How to Select an HVAC Training Class near Albany California
Now that you have decided on a career as a heating and cooling specialist, the next action is to find an HVAC vocational school near Albany CA. But with so many to select from, how do you choose the right one to receive the training that you require? Some future students will make their choice based exclusively on the price of tuition or how near the school is to their residence. Even though these are relevant considerations, they are not the only ones to take into account. Some of the other details that you need to research 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 covered in more detail later within this article. But before we explore how to select an HVAC trade school, let’s take a look at what a heating and cooling contractor does to become a licensed professional tradesman.
Becoming an HVAC Technician in Albany CA
HVAC is an acronym that is extensively used in the industry that stands for “Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning”. HVAC technicians specialize in the installation, maintenance and repair of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are generally required to be licensed, however each state and local municipality has its own criteria. Obtaining professional certification is not mandatory, but an optional way for Albany CA HVAC technicians to demonstrate that they are highly qualified and accomplished in their area of specialization. There are a number of recognized certifications within the trade that are offered. Following are a few of the important ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally acknowledged certification for HVAC techs. The certification is attained by passing a proficiency examination and can be acquired in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification offers both a professional and a master specialist credential. Two years of professional experience in addition to passing a comprehensive exam are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have three 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 specialists that handle refrigerants. There are 3 forms of certification obtainable, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Because licensing may be mandated in your location, and you may also wish to acquire certification, it’s important that you enroll in an HVAC trade school that will train you for both. And since you will more than likely be working with refrigerants, make certain that the school you pick prepares you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
HVAC Certificate and Degree Training Programs
There are a variety of choices offered for HVAC training 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 lesser amount of time, typically achieved in just 6 months, however some programs are longer. A certificate will train you for most HVAC positions, especially if you are licensed and have certification appropriate to the position. The degree programs may provide a competitive edge for securing employment and will furnish more comprehensive training than the certificate programs. Below is a short description of each option offered near Albany CA.
- Certificate. Generally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among entry level residential or commercial HVAC specialists. They provide a solid foundation of skills for employment within the industry.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program supplies a more comprehensive background of heating and cooling systems than the certificate program. Normally taking two years to finish, a number of degrees include an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor’s Degree. The Bachelor’s Degree in HVAC is suited more for 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 being taught how to service and maintain heating and cooling systems, you will also learn how to design them.
Selecting the appropriate credential program will be dependent on what your future career goals are, in addition to the time and money that you have to invest. One possibility is to start with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after acquiring some experience in the trade in Albany CA, eventually going back to earn a Bachelor’s Degree. If this is your tactic, make sure to ask the HVAC tech school you are considering about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Schools Online
Choosing an HVAC program online is one option to obtaining your education and earning a degree or certificate. Most schools will call for some attendance on campus to complete practical training. A number also offer internship or work-study programs in addition to or instead of practical lab work. But since the remainder of the classes may be participated in online, this alternative may be a more convenient solution for many Albany CA students that are short on time. And many online degree programs are cheaper than other traditional alternatives. Even driving expenses from Albany and study materials can be reduced, helping to make schooling more budget-friendly. And a large number of online schools 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 less complicated to accommodate school into your active schedule.
