How to Find the Right HVAC School near Big Bear Lake California
Now that you have come to a decision on a career as a heating and cooling specialist, the next step is to choose an HVAC technical school near Big Bear Lake CA. But with so many to select from, how do you select the right one to get the training that you need? Some potential students will make their decision based exclusively on the price of tuition or how near the school is to their home. Although these are necessary factors to consider, they are not the only ones to evaluate. 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. These and additional benchmarks will be discussed in more detail later within this article. But before we explore how to pick an HVAC vocational school, let’s look at what a heating and a/c contractor does to become a licensed qualified tradesman.
How to Become an HVAC Pro in Big Bear Lake CA
HVAC is an acronym that is widely used in the industry that stands for “Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning”. HVAC contractors specialize in the installation, repair and maintenance of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are typically mandated to be licensed, however each state and regional municipality has its own criteria. Acquiring professional certification is not compulsory, but an alternative way for Big Bear Lake CA HVAC technicians to prove that they are exceptionally qualified and knowledgeable in their area of specialization. There are a number of respected certifications within the field that are offered. Below are a few of the important ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally recognized certification for HVAC technicians. The certification is attained by passing a proficiency examination 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 field experience as well as passing a comprehensive exam are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have three years of experience in addition to a passing result on the professional level exam. As with NATE, certifications are made available in several specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is necessary for techs that work with refrigerants. There are 3 forms of certification available, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Because licensing might be required in your area, and you may also intend to acquire certification, it’s important that you select an HVAC trade school that will prepare you for both. And since you will more than likely be dealing with refrigerants, make sure that the program you select preps you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.
HVAC Degree and Certificate Schools
There are several alternatives offered for HVAC instruction in a trade or technical school. You can earn a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor’s Degree. Acquiring a certificate will take the minimum period of time, often achieved in as little as 6 months, although some courses are longer. A certificate will qualify you for most HVAC positions, especially if you are licensed and have certification related to the position. The degree programs may provide a competitive advantage for securing employment and will provide more extensive training than the certificate programs. Following is a brief summary of each option offered near Big Bear Lake 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 industry.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program supplies a more extensive background of heating and a/c systems than the certificate program. Typically taking two years to complete, many 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 require an Associate Degree, while others are a traditional 4 year program. In addition to being taught how to service and maintain heating and air conditioning systems, you will also learn how to design them.
Selecting the appropriate credential program will be dependent on what your long term 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 field in Big Bear Lake CA, subsequently returning to obtain 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 Online Courses
Attending an HVAC program online is one possibility in obtaining your education and receiving a certificate or degree. Most schools will require some attendance on campus to complete practical training. A number also sponsor internship or work-study programs in addition to or in place of practical lab work. But since the remainder of the classes can be attended online, this alternative may be a more practical solution for many Big Bear Lake CA students that are short on time. And a number of online degree programs are less costly than other on campus choices. Even commuting expenses from Big Bear Lake and study supplies can be minimized, helping to make schooling more budget-friendly. And a large number of online programs are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your job or family obligations have left you with limited time to attend classes, perhaps an HVAC online training program will make it more convenient to accommodate school into your active schedule.
What to Ask HVAC Trade Schools near Big Bear Lake CA
When you have picked the type of degree or certificate that you wish to attain, either on campus or online, you can start to narrow down your selection of schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are a large number of HVAC vocational schools in the Big Bear Lake CA area and all over the United States to pick from. That’s why it is essential to have a checklist of key qualifiers when making school evaluations. As earlier mentioned in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will undoubtedly be the initial 2 variables you will consider. Following are several additional ones that you should investigate before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Numerous HVAC trade schools in the Big Bear Lake CA area have earned either a regional or a national accreditation. They can earn Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school’s programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to a specific program, such as HVAC technology. Verify that the program and school are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting agency, such as the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping make certain that you get a quality education, it may assist in securing financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently unavailable for non-accredited programs. Furthermore, a number of states mandate that the HVAC training program be accredited for it to qualify for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the HVAC schools you are considering 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 disappointed with the course and dropped out. It might also signify that the teachers were not qualified to train the students. It’s also essential that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive directory of graduates, which can mean more contacts for the school to employ for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate will not only affirm that the school has a good reputation within the industry, but additionally that it has the network of Big Bear Lake CA HVAC employers to help grads acquire apprenticeships or jobs.
