How to Choose an HVAC Certification Class near Desert Center California
Now that you have come to a decision on a career as a heating and cooling specialist, the next step is to find an HVAC vocational school near Desert Center CA. But with so many to select from, how do you select the best one to obtain the training that you need? A number of prospective students will make their selection based exclusively on the cost of tuition or how near the school is to their home. Even though these are necessary concerns, they are not the only ones to investigate. Some 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. Those and additional criteria will be discussed in more detail later within this article. But before we examine how to pick an HVAC vocational school, let’s take a look at what a heating and a/c technician does to become a licensed professional tradesman.
How to Become an HVAC Professional in Desert Center CA
HVAC is an acronym that is commonly used in the industry that stands for “Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning”. HVAC techs specialize in the installation, repair and maintenance of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are commonly mandated to be licensed, although each state and local municipality has its own criteria. Attaining professional certification is not compulsory, but an alternative way for Desert Center CA HVAC specialists to establish that they are highly qualified and experienced in their area of expertise. There are a number of recognized certifications within the industry that are offered. Below are a few of the important ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally recognized certification for HVAC techs. The certification is earned by passing a proficiency examination and can 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 in addition to passing a comprehensive examination are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have 3 years of experience in addition to a passing score on the professional level examination. As with NATE, certifications are offered in several specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is necessary for technicians that handle refrigerants. There are 3 forms of certification available, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Because licensing may be required in your location, and you may also wish to obtain certification, it’s essential that you pick an HVAC technical school that will train you for both. And since you will most likely be dealing with refrigerants, make sure that the school you select preps you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
HVAC Degree and Certificate Schools
There are a variety of options offered for HVAC training in a trade or technical school. You can obtain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor’s Degree. Acquiring a certificate will take the lesser period of time, typically accomplished in just six months, although some courses are longer. A certificate will train you for the majority of HVAC positions, especially if you are licensed and have certification related to the position. The degree training programs might provide a competitive edge in the job market and will deliver more in-depth training than the certificate programs. Following is a short description of each option offered near Desert Center CA.
- Certificate. Generally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among beginning 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 provides a more detailed background of heating and a/c systems than the certificate program. Normally requiring two years to complete, many 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 four year program. In addition to learning 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, together with the time and financial resources that you have to commit. One approach is to begin with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after acquiring some experience in the field in Desert Center CA, eventually going back to obtain a Bachelor’s Degree. If this is your tactic, be sure to ask the HVAC technician school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Online Classes
Attending an HVAC school online is one option in getting your education and receiving a degree or certificate. Almost all schools will require some attendance on campus to complete hands on training. Many also sponsor internship or work-study programs in addition to or as an alternative to practical lab work. But since the rest of the classes may be attended on the web, this approach may be a more practical solution for many Desert Center CA students that are pressed for time. And many online degree programs are more economical than other traditional options. Even driving expenses from Desert Center and study supplies can be minimized, helping to make schooling more economical. And many online programs are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your work or family responsibilities have left you with minimal time to attend classes, perhaps an HVAC online training program will make it more convenient to fit school into your busy lifestyle.
What to Ask HVAC Trade Schools near Desert Center CA
When you have chosen the type of certificate or degree that you wish to earn, either online or on campus, you can start to limit your list of schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are many HVAC technical schools in the Desert Center CA area and all over the Country to select from. That’s why it is extremely important to have a list of key qualifiers when making school assessments. As earlier stated in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will undoubtedly be the initial 2 factors you will look at. Following are several additional ones that you will want to research before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. A large number of HVAC technical programs in the Desert Center CA area have earned either a regional or a national accreditation. They can receive Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school’s programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to a specific program, for example HVAC technology. Make sure that the school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization, such as the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping guarantee that you acquire an excellent education, it can help in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are in many cases not available for non-accredited programs. Furthermore, a number of 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 looking at what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage or portion of students who enroll in and complete the program. A low completion rate may signify that students were disappointed with the course and dropped out. It could also mean that the instructors 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 list of graduates, which can produce more contacts for the school to utilize for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate will not only validate that the school has an excellent reputation within the industry, but also that it has the network of Desert Center CA HVAC employers to assist grads secure apprenticeships or jobs.
