HVAC Training Schools Santa Clarita, CA

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Four communities were incorporated in 1987 as the City of Santa Clarita, making it one of the largest Los Angeles suburbs. Geographically, most of Santa Clarita Valley is included within the city boundaries and the area is described as “one of Southern California’s fastest-growing communities.” The city strives to achieve a “balanced community that is inviting to both businesses and residents.”

The strong economy is diversified, with industries that include aerospace, biomedicine, high-tech, and manufacturing contributing to growth and prosperity. Sometimes referred to as “Hollywood North,” the area has long been a center for the film and entertainment industry.

Santa Clarita, California (CA) lies between the Mojave Desert and the Pacific Ocean. The desert heat is moderated to an extent by the ocean weather, but not enough to avoid summer days in which the temperatures soar to the high 90s and low 100s. Summer nights average 40 degrees cooler for much-needed relief from the heat. Classified as a semi-arid climate, rainfall is scanty during the summer. Precipitation increases significantly during the winter months, with January, February, and March averaging three or more inches each. Although the thermometer rarely dips to freezing temperatures, Santa Clarita has experienced light snowfall some years. Temperatures on winter days are typically in the upper 60s, dropping to the high 30s and low 40s during the night.

Santa Claritians seek respite from weather extremes by installing heating, venting, and air conditioning (HVAC) in their homes and workplaces. Many commercial buildings require the addition of refrigeration (HVAC/R) to ensure the comfort of occupants, as well as to keep electronic equipment operating correctly. Research centers and high-tech companies frequently need buildings with specialized climate-control equipment and systems as well.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS 2019), 8,100 HVAC mechanics and installers were employed in the Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, CA area as of May 2018, which includes Santa Clarita. Technicians and their employers received support and services from industry organizations that include the following:

  • American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE)
  • Associated Builders and Contractors, Inc Southern California Chapter
  • Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors Association of California (PHCCA)
  • Sheet Metal Workers International Association
  • Southern California Contractors Association

Groups such as these coordinate training and performance standards with governmental agencies and other organizations to ensure the safety of workers and the public.

Occupational Demand for HVAC Technicians in Santa Clarita, CA

HVAC and HVAC/R technicians can expect a 13 percent increase in new positions nationwide between 2018 and 2028, according to the BLS (2019). That’s much faster than the 5 percent increase in new jobs expected for all US occupations during those same years. California HVAC technicians have an even brighter job outlook. Projections Central predicts a 19.6 percent statewide increase in new HVAC positions between 2016 and 2026.

Most of the growth in the HVAC industry is the result of new construction. As a rapidly growing and prosperous community, Santa Clarita is continually adding more residences and commercial structures. The climate and modern technology require HVAC in all the new buildings. The film industry also demands complex HVAC and HVAC/R systems, and biomedical research and other high-tech sectors that depend on technology also require specialized climate-control systems. Additionally, existing structures often require replacing, retro-fitting, or upgrading older equipment to meet contemporary energy efficiency and pollution reduction standards.

The sophisticated climate-control equipment used in modern “smart” buildings requires trained technicians for installation, maintenance, and service. Technicians seeking the best job opportunities should be skilled troubleshooters and understand electronics. Those who specialize in new installations may occasionally experience unemployment. Santa Clarita’s strong economy makes any slowdown unlikely in the near future. Overall, technicians who specialize in maintenance and service can also expect to remain employed year-round as businesses and homeowners need their systems operating efficiently regardless of the economy.

HVAC Salaries in Santa Clarita, CA

HVAC mechanics and installers nationwide were paid a median salary of $47,610 as of May 2018, according to the BLS. Their data also shows that technicians in the Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, CA area, which includes Santa Clarita, were paid an annual median salary of $58,650 that same year. The difference in earnings is less than it appears, as the cost of living in California is higher than in other US states.

For a comparison of national, state, and regional salaries of HVAC professionals, see the table below:

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 Santa Clarita, CA

Not surprisingly, untrained workers have few job opportunities. Traditionally, workers who wanted to become HVAC technicians took entry-level jobs as assistants and acquired their technical skills through on-the-job training. The complexity of contemporary climate control systems demands skilled technicians. Workers these days are advised to participate in an apprenticeship or attend formal classes. This training gives them the skills needed to find employment as well as potentially start at higher wages and earn more throughout their careers.

Most apprenticeship programs require a three- to five-year commitment. A typical program includes an average of 2,000 hours of on-the-job training coupled with an average of 144 hours of classwork each year. The State of California Department of Industrial Relations maintains a database of HVAC apprenticeship programs.

The Los Angeles and Orange Counties Joint Apprenticeship Training Committee (JATC) sponsors a 60-month HVAC Service Technician apprenticeship program at the Los Angeles Training Center. A 48-month HVAC workers apprenticeship is sponsored by the Associated Builders and Contractors, Inc. Southern California Chapter in Anaheim. Apprentices willing to commute or relocate can attend a 60-month residential and commercial HVAC/R service and repair apprenticeship in Sacramento that is sponsored by the Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors Association of California. Also, Kern & Northern Los Angeles Counties Air Conditioning & Sheet Metal Workers JATC have two sheet metal apprentice programs and an Air Balance Testing Technician apprenticeship program in Bakersfield, CA.

A free Construction Apprenticeship Readiness Program (that includes HVAC) is available at Long Beach City College. The program follows the Los Angeles County/Orange Counties Buildings & Construction Trades Council AFL-CIO’s nationally-recognized Multi-Craft Curriculum (MC3). Students learn how to read blueprints, gain industry awareness, use hand and power tools, and learn about tool safety and other information relevant to entering the construction trades. They can also earn certificates in CPR, First Aid, and OSHA 10. The program prepares them to enter union apprenticeship programs or seek entry-level employment.

