Long Beach, CA HVAC Training Schools

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The Port of Long Beach is one of the largest and busiest seaports in the United States. Thousands of square feet of commercial, governmental, and residential structures are under construction, and more are planned. The City is moving beyond its former dependence on oil, military installations, and the aerospace industry. Although Boeing continues to play a crucial role, the economy has diversified with industries that include engineering, healthcare, logistics, technology, telecommunications, and transportation. A multitude of cultural events, sports, and attractions such as the Aquarium of the Pacific and the Queen Mary support a thriving tourist industry.

Although temperatures in the summer months can spike into the 80s, Long Beach weather is generally mild. Residents experience early-morning fog on summer days but less precipitation than many coastal cities. That changes somewhat during the winter, with rainfall starting to increase in October and reaching more than three inches during February before declining to scant amounts by July. The wintertime highs hover in the 60s with lows in the 40s. Even though there is little rainfall during the summer, its proximity to the ocean contributes to frequent humidity.

Although the weather isn’t extreme when compared to other locations, the occasionally poor air quality may keep residents indoors. They rely on heating, venting, and air conditioning (HVAC) to supply fresh air at a comfortable temperature and level of humidity. The newer industries often require the addition of refrigeration (HVAC/R) and specialized climate-controlled facilities.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS 2019) reports that 8,100 HVAC mechanics and installers were employed in the Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, CA area as of May 2018. The technicians and their employers benefit from training and support services provided by industry organizations. These include, but aren’t limited to:

  • American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE)
  • Associated Builders and Contractors, Inc Southern California Chapter
  • Mechanical Contractors Association of America (MCAA)
  • Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors Association (PHCCA)
  • Refrigeration Service Engineers Society (RSES)
  • Sheet Metal Workers International Association
  • Southern California Contractors Association
  • UA Steam-Refrigeration-Air Conditioning-Pipefitters Local 250

These and other industry groups cooperate with agencies and authorities to ensure job safety, set educational guidelines, and establish performance standards.

Occupational Demand for HVAC Technicians in Long Beach, CA

According to the BLS (2018), employment opportunities for HVAC and HVAC/R technicians nationwide are expected to increase by 15 percent between 2016 and 2026. That’s more than double the predicted 7 percent job growth for all occupations during the same decade. The outlook in California for technicians is even brighter. Projections Central anticipates a 19.6 percent statewide increase, which is 5,600 new positions for technicians by the end of 2026.

New construction drives most of the growth in the HVAC industry. That’s particularly true in Long Beach with hundreds of buildings currently under construction or planned. Modern environmental standards, combined with an emphasis on energy efficiency and the need to reduce pollution, mean that climate control equipment in existing buildings must be replaced, retrofitted, or upgraded. “Smart” buildings and industries that depend on electronics create a need for complex HVAC equipment and systems.

Trained technicians are required to install and maintain the sophisticated climate control systems. Contemporary technicians must be skilled in using computers and understand electronics. They are also expected to be proficient troubleshooters. Workers who specialize in new installations occasionally experience unemployment, but given the rate of construction in Long Beach and an expanding economy, a decrease in climate control installation isn’t expected any time soon. Technicians who specialize in maintenance and repair services can expect full employment as homeowners and businesses need to keep their systems in good operating order year round regardless of the economy.

HVAC Salaries in Long Beach, CA

Nationally, HVAC mechanics and installers were paid a median salary of $47,610 as of May 2018, according to a March 2019 BLS report. Technicians in the Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, CA area were paid an annual median salary of $58,650. It’s important to add that the cost of living in California is higher than most other U.S. states.

The table below compares national, state, and regional salaries of HVAC professionals:

United States California Los Angeles- Long Beach- Anaheim, CA
Number of HVAC Professionals Employed 324,310 27,720 8,100
Average Annual Salary $50,160 $58,130 $61,060
10th Percentile $29,460 $32,900 $32,760
25th Percentile $36,520 $39,610 $43,000
50th Percentile (Median) $47,610 $55,140 $58,650
75th Percentile $60,900 $70,020 $76,770
90th Percentile $76,230 $94,380 $97,120

HVAC Apprenticeships in Long Beach, CA

Like many beginners in the construction trades, HVAC workers in the past took jobs as helpers and learned their craft through on-the-job training. Opportunities for untrained workers nowadays are few. Workers seeking employment should first obtain training either by attending classes or participating in an apprenticeship program. As well as providing more employment opportunities, training potentially means higher beginning wages and greater career earnings.

Apprenticeship programs differ but typically require a three- to five-year commitment. All provide on-the-job training averaging 2,000 hours annually, and an average of 144 hours of classroom work each year. A database of apprenticeship programs is available at the State of California Department of Industrial Relations website.

