HVAC Schools in San Fernando Valley, CA

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The San Fernando Valley is a unique urban area in Southern California, home to the cities of Burbank, Calabasas, Glendale, Hidden Hills, San Fernando, and parts of Los Angeles. Several unincorporated communities are also located in the Valley of the Stars, such as Universal City, the surrounding area of the film studio Universal Pictures. The economy is diverse. Of course, most pronounced are Hollywood and the film, music, and entertainment industries; however, the aerospace industry is also booming in the San Fernando Valley, and many other secondary ecosystems such as restoration, healthcare, and technology, round out the growing industries. Since these businesses require climate control for people and products, this industrial growth iis one factor driving the rising demand for heating, venting, air conditioning and refrigeration (HVAC/R) professionals.

The weather is another factor. The San Fernando Valley has desert-like conditions, with hot and dry summers and colder winters. The hottest summer months come later in the year, around September and October, with temperatures occasionally exceeding the mid-nineties Fahrenheit. Winter averages are well above freezing, usually hovering around the low-forties.

HVAC/R services are an essential part of the Valley. Tourism increases the need for HVAC/R in restaurants, lodging, and entertainment venues. New construction demands the installation of equipment. The California Energy Commission has a plan for energy efficiency financing in public institutions, such as schools and hospitals around the state, which will require updating older systems.

Overall, the HVAC industry is thriving and so too is the availability of support for skilled professionals in this field, including the Los Angeles/Ventura Chapter of the Associated Builders and Contractors, the California Plumbing and Mechanical Contractors Association in Burbank, and the Institute of Heating and Air Conditioning Industries in Glendale. These organizations work with state and local agencies to solve industry issues and encourage investments that generate opportunities for contractors.

Read on to discover the career outlook for HVAC workers in the San Fernando Valley, as well as the accredited training programs in the area and how to become credentialed.

Occupational Demand for HVAC/R Technicians in San Fernando Valley

Demand for HVAC and HVAC/R technicians is growing nationwide. According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), jobs for technicians are expected to increase by 15 percent between 2016 and 2026, more than twice as much as the anticipated growth expected for all occupations in the country (7 percent). On top of that, demand in California is higher than the national average. Projections Central predicted a 20 percent statewide increase in HVAC job openings for the decade ending in 2024.

Several factors contribute to the growth of the HVAC and HVAC/R industry. The primary factor is the increasing sophistication of climate control systems and the need to replace, retrofit, or upgrade older systems. A second consideration is the contemporary emphasis on energy efficiency and reducing pollution despite the increasing demand for critical levels of humidity and temperature across industries, such as internet technology and telecommunications. Finally, with the construction of new buildings and residences comes a demand for the installation of HVAC/R systems.

HVAC and HVAC/R Salaries in San Fernando Valley, CA

The BLS (May 2017) reports that nationally, HVAC mechanics and installers receive a median annual salary of $47,080. Specific statistics for the San Fernando Valley are not available; however, technicians in the Los Angeles-Long Beach-Glendale Metropolitan Division are paid a median salary of $61,150. Below are the hourly and annual salary comparisons as calculated by the BLS (2017):

California Los Angeles-Long Beach-Glendale Metropolitan Division
Number of workers 25,010 5,520
Average salary $56,350 ($27.09/hr.) $62,620 ($30.11/hr.)
10th percentile $32,120 ($15.44/hr.) $34,190 ($16.44/hr.)
25th percentile $39,020 ($18.76/hr.) $46,290 ($22.26/hr.)
50th percentile $53,630 ($25.79/hr.) $61,150 ($29.40/hr.)
75th percentile $68,450 ($32.91/hr.) $80,110 ($38.52/hr.)
90th percentile $90,300 ($43.42/hr.) $95,690 ($46.00/hr.)


HVAC and HVAC/R technicians can begin their careers as helpers and learn the trade on-the-job, but many workers now attend classes or participate in an apprenticeship program. Coursework and apprenticeships can open up more employment opportunities.

The State of California Department of Industrial Relations maintains a database of apprenticeship programs. As of mid-2018, four programs are available in Los Angeles County; however, not all programs are accepting apprentices at all times.

