your needs. If you are only able to go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Millbrae CA, verify that the programs you are reviewing provide those choices. 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 policy is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, sickness or family issues.
Considering an HVAC School near Millbrae CA?
Perhaps you are considering enrolling in an HVAC training program in the Millbrae California area. If so, you may find the following background information about the location of your new school campus both interesting and informative.
Millbrae is a city in San Mateo County, California, United States, just west of San Francisco Bay, with San Bruno on the north and Burlingame on the south. The population was 21,536 at the 2010 census.
Darius Ogden Mills purchased land in the 1860s from the Sanchez family to build a country estate. The former Mills estate was bordered by what is now Skyline Boulevard, Bayshore Highway U.S. Route 101, Millbrae Avenue and Trousdale Drive. The estate became known as "Millbrae" from "Mills" and the Scottish word "brae," which means "rolling hills" or "hill slope." Children swam in three lakes situated on the estate and sold acacias to tourists before the Mills family began to sell the land for development. The estate's spectacular mansion burned down during a realistic "fire drill" in 1954.
Millbrae used a private patrol financed by fees from merchants and residents until 1941, when the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors created the Millbrae Police District. Records of the Internal Revenue Service document the licensing of several Millbrae bars for gambling; only after incorporation were gambling laws enforced in Millbrae and not until the 1950s was gambling defeated. In 1931, citizens organized a volunteer fire department, which remained entirely volunteer until 1938. The police and fire departments were housed together for several years at Hillcrest Boulevard and El Camino Real before the vital services moved to their permanent location in Millbrae's civic center, a few blocks west of El Camino.
HVAC Trade Schools Millbrae CA
Enrolling in the ideal HVAC school course 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 HVAC Trade Schools. However, as we have discussed in this post, you need to pick an HVAC training program and a certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have excellent reputations within the HVAC profession. Other features to look for are lots of hands-on training and state-of-the-art facilities. You should visit each of the schools in person that you are most interested in to explore the campus and talk with both the current students and faculty. Try to get a feel for the quality of the training and the interaction between them. Additionally, ask about scheduling choices and whether evening or weekend classes are offered if needed. And don’t forget to ask about financial assistance and student loan options too. If you ask the right questions as we have detailed in our checklist for comparing schools, you’ll be able to filter your options so that you can make an educated decision. With the appropriate training, hard work and commitment, you can eventually become a licensed HVAC contractor in Millbrae CA.
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