Accredited HVAC Programs in Los Angeles
For prospective HVAC technicians in the City of Angels, there is a variety of accredited HVAC programs to get a person prepared for the career. Although graduating from an accredited program is not essential to qualify for C-20 contractor licensure or essential certifications (e.g., EPA Section 608), the accreditation status of one’s program can be an indicator of the quality of instruction and indicate to potential employers the rigorousness of one’s preparation in the field. The two main accrediting agencies for these programs are the Partnership for Air-Conditioning, Heating, Refrigeration Accreditation (PAHRA) and HVAC Excellence. Additionally, the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) accredits institutions as a whole, and is one of the six regional accreditation agencies recognized by the US Department of Education’s Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). Finally, the Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC) accredits distance-based programs. For more information about HVAC program accreditation, please visit the HVAC programs homepage.
So how much education do HVAC techs in LA typically have prior to seeking employment? According to CareerOneStop (2015), here is the distribution of the highest level of educational attainment among HVAC techs nationally aged 25 to 44:
- Less than a high school diploma: 11.7 percent
- High school diploma or GED: 39.5 percent
- Some college, no degree: 30.9 percent
- Associate’s degree: 13 percent
- Bachelor’s degree: 4.1 percent
- Master’s degree or above: 0.7 percent
The bulk of respondents have at least a high school diploma, and many have some postsecondary training. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS 2015) adds that many HVAC professionals get educated in vocational and technical schools over a period of six months to two years, often achieving a certificate or associate degree. While many HVAC techs in the past typically learned their skills on-the-job through apprenticeships and other mentoring programs, these days it’s increasingly common for people in this field to have some formal education prior to entering the workforce.
Mount San Antonio College (MTSAC) of Walnut, CA provides an associate of science (AS) degree in air conditioning and refrigeration technology. As the only PAHRA-accredited program in the state of California, MTSAC has a work-study component for interested students in addition to training in refrigerant handling, welding, and mechanical & electrical operation. This program is also offered as a certificate.
Capstone College of Pasadena provides a 36-week (900 hour) HVAC technician training program to get techs prepared for entry-level employment. Capstone seeks to instruct students in areas such as common HVACR systems, electrical components, how to test equipment, safety procedures, compliance with the law, sheet metal work, schematics, and more. In this school’s state-of-the-art lab, students get the opportunity to use the same equipment as top-notch industry professionals. Some courses in this program include HVAC theory, brazing & soldering, refrigerants & charging techniques (EPA refrigerant certification), and heating fundamentals.
Los Angeles Trade-Tech College (LATTC) provides an associate of science (AS) degree in refrigeration & air conditioning mechanics. Requiring a time commitment of 21 hours weekly, this program features courses such as electrical mathematics, refrigeration component instruction, fundamentals of refrigeration, and pipe & tube joining processes. As part of the program, students also receive their EPA Section 608 certification, a mandatory credential for people who work with refrigerants. Please note that LATTC also offers certificate and associate of arts (AA) options in this field.
El Camino College of Torrance also has a 60-unit associate of science (AS) degree program with coursework in electrical applications, refrigeration & air conditioning control systems, solar basics, heating technologies, commercial refrigeration applications, HVAC customer service, and fundamentals of pneumatic (i.e., pressurized air or gas) controls. This school offers four unique tracks for specialized instruction:
- Heating, ventilation, air conditioning, and refrigeration (HVACR)
- Air conditioning (pending approval from the California Community Colleges System Office)
- Air Conditioning and refrigeration Electric Controls (pending approval from the CA CC System Office)
Online HVAC Training
For some students with professional, familial, or other types of time commitments which make attending a traditional program difficult, there is a distance-based HVAC training program available. Brownson Technical College of Anaheim offers both on-campus and a blended learning (i.e., online and on-campus hybrid) option. In the 40-week blended program, students are required to visit campus only 13 hours per week to complete the hands-on component of their instruction. Meanwhile students take courses online to complement their in-house learning in areas such as basic thermodynamics, refrigeration & copper works; EPA, safety, customer service & basic HVAC/R competency; commercial refrigeration; and building performance. Brownson prepares its students to sit for national certification exams including the EPA Section 608, North American Technician Excellence, and HVAC Excellence credentials.
For more information about the types of certifications available, please visit the HVAC certifications page.