How to Select an HVAC Certification Class near Clearlake California
Once you have come to a decision on a career as a heating and cooling technician, the next action is to find an HVAC trade school near Clearlake CA. But with so many to choose from, how do you decide on the right one to receive the training that you require? Many prospective students will make their selection based exclusively on the cost of tuition or how close the school is to their residence. While these are significant concerns, 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. Those and other benchmarks will be covered in more detail later within this article. But before we explore how to pick an HVAC training program, let’s look at what a heating and cooling contractor does to become a licensed qualified tradesman.
How to Become an HVAC Tech in Clearlake CA
HVAC is an acronym that is extensively used in the business that stands for “Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning”. HVAC professionals provide services for the installation, repair and maintenance of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are generally mandated to be licensed, although every state and local municipality has its own prerequisites. Obtaining professional certification is not mandatory, but an optional means for Clearlake CA HVAC specialists to demonstrate that they are exceptionally proficient and experienced in their area of specialization. There are a number of recognized certifications within the trade that are offered. Here are some 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 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 exam are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have three years of experience as well as a passing result on the professional level exam. As with NATE, certifications are made available in multiple specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is mandatory for technicians that handle refrigerants. There are three types of certification available, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Considering that licensing may be mandated in your location, and you may also desire to acquire certification, it’s imperative that you pick an HVAC technical school that will prepare you for both. And since you will probably be handling refrigerants, make certain that the school you select prepares you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
HVAC Certificate and Degree Training Programs
There are a variety of options available for HVAC training in a technical or trade school. You can obtain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor’s Degree. Acquiring a certificate will take the lesser amount of time, often achieved in just 6 months, though some programs are longer. A certificate will qualify you for the majority of HVAC positions, particularly if you are licensed and have certification applicable to the position. The degree training programs may provide a competitive edge in the job market and will provide more extensive training than the certificate programs. Below is a brief description of each credential offered near Clearlake CA.
- Certificate. Normally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among entry level commercial or residential HVAC technicians. They provide a solid foundation of skills for employment within the industry.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program provides a more comprehensive knowledge of heating and cooling systems than the certificate program. Typically taking two years to finish, some degrees feature 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 traditional 4 year program. In addition to mastering how to service and maintain heating and cooling systems, you will also study how to design them.
Choosing the appropriate credential program will be based on what your future career aspirations are, in addition to the time and money that you have to commit. One possibility is to start with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after acquiring some experience in the field in Clearlake CA, later going back to acquire a Bachelor’s Degree. If this is your tactic, be sure to ask the HVAC tech school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Courses Online
Enrolling in an HVAC program online is one possibility in attaining your training and earning a degree or certificate. Most schools will call for some attendance on campus to complete hands on training. A number also provide internship or work-study programs in addition to or as an alternative to practical lab work. But since the remainder of the classes may be attended on the web, this approach may be a more accessible solution for some Clearlake CA students that are pressed for time. And some online degree programs are less expensive than other traditional options. Even commuting expenses from Clearlake and study materials can be minimized, helping to make schooling more affordable. And many 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 fit school into your busy schedule.
Questions to Ask HVAC Schools near Clearlake CA
When you have picked the type of certificate or degree that you want to earn, either on campus or online, you can begin to decrease your list of schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are a large number of HVAC trade schools in the Clearlake CA area and all over the Country to pick from. That’s why it is essential to have a checklist of important qualifiers when making school assessments. As previously stated in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will most likely be the initial 2 aspects you will take into consideration. Following are several additional ones that you need to investigate before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Many HVAC vocational schools in the Clearlake CA area have attained either a regional or a national accreditation. They can attain Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school’s programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to an individual program, such as HVAC technology. Verify that the program is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting agency, for instance the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping ensure that you get a quality education, it can help in securing financial assistance or student loans, which are in many cases unavailable for non-accredited schools. Additionally, many states require that the HVAC training course be accredited in order to be approved 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 or portion of students who enroll in and finish the program. A lower completion rate could suggest that students were disappointed with the course and dropped out. It might also signify that the instructors were not qualified to instruct the students. It’s also imperative that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive list of alumni, which can produce 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 field, but additionally that it has the network of Clearlake CA HVAC employers to help grads acquire apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. Most HVAC training programs are taught together 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 Heating and Cooling contractors or labor unions. Ask if the schools you are considering have referring relationships with local Clearlake CA HVAC contractors. An apprenticeship not only provides a valuable experience by providing practical training, but it also supplies job opportunities and helps to form relationships in the local HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make sure that the campus facilities and the equipment that you will be instructed on are up-to-date and what you will be working with on the job. If you are presently in an internship or an apprenticeship, check with the HVAC specialist you are working with regarding what you should be looking for. Otherwise, ask a local Clearlake CA HVAC contracting company if they can provide some tips. Also keep in mind that unless you can relocate, the school needs to be within commuting distance of your Clearlake CA residence. Take note that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, besides the added relocation costs there can be higher tuition charges compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It’s desirable that you get as much individualized instruction 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 see how big they are and experience the interaction between students and teachers. Talk with several of the students and get their comments regarding class sizes and instruction. Last, talk with some of the teachers and learn what their level of expertise is and what degrees or certifications they hold.
Flexible Scheduling. Verify that the class schedules for the programs you are reviewing are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Clearlake CA, confirm that the programs you are looking at offer those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Finally, ask what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, illness or family responsibilities.
Attending HVAC School near Clearlake CA?
Clearlake is a city in Lake County, California. Clearlake is 4.5 miles (7.2 km) north-northwest of Lower Lake, at an elevation of 1417 feet (432 m). As of the 2010 census, the city had a total population of 15,250, up from 13,142 at the 2000 census. It takes its name from Clear Lake.
The first inhabitants of Clearlake were the Pomo Indians who gave the name to many of the areas features including Mount Konocti. Beginning in 1821, enslavement and mistreatment by Spanish soldiers and missionaries, Mexican land barons, European settlers, and gold diggers, combined with a lack of natural immunity to European diseases, which resulted in a massive wave of deaths. The result of this was massive amounts of land freed up for the white settlers who arrived during the gold rush.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 10.6 square miles (27 km2), of which, 10.1 square miles (26 km2) of it is land and 0.5 square miles (1.3 km2) of it is water. The total area is 4.27% water.
Enroll in the Right HVAC Training Classes near Clearlake CA
Finding the right HVAC training program is a critical first step toward a rewarding career in the heating and cooling industry. As we have discussed in this post, you should select a school and a certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have excellent reputations within the HVAC field. Other features to search for are ample practical training and state-of-the-art facilities. You should visit each of the schools personally that you are most interested in to tour 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 choices and if evening or weekend classes are offered if needed. And don’t forget to ask about financial aid and student loan options too. If you ask the appropriate questions as we have outlined in our guidelines for comparing schools, you’ll be able to filter your choices so that you can make an educated decision. With the proper training, hard work and commitment, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC technician in Clearlake CA.
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