Air Conditioning and Refrigeration Fitters Local 250, located in Los Angeles, sponsors joint journeyman HVAC and HVAC/R apprenticeship programs. Apprentices attend evening classes twice a week for a total of 216 hours per year for five years. During the five years, they also complete 8,000 hours of on-the-job training. Graduates are qualified to receive their journeyman certificates.

When choosing a school, it is essential to determine if it is accredited and by which organization. Accreditation is a process in which an independent agency evaluates the quality of the program, which includes both the curriculum and the instructors.

Two organizations evaluate and certify HVAC programs. HVAC Excellence has accredited five California schools, including three within an hour’s drive from San Fernando Valley. The Partnership for Air-Conditioning, Heating, Refrigeration Accreditation (PAHRA) has accredited one California school, which also has the HVAC Excellence accreditation. The schools are included in the following profiles.

Brownson Technical School

Brownson offers two HVAC and HVAC/R technology tracks. Both feature “blended” curricula. Hands-on training in a fully-equipped lab and some coursework are completed on-campus. The remaining coursework is taught online. One track is designed to teach core skills to those new to the trade. The other is for students already working as technicians who wish to obtain further training and certification. Graduates receive an undergraduate certificate and are prepared to take industry competence tests. They are prepared to work as technicians on residential, commercial, and industrial installations.

  • Location: Anaheim, CA
  • Accreditation: HVAC Excellence; Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges
  • Format: On-campus and online
  • Tuition: $17,200
  • Program length: 40 weeks for the day and blended programs; 88 weeks for the evening program

Cypress College

This school offers several HVAC and HVAC certificates as well as a degree program. Students may take some coursework online. The resource center has computers for use in online studies for students without computers or internet access at home. Students complete 22 to 39 credit-hours, depending on the certificate chosen. Certificate programs include air conditioning and refrigeration, air conditioning building commissioning, commercial air conditioning, air conditioning customer service, and green air conditioning, among others.

Students may complete advanced work to earn their associate degree. The degree requires the completion of the air conditioning and refrigeration certificate program and additional general education for a minimum of 60 credit-hours for graduation. All coursework is divided between classroom lectures and hands-on training. Students also complete several special projects.

Coursework includes the basics of refrigerants and lubricants, sustainable systems, thermodynamics, electrical theory and safety, duct sizing and sheet metal techniques, air distribution, gas and electrical heating, soldering and wiring, piping, hydronics, solar technology, blueprint reading, and trade math. As students advance, they learn about refrigeration technology, absorption systems, chillers and cooling towers, air handlers, energy management, and direct digital controls.

  • Location: Cypress, CA
  • Accreditation: HVAC Excellence
  • Format: On-campus and online
  • Tuition: $46 per credit for residents; $190 per credit for non-residents
  • Program length: One year for the certificate; two years for the degree

Los Angeles Trade Technical College

LATTC offers a certificate and an associate degree in refrigeration and air conditioning mechanics. Students may meet the requirements of either program by attending day classes or evening classes. Some coursework is available online. The certificate program requires the completion of 48 credits, while the associate program requires at least 60 credits.

Students in both programs complete coursework covering the fundamentals, principles, and mechanics of air conditioning and refrigeration; trade math; pipe and tube joining; electrical circuits and controls; refrigeration service; refrigerants; gas heating; and indoor air quality. Electives include contractor’s license law, project management, HVAC/R mechanical codes, refrigeration efficiency, gas heating, and industry exams preparation. Students wishing to earn an associate degree must complete additional courses in general education electives. Graduates are prepared to seek employment as residential, commercial, and industrial technicians.

  • Location: Los Angeles, CA
  • Accreditation: Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges
  • Format: On-campus and online
  • Tuition: $1,827 per year
  • Program length: 12 to 18 months for the certificate; two years for the degree

Mt. San Antonio College

Mt. San Antonio offers air conditioning and refrigeration technology certificate and degree programs. Classes are available days and evenings and are designed to prepare students for employment within one year. Some coursework may be completed online.

Students enrolled in the certificate program complete 31.5 credit hours of coursework in technical math, welding, codes and standards, fundamentals of refrigeration and electricity, gas heating, heat load calculations and design, the properties and measurement of air, and the mechanics of refrigeration. Students seeking a degree can complete the same coursework, as well as general education electives.

