How to Pick an HVAC Training Class near Lafayette California
Now that you have made a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioning specialist, the next step is to locate an HVAC trade school near Lafayette CA. But with so many to select from, how do you choose the best one to get the training that you require? Some prospective students will make their selection based exclusively on the cost of tuition or how close the school is to their residence. While these are significant factors to consider, they are not the only ones to take into account. A few of the other things 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 other benchmarks will be discussed in more detail later in this article. But before we discuss how to select an HVAC technical school, let’s look at what a heating and air conditioning technician does to become a licensed skilled tradesman.
Becoming an HVAC Pro in Lafayette 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 central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are typically required to be licensed, although every state and regional municipality has its own criteria. Earning professional certification is not compulsory, but a voluntary way for Lafayette CA HVAC techs to demonstrate that they are exceptionally proficient and knowledgeable in their area of specialization. There are many respected certifications within the field that are offered. Here are a few of the significant ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally acknowledged certification for HVAC techs. The certification is attained by passing a competency examination and may be received in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification offers both a professional and a master specialist credential. Two years of field experience as well as passing a comprehensive exam are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have 3 years of experience as well as a passing score on the professional level examination. Similar to NATE, certifications are made available in various specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is necessary for technicians that handle refrigerants. There are 3 types of certification available, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Because licensing may be required in your location, and you may also desire to obtain certification, it’s imperative that you select an HVAC trade school that will prepare you for both. And since you will most likely be handling refrigerants, make certain that the program you choose prepares you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
HVAC Degree and Certificate Training Programs
There are several options offered for HVAC training in a vocational or trade school. You can earn a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor’s Degree. Earning a certificate will take the lesser amount of time, often accomplished in just 6 months, though 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 might provide a competitive edge in the job market and will furnish more comprehensive training than the certificate programs. Below is a short summary of each option offered near Lafayette CA.
- Certificate. Usually requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among entry level residential or commercial HVAC technicians. They furnish 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 and a/c systems than the certificate program. Usually requiring two years to complete, many degrees feature an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor’s Degree. The Bachelor’s Degree in HVAC is geared more for a career in management or even business ownership. Some programs call for an Associate Degree, while others are a traditional four year program. In addition to mastering how to service and maintain heating and cooling systems, you will also study how to design them.
Choosing the right credential program will be dependent on what your future career objectives are, together with the time and financial resources that you have to invest. One option is to start with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after acquiring some experience in the field in Lafayette CA, eventually going back to acquire a Bachelor’s Degree. If this is your strategy, make sure to ask the HVAC tech school you are considering about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Training Online
Choosing an HVAC program online is one approach to getting your education and earning a degree or certificate. Most schools will require some attendance on campus to complete hands on training. A number also provide internship or work-study programs in addition to or as an alternative to practical lab work. But since the remainder of the classes can be attended online, this alternative may be a more practical solution for many Lafayette CA students that are pressed for time. And some online degree programs are cheaper than other on campus options. Even driving expenses from Lafayette and study supplies can be lessened, helping to make schooling more affordable. And a large number of online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your career or family obligations have left you with minimal time to attend classes, maybe an online HVAC degree program will make it easier to accommodate school into your hectic lifestyle.
What to Ask HVAC Certification Classes near Lafayette CA
When you have selected the type of certificate or degree that you wish to acquire, either online or on campus, you can start to decrease your list of schools. As you are certainly aware, there are numerous HVAC technical schools in the Lafayette CA area and all over the Country to choose from. That’s why it is extremely important to have a list of relevant qualifications when making school evaluations. As previously stated in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will most likely be the initial 2 aspects you will consider. Following are some additional ones that you should investigate before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. A large number of HVAC trade programs in the Lafayette CA area have earned either a regional or a national accreditation. They can earn Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school’s programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to an individual program, for example HVAC technology. Make sure that the program is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting organization, such as the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping guarantee that you get a quality education, it may assist in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are often unavailable for non-accredited schools. Furthermore, a number of states mandate that the HVAC training course be accredited for it to be approved for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the HVAC schools you are considering what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students who enroll in and complete the course. A lower completion rate might suggest that students were unhappy with the course and quit. It might also signify that the instructors were not competent to instruct the students. It’s also 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 utilize for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate can not only validate that the school has an excellent reputation within the industry, but additionally that it has the network of Lafayette CA HVAC employers to assist graduates secure apprenticeships or jobs.
Apprenticeship Programs. Numerous HVAC trade programs are taught together 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 businesses or labor unions. Find out if the schools you are reviewing have working partnerships with local Lafayette CA HVAC contractors. An apprenticeship not only provides a valuable experience by supplying practical training, but it also furnishes job opportunities and helps to establish relationships in the area HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make sure that the school facilities and the tools that you will be trained on are up-to-date and what you will be working with on the job. If you are currently in an internship or an apprenticeship, check with the HVAC technician you are working under regarding what you should be looking for. If not, ask a local Lafayette CA HVAC contractor if they can provide some pointers. Also bear in mind that unless you are willing to relocate, the school needs to be within commuting distance of your Lafayette CA residence. Remember that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to moving 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 larger classes. Ask if you can monitor a few of the classes so that you can see how big they are and experience the interaction between instructors and students. Talk with several of the students and get their feedback concerning class sizes and instruction. Finally, talk to some of the instructors and find out what their level of experience is and what certifications or degrees they hold.
Flexible Scheduling. Confirm that the class schedules for the schools you are assessing are flexible enough to handle your needs. If you are only able to go to classes at night or on weekends near Lafayette CA, check that the programs you are comparing provide those options. If you can only attend part-time, make sure that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Additionally, ask what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, illness or family emergencies.
Attending HVAC School near Lafayette CA?
Lafayette (formerly, La Fayette) is a city in Contra Costa County, California, United States. As of 2011, the city's population was estimated to be 24,285. It was named after the Marquis de La Fayette, a French military hero of the American Revolutionary War. Today Lafayette is known for its pastoral rolling hills, good schools, and wealthy inhabitants. In 2016, the median household income in Lafayette was over $140,000, more than twice the statewide average and about two and half times the national median.
Before the colonization of the region by Spain, Lafayette and its vicinity were inhabited by the Saclan tribe of the indigenous Bay Miwok. Ohlone also populated some of the areas along Lafayette Creek. The indigenous inhabitants' first contact with Europeans was in the late 18th century with the founding of Catholic missions in the region. These initial contacts developed into conflict, with years of armed struggle, including a battle on what is currently Lafayette soil in 1797 between the Saclan and the Spanish, and eventually resulting in the subjugation of the native population.
Most of what is currently Lafayette was given as a Mexican land grant, Rancho Acalanes to Candelario Valencia in 1834. The name Acalanes seems to have come from the name of a native village in the area, Ahala-n.
Select the Right HVAC Training Course near Lafayette CA
Finding the ideal HVAC training program is an important first step toward a rewarding career in the heating & cooling industry. As we have addressed in this article, you need to pick a vocational school and a degree or certificate program that are both accredited and have exceptional reputations within the HVAC field. Other things to search for are lots of hands-on training and state-of-the-art facilities. You need to go to each of the schools personally that you are most interested in to explore the campus and talk with both the faculty and current students. Try to get a feel for the quality of the teaching and the interaction between them. Also, inquire about scheduling choices and whether 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 checklist for comparing schools, you’ll be able to filter your options so that you can make an educated decision. With the right training, hard work and dedication, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC contractor in Lafayette CA.
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