As of June 2019, five HVAC-related programs are available, three of which are sponsored by unions at their Joint Apprentice Training Committee (JATC) centers in Bakersfield. The HVAC service technician apprenticeship is at the Los Angeles JATC. Except for the sheet metal worker program, the apprenticeships require a 60-month commitment. The sheet metal worker apprenticeship can be completed in 24 months.

The Associated Builders and Contractors, Inc Southern California Chapter sponsors the fifth apprenticeship for HVAC workers in Anaheim. Their program takes 48 months to complete.

Long Beach City College offers a Construction Apprenticeship Readiness Program that includes HVAC. The program lasts eight weeks. The curriculum is based on the Los Angeles County/Orange Counties Buildings & Construction Trades Council AFL-CIO’s nationally-recognized Multi-Craft Curriculum (MC3). Graduates are prepared to enter union apprenticeship programs or seek entry-level employment.

Industry associations sponsor apprenticeship programs nationally for workers who are unable to participate in local programs. Resources include, but are not limited to:

  • Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA)
  • Associated Builders and Contractors, Inc (ABC)
  • Mechanical Contractors Association of America (MCAA)
  • Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors Association (PHCC)
  • Refrigeration Service Engineers Society (RSES)

Details as to curriculum, fees, and requirements are available on their websites.

Accredited HVAC Schools in Long Beach, CA

Aspiring HVAC professionals choosing to attend a school should ensure that the selected program is accredited. Accreditation is a process in which the institution’s curriculum and instructors are evaluated by an independent agency.

HVAC programs are accredited by two industry organizations. The Partnership for Air-Conditioning, Heating, Refrigeration Accreditation (PAHRA) has awarded accreditation to Mount San Antonio Community College in Walnut, CA. HVAC Excellence has accredited the following programs:

  • Brownson Technical School, Anaheim CA
  • Cypress College, Cypress, CA
  • El Camino College, Torrance, CA
  • Mount San Antonio Community College, Walnut, CA
  • North American Training Center, Redlands, CA

The first three of the above schools are included in the profiles below as they are within easy commuting distance from Long Beach.

Brownson Technical College

Brownson, a private school, offers the following programs:

  • HVAC/R Technology 40-week program; $16,295
  • HVAC/R Technology 88-week program; $16,295
  • HVAC/R Technology Blended online 40-week program; $16,295
  • Master Commercial/Domestic Refrigeration 35-week program; $14,475
  • Master Commercial/Domestic Refrigeration 77-week program; $14,475

The coursework includes classroom lectures and hands-on training in a fully-equipped shop. Students may attend lectures during the days or evenings, or they may opt to complete portions of the classroom work online in the blended program.

The curriculum includes coursework such as the following: thermodynamics; refrigeration; copper works; HVAC system components, installation, and servicing; customer service; light commercial HVAC; gas heating; direct digital and other controls; heat pumps; ice machines; and building performance. The coursework also includes preparation and testing for industry certifications, including EPA Section 608 and 410A exams.

  • Location: Anaheim, CA
  • Accreditation: HVAC Excellence; Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC)
  • Tuition: Noted above
  • Format: On-campus and online
  • Program Length: Noted above

Cypress College

Cypress offers students an HVAC/R degree program and an extensive selection of certificate programs. Certificates include:

  • Mechanical systems core – 12 units
  • Electrical systems core – 12 units
  • A/C building commissioning – 24 units
  • A/C codes and estimating – 23 units
  • Commercial air conditioning – 25 units
  • Commercial refrigeration – 21.5-22 units
  • Heat pumps – 24 units
  • HVAC/R project management – 21 units
  • A/C environmental controls – 25.5-26 units
  • Customer service – 24 units
  • HVAC/R – 38.5-39 units

The HVAC/R degree program requires 60 units to complete. The technical curriculum includes the following: principles of thermodynamics and heat transfer; air conditioning; piping practice, tools, and safety; blueprint reading and dimension analysis; refrigerant charging and recovery; technician customer relations; electricity for HVAC; gas heating and carbon monoxide; boilers and hydronic heating; commercial refrigeration; A/C controls and energy management; heat pumps; building commissioning; load calculations; commercial air conditioning; codes and estimating; and HVAC special projects.

Degree-seeking students also complete general education coursework that includes humanities, social sciences, mathematics, oral and written communication, problem solving, professional development, physical sciences, and cultural diversity.

Students in the certificate programs select the relevant technical coursework. They may enroll in more than one certificate program at a time with approval from their academic advisor. The certificate programs do not have a general education requirement.

  • Location: Cypress, CA
  • Accreditation: HVAC Excellence; Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC)
  • Tuition: $46 per unit
  • Format: On-campus
  • Program Length: Certificates vary; degree two years

El Camino College

Students at El Camino College can enroll in an HVAC degree program or select a certificate program, such as:

  • Air conditioning – 17 units
  • Air conditioning and refrigeration electric controls – 13 units
  • HVAC/R – 39 units
  • Refrigeration – 13 units

The certificate programs include basic HVAC coursework, with the addition of the following classes: electricity, heating technology, air conditioning fundamentals, and electronics and controls. Students then select from technical electives that are relevant to their certificate.