Students in both programs spend time in labs learning how to read schematic drawings and circuits, operate equipment, and use computer software to design duct systems, perform load calculations, and building automation mockups.

  • Location: Walnut, CA
  • Accreditation: HVAC Excellence, PAHRA, Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges
  • Format: On-campus and online
  • Tuition: $46 per credit for residents; $288 per credit for non-residents
  • Program length: Certificate one year; degree two years

Newport International United College

This private college offers three programs: HVAC technician, advanced HVAC technician, and HVAC/R technology. All programs combine classroom lectures with hands-on training.

HVAC technician students learn basic safety, piping practices, basic electricity, air distribution systems, and introductory refrigeration, cooling, and heating practices. They also complete the OSHA 10-hour training course and the EPA certificate study course and are qualified to take the EPA 608, R-410 A Safety, and OSHA certification exams.

Students in the advanced HVAC technician program complete the same introductory coursework, with the addition of soldering and brazing, HVAC theory, air conditioning systems and components, troubleshooting, heat pump cycles and controls, and reading schematic drawings. Graduates are qualified to take the EPA 608, R-410 A Safety, OSHA, and HVAC Excellence Air-Conditioning and Heat Pump certification exams.

The HVAC/R technology program includes tool, equipment, and shop safety practices, system controls, heat theory, electric motors, commercial refrigeration, heating, cooling, and humidification, domestic appliances, chillers, and career development. Students may complete an externship at an approved site for additional hands-on experience. Graduates receive a diploma and are prepared to take industry certification exams.

  • Location: West Hills, CA; Woodland Hills, CA
  • Accreditation: N/A; approved by the California Bureau for Private Postsecondary Education
  • Format: On-campus
  • Tuition: $9,994 for the HVAC technician program; $12,993 for the advanced HVAC technician program; $17,575 for the HVAC/R technology program
  • Program length: 18 days for the HVAC technician program; 5.5 weeks for the advanced HVAC technician program; 44 weeks for the HVAC/R technology program

HVAC and HVAC/R Certification and Licensing in San Fernando Valley

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requires technicians who work with refrigerants to obtain EPA Section 608 Certification, which includes passing an exam on the safe handling of refrigerants. The four types of certifications are based on the systems on which technicians work:

  • For servicing small appliances (Type I)
  • For servicing or disposing of high-pressure appliances, except small appliances and motor vehicle ACs (Type II)
  • For servicing or disposing of low-pressure appliances (Type III)
  • For servicing all types of equipment (Universal)

Practice exams are available online.

Technicians may obtain additional training and certifications from industry organizations, which also offer Section 608 testing and certification. These include, but are not limited to:

  • Refrigeration Service Engineers Society (RSES): Their mission is to provide opportunities for enhanced technical competence by offering comprehensive, cutting-edge education and certification to the HVAC/R industry.
  • North American Technician Excellence (NATE): Their certification tests represent real world working knowledge of HVAC/R systems.
  • HVAC Excellence: Their exams and certifications are intended to validate that an individual has retained knowledge in a specific area of the HVAC/R industry.

The California Contractors State Licensing Board requires HVAC contractors to be licensed for all projects that exceed $500. A self-employed technician is considered a contractor and must have a contractor’s license. Applicants must submit proof of four years of journey-level experience, submit proof of a minimum of $2,500 in working capital, file a $10,000 bond and proof of workers compensation insurance, pass exams in trade and law and business, and pay the required fees. Applicants must also disclose details of criminal convictions and be fingerprinted.

As a final note, municipal credentialing and permit procedures vary by area. For example, the City of Burbank requires a business license for all businesses, including those operated from a home office. Contractors from out of the city must also obtain a business license for city projects. The City of Los Angeles requires all contractors and subcontractors to obtain a business tax registration certificate as well as business license.

In order to remain in compliance with local legislation, all aspiring HVAC professionals are encouraged to contact their local government offices.

Barry Franklin

Barry is the Editor in Chief of HVACClasses.org, operated by educational web publisher Sechel Ventures, which he joined as partner in 2013 after almost 20 years in the financial software industry.