How to Choose an HVAC School near El Dorado Hills California
Now that you have decided on a career as a heating and air conditioning professional, the next action is to look for an HVAC trade school near El Dorado Hills CA. But with so many to select from, how do you pick the best one to obtain the training that you need? Some potential students will make their decision based solely on the price of tuition or how near the school is to their residence. Although these are relevant concerns, they are not the only ones to evaluate. Some of the other factors that you need to research 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 in this article. But before we tackle how to pick an HVAC training program, let’s look at what a heating and a/c contractor does to become a licensed professional tradesman.
Becoming an HVAC Specialist in El Dorado Hills CA
HVAC is an acronym that is extensively used in the business that stands for “Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning”. HVAC techs provide services for the installation, maintenance and repair of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are commonly required to be licensed, though each state and local municipality has its own prerequisites. Obtaining professional certification is not compulsory, but an alternative way for El Dorado Hills CA HVAC techs to establish that they are highly skilled and experienced in their area of specialization. There are a number of respected certifications within the field that are available. 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 earned by passing a proficiency examination and may be received 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 exam are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have three years of experience along with a passing score on the professional level examination. As with NATE, certifications are offered in multiple specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is mandatory for specialists that handle refrigerants. There are three types of certification obtainable, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Because licensing might be required in your location, and you may also intend to obtain certification, it’s important that you choose an HVAC trade school that will prepare you for both. And since you will probably be dealing with refrigerants, make certain that the program you choose prepares you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.
HVAC Degree and Certificate Schools
There are a variety of alternatives offered for HVAC instruction in a technical or trade school. You can attain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor’s Degree. Obtaining a certificate will take the least period of time, usually accomplished in as little as 6 months, although some programs 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 may provide a competitive advantage for securing employment and will deliver more in-depth training than the certificate programs. Following is a short description of each option offered near El Dorado Hills CA.
- Certificate. Generally 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 trade.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program supplies a more detailed knowledge of heating and a/c systems than the certificate program. Usually requiring two years to complete, many 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 or even business ownership. Some programs require an Associate Degree, while others are a conventional 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 based on what your future career aspirations are, along with the time and money that you have to commit. One option is to start with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after getting some experience in the field in El Dorado Hills CA, eventually returning to acquire a Bachelor’s Degree. If this is your strategy, be sure to ask the HVAC tech school you are considering about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Online Courses
Attending an HVAC program online is one alternative to getting your training and receiving a degree or certificate. Most schools will call for some attendance on campus to take part in hands on training. Many also offer internship or work-study programs in addition to or as an alternative to practical lab work. But since the rest of the classes can be attended online, this option may be a more practical solution for some El Dorado Hills CA students that are pressed for time. And a number of online degree programs are cheaper than other on campus choices. Even commuting expenses from El Dorado Hills and study materials can be reduced, helping to make education more affordable. And a large number of online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your job or family commitments have left you with little time to attend classes, perhaps an online HVAC degree program will make it more convenient to accommodate school into your active schedule.
Questions to Ask HVAC Schools near El Dorado Hills CA
Once you have picked the type of degree or certificate that you wish to earn, either on campus or online, you can begin to limit your selection of schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are a large number of HVAC technical schools in the El Dorado Hills CA area and all over the Country to pick from. That’s why it is imperative to have a list of key qualifications when making school evaluations. As formerly stated in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will most likely be the first two variables you will take into consideration. Following are several additional ones that you need to investigate before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Numerous HVAC trade schools in the El Dorado Hills CA area have received either a regional or a national accreditation. They may acquire Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school’s programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to an individual program, for instance HVAC technology. Make certain that the school and program are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting organization, which includes the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping ensure that you get an excellent education, it may assist in securing financial aid or student loans, which are often not available for non-accredited programs. Additionally, some states mandate that the HVAC training course be accredited for it to be approved for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the Heating and Air Conditioning 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 course. A low completion rate might indicate that students were disappointed with the course and quit. It could also signify that the teachers were not qualified 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 alumni, which may produce more contacts for the school to use for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate can not only validate that the school has an excellent reputation within the industry, but also that it has the network of El Dorado Hills CA HVAC employers to help graduates secure apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. Numerous HVAC training programs are taught in conjunction with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating trade and vocational 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 reviewing have referring partnerships with local El Dorado Hills CA HVAC specialists. An apprenticeship not only offers a valuable experience by furnishing practical training, but it also furnishes job opportunities and helps to establish relationships in the local HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Confirm that the campus facilities and the tools that you will be trained 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, talk to the HVAC specialist you are working under regarding what you should be looking for. If not, ask a local El Dorado Hills CA HVAC contractor if they can provide some suggestions. Additionally keep in mind that unless you are able to move, the school must be within driving distance of your El Dorado Hills CA home. Take note 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 personalized instruction as possible, which can be difficult in larger classes. Ask if you can sit in on some of the classes so that you can see how big they are and experience the interaction between instructors and students. Speak to a few of the students and get their feedback relating to class sizes and instruction. Finally, talk to a few of the teachers and find out 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 evaluating are flexible enough to handle your needs. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near El Dorado Hills CA, confirm that the schools you are comparing offer those choices. If you can only attend part-time, be sure that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Also, check out what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, sickness or family emergencies.
Attending HVAC School near El Dorado Hills 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.
Enroll in the Right HVAC Training Course near El Dorado Hills CA
Choosing the right HVAC training course is a critical beginning toward a fulfilling career in the heating and air conditioning trade. 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 things to search for are ample hands-on training and modern facilities. You need to 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 instruction and the interaction between them. Additionally, inquire about scheduling options and whether or not evening or weekend classes are offered if needed. And remember to inquire about financial assistance and student loan options too. If you ask the proper questions as we have laid out in our guidelines for comparing schools, you’ll be able to narrow down your choices so that you can make an educated decision. With the right training, hard work and commitment, you can eventually become a licensed HVAC professional in El Dorado Hills CA.
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