Degree-seeking students complete all the above curriculum and add the following: customer service, commercial refrigeration, automation systems, energy systems and efficiency optimization, and electives.

Technical electives include cooperative work experience, computer information systems, construction technology, and business. They also complete the general education coursework required for graduation, for a total of 60 units.

  • Location: Torrance, CA
  • Accreditation: HVAC Excellence; Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC)
  • Tuition: $46 per unit
  • Format: On-campus
  • Program Length: Certificates vary; degree two years

InterCoast Colleges

InterCoast is a private institution offering an HVAC technician certificate program. Coursework combines classroom lectures with hands-on training in the lab. Students may attend the lectures on campus, or they may opt to complete everything except the lab work online. The curriculum includes construction math, safety, electrical safety and theory, construction drawings, AC current and motors, HVAC basics, piping fundamentals and installation, heating systems, A/C and heat pump systems, and air distribution and systems.

Graduates are qualified to seek entry-level employment as HVAC technicians and other industry-related positions.

  • Location: Anaheim, CA
  • Accreditation: Accrediting Council for Continuing Education and Training (ACCET)
  • Tuition: $16,420
  • Format: On-campus and online
  • Program Length: 40 weeks

Los Angeles Trade Technical College

The college offers refrigeration and air conditioning mechanics certificate and degree programs. Both programs are available during the days and evenings, but students must adhere to either the day or evening schedule. They are not permitted to mix schedules.

Required curriculum for all programs includes coursework such as the fundamentals of refrigeration, HVAC principles, calculations and measurements, pipe and tube joining processes, electrical circuits and controls, refrigeration system components,
refrigeration service, indoor air quality, compression systems of refrigeration, and the fundamentals of electricity. Students then select electives from the following:

  • OSHA safety standards
  • Fundamentals of physics
  • HVAC project management
  • Piping principles and practice
  • Gas heating systems
  • Ice storage air conditioning
  • Mechanical codes
  • EPA Section 608 certification
  • Refrigeration system efficiency factors
  • Cooperative education

Students in the certificate program complete a total of 42 units, six of which are electives. Those in the degree program complete a minimum of 48 units of technical coursework and add general education electives for a total of 60 units to graduate. Graduates are qualified to seek employment as residential, commercial, and industrial HVAC/R technicians.

  • Location: Los Angeles, CA
  • Accreditation: Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC)
  • Tuition: $46 per unit
  • Format: On-campus
  • Program Length: Certificate one year; degree two years

If the above schools don’t fit the schedules of Long Beach students, an online institution may better meet their needs. More information on accredited programs is available online HVAC training here.

HVAC Certification and Licensing in Long Beach, CA

Federal law requires technicians who handle refrigerants to obtain Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Section 608 certification. Four levels of certification are available based on the type and size of equipment. Each requires passing an exam on refrigerant safety. The Universal certification allows technicians to work on all equipment. Practice exams are available on the EPA website.

Technicians may obtain additional training and certifications from industry organizations, including the following:

  • HVAC Excellence
  • North American Technician Excellence (NATE)
  • Refrigeration Service Engineers Society (RSES)

Their certifications include Section 608. Further information may be found on each website. There is also more information on the HVAC certifications page.

As a final note, HVAC and HVAC/R technicians who are employed are not required to obtain a license. Self-employed technicians are considered contractors and must obtain a license from the California Contractors State Licensing Board. HVAC contractors are classified as specialty contractors. C-20 licenses are HVAC, and C-38 licenses are for refrigeration contractors.

Applicants must pass exams in business, trade, and law, then submit proof of the following to obtain a license:

  • Four years of journey-level experience
  • At least $2,500 in working capital proof
  • Workers compensation insurance
  • General liability insurance
  • A bond

Payment of a fee is also required. Licenses are renewed every two years. Applicants who can submit proof of five years of journey-level experience with a licensed contractor may obtain an exam waiver.

The City of Long Beach requires a business license for any person or company engaged in business within the city. That includes technicians who work as independent contractors.

As licensing requirements are always subject to change, HVAC technicians are encouraged to ensure that they comply with state, county, and city licensing agencies before working on any project.

Sandra Smith

Sandra Smith was introduced to the HVAC industry when she worked as a bookkeeper and secretary for a small air-conditioning contractor. She eventually became a CPA and started her own practice specializing in small business taxes and accounting. After retiring from business, she began writing articles for newspapers, magazines, and websites. She also authored four books. Sandra makes her home in the mountains with a rescue dog that naps on her lap as she writes.