How to Find the Right Heating and Cooling Program near Lake Forest California
Now that you have made a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioning specialist, the next action is to look for an HVAC vocational school near Lake Forest CA. But with so many to choose from, how do you pick the right one to obtain the training that you require? A number of potential students will make their decision based exclusively on the price of tuition or how near the school is to their residence. While these are significant concerns, they are not the only ones to evaluate. Just some 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. These and other criteria will be discussed in more detail later within this article. But before we explore how to select an HVAC trade school, let’s look at what a heating and air conditioning technician does to become a licensed qualified tradesman.
How to Become an HVAC Contractor
HVAC is an acronym that is frequently used in the business that stands for “Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning”. HVAC technicians provide services for the installation, maintenance and repair of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are typically required to be licensed, though each state and regional municipality has its own prerequisites. Attaining professional certification is not required, but an alternative means for Lake Forest CA HVAC technicians to establish that they are highly qualified and accomplished in their area of expertise. There are multiple recognized certifications within the field that are offered. Below 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 proficiency examination and may 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 as well as passing a comprehensive examination are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have 3 years of experience together with a passing result on the professional level examination. Similar to NATE, certifications are offered in several specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is mandatory for specialists that work with refrigerants. There are three forms of certification available, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Because licensing could be required in your location, and you may also intend to earn certification, it’s important that you enroll in an HVAC technical school that will train you for both. And since you will more than likely be dealing with refrigerants, make sure that the school you choose prepares you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
HVAC Degree and Certificate Schools
There are several alternatives offered for HVAC training in a technical or vocational school. You can attain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor’s Degree. Earning a certificate will take the least period of time, usually accomplished in as little as six months, though some courses are longer. A certificate will train you for most HVAC positions, particularly if you are licensed and have certification related to the position. The degree programs may provide a competitive advantage in the job market and will provide more extensive training than the certificate programs. Following is a brief explanation of each option offered near Lake Forest CA.
- Certificate. Generally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among beginning commercial or residential HVAC professionals. They furnish a strong foundation of skills for employment within the trade.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program supplies a more comprehensive knowledge of heating and cooling systems than the certificate program. Typically taking two years to complete, a number of degrees incorporate an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor’s Degree. The Bachelor’s Degree in HVAC is geared more towards a career in management as well as business ownership. Some programs call for an Associate Degree, while others are a standard 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.
Picking the right 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 option is to start with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after gaining some experience in the trade in Lake Forest CA, later returning to obtain a Bachelor’s Degree. If this is your strategy, make certain to ask the HVAC technician school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Online Schools
Attending an HVAC school online is one alternative in getting your training and receiving a degree or certificate. Nearly all schools will call for some attendance on campus to complete practical training. Many also offer internship or work-study programs in addition to or as an alternative to practical lab work. But since the balance of the classes may be participated in via the internet, this alternative may be a more accessible solution for some Lake Forest CA students that are short on time. And some online degree programs are less costly than other on campus choices. Even travelling expenses from Lake Forest and study materials can be minimized, helping to make education more budget-friendly. And numerous online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your job or family responsibilities have left you with limited time to attend classes, perhaps an HVAC online training program will make it more convenient to fit school into your active schedule.
