HVAC Schools & Technical Training in Oxnard, CA

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The Chumash Native Americans were the original inhabitants of the south coast area now known as Oxnard, CA. Spanish explorers claimed it for Spain in the 1500s. By the 1800s, its location as part of the Oxnard Plain, known for fertile soil, attracted American farmers. The Oxnard brothers built a large sugar beet factory. The growing city was incorporated in the 1900s and is now part of the Greater Los Angeles area. It is also the largest city in the Oxnard-Thousand Oaks-Ventura, CA Metropolitan Statistical Area.

Agriculture, especially strawberry cultivation, is still a significant part of Oxnard’s economy. Manufacturing and healthcare continue to contribute to the economy. The petroleum industry remains strong as Oxnard sits on two active oil fields. Port Hueneme supports international trade. The biotech, finance, tourism, and transportation industries are expanding, keeping the economy diversified and strong.

Oxnard’s climate is generally regarded as comfortable. The summers are warm and dry. Average high temperatures from July through November are in the mid-70s F. Overnight temperatures hover in the high 50s to low 60s. Rainfall is consistently less than an inch.

The onshore breezes that keep the summer cool also serve to moderate the winter temperatures. Winter nights stay well above freezing, other than during an occasional record-setting cold spell. The warm winter days usually average 65-66 degrees F. The winters are wetter than the summers, with December, January, and March receiving more than two inches of rain each month. February is the wettest month, with an average rainfall of more than three inches.

Although Oxnard boasts a mild climate, residents rely on heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) for comfort. That’s partly because the area experiences a high rate of pollution that keeps residents inside.

The manufacturing and industrial facilities add refrigeration (HVAC/R) to their systems. The hospitality and entertainment venues also require refrigeration for the comfort of visitors. Historic sites and museums often need climate control to preserve fragile artifacts. Finally, the expanding high-tech industry requires specialized climate-control systems and equipment to keep their electronics operating correctly.

Current Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS 2021) data indicates that 550 HVAC and HVAC/R technicians were employed in the Oxnard-Thousand Oaks-Ventura, CA area. National, state, and local industry associations provide resources and support to the technicians and their employers. These include, among others:

  • Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA)
  • American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE)
  • Plumbing, Heating, & Cooling Contractors Association of the Greater Los Angeles Area (PHCC-GLAA)
  • Refrigeration Service Engineers Society (RSES)
  • Ventura County Contractors Association (VCCA)
  • UA Local Union 484 of Plumbers, Pipefitters, Welders and Apprentices

These organizations cooperate with others in the industry, regulatory agencies, and businesses to establish and maintain educational, licensing, and performance standards for the safety of technicians, the public, and the environment.

Occupational Demand for HVAC and HVAC/R Technicians in Oxnard, CA

The BLS (2021) anticipates a 5 percent increase in openings for trained HVAC and HVAC/R technicians nationwide between 2020 and 2030. That’s an average of 38,500 new job openings each year. Projections Central (2022) data shows even more favorable statewide projections. They expect a 13.8 percent increase in openings for HVAC professionals in California during the same period.

The construction of new commercial and residential buildings drives the growth of the HVAC industry. The renovation and remodeling of existing structures also contribute significantly to industry growth. Aging equipment and systems must be repaired, replaced, or retrofitted to meet contemporary climate-control requirements. On occasion, climate control systems in newer structures are sometimes replaced due to evolving regulations, technological advances, and the demands of new industries, such as the high-tech companies choosing Oxnard for their home. The emphasis on energy efficiency and pollution reduction, especially in an environment-conscious state like California, is another significant factor driving industry growth.

Homeowners and businesses want “smart” buildings with sophisticated climate-control equipment and systems. The HVAC technicians working with the complex systems must be skilled troubleshooters, proficient with computers, and understand electronics and high-tech. Their training and expertise provide the best job opportunities.

Technicians who prefer to specialize in new construction may occasionally experience unemployment if construction declines. A decline doesn’t seem likely soon, as Oxnard is part of “a growing haven for biotech companies.” The report further states, “Oxnard and Ventura County’s economy has grown every year since the national recession ended in 2009.”

Technicians specializing in maintenance and service can expect continuous employment as businesses and homeowners rely on year-round climate control regardless of the economy.

HVAC and HVAC/R Salaries in Oxnard, CA

HVAC mechanics and installers nationally received a median salary of $48,630, according to the BLS (May 2021) data. Their statistics also show that Oxnard-Thousand Oaks-Ventura, CA area technicians earned an annual median salary of $59,380. The wage difference isn’t as significant as it might seem, as the cost of living in California is much higher than in other American states.

