How to Select the Right HVAC School near Chico California
Once you have come to a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioner professional, the next step is to choose an HVAC trade school near Chico CA. But with so many to choose from, how do you decide on the ideal one to get the training that you need? A number of prospective 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 important considerations, they are not the only ones to take into account. A few of the other things 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 additional criteria will be addressed in more detail later within this article. But before we explore how to pick an HVAC technical school, let’s look at what a heating and air conditioning technician does to become a licensed qualified tradesman.
Becoming an HVAC Specialist
HVAC is an acronym that is commonly used in the trade that stands for “Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning”. HVAC professionals specialize in the installation, repair and maintenance of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are typically mandated to be licensed, though each state and regional municipality has its own prerequisites. Attaining professional certification is not required, but a voluntary means for Chico CA HVAC technicians to prove that they are highly skilled and knowledgeable in their area of specialization. There are many acknowledged certifications within the trade that are offered. Following are a few of the important ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally recognized certification for HVAC technicians. The certification is achieved by passing a competency exam and can 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 needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have three years of experience together with a passing score on the professional level exam. As with NATE, certifications are provided in various specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is mandatory for techs that handle refrigerants. There are three forms of certification obtainable, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Since licensing might be mandated in your location, and you may also intend to earn certification, it’s imperative that you pick an HVAC vocational school that will prepare you for both. And since you will more than likely be working with refrigerants, make certain that the program you select readies you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.
HVAC Degree Courses
There are a number of alternatives available for HVAC training in a vocational or trade school. You can attain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor’s Degree. Acquiring a certificate will take the least amount of time, often accomplished in as little as 6 months, though some courses are longer. A certificate will qualify you for the majority of HVAC positions, especially if you are licensed and have certification appropriate to the position. The degree programs might provide a competitive advantage for securing employment and will deliver more comprehensive training than the certificate programs. Below is a short description of each option offered near Chico CA.
- Certificate. Normally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among entry level residential or commercial HVAC professionals. They furnish a strong foundation of skills for employment within the trade.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program provides a more comprehensive understanding of heating and cooling systems than the certificate program. Generally requiring two years to finish, some 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 call for an Associate Degree, while others are a traditional four year program. In addition to being taught how to service and maintain heating and cooling systems, you will also learn how to design them.
Choosing the ideal credential program will be based on what your future career objectives are, in addition to the time and financial resources that you have to commit. One possibility is to start with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after getting some experience in the trade in Chico CA, eventually returning to earn a Bachelor’s Degree. If this is your tactic, make certain to ask the HVAC technician school you are considering about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Schools Online
Attending an HVAC school online is one possibility in obtaining your education and earning a degree or certificate. Most schools will call for some attendance on campus to participate in practical training. Many also provide internship or work-study programs in addition to or in place of practical lab work. But since the rest of the classes may be attended on the web, this alternative may be a more practical solution for some Chico CA students that are short on time. And many online degree programs are less expensive than other traditional options. Even travelling expenses from Chico and study materials can be reduced, helping to make schooling more affordable. And numerous 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, maybe an HVAC online training program will make it easier to accommodate school into your busy lifestyle.
Questions For HVAC Certification Courses
Once you have picked the type of degree or certificate that you would like to acquire, either online or on campus, you can start to limit your selection of schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are a large number of HVAC technical schools in the Chico CA area and across the USA to pick from. That’s why it is imperative to have a list of important qualifiers when making school comparisons. As earlier stated in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will undoubtedly be the first two variables you will consider. Following are some additional ones that you will want to explore before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Numerous HVAC technical programs in the Chico CA area have received either a regional or a national accreditation. They can acquire 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. Verify that the program and school are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization, for instance the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping guarantee that you receive a superior education, it can assist in securing financial assistance or student loans, which are often not available for non-accredited programs. Furthermore, some states require that the HVAC training program be accredited for it to qualify for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the Heating and Cooling schools you are reviewing what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage of students who enroll in and complete the program. A low completion rate may indicate that students were disappointed with the course and quit. It might also signify that the instructors were not qualified to train the students. It’s similarly important that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader directory of graduates, which can result in more contacts for the school to utilize 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 field, but also that it has the network of Chico CA HVAC employers to assist graduates obtain apprenticeships or jobs.
Apprenticeship Programs. Most HVAC training programs are taught together with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating trade and technical 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 partnerships with local Chico CA HVAC companies. An apprenticeship not only offers a rewarding experience by supplying practical training, but it also provides job opportunities and helps to form relationships in the local HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make sure that the campus 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 already in an internship or an apprenticeship, consult with the HVAC technician you are working with concerning what you should be looking for. If not, ask a local Chico CA HVAC contractor if they can provide some pointers. Additionally bear in mind that unless you can relocate, the school needs to be within driving distance of your Chico CA home. Take note that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, besides the added moving costs there can be higher tuition charges compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It’s desirable that you get as much individualized training as possible, which can be difficult in bigger classes. Ask if you can sit in on some of the classes so that you can see how large they are and witness first hand the interaction between students and instructors. Speak to a few of the students and get their feedback regarding class sizes and instruction. Last, talk with a few of the instructors and learn 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 evaluating are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you are only able to attend classes at night or on weekends near Chico CA, check that the schools you are comparing offer those options. If you can only attend part-time, be sure that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Finally, find 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 Chico CA?
Perhaps you are considering enrolling in an HVAC training program in the Chico California area. If so, you may find the following background information about the location of your new school campus both interesting and informative.
Chico is the most populous city in Butte County, California, United States. As of the 2010 United States Census, the population was 86,187, reflecting an increase of 26,233 from the 59,954 counted in the 2000 Census. The city is the cultural, economic, and educational center of the northern Sacramento Valley and home to both California State University, Chico and Bidwell Park, the country's 26th largest municipal park and the 13th largest municipally-owned park. Bidwell Park makes up over 17% of the city.
Other cities in close proximity to the Chico Metropolitan Area (population 212,000) include Paradise and Oroville, while local towns and villages (unincorporated areas) include Durham, Cohasset, Dayton, Nord, and Forest Ranch. The Chico Metropolitan Area is the 14th largest Metropolitan Statistical Area in California.
The first known inhabitants of the area now known as Chico were the Mechoopda Maidu Native Americans. The City of Chico was founded in 1860 by John Bidwell, a member of one of the first wagon trains to reach California in 1843. During the American Civil War, Camp Bidwell (named for John Bidwell, by then a Brigadier General of the California Militia), was established a mile outside Chico, by Lt. Col. A. E. Hooker with a company of cavalry and two of infantry, on August 26, 1863.
How to Choose HVAC Training Classes Chico CA
Finding the right HVAC training 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 Training Classes. However, as we have covered in this article, you need to select an Heating and Cooling trade school and a certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have exceptional reputations within the HVAC community. Other things to look for are lots of hands-on training and modern facilities. You should check out each of the schools in person that you are most interested in to inspect the campus and talk with both the current students and faculty. Try to get a feel for the quality of the teaching and the interaction between them. Also, ask about scheduling options and whether evening or weekend classes are available if needed. And remember to inquire about financial aid and student loan options also. If you ask the right questions as we have detailed in our checklist for assessing schools, you’ll be able to narrow down your options so that you can make an informed decision. With the appropriate training, hard work and dedication, you can eventually become a licensed HVAC professional in Chico CA.
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