How to Find the Right HVAC School near Berkeley California
Now that you have made a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioning technician, the next action is to look for an HVAC vocational school near Berkeley CA. But with so many to choose from, how do you decide on the right one to receive the training that you need? A number of potential students will make their decision based exclusively on the cost of tuition or how close the school is to their home. Even though these are significant considerations, they are not the only ones to investigate. Some of the other factors 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. Those and other criteria will be addressed in more detail later within this article. But before we examine how to select an HVAC technical school, let’s look at what a heating and cooling specialist does to become a licensed professional tradesman.
How to Become an HVAC Professional in Berkeley CA
HVAC is an acronym that is widely used in the business that stands for “Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning”. HVAC techs provide services for the installation, repair and maintenance of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, 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. Attaining professional certification is not compulsory, but an alternative means for Berkeley CA HVAC technicians to establish that they are exceptionally skilled and experienced in their area of specialization. There are multiple acknowledged certifications within the industry that are available. Below are a few of the significant ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally recognized certification for HVAC techs. The certification is earned by passing a competency examination and can 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 in addition to passing a comprehensive exam are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have 3 years of experience along with a passing score on the professional level examination. As with NATE, certifications are made available in multiple specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is necessary for specialists that handle refrigerants. There are 3 types of certification obtainable, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Because licensing might be required in your area, and you may also intend to obtain certification, it’s imperative that you choose an HVAC vocational school that will train you for both. And since you will more than likely be handling refrigerants, make sure that the program you decide on prepares you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.
HVAC Degree and Certificate Classes
There are several choices offered for HVAC training 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 least period of time, usually achieved in as little as six months, although some courses are longer. A certificate will qualify you for the majority of HVAC positions, particularly if you are licensed and have certification applicable to the position. The degree training programs can provide a competitive edge in the job market and will furnish more comprehensive training than the certificate programs. Following is a short description of each credential offered near Berkeley CA.
- Certificate. Generally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among beginning residential or commercial HVAC specialists. They furnish a solid foundation of skills for job opportunities within the industry.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program delivers a more exhaustive background of heating & cooling systems than the certificate program. Normally taking 2 years to complete, a number of degrees feature an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor’s Degree. The Bachelor’s Degree in HVAC is tailored more for a career in management as well as business ownership. Some programs require an Associate Degree, while others are a traditional 4 year program. In addition to learning how to service and maintain heating and cooling systems, you will also study how to design them.
Picking the ideal credential program will be dependent on what your long term career objectives are, as well as the time and money that you have to commit. One option is to begin with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after getting some experience in the field in Berkeley CA, subsequently returning to earn a Bachelor’s Degree. If this is your strategy, make sure to ask the HVAC tech school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Classes Online
Enrolling in an HVAC school online is one possibility to attaining your training and earning a degree or certificate. Nearly all schools will call for some attendance on campus to complete practical training. A number also provide internship or work-study programs in addition to or instead of practical lab work. But since the remainder of the classes can be participated in on the web, this alternative may be a more accessible solution for many Berkeley CA students that are short on time. And many online degree programs are less costly than other traditional options. Even travelling expenses from Berkeley and study supplies can be lessened, helping to make education more economical. And a large number of online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your career or family responsibilities have left you with limited time to attend classes, maybe an online HVAC degree program will make it easier to fit school into your hectic lifestyle.
Questions For HVAC Schools near Berkeley CA
When you have picked the type of degree or certificate that you wish to acquire, 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 vocational schools in the Berkeley CA area and all over the USA to pick from. That’s why it is essential to have a checklist of important qualifications when making school evaluations. As earlier mentioned in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will most likely be the first two factors you will take into consideration. Following are some additional ones that you will want to investigate before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. A large number of HVAC technical programs in the Berkeley CA area have attained either a regional or a national accreditation. They may acquire Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school’s programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to a specific program, for instance HVAC technology. Verify that the school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization, for example the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping ensure that you receive an excellent education, it may help in obtaining financial assistance or student loans, which are in many cases unavailable for non-accredited schools. Furthermore, many 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 of students who enroll in and complete the program. A lower completion rate might signify that students were dissatisfied with the program and dropped out. It may also suggest that the instructors 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 more extensive directory of alumni, which may mean 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 an excellent reputation within the trade, but additionally that it has the network of Berkeley CA HVAC employers to help students obtain apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. Many HVAC technical programs are taught along with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating technical and vocational schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of HVAC businesses or labor unions. Check if the schools you are comparing have referring partnerships with local Berkeley CA HVAC professionals. An apprenticeship not only provides a valuable experience by furnishing hands-on training, but it also supplies job opportunities and helps to form 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 currently in an internship or an apprenticeship, talk to the HVAC technician you are working with concerning what you should be looking for. If not, ask a local Berkeley CA HVAC company if they can provide some suggestions. Also bear in mind that unless you can relocate, the school needs to be within commuting distance of your Berkeley CA residence. Take note that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides the added relocation costs there might be increased tuition fees 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 bigger classes. Ask if you can sit in on a couple of the classes so that you can observe how large they are and experience the interaction between students and teachers. Speak with several of the students and get their opinions concerning class sizes and instruction. Last, speak with a few of the teachers and learn what their level of expertise is and what certifications or degrees they hold.
Flexible Scheduling. Confirm that the class schedules for the programs you are evaluating are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you are only able to go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Berkeley CA, check that the schools you are considering offer those choices. If you can only attend part-time, be sure that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Finally, check out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, sickness or family emergencies.
Attending HVAC School near Berkeley CA?
Berkeley (/ˈbɜːrkliː/ BURK-lee) is a city on the east shore of San Francisco Bay in northern Alameda County, California. It is named after the 18th-century Anglo-Irish bishop and philosopher George Berkeley. It borders the cities of Oakland and Emeryville to the south and the city of Albany and the unincorporated community of Kensington to the north. Its eastern border with Contra Costa County generally follows the ridge of the Berkeley Hills. The 2010 census recorded a population of 112,580.
Berkeley is home to the oldest campus in the University of California system, the University of California, Berkeley, and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, which is managed and operated by the University. It also has the Graduate Theological Union, one of the largest religious studies institutions in the world. Berkeley is one of the most socially liberal cities in the United States.
The site of today's City of Berkeley was the territory of the Chochenyo/Huchiun band of the Ohlone people when the first Europeans arrived. Evidence of their existence in the area include pits in rock formations, which they used to grind acorns, and a shellmound, now mostly leveled and covered up, along the shoreline of San Francisco Bay at the mouth of Strawberry Creek. Other artifacts were discovered in the 1950s in the downtown area during remodeling of a commercial building, near the upper course of the creek.
Choose the Right HVAC Training Classes near Berkeley CA
Picking the ideal HVAC training course is a crucial first step toward a rewarding career in the heating & cooling industry. As we have covered in this article, you should pick a trade school and a certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have outstanding reputations within the HVAC field. Other things to search for are ample hands-on training and state-of-the-art facilities. You should go to each of the schools in person that you are most interested in to explore the campus and speak with both the current students and faculty. Attempt to get a feel for the quality of the teaching and the interaction between them. Additionally, ask about scheduling choices and if evening or weekend classes are available if needed. And don’t forget to inquire about financial aid and student loan options as well. If you ask the appropriate 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 right training, hard work and commitment, you can eventually become a licensed HVAC professional in Berkeley CA.
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