How to Pick an HVAC Certification Course near El Dorado California
Once you have come to a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioning technician, the next step is to choose an HVAC vocational school near El Dorado CA. But with so many to select from, how do you select the ideal one to obtain the training that you require? A number of future students will make their selection based solely on the price of tuition or how near the school is to their home. Although these are relevant factors to consider, they are not the only ones to evaluate. A few of the other factors 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 additional benchmarks will be addressed in more detail later in this article. But before we examine how to select an HVAC trade school, let’s take a look at what a heating and air conditioning contractor does to become a licensed professional tradesman.
Becoming an HVAC Contractor in El Dorado CA
HVAC is an acronym that is frequently used in the industry that stands for “Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning”. HVAC technicians specialize in the installation, repair and maintenance of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are commonly required to be licensed, though every state and local municipality has its own prerequisites. Attaining professional certification is not mandatory, but an optional means for El Dorado CA HVAC specialists to establish that they are highly skilled and experienced in their area of expertise. There are multiple recognized certifications within the trade that are available. Below are some of the important ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally acknowledged certification for HVAC technicians. The certification is earned 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 in addition to passing a comprehensive exam are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have 3 years of experience in addition to a passing result on the professional level exam. Similar to NATE, certifications are offered in multiple specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is required for specialists that work with refrigerants. There are 3 forms of certification offered, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Because licensing could be mandated in your area, and you may also desire to obtain certification, it’s essential that you pick an HVAC trade school that will train you for both. And since you will probably be handling refrigerants, make sure that the program you pick preps you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
HVAC Degree Classes
There are a variety of alternatives available for HVAC instruction in a vocational or trade school. You can earn a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor’s Degree. Earning a certificate will take the minimum period of time, usually completed in as little as 6 months, though some programs are longer. A certificate will qualify you for most HVAC positions, especially if you are licensed and have certification appropriate to the position. The degree programs can provide a competitive advantage in the job market and will deliver more comprehensive training than the certificate programs. Below is a short summary of each credential offered near El Dorado CA.
- Certificate. Normally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among entry level residential or commercial HVAC professionals. They furnish a solid foundation of skills for employment within the industry.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program delivers a more detailed background of heating and a/c systems than the certificate program. Generally taking 2 years to complete, many degrees incorporate an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor’s Degree. The Bachelor’s Degree in HVAC is geared 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 study how to design them.
Picking the ideal credential program will be dependent on what your future career goals are, along with the time and money that you have to invest. One option is to start with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after getting some experience in the field in El Dorado CA, subsequently going back to acquire a Bachelor’s Degree. If this is your strategy, make certain to ask the HVAC tech school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Online Classes
Enrolling in an HVAC school online is one option in obtaining your training and receiving a degree or certificate. Almost all schools will require some attendance on campus to take part in hands on training. A number also provide internship or work-study programs in addition to or instead of practical lab work. But since the balance of the classes may be attended online, this alternative may be a more accessible solution for many El Dorado CA students that are pressed for time. And many online degree programs are more economical than other on campus alternatives. Even driving expenses from El Dorado and study supplies may be minimized, helping to make education more budget-friendly. And a large number of online programs are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your work or family obligations have left you with limited time to attend classes, perhaps an online HVAC degree program will make it less complicated to fit school into your busy schedule.
What to Ask HVAC Training Programs near El Dorado CA
As soon as you have chosen the type of certificate or degree that you would like to acquire, either on campus or online, you can start to decrease your selection of schools. As you are certainly aware, there are numerous HVAC trade schools in the El Dorado CA area and throughout the Country to choose from. That’s why it is imperative to have a list of key qualifications when making school assessments. As earlier stated in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will probably be the first two factors you will consider. Following are some additional ones that you need to explore before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Many HVAC trade schools in the El Dorado CA area have earned either a regional or a national accreditation. They may attain Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school’s programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to a specific program, such as HVAC technology. Make certain that the school and program are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting agency, for instance the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping make certain that you receive an excellent education, it can help in obtaining financial assistance or student loans, which are often unavailable for non-accredited programs. Furthermore, a number of states mandate 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 complete the program. A lower completion rate could suggest that students were unhappy with the course and dropped out. It might also mean that the instructors were not competent to train 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 may result in more contacts for the school to employ 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 industry, but also that it has the network of El Dorado CA HVAC employers to help grads secure apprenticeships or jobs.
Apprenticeship Programs. Numerous HVAC technical programs are taught together with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating trade and technical schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of HVAC contractors or labor unions. Find out if the schools you are comparing have working partnerships with local El Dorado CA HVAC contractors. An apprenticeship not only provides a valuable experience by furnishing hands-on training, but it also provides employment opportunities and helps to build relationships in the regional HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Confirm that the campus facilities and the equipment 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, consult with the HVAC specialist you are working under regarding what you should be looking for. Otherwise, ask a local El Dorado CA HVAC company if they can provide some suggestions. Additionally keep in mind that unless you are willing to move, the school must be within commuting distance of your El Dorado CA home. Take note that if you decide to enroll in 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 important that you receive as much personalized training as possible, which can be challenging in bigger 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 teachers and students. Speak to some of the students and get their comments concerning class sizes and instruction. Last, talk to a few of the teachers 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 programs you are evaluating are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you are only able to go to classes in the evening or on weekends near El Dorado CA, confirm that the schools you are reviewing offer those choices. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Additionally, ask what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, sickness or family responsibilities.
Attending HVAC School near El Dorado CA?
El Dorado Hills, California
El Dorado Hills (EDH) is an unincorporated census-designated place (CDP) in El Dorado County, California, 22 miles (35 km) east of the state capital of Sacramento. The population was 42,108 at the 2010 census, up from 18,016 at the 2000 census. This growth is a combination of population increase within the 2000 CDP boundaries and expansion of the boundaries. The area of EDH was expanded from 17.9 square miles (46 km2) in 2000 to 48.606 square miles (125.89 km2) in 2010.
El Dorado Hills residents and businesses are most closely affiliated with El Dorado County, a generally rural area. El Dorado County is part of the Sacramento Metropolitan Area because it is socially and economically integrated with the much larger Sacramento County and especially the city of Folsom. El Dorado Hills is recognized nationally for its high median household income, ranking 77th in CNN Money Magazine's best places to live in 2007, with the median household income for 2007 over $115,000.
El Dorado Hills lies about 18.6 miles from the 1848 gold find site in Coloma, the impetus for the California Gold Rush. Gold was washed down the South Fork of the American River, into areas now in El Dorado Hills and Folsom, but farming and ranching supplanted the Gold Rush. Portions of two Pony Express routes in this area from 1860-1861 remain as modern El Dorado Hills roads. El Dorado Hills includes the longest surviving section of the Lincoln Highway, the first U.S. transcontinental highway. This section, part of the Pioneer Branch, passes through historic Clarksville and is the predecessor of the modern US 50 route.
Pick the Right HVAC Trade School near El Dorado CA
Choosing the ideal HVAC training program is an important beginning toward a fulfilling career in the heating and cooling trade. As we have addressed in this post, you should pick a trade school and a certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have outstanding reputations within the HVAC community. Other things to look for are sufficient hands-on training and state-of-the-art facilities. You should check out 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 choices and whether evening 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 proper questions as we have detailed in our guidelines for comparing schools, you’ll be able to narrow down your choices so that you can make an informed decision. With the appropriate training, hard work and commitment, you can eventually become a licensed HVAC professional in El Dorado CA.
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