How to Select the Right HVAC Training Program near Laguna Hills California
Now that you have decided on a career as a heating and cooling professional, the next step is to look for an HVAC technical school near Laguna Hills CA. But with so many to pick from, how do you choose the best one to obtain the training that you require? A number of prospective students will make their choice based exclusively on the price of tuition or how close the school is to their home. While these are important concerns, they are not the only ones to evaluate. Just some of the other factors that you need to look into are the graduation completion rates of the HVAC schools, their reputations, and if they are accredited by professional trade organizations. Those and additional criteria will be covered in more detail later within this article. But before we discuss how to pick an HVAC vocational school, let’s take a look at what a heating and cooling professional does to become a licensed skilled tradesman.
Becoming an HVAC Specialist
HVAC is an acronym that is frequently used in the industry that stands for “Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning”. HVAC technicians provide services for the installation, repair and maintenance of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are commonly required to be licensed, however each state and regional municipality has its own prerequisites. Acquiring professional certification is not compulsory, but an optional means for Laguna Hills CA HVAC specialists to establish that they are highly skilled and experienced in their area of expertise. There are several recognized certifications within the field that are offered. Here are a few of the significant ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally recognized certification for HVAC technicians. The certification is earned by passing a competency exam and can be received in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification makes available both a professional and a master specialist credential. 2 years of field experience in addition to 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 exam. Similar to NATE, certifications are made available in various specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is necessary for techs that work with refrigerants. There are three forms of certification obtainable, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Since licensing could be required in your area, and you may also intend to earn certification, it’s imperative that you enroll in an HVAC vocational school that will prepare you for both. And since you will probably be working with refrigerants, make certain that the program you pick prepares you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
HVAC Certificate and Degree Training Programs
There are a number of alternatives 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 minimum amount of time, usually accomplished in just six months, however some programs are longer. A certificate will qualify you for the majority of HVAC positions, particularly if you are licensed and have certification appropriate to the position. The degree training programs may provide a competitive edge for securing employment and will furnish more extensive training than the certificate programs. Following is a short description of each credential offered near Laguna Hills CA.
- Certificate. Usually requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among entry level residential or commercial HVAC specialists. They furnish a strong foundation of skills for job opportunities within the trade.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program supplies a more comprehensive background of heating and a/c systems than the certificate program. Normally taking two years to complete, a number of 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 call for an Associate Degree, while others are a traditional 4 year program. In addition to mastering how to service and maintain heating and air conditioning systems, you will also learn how to design them.
Picking the appropriate credential program will be dependent on what your future career goals are, along with the time and money that you have to commit. One approach is to begin with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after gaining some experience in the field in Laguna Hills CA, subsequently returning to acquire a Bachelor’s Degree. If this is your approach, make sure to ask the HVAC technician school you are considering about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Schools Online
Enrolling in an HVAC program online is one possibility to attaining your training and receiving a degree or certificate. Most schools will call for some attendance on campus to participate in practical training. Many also offer 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 participated in online, this option may be a more convenient solution for some Laguna Hills CA students that are short on time. And many online degree programs are cheaper than other traditional choices. Even driving expenses from Laguna Hills and study supplies can be lessened, helping to make education more affordable. And numerous online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your job or family obligations have left you with little time to attend classes, perhaps an HVAC online training program will make it easier to accommodate school into your busy lifestyle.
Questions For HVAC Certification Classes
Once you have picked the type of certificate or degree that you desire to earn, either on campus or online, you can start to narrow down your selection of schools. As you are probably aware, there are numerous HVAC trade schools in the Laguna Hills CA area and throughout the United States to select from. That’s why it is extremely important to have a list of key qualifiers when making school assessments. As formerly mentioned in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will probably be the first 2 variables you will take into consideration. Following are some additional ones that you need to investigate before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Many HVAC technical schools in the Laguna Hills CA area have received either a regional or a national accreditation. They can attain Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school’s programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to a specific program, for example HVAC technology. Confirm that the school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency, such as the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping ensure that you get a quality education, it can assist in securing financial assistance or student loans, which are in many cases unavailable for non-accredited programs. Also, some states require that the HVAC training program be accredited in order to qualify for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the Heating and Cooling 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 may signify that students were dissatisfied with the course and dropped out. It might also indicate that the teachers were not competent to train the students. It’s also important that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive directory of graduates, which may produce more contacts for the school to employ for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate can not only validate that the school has a good reputation within the trade, but additionally that it has the network of Laguna Hills CA HVAC employers to help students acquire apprenticeships or jobs.
Apprenticeship Programs. A large number of HVAC vocational programs are taught in conjunction with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating vocational and technical programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of Heating and Cooling companies or labor unions. Check if the schools you are reviewing have referring relationships with local Laguna Hills CA HVAC companies. An apprenticeship not only offers a valuable experience by furnishing practical training, but it also furnishes job opportunities and helps to form relationships in the area HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Confirm that the school facilities and the equipment that you will be trained on are up-to-date 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 regarding what you should be expecting. If not, ask a local Laguna Hills CA HVAC contractor if they can give you some pointers. Also keep in mind that unless you can move, the school must be within commuting distance of your Laguna Hills CA home. Take note that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation costs there may 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 difficult in bigger classes. Ask if you can monitor a few of the classes so that you can see how large they are and witness first hand the interaction between instructors and students. Speak to several of the students and get their feedback relating to class sizes and instruction. Finally, talk to some of the teachers and learn what their level of experience 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 can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Laguna Hills CA, check that the programs you are considering offer those choices. If you can only attend part-time, be sure that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Also, check out what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, illness or family issues.
Considering an HVAC School near Laguna Hills CA?
Perhaps you are considering enrolling in an HVAC training program in the Laguna Hills California area. If so, you may find the following background information about the location of your new school campus both interesting and informative.
Laguna Hills, California
Laguna Hills is a city in Orange County, California, United States. Its name refers to its proximity to Laguna Canyon and the much older Laguna Beach. Other newer cities nearby—Laguna Niguel and Laguna Woods—are similarly named.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 6.7 square miles (17 km2). 6.7 square miles (17 km2) of it is land and 0.025 square miles (0.065 km2) of it (0.37%) is water.
Laguna Hills is built on one of the major land grants developed during the rancho era. Following Mexico's independence from Spain in 1821, those who had served in the government or who had friends in authority, were given vast lands for cattle grazing. Rancho Lomas de Santiago, Rancho San Joaquin, and Rancho Niguel covered much of the western portion of the Saddleback Valley. Don Juan Avila was granted the 13,000-acre Rancho Niguel on which Laguna Hills is located.
Top Heating and Cooling Training Schools Laguna Hills CA
Selecting the right HVAC school course is a critical beginning toward a rewarding career in the heating and air conditioning trade. You originally came to this website because you wanted more information regarding Top Heating and Cooling Training Schools. However, as we have addressed in this post, you should choose an Heating and Cooling trade school and a degree or certificate program that are both accredited and have exceptional reputations within the HVAC field. Other things to look for are plenty of practical training and state-of-the-art facilities. You should check out each of the schools personally that you are most interested in to tour the campus and speak with both the current students and faculty. Try to get a feel for the quality of the instruction and the interaction between them. Additionally, inquire about scheduling choices and if evening or weekend classes are offered if needed. And don’t forget to inquire about financial assistance and student loan options too. If you ask the proper questions as we have laid out in our checklist for comparing schools, you’ll be able to filter your choices so that you can make an informed decision. With the appropriate training, hard work and commitment, you can eventually become a licensed HVAC specialist in Laguna Hills CA.
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