The BLS (May 2021) reports the national, state, and regional earnings of HVAC professionals as follows:

United States California Oxnard-Thousand Oaks-Ventura, CA
Number of HVAC professionals employed 356,960 32,640 550
Average annual salary $54,690 $61,670 $57,440
10th Percentile $34,320 $37,200 $38,090
25th Percentile $38,450 $46,640 $47,130
50th Percentile $48,630 $59,750 $59,380
75th Percentile $62,000 $75,170 $62,830
90th Percentile $78,210 $94,740 $77,160

HVAC Apprenticeships in Oxnard, CA

Workers in the past who wanted to become HVAC technicians took jobs as helpers and learned their skills through on-the-job training. Few such opportunities exist today for untrained workers; most attend classes or participate in an apprenticeship program. Formal training gives them better job opportunities and enables them to potentially start at higher wages and earn more throughout their career. Time invested in classes varies according to the level of expertise sought.

Apprenticeships include specified hours of on-the-job training, usually 2,000 hours, and classroom work, usually 144 hours, annually for three to five years.

The State of California Department of Industrial Relations maintains a database of HVAC apprenticeship programs. As of July 2022, two programs were available in Ventura county: a 48-month sheet metal service worker program through the Tri-Counties Sheet Metal & Air Conditioning Industry J.A.C. and a 60-month refrigeration and air conditioning through the Ventura County Plumbing & Pipefitting J.A.C. The UA Local 484 of Plumbers, Pipefitters, Welders, and Apprentices 60-month program includes 7,500 hours of on-the-job training and a minimum of 1,000 hours of classroom time. Graduates receive journey-level status.

Aspiring technicians can also attend HVAC and HVAC/R apprenticeship programs from industry associations such as the following:

  • Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA)
  • Mechanical Contractors Association of America (MCAA)
  • Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors Association (PHCC)
  • Refrigeration Service Engineers Society (RSES)
  • Sheet Metal Workers International Association (SMWIA)

Details are available on each organization’s website.

Accredited HVAC and HVAC/R Schools in Oxnard, CA

Students choosing to attend a school should select an accredited institution. Accreditation means that an independent agency has evaluated the school’s program’s quality, including the curriculum and the instructors. HVAC Excellence and the Partnership for Air-Conditioning, Heating, Refrigeration Accreditation (PAHRA) accredit HVAC programs.

HVAC Excellence has accredited the following California schools:

  • Brownson Technical School, Anaheim, CA
  • Cypress College, Cypress, CA
  • North American Training Center, Redlands, CA

PAHRA has accredited Mount San Antonio College, Walnut, CA

Although all the schools require a commute for Oxnard students, Cypress College and Mount San Antonio College are included in the profiles below due to their accreditation. Other reputable agencies have accredited the remaining schools.

Note: The information in this article was compiled in July 2022, when pandemic restrictions were in a state of flux. The profiled schools may have temporarily suspended classes or are offering online options. Please direct questions about timing and format to the school administration.

Capstone College

Capstone, a private college, offers an HVAC technician certificate program. Coursework is presented via classroom lectures and hands-on training in an up-to-date lab. Students may choose to attend during the day or the evenings. Although uniforms are not required, students must adhere to a dress code.

The curriculum is divided into eight modules which may be taken in any order. They include HVAC trade orientation, human relations, safety first aid, construction math, HVAC fundamentals, tools materials, supplies, preparation for EPA 608 certification exam, HVAC systems, HVAC theory, electrical, schematics, national and local codes, brazing and soldering, sheet metal installation, and refrigerants and charging technicians. Graduates are qualified to seek employment as entry-level technicians.

  • Location: Pasadena, CA
  • Accreditation: Accrediting Council for Continuing Education and Training (ACCET)
  • Tuition: $15,800
  • Program length: Full-time day 30 weeks, part-time evening 48 weeks

Cypress College

Students at Cypress College may choose an HVAC/R degree program or from a selection of certificate programs. Certificate programs currently include:

  • A/C customer service – 20 units
  • A/C building commissioning – 24 units
  • A/C codes and estimating – 23 units
  • Commercial A/C – 25 units
  • Heat pump – 24 units
  • HVAC/R project management – 21 units
  • A/C environmental controls – 25.5 to 26 units
  • HVAC/R – 38.5 – 39 units

The degree program requires 60 units to complete. The technical curriculum includes principles of thermodynamics and heat transfer, air conditioning, piping practice, tools, and safety, blueprint reading and dimension analysis, electricity, gas heating and carbon monoxide, solar energy for heat and cool, refrigerant charging and recovery, technician customer relations, commercial refrigeration, A/C controls, heat pumps, load calculations, commercial A/C, codes and commissioning, and A/C capstone.

Degree-seeking students also complete general education coursework that includes written communication, math, analytical thinking, life science and physical sciences, ethics, arts, physical activity and health, humanities, and social sciences.

Students in the certificate programs select the technical coursework relevant to the certificate. 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
  • Program length: Certificates vary, degree two years

El Camino College

El Camino students may obtain an HVAC degree or select from certificate programs that currently include:

  • HVAC fundamentals – 17 units
  • HVAC/R electric controls – 13 units

Other certificate programs such as energy efficiency, heating, and refrigeration are offered at various times. Students are advised to consult with an academic advisor.

The degree technical curriculum includes electrical applications, HVAC control systems, HVAC fundamentals, commercial refrigeration, HVAC energy efficiency in residential, commercial, and industrial applications, heating technologies, electric controls, HVAC electronics, customer service, industry certifications, fundamentals of automation systems, and energy control and optimization systems.

