How to Choose an HVAC Training Course near Bridgeport California
Now that you have decided on a career as a heating and cooling technician, the next action is to locate an HVAC technical school near Bridgeport CA. But with so many to pick from, how do you pick the best one to get the training that you require? Some potential students will make their choice based solely on the price of tuition or how close the school is to their home. While these are necessary 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 completion rates of the HVAC schools, their reputations, and if they are accredited by professional trade organizations. These and other criteria will be addressed in more detail later in this article. But before we tackle how to pick an HVAC trade school, let’s look at what a heating and cooling technician does to become a licensed professional tradesman.
Becoming an HVAC Contractor in Bridgeport CA
HVAC is an acronym that is widely used in the trade that stands for “Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning”. HVAC contractors provide services for the installation, maintenance and repair of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are commonly required to be licensed, although every state and local municipality has its own prerequisites. Earning professional certification is not required, but an alternative means for Bridgeport CA HVAC technicians to establish that they are highly qualified and knowledgeable in their area of specialization. There are a number of acknowledged certifications within the trade 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 achieved by passing a competency 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 field experience in addition to passing a comprehensive exam are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have three years of experience as well as a passing result 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 handle refrigerants. There are 3 types of certification offered, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Since licensing might be mandated in your area, and you may also intend to acquire certification, it’s important that you pick an HVAC trade school that will train you for both. And since you will more than likely be working with refrigerants, make sure that the program you decide on preps you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.
HVAC Degree and Certificate Schools
There are a number of options available for HVAC instruction in a vocational or trade school. You can obtain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor’s Degree. Earning a certificate will take the least period of time, often accomplished in just 6 months, although some courses are longer. A certificate will qualify you for the majority of HVAC positions, especially if you are licensed and have certification applicable to the position. The degree programs might provide a competitive advantage in the job market and will furnish more extensive training than the certificate programs. Following is a short summary of each option offered near Bridgeport 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 delivers a more detailed background of heating and a/c systems than the certificate program. Generally requiring 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 geared more towards 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 learning how to service and maintain heating and cooling systems, you will also study how to design them.
Choosing the right credential program will be based on what your long term career aspirations are, along with the time and money that you have to invest. One approach is to begin with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after acquiring some experience in the trade in Bridgeport CA, later returning to earn a Bachelor’s Degree. If this is your tactic, be sure to ask the HVAC tech school you are considering about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Classes Online
Enrolling in an HVAC school online is one option in obtaining your training and receiving a certificate or degree. 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 can be attended on the web, this option may be a more convenient solution for many Bridgeport CA students that are pressed for time. And many online degree programs are cheaper than other traditional alternatives. Even driving expenses from Bridgeport and study supplies can be lessened, helping to make education more budget-friendly. And many online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your career or family responsibilities have left you with limited time to attend classes, maybe an online HVAC degree program will make it less complicated to fit school into your busy schedule.
What to Ask HVAC Trade Schools near Bridgeport CA
As soon as you have chosen the type of certificate or degree that you desire to obtain, either online or on campus, you can begin to narrow down your selection of schools. As you are certainly aware, there are numerous HVAC technical schools in the Bridgeport CA area and all over the USA to choose from. That’s why it is essential to have a list of important qualifications when making school evaluations. As formerly mentioned in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will undoubtedly be the initial two aspects you will take into consideration. Following are some additional ones that you need to investigate before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. A large number of HVAC technical programs in the Bridgeport CA area have received either a regional or a national accreditation. They may earn Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school’s programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to a specific program, for instance HVAC technology. Make sure that the school and program are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting organization, for instance the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping make certain that you get a superior education, it may assist in securing financial assistance or student loans, which are in many cases unavailable for non-accredited schools. Additionally, a number of states mandate that the HVAC training course be accredited in order to qualify for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the HVAC schools you are looking at what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage of students who enroll in and finish the program. A low completion rate might signify that students were disappointed with the course and dropped out. It might also mean that the teachers were not competent to instruct 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 produce more contacts for the school to employ for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate can not only confirm that the school has an excellent reputation within the industry, but additionally that it has the network of Bridgeport CA HVAC employers to assist students obtain apprenticeships or jobs.
Apprenticeship Programs. Most HVAC trade programs are taught along with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating technical and vocational programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of HVAC companies or trade unions. Ask if the schools you are considering have referring partnerships with local Bridgeport CA HVAC specialists. An apprenticeship not only offers a valuable experience by providing hands-on training, but it also provides employment opportunities and helps to build relationships in the regional HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make certain that the campus facilities and the tools that you will be instructed 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, consult with the HVAC specialist you are working under concerning what you should be looking for. If not, ask a local Bridgeport CA HVAC contracting company if they can provide some suggestions. Also bear in mind that unless you can move, the school needs to be within commuting distance of your Bridgeport CA home. Remember that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to moving costs there may be higher tuition charges compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It’s desirable that you receive as much individualized training as possible, which can be challenging in larger classes. Ask if you can sit in on a few of the classes so that you can observe how big they are and witness first hand the interaction between instructors and students. Speak to a few of the students and get their feedback concerning class sizes and instruction. Last, talk with some of the instructors and find out what their level of experience is and what degrees or certifications they hold.
Flexible Scheduling. Confirm that the class schedules for the programs you are assessing are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you are only able to attend classes at night or on weekends near Bridgeport CA, confirm that the schools you are looking at provide those choices. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, be sure that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Also, ask what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, sickness or family responsibilities.
Attending HVAC School near Bridgeport CA?
Bridgeport is a census-designated place (CDP) in and the county seat of Mono County, California, United States. It lies at an elevation of 6463 feet (1970 m) in the middle of the Bridgeport Valley. Bridgeport is located at the intersection of U.S. Route 395 and State Route 182. The population was 575 at the 2010 census.
The first post office at Bridgeport opened in 1864. The ZIP code is 93517, and the community is in area codes 442 and 760. According to the United States Census Bureau, the CDP covers an area of 21.7 sq mi (56.3 km2), 99.96% of it land, and 0.04% of it water. The US Marine Corps' Mountain Warfare Training Center is located approximately 20 miles (32 km) west of Bridgeport on State Route 108.
The 2010 United States Census reported that Bridgeport had a population of 575. The population density was 26.4 people per square mile (10.2/km²). The racial makeup of Bridgeport was 484 (84.2%) White, 1 (0.2%) African American, 43 (7.5%) Native American, 1 (0.2%) Asian, 0 (0.0%) Pacific Islander, 25 (4.3%) from other races, and 21 (3.7%) from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 148 persons (25.7%).
Pick the Right HVAC Trade School near Bridgeport CA
Selecting the right HVAC training course is an important first step toward a fulfilling career in the heating & cooling industry. As we have discussed in this post, you need to select a trade school and a degree or certificate program that are both accredited and have outstanding reputations within the HVAC field. Other features to search for are lots of hands-on training and state-of-the-art facilities. You should visit each of the schools personally that you are most interested in to inspect the campus and talk with both the faculty and current students. Attempt to get a feel for the quality of the teaching and the interaction between them. Additionally, ask about scheduling options and if night or weekend classes are available if needed. And don’t forget to inquire about financial assistance and student loan options as well. If you ask the proper questions as we have outlined in our checklist for evaluating schools, you’ll be able to narrow down your choices so that you can make an informed decision. With the proper training, hard work and commitment, you can eventually become a licensed HVAC professional in Bridgeport CA.
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