Apprenticeship Programs. Numerous HVAC technical programs are taught together with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating trade and technical schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of HVAC companies or labor unions. Find out if the schools you are reviewing have referring relationships with local Desert Center CA HVAC professionals. An apprenticeship not only offers a valuable experience by furnishing hands-on training, but it also supplies employment opportunities and helps to establish relationships in the regional HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make certain that the school facilities and the equipment that you will be instructed on are state-of-the-art and what you will be using on the job. If you are presently in an internship or an apprenticeship, check with the HVAC tech you are working under concerning what you should be expecting. If not, ask a local Desert Center CA HVAC contractor if they can provide some tips. Additionally bear in mind that unless you can relocate, the school must be within commuting distance of your Desert Center CA residence. Remember that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, in addition to moving costs there can be increased tuition fees compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It’s important that you receive as much one-on-one instruction as possible, which can be difficult in larger classes. Ask if you can monitor some of the classes so that you can observe how large they are and witness first hand the interaction between students and instructors. Speak with some of the students and get their opinions concerning class sizes and instruction. Finally, speak with some of the instructors and learn what their level of experience is and what degrees or certifications they hold.
Flexible Scheduling. Make sure that the class schedules for the programs you are evaluating are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you are only able to attend classes at night or on weekends near Desert Center CA, confirm that the programs you are comparing provide those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, be sure that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Also, ask what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, sickness or family issues.
Attending HVAC School near Desert Center CA?
Desert Center, California
Desert Center is a census designated place in the Colorado Desert in Riverside County, California. It is in southern California, between the cities of Indio and Blythe at the junction of Interstate 10 and State Route 177 (Desert Center-Rice Road), about halfway between Phoenix and Los Angeles. The ZIP Code is 92239, and the community is in telephone area codes 442 and 760. The elevation is 656 feet (200 m). The population was 204 at the 2010 census.
The town was founded in 1921 by Stephen A. Ragsdale, also known as "Desert Steve", and his wife, Lydia. Ragsdale was an itinerant preacher and cotton farmer, originally from Arkansas. In 1915, he left his farm in the Palo Verde Valley along the Colorado River to attend to some business in Los Angeles. The road between Phoenix and Los Angeles was mostly sand, and Ragsdale's vehicle broke down near a place called Gruendyke's Well. This featured a hand-dug well and was inhabited by a prospector named Bill Gruendyke. Gruendyke rescued Ragsdale and gave him food, shelter, and water until his vehicle was repaired and he could resume his journey to Los Angeles.
Upon his return, Ragsdale bought out Gruendyke and moved his family to the remote spot, where they constructed a small shack with a lean-to that served as a repair garage. A Model T truck was modified to serve as a tow car. Gasoline was pumped by hand from a 55-gallon drum. Lydia served food and refreshments to thirsty and weary travelers. In spite of the remote location—50 miles (80 km) in any direction from anything—the Ragsdales prospered. Ragsdale named his outpost "Desert Center". In 1921, it was announced that the sand road running through Desert Center would be relocated about 5 miles (8.0 km) north, straightened, paved, and named U.S. Route 60, a modern "high-speed" highway. Ragsdale abandoned "old Desert Center" and built a poured-concrete café in the adobe style with an attached gasoline station and a huge service garage. Across the road, a series of wooden structures were built, including a market (which at one time was the largest Coleman camping equipment dealer in the country), and a post office. He also built several cabins for travelers, and a large "plunge" (swimming pool) next to the café where travelers could escape the desert heat.
Select the Right HVAC Training Classes near Desert Center CA
Finding the ideal HVAC training course is an important beginning toward a rewarding career in the heating and air conditioning trade. As we have discussed in this article, you need to choose a trade school and a degree or certificate program that are both accredited and have excellent reputations within the HVAC community. Other features to search for are plenty of practical training and modern facilities. You should check out each of the schools in person that you are most interested in to explore the campus and speak with both the current students and faculty. Try to get a feel for the quality of the training and the interaction between them. Additionally, ask about scheduling options and if evening or weekend classes are available if needed. And don’t forget to ask about financial assistance and student loan options too. If you ask the appropriate questions as we have detailed in our guidelines for comparing schools, you’ll be able to narrow down your options so that you can make an educated decision. With the right training, hard work and dedication, you can eventually become a licensed HVAC professional in Desert Center CA.
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