Questions to Ask HVAC Certification Courses near Albany CA
Once you have decided on the type of degree or certificate that you wish to attain, either on campus or online, you can start to narrow down your selection of schools. As you are certainly aware, there are numerous HVAC technical schools in the Albany CA area and across the USA to choose from. That’s why it is very important to have a checklist of key qualifications when making school assessments. As previously mentioned in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will probably be the first two aspects you will consider. Following are several additional ones that you need to investigate before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. A large number of HVAC technical schools in the Albany CA area have acquired either a regional or a national accreditation. They can attain Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school’s programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to a specific program, for example HVAC technology. Make certain that the school and program are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization, such as the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping ensure that you acquire a quality education, it may help in securing financial aid or student loans, which are in many cases not available for non-accredited schools. Furthermore, many states mandate 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 considering what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students who enroll in and finish the program. A low completion rate may suggest that students were disappointed with the course and quit. It may also signify that the teachers were not qualified to train the students. It’s also essential that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader list of graduates, which can 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 Albany CA HVAC employers to help students acquire apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. Many HVAC technical programs are taught along with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating vocational and trade programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of HVAC businesses or trade unions. Check if the schools you are reviewing have working relationships with local Albany CA HVAC specialists. An apprenticeship not only provides a rewarding experience by supplying practical training, but it also provides job opportunities and helps to establish relationships in the local HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make certain that the school facilities and the equipment that you will be trained on are state-of-the-art and what you will be working with on the job. If you are currently in an internship or an apprenticeship, check with the HVAC tech you are working with regarding what you should be expecting. If not, ask a local Albany CA HVAC company if they can give you some pointers. Additionally keep in mind that unless you are willing to move, the school must be within driving distance of your Albany CA residence. Remember that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation costs there may be increased tuition fees compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It’s important that you get as much one-on-one instruction as possible, which can be challenging in bigger classes. Ask if you can sit in on a couple of the classes so that you can see how big they are and witness first hand the interaction between instructors and students. Speak with some of the students and get their opinions regarding class sizes and instruction. Finally, talk to a few of the instructors and learn what their level of expertise is and what certifications or degrees they have earned.
Flexible Scheduling. Confirm that the class schedules for the programs you are assessing are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you are only able to go to classes at night or on weekends near Albany CA, verify that the schools you are looking at offer those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Also, check out what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, illness or family responsibilities.
Attending HVAC School near Albany CA?
In 1908, a group of local women protested the dumping of Berkeley garbage in their community. Armed with two shotguns and a twenty-two-caliber rifle, they confronted the drivers of the wagons near what is now the corner of San Pablo Avenue and Buchanan Street. The women told the drivers of the horse-drawn garbage wagons to go home, which they did quickly and without complaint. Shortly thereafter, the residents of the town voted to incorporate as the City of Ocean View. In 1909, voters changed the name of the city, primarily to distinguish the city from the adjacent section of Berkeley which had previously been named Ocean View. On a vote of 38 to 6 the city was renamed in honor of Albany, New York, the birthplace of the city's first mayor, Frank Roberts.
Albany is located on the eastern shore of San Francisco Bay, bordering the city of Berkeley to the south and east, and the Contra Costa County cities of El Cerrito and Richmond to the north. Albany's northern and southern borders are defined by two creeks, Codornices Creek on the south and Cerrito Creek on the north. Cerrito Creek takes its name from "El Cerrito de San Antonio", now known as Albany Hill. The hill's unusual location near the bay shore makes it a prominent landmark in the East Bay. The rest of the city is relatively flat by Bay Area standards, except for a small area near the base of the Berkeley Hills.
Albany's waterfront has undergone significant man-made changes; the most prominent landform is now the Albany Bulb, a former garbage landfill jutting out into San Francisco Bay. The bulb was the site of a small art colony and shanty town until it was cleared to turn the area into part of the new Eastshore State Park.
Choose the Right HVAC Certification Training near Albany CA
Selecting the ideal HVAC training course is a critical first step toward a fulfilling career in the heating & cooling trade. As we have discussed in this article, you should choose a school and a degree or certificate program that are both accredited and have excellent reputations within the HVAC trade. Other factors to search for are ample practical training and state-of-the-art facilities. You need to visit each of the schools personally that you are most interested in to inspect the campus and speak with both the faculty and current students. Attempt to get a feel for the quality of the instruction and the interaction between them. Also, ask about scheduling options and whether or not evening 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 laid out in our guidelines for assessing schools, you’ll be able to narrow down your options so that you can make an educated decision. With the proper training, hard work and dedication, you can eventually become a licensed HVAC specialist in Albany CA.
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