What to Ask HVAC Schools
When you have chosen the type of degree or certificate that you want to earn, either on campus or online, you can start to narrow down your list of schools. As you are certainly aware, there are numerous HVAC trade schools in the Lake Forest CA area and across the USA to choose from. That’s why it is imperative to have a checklist of relevant qualifications when making school assessments. As previously stated in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will probably be the initial two aspects 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 vocational schools in the Lake Forest CA area have attained either a regional or a national accreditation. They can earn Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school’s programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to a specific program, for example HVAC technology. Confirm that the program is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization, for instance the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping ensure that you get a superior education, it can assist in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are often unavailable for non-accredited schools. Furthermore, some states mandate that the HVAC training course 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 finish the program. A lower completion rate may signify that students were dissatisfied with the program and dropped out. It may also indicate that the instructors were not qualified to instruct the students. It’s also essential that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader directory of graduates, which can mean more contacts for the school to use for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate will not only confirm that the school has a good reputation within the trade, but additionally that it has the network of Lake Forest CA HVAC employers to help grads secure apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. A large number of HVAC training programs are taught along with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating trade and technical programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of HVAC businesses or trade unions. Check if the schools you are reviewing have working partnerships with local Lake Forest CA HVAC contractors. An apprenticeship not only provides a rewarding experience by supplying hands-on training, but it also supplies job opportunities and helps to build relationships in the regional HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make sure that the school facilities and the equipment that you will be instructed on are up-to-date and what you will be using in the field. If you are currently in an internship or an apprenticeship, check with the HVAC technician you are working under concerning what you should be looking for. Otherwise, ask a local Lake Forest CA HVAC contracting company if they can provide some pointers. Also bear in mind that unless you are able to relocate, the school needs to be within driving distance of your Lake Forest CA home. Remember that if you decide to enroll in 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 receive as much personalized training as possible, which can be challenging in larger classes. Ask if you can sit in on a couple of the classes so that you can observe how large they are and witness first hand the interaction between students and instructors. Talk to a few of the students and get their comments concerning class sizes and instruction. Finally, talk to some of the teachers and learn what their level of experience is and what degrees or certifications they have earned.
Flexible Scheduling. Verify that the class schedules for the programs you are reviewing are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Lake Forest CA, confirm that the programs you are comparing provide those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Additionally, check out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, illness or family responsibilities.
Considering an HVAC School near Lake Forest CA?
Perhaps you are considering enrolling in an HVAC training program in the Lake Forest California area. If so, you may find the following background information about the location of your new school campus both interesting and informative.
Lake Forest, California
Lake Forest incorporated as a city on December 20, 1991. Prior to incorporation, the community had been known as El Toro. Following a vote in 2000, Lake Forest expanded its city limits to include the master-planned developments of Foothill Ranch and Portola Hills. This expansion brought new homes and commercial centers to the Northeastern boundary of the city. Lake Forest (along with its neighboring cities Mission Viejo and Irvine) is ranked as one of the safest cities in the country.
Lake Forest has two lakes from which the city gets its name. The lakes are man-made, and condominiums and custom homes ranging from large to small line their shores. Neighborhood associations manage the lakes. Lake 1, known as the Lake Forest Beach and Tennis Club, and Lake 2, the Sun and Sail Club. Each facility features tennis courts, gyms, basketball courts, barbecue pits, volleyball courts, multiple swimming pools, saunas, hot tubs and club houses for social events.
The "forest" for which the city is also named lies in the area between Ridge Route, Jeronimo, Lake Forest and Serrano roads, and consists mostly of Eucalyptus trees. It is also man-made, and was created in the first decade of the 1900s when a local landowner, Dwight Whiting, planted 400 acres (1.6 km2) of Eucalyptus groves in the vicinity of Serrano Creek as part of a lumber operation intended to draw development to the area. In the late 1960s, the Occidental Petroleum company developed a residential community in and around the Eucalyptus groves, which had long since expanded and grown much more dense.
Top HVAC Trade Schools Lake Forest CA
Enrolling in the right HVAC training course is a critical beginning toward a rewarding career in the heating & cooling trade. You originally came to this website because you wanted more information regarding Top HVAC Trade Schools. However, as we have addressed in this article, you need to choose an Heating and Cooling trade school and a degree or certificate program that are both accredited and have exceptional reputations within the HVAC trade. Other features to search for are lots of practical training and state-of-the-art facilities. You need to 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 teaching and the interaction between them. Additionally, ask about scheduling options and whether night or weekend classes are available if needed. And don’t forget to ask about financial assistance and student loan options as well. If you ask the right questions as we have outlined in our checklist for assessing schools, you’ll be able to filter your choices 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 Lake Forest CA.
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