Apprenticeship Programs. Many HVAC trade programs are taught together with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating vocational and trade schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of HVAC companies or labor unions. Find out if the schools you are comparing have referring partnerships with local Big Bear Lake CA HVAC specialists. An apprenticeship not only offers a valuable experience by providing hands-on training, but it also supplies job opportunities and helps to form relationships in the regional HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Confirm that the campus facilities and the tools that you will be instructed on are state-of-the-art and what you will be working with on the job. If you are already 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 Big Bear Lake CA HVAC contractor if they can provide some suggestions. Also bear in mind that unless you can move, the school needs to be within driving distance of your Big Bear Lake CA residence. Remember that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides the added moving costs there might 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 larger classes. Ask if you can sit in on a few of the classes so that you can observe how large they are and experience the interaction between students and instructors. Speak with a few of the students and get their comments concerning class sizes and instruction. Finally, speak with a few of the instructors and learn what their level of expertise is and what certifications or degrees they have earned.
Flexible Scheduling. Confirm that the class schedules for the schools you are assessing are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Big Bear Lake CA, confirm that the programs you are considering offer those options. If you can only attend part-time, be sure that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Additionally, find out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, illness or family emergencies.
Attending HVAC School near Big Bear Lake CA?
Big Bear Lake, California
Big Bear Lake is a small city in San Bernardino County, California, located in the San Bernardino Mountains along the south shore of Big Bear Lake, and surrounded by the San Bernardino National Forest. The city is located about 25 miles (40 km) northeast of the city of San Bernardino, and immediately west of the unincorporated town of Big Bear City. The population was approximately 5,019 at the 2010 census, down from 5,438 at the 2000 census. Being a popular year-round resort destination, however, the actual number of people staying in or visiting the greater Big Bear Valley area regularly surges to over 100,000 during many weekends of the year.
Big Bear Lake was inhabited by the indigenous Serrano Indians for over 2,000 years before it was explored by Benjamin Wilson and his party. Once populated by only the natives and the grizzly bears, from which the area received its name, the population of the Big Bear Valley grew rapidly during the Southern California Gold Rush from 1861 to 1912. Grizzly bears were not found in the region after 1908. Today, there are black bears in the region since their introduction in 1933, and they are sometimes sighted in residential areas.
A trip to Big Bear Lake from San Bernardino took two days on horse-drawn coaches. Kirk Phillips was a local who took a trip to New York City and saw the world's first bus line. This inspired him to create the world's second bus line from San Bernardino to Big Bear Valley using White trucks with several rows of seats. This made it possible for the villages to grow and for Big Bear Lake to become the first mountain recreation area in Southern California.
Enroll in the Right HVAC Training Course near Big Bear Lake CA
Choosing the right HVAC training program is a crucial first step toward a fulfilling career in the heating and air conditioning trade. As we have discussed in this post, you should select a technical school and a certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have exceptional reputations within the HVAC trade. Other things to look for are ample practical training and state-of-the-art facilities. You need to check out each of the schools in person that you are most interested in to tour the campus and talk with both the faculty and current students. Attempt to get a feel for the quality of the training and the interaction between them. Also, ask about scheduling choices and whether or not evening or weekend classes are available if needed. And remember to ask about financial assistance and student loan options too. If you ask the proper questions as we have laid out in our checklist for evaluating schools, you’ll be able to narrow down your choices so that you can make an educated decision. With the appropriate training, hard work and commitment, you can eventually become a licensed HVAC professional in Big Bear Lake CA.
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