How to Select an HVAC Training Course near Lathrop California
Once you have decided on a career as a heating and air conditioning technician, the next step is to choose an HVAC technical school near Lathrop CA. But with so many to choose from, how do you select the ideal one to receive the training that you need? A number of future students will make their choice based solely on the cost of tuition or how near the school is to their residence. While these are necessary considerations, they are not the only ones to take into account. A few of the other things 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. These and other benchmarks will be covered in more detail later in this article. But before we tackle how to select an HVAC vocational school, let’s take a look at what a heating and cooling contractor does to become a licensed qualified tradesman.
How to Become an HVAC Specialist in Lathrop CA
HVAC is an acronym that is commonly used in the industry that stands for “Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning”. HVAC professionals specialize in the installation, repair and maintenance of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are generally required to be licensed, however each state and regional municipality has its own prerequisites. Earning professional certification is not required, but an alternative means for Lathrop CA HVAC techs to prove that they are highly qualified and accomplished in their area of specialization. There are several acknowledged certifications within the industry that are offered. Below are some of the significant ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally recognized certification for HVAC techs. The certification is earned by passing a competency examination and can be earned in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification offers both a professional and a master specialist credential. Two years of professional experience together with passing a comprehensive exam are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have 3 years of experience as well as a passing result on the professional level exam. As with NATE, certifications are provided in multiple specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is required for specialists that handle refrigerants. There are three types of certification available, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Considering that licensing might be required in your location, and you may also desire to obtain certification, it’s important that you enroll in an HVAC technical school that will train you for both. And since you will probably be dealing with refrigerants, make certain that the program you decide on prepares you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.
HVAC Degree and Certificate Schools
There are several choices offered for HVAC instruction in a trade or technical school. You can attain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor’s Degree. Obtaining a certificate will take the lesser period of time, typically accomplished in just six months, though some courses are longer. A certificate will qualify you for the majority of HVAC positions, especially if you are licensed and have certification relevant to the position. The degree training programs may provide a competitive edge for securing employment and will deliver more comprehensive training than the certificate programs. Following is a brief explanation of each option offered near Lathrop CA.
- Certificate. Generally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among entry level residential or commercial HVAC specialists. They provide a solid foundation of skills for job opportunities within the trade.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program delivers a more comprehensive knowledge of heating and a/c systems than the certificate program. Generally requiring two years to finish, some degrees include an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor’s Degree. The Bachelor’s Degree in HVAC is tailored more for a career in management as well as business ownership. Some programs call for an Associate Degree, while others are a standard 4 year program. In addition to being taught how to service and maintain heating and cooling systems, you will also learn how to design them.
Picking the right credential program will be dependent on what your future career aspirations are, as well as the time and financial resources that you have to invest. One option is to begin with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after gaining some experience in the trade in Lathrop CA, eventually returning to obtain a Bachelor’s Degree. If this is your strategy, make certain to ask the HVAC technician school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Online Schools
Attending an HVAC program online is one approach to attaining your training and receiving a certificate or degree. Almost all schools will require some attendance on campus to participate in practical training. Some also provide internship or work-study programs in addition to or in place of practical lab work. But since the remainder of the classes may be participated in online, this alternative may be a more convenient solution for some Lathrop CA students that are pressed for time. And many online degree programs are less costly than other on campus options. Even driving expenses from Lathrop and study supplies may be minimized, helping to make education more economical. And a large number of online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your job or family responsibilities have left you with little time to attend classes, perhaps an online HVAC degree program will make it easier to accommodate school into your busy lifestyle.
Questions For HVAC Training Programs near Lathrop CA
Once you have decided on the type of certificate or degree that you desire to obtain, either online or on campus, you can start to limit your selection of schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are a large number of HVAC trade schools in the Lathrop CA area and all over the United States to select from. That’s why it is extremely important to have a checklist of relevant qualifiers when making school assessments. As previously stated in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will most likely be the first two aspects you will look at. Following are several additional ones that you need to explore before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Many HVAC vocational programs in the Lathrop CA area have received either a regional or a national accreditation. They can receive Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school’s programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to an individual program, for example HVAC technology. Make certain that the program is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization, for example the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping ensure that you receive a quality education, it may help in securing financial aid or student loans, which are in many cases unavailable for non-accredited schools. Furthermore, some states require that the HVAC training course be accredited in order 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 percentage or portion of students who enroll in and finish the course. A lower completion rate could signify that students were dissatisfied with the course and dropped out. It could also mean that the teachers were not competent 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 may 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 an excellent reputation within the trade, but additionally that it has the network of Lathrop CA HVAC employers to help grads obtain apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. A large number of HVAC trade programs are taught in conjunction 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 Heating and Cooling contractors or trade unions. Check if the schools you are comparing have working relationships with local Lathrop CA HVAC companies. An apprenticeship not only provides a rewarding experience by furnishing hands-on training, but it also furnishes employment opportunities and helps to form relationships in the local HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Confirm that the campus facilities and the equipment that you will be trained on are up-to-date and what you will be working with on the job. If you are already in an internship or an apprenticeship, talk to the HVAC specialist you are working under concerning what you should be looking for. Otherwise, ask a local Lathrop CA HVAC company if they can provide some pointers. Also keep in mind that unless you are willing to relocate, the school needs to be within driving distance of your Lathrop CA home. Take note that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides the added relocation costs there might be higher tuition fees compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It’s desirable that you receive as much individualized training as possible, which can be difficult in bigger classes. Ask if you can monitor some of the classes so that you can see how large they are and witness first hand the interaction between instructors and students. Talk with a few of the students and get their opinions concerning class sizes and instruction. Last, talk to some of the instructors and learn what their level of experience is and what degrees or certifications they have earned.
Flexible Scheduling. Make sure that the class schedules for the schools you are evaluating are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Lathrop CA, verify that the schools you are reviewing offer those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make 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 because of work, sickness or family responsibilities.
Attending HVAC School near Lathrop CA?
Lathrop is a city located in San Joaquin County, California, United States. The 2010 United States Census reported Lathrop’s population was 18,023. The city is located in Northern California at the intersection of Interstate 5 and SR 120.
Lathrop was platted when the railroad was extended to that point. A post office has been in operation at Lathrop since 1871. The city was named for the maiden name of the wife of Leland Stanford. In September 1869, four months after the railheads of the transcontinental railroad met at Promontory, Utah, the completion of the San Joaquin River Bridge at Mossdale crossing at Lathrop actually completed the west coast link.
On August 14, 1889 Chief Justice of California David S. Terry assaulted United States Supreme Court Justice Stephen J. Field, at the train station in Lathrop. Field's bodyguard United States Marshal David Neagle (formerly assigned to Tombstone, Arizona) shot and killed Terry. The events led the United States Supreme Court decision In re Neagle.
Select the Right HVAC Certification Training near Lathrop CA
Picking the ideal HVAC training program is a crucial first step toward a fulfilling career in the heating and cooling field. As we have discussed in this article, you need to pick a vocational school and a degree or certificate program that are both accredited and have exceptional reputations within the HVAC field. Other factors to look for are lots of hands-on training and state-of-the-art facilities. You need to check out each of the schools in person that you are most interested in to explore the campus and speak with both the faculty and current students. Attempt to get a feel for the quality of the instruction and the interaction between them. Also, inquire about scheduling options and whether night or weekend classes are available if needed. And don’t forget to inquire about financial aid and student loan options as well. If you ask the proper questions as we have detailed in our checklist for comparing schools, you’ll be able to narrow down your choices so that you can make an educated decision. With the appropriate training, hard work and commitment, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC specialist in Lathrop CA.
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