How to Pick an HVAC Training Class near Fairfield California
Once you have made a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioner technician, the next action is to locate an HVAC trade school near Fairfield CA. But with so many to pick from, how do you decide on the best one to get the training that you require? A number of potential students will make their decision based exclusively on the price of tuition or how close the school is to their residence. While these are important factors to consider, they are not the only ones to evaluate. Just some of the other details 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. Those and other criteria will be covered in more detail later within this article. But before we discuss how to select an HVAC trade school, let’s take a look at what a heating and cooling professional does to become a licensed professional tradesman.
How to Become an HVAC Pro in Fairfield CA
HVAC is an acronym that is extensively used in the trade that stands for “Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning”. HVAC techs specialize in the installation, maintenance and repair of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are typically required to be licensed, however each state and regional municipality has its own requirements. Obtaining professional certification is not mandatory, but a voluntary means for Fairfield CA HVAC specialists to prove that they are highly skilled and knowledgeable in their area of expertise. There are a number of recognized certifications within the trade that are offered. Below are a few of the significant ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally recognized certification for HVAC techs. The certification is attained by passing a competency exam and can be received in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification makes available both a professional and a master specialist credential. Two years of field experience in addition to passing a comprehensive examination are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have 3 years of experience as well as a passing score on the professional level exam. Similar to NATE, certifications are offered in multiple specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is mandatory for specialists that work with refrigerants. There are 3 types of certification offered, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Since licensing might be required in your area, and you may also desire to obtain certification, it’s essential that you pick an HVAC vocational school that will prepare you for both. And since you will probably be dealing with refrigerants, make certain that the program you choose preps you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
HVAC Certificate and Degree Courses
There are several alternatives available for HVAC instruction in a technical or vocational school. You can attain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor’s Degree. Earning a certificate will take the least amount of time, usually accomplished in as little as six months, however some programs are longer. A certificate will qualify you for most HVAC positions, particularly if you are licensed and have certification related to the position. The degree programs can provide a competitive edge in the job market and will deliver more in-depth training than the certificate programs. Below is a short summary of each credential offered near Fairfield CA.
- Certificate. Generally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among entry level residential or commercial HVAC professionals. They furnish a strong foundation of skills for employment within the trade.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program provides a more comprehensive understanding of heating and cooling systems than the certificate program. Generally taking 2 years to complete, some 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 as well as business ownership. Some programs call for an Associate Degree, while others are a conventional four year program. In addition to learning how to service and maintain heating and cooling systems, you will also study how to design them.
Selecting the right credential program will be dependent on what your long term career goals are, as well as the time and financial resources that you have to commit. One possibility is to start with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after gaining some experience in the trade in Fairfield CA, later going back to obtain a Bachelor’s Degree. If this is your tactic, make sure to ask the HVAC tech school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Online Training
Enrolling in an HVAC school online is one alternative in getting your training and earning a degree or certificate. Nearly all schools will require some attendance on campus to participate in hands on training. Some also sponsor internship or work-study programs in addition to or instead of practical lab work. But since the balance of the classes can be attended via the internet, this approach may be a more convenient solution for many Fairfield CA students that are short on time. And some online degree programs are less costly than other on campus alternatives. Even driving expenses from Fairfield and study supplies can be minimized, helping to make schooling more economical. And numerous online programs are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your work or family obligations have left you with little time to attend classes, maybe an HVAC online training program will make it more convenient to fit school into your active schedule.
Questions For HVAC Training Programs near Fairfield CA
As soon as you have decided on the type of degree or certificate that you would like to obtain, either on campus or online, you can begin to narrow down your selection of schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are numerous HVAC trade schools in the Fairfield CA area and across the Country to pick from. That’s why it is imperative to have a list of key qualifications when making school assessments. As earlier mentioned in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will most likely be the initial 2 variables you will take into consideration. Following are several additional ones that you will want to explore before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Numerous HVAC technical schools in the Fairfield CA area have attained 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 relates to an individual program, such as HVAC technology. Make certain that the school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting organization, which includes the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping guarantee that you get an excellent education, it may help in securing financial aid or student loans, which are in many cases unavailable for non-accredited schools. Furthermore, some states mandate that the HVAC training course be accredited for it 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 portion or percentage of students who enroll in and complete the course. A low completion rate may suggest that students were unhappy with the program and dropped out. It may also signify that the instructors were not qualified to train the students. It’s also 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 utilize for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate will not only validate that the school has a good reputation within the industry, but additionally that it has the network of Fairfield CA HVAC employers to assist grads obtain apprenticeships or jobs.
Apprenticeship Programs. Numerous HVAC training programs are taught together with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating vocational and technical programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of HVAC contractors or trade unions. Ask if the schools you are reviewing have working relationships with local Fairfield CA HVAC professionals. An apprenticeship not only provides a rewarding experience by providing practical training, but it also furnishes employment opportunities and helps to build 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 in the field. If you are already in an internship or an apprenticeship, talk to the HVAC tech you are working under concerning what you should be looking for. If not, ask a local Fairfield CA HVAC company if they can give you some suggestions. Also bear in mind that unless you are willing to relocate, the school needs to be within driving distance of your Fairfield CA residence. Take note that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation costs there can be higher tuition fees compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It’s important that you get as much one-on-one instruction as possible, which can be challenging in larger classes. Ask if you can monitor some of the classes so that you can observe how big they are and experience the interaction between teachers and students. Speak with several of the students and get their comments regarding class sizes and instruction. Last, speak to a few of the instructors and find out what their level of experience is and what degrees or certifications they have earned.
Flexible Scheduling. Confirm that the class schedules for the schools you are assessing are flexible enough to handle your needs. If you are only able to attend classes at night or on weekends near Fairfield CA, verify that the programs you are looking at offer those choices. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain 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 Fairfield CA?
Fairfield is a city in, and the county seat of, Solano County, California, in the North Bay sub-region of the San Francisco Bay Area. It is generally considered the midpoint between the cities of San Francisco and Sacramento, approximately 40 miles (64 km) from the city center of both cities, approximately 40 miles (64 km) from the city center of Oakland, less than 19 miles (31 km) from Napa Valley, 16 miles (26 km) from the Carquinez Bridge, and 14 miles (23 km) from the Benicia Bridge. Fairfield was founded in 1856 by clippership captain Robert H. Waterman, and named after his former hometown of Fairfield, Connecticut.
It is the home of Travis Air Force Base and the headquarters of Jelly Belly. With a population of 108,321 at the 2010 census, it is slightly smaller in population than Vallejo. Other nearby cities include Suisun City, Vacaville, Rio Vista, Benicia, and Napa.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 37.6 square miles (97 km2), of which, 34.4 square miles (89 km2) of it is land and 3.2 square miles (8.3 km2) of it is water. The total area is 5.65% water.
Enroll in the Right HVAC Training Classes near Fairfield CA
Selecting the ideal HVAC training program is an important beginning toward a rewarding career in the heating & cooling trade. As we have addressed in this article, you should pick a technical school and a degree or certificate program that are both accredited and have outstanding reputations within the HVAC trade. Other features to look for are sufficient hands-on training and state-of-the-art facilities. You need to check out each of the schools personally that you are most interested in to inspect the campus and speak with both the current students and faculty. Attempt to get a feel for the quality of the instruction and the interaction between them. Also, inquire about scheduling choices and whether or not evening 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 detailed in our guidelines for assessing schools, you’ll be able to narrow down your options so that you can make an informed decision. With the right training, hard work and commitment, you can eventually become a licensed HVAC contractor in Fairfield CA.
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