Electives include cooperative work experience, business mathematics, computer information systems, and building fundamentals. Students must also complete required general education coursework and electives for a total of 60 units to receive their degree.

  • Location: Torrance, CA
  • Accreditation: Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC)
  • Tuition: $46 per unit
  • Program length: Certificates vary, degree two years

Los Angeles Trade Technical College

LATTC offers an HVAC/R certificate program and an HVAC degree program. Students may attend daytime or evening classes. They must adhere to their chosen schedule as they are not permitted to mix schedules.

Students in the certificate programs complete the following curriculum: refrigeration fundamentals, indoor air quality, electricity, electrical mathematics, principles and practices of electrical circuits and controls, refrigeration compression systems, refrigeration system components, servicing, refrigerant management, preparation for EPA certification, refrigeration systems, and gas heating systems.

They must also select at least two technical electives from coursework, such as contractors license law, safety standards, A/C project management, and piping principles and practices. They are awarded their certificate after 48 units.

Students enrolled in the degree program complete the same technical curriculum, adding 20 to 21 units of general education requirements. They receive their degree after 60 to 61 units.

  • Location: Los Angeles, CA
  • Accreditation: Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC)
  • Tuition: $46.00 per unit
  • Program length: Certificate one year, degree two years

Mount San Antonio College

Mt. SAC offers an HVAC certificate program and an HVAC degree program. Coursework for both programs includes classroom lectures followed by hands-on training in the lab. Graduates are prepared to seek entry-level positions as technicians.

Students in the certificate program complete the following curriculum: HVAC/R technical mathematics, HVAC/R welding, A/C codes and standards, refrigeration fundamentals, HVAC/R electricity, gas heating, heat load calculations and design, commercial HVAC/R, air properties and measurement, and commercial systems. They are awarded their certificate after 31.5 units.

Students enrolled in the degree program complete the same technical coursework as those in the certificate program. In addition, they complete general education coursework that includes public speaking, composition, arts, humanities, lifelong understanding, political science, physical education, and science. They receive their degree after 65.5 to 68.5 units.

  • Location: Walnut, CA
  • Accreditation: PAHRA, Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC)
  • Tuition: $46 per unit
  • Program length: Certificate one year, degree two years

Oxnard College

Oxnard College offers HVAC/R proficiency award programs, an HVAC/R certificate program, and an HVAC/R degree program. Coursework for all programs is divided between classroom lectures and hands-on practice in the lab. Graduates of all programs are qualified to seek entry-level positions as technicians.

Proficiency award programs include:

  • Airside systems – 5 units
  • HVAC/R electrical systems – 7 units
  • Energy auditing – 5 units
  • HVAC/R mechanical systems – 7 units
  • Heating and hydronics – 5 units

The technical curriculum for the certificate program includes the coursework from the proficiency award programs, introduction to HVAC/R, and heating and control systems, for a total of 29 units.

The degree program adds general education coursework that includes reading, English composition, mathematics, natural science, biological science, physical science, social and behavioral sciences, humanities, fine arts, language and rationality, communication and analytical thinking, health education, and physical education. Students complete 60 units to earn their degree.

  • Location: Oxnard, CA
  • Accreditation: Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC)
  • Tuition: $46 per unit
  • Program length: Proficiency awards vary, certificate one year, degree two years

HVAC and HVAC/R Certification and Licensing in Oxnard, CA

HVAC and HVAC/R technicians who handle refrigerants are required by the Environment Protection Agency (EPA) to obtain Section 608 certification. Four certification levels are available based on the type and size of equipment on which a technician works, as described below:

  • Type I – for servicing small appliances
  • Type II – for servicing or disposing of high-pressure appliances, except small appliances and automotive air conditioning
  • Type III – for servicing or disposing of low-pressure appliances
  • Universal – for servicing all types of equipment

Details of the criteria for each certification are available on the EPA website.

Industry organizations offer Section 608 certification and other certifications that can increase a technician’s employability. These include:

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

Check each organization’s website for availability, scheduling, and fees. There is also more information on the HVAC certifications page.

California Contractors State Licensing Board classifies HVAC and HVAC/R technicians as contractors if they advertise their services. HVAC contractors need the C-20 specialty license, and HVAC/R contractors need the C-38 specialty license. Most applicants must pass exams in law and business, and trade. All applicants must then submit proof of the following to obtain their license:

  • Minimum of four years of journey-level experience
  • At least $2,500 in working capital
  • Workers compensation insurance
  • General liability insurance
  • A $15,000 bond

All applicants must be fingerprinted and undergo a criminal background check. Licenses are renewed every two years. The initial license and renewals require payment of a fee.

The City of Oxnard requires all businesses operating within the city limits to obtain an annual business tax certificate. The fee is based on gross receipts. The County of Ventura requires all businesses operating in unincorporated areas to obtain a business tax certificate.

As licensing regulations may change, HVAC professionals are encouraged to confirm that they comply with current guidelines before starting a 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.