Santa Clarita workers who are unable to attend local apprenticeship programs may acquire training from national industry associations such as the following:

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

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

Accredited HVAC Schools in Santa Clarita, CA

Workers planning to attend a school should first ensure that it is accredited. Accreditation is a process through which an 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

Antelope Valley College

AVC offers the following degree and certificate programs:

  • Refrigeration certificate – 20 units
  • Refrigeration degree – 60 units
  • HVAC certificate – 20 units
  • HVAC degree – 60 units
  • HVAC/R certificate – 20 units
  • HVAC/R degree – 60 units

Some of the coursework for each program is available during the evening hours. Coursework is divided between classroom lectures and hands-on training in the lab.

The curriculum for each program is divided into domestic and commercial “blocks” for refrigeration and residential and commercial “blocks” for air conditioning. The refrigeration certificate includes coursework in basic refrigeration, controls, and systems relevant to each block. The HVAC certificate includes systems and controls for each block. The HVAC/R certificate combines the coursework of the first two certificate programs.

The degree programs incorporate all of the technical coursework included in the certificate programs, with the addition of general education requirements and electives. Students will also complete one to eight units of work experience education each semester.

  • Location: Lancaster, CA
  • Accreditation: Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC)
  • Tuition: $46 per unit
  • Format: On-campus
  • Program Length: Refrigeration and HVAC certificates 34 weeks; HVAC/R certificate 68 weeks; degrees two years

Capstone College

The Capstone College, a private school, offers an HVAC technician certificate program. Students may choose to attend classes during the day or in the evening. The program is taught in modules and includes classroom lectures on theory followed by hands-on practice in the lab.

The curriculum includes an HVAC trade orientation as well as instruction in human relations, safety, first aid, construction math, fundamentals and theory of HVAC, tools, materials, electricity, schematics, codes and regulations, HVAC systems, brazing and soldering, sheet metal installation, refrigerants, and preparation for the Section 608 certification exam.

Graduates are qualified to seek employment as residential or light commercial HVAC/R technicians.

  • Location: Pasadena, CA
  • Accreditation: Accrediting Council for Continuous Education and Training (ACCET)
  • Tuition: $14,800
  • Format: On-campus
  • Program Length: Day 30 weeks; evening 48 weeks

El Camino College

El Camino College provides HVAC options that include a degree program and the following certificate programs:

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

Students in the certificate programs start with HVAC basics, then add coursework that’s relevant to the certificate they’re seeking. They choose from electricity, heating technology, AC fundamentals, energy control and system optimization, and electronics and controls.

Students in the degree program complete all the technical coursework included in the certificate programs. They also complete an additional required technical curriculum that includes customer service, commercial refrigeration, and automation systems, as well as electives that include cooperative work experience, computer information systems, construction technology, and business. Required general education courses complete the total of 60 units that students need to earn their degree.

  • 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

Los Angeles Trade Technical College

Students at the LATTC can choose to obtain a certificate or a degree as refrigeration and air conditioning mechanics. They can also choose to complete coursework during the day or in the evening. As the evening and day curricula details vary slightly, combining the tracks is not permitted.

Both tracks include the following coursework: the fundamentals of refrigeration; HVAC/R 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.

Once the required technical coursework is completed, students choose from electives that include OSHA safety standards; the fundamentals of physics; HVAC project management; piping principles and practice; gas heating systems; ice storage air conditioning; mechanical codes; EPA Section 608 exam preparation; refrigeration system efficiency factors; and cooperative education.

The certificate program requires students to complete a total of 42 units. The degree program requires a total of 60 units, which includes 12 units of general education classes in addition to the technical curriculum. 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

Mount San Antonio Community College

Mt. SAC offers an HVAC/R technology certificate and an HVAC/R technology degree. Both programs divide the coursework between classroom lectures and hands-on training in the lab. Students may transfer credits earned in either program to a bachelor’s degree program after consultation with an academic advisor.

The certificate program requires 31.5 units of technical curriculum that includes technical math; welding; codes and standards; refrigeration fundamentals; electrical fundamentals; gas heating; heat load calculations and design; air properties and management; and mechanical refrigeration.

Students in the degree program complete all the technical curriculum, as well as general education classes that include communication, critical thinking, science, art and humanities, social science, and electives, for a total of 60 units to earn their degree. Students who desire on-the-job experience may select a work-study option.

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

San Joaquin Valley College

SJVC, a private junior college, offers an HVAC/R technology certificate program and a degree program. Enrollees in both programs attend a career services seminar in addition to their coursework. They are also prepared to take the Section 608 exam, the fee for which is included in the tuition. The focus of both programs is career development.

Students in the certificate program complete the following coursework: HVAC/R theory and application; electricity theory and application; air distribution systems; and advanced HVAC/R. The curriculum for students in the degree program includes the certificate program courses as well as advanced electricity and advanced HVAC/R. They also complete general education classes which include composition and reading, algebra, natural science, philosophy, ethics, psychology, and sociology.

Graduates are qualified to seek entry-level employment as HVAC/R technicians and other positions in the industry.

  • Location: Lancaster, CA
  • Accreditation: Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC)
  • Tuition: Certificate $22,855; degree $33,300
  • Format: On-campus
  • Program Length: Certificate 40 weeks; degree 60 weeks

UEI College

UEI, a private trade school, has several campuses that offer HVAC training, including their Encino campus. The program includes classroom lectures and hands-on practice in the following subjects: electricity, motors, and controls; refrigeration theory and application; HVAC; troubleshooting; heat pump systems; heating systems and boilers; duct design, reading blueprints, load calculation; commercial and specialized refrigeration systems, green awareness; regulations; and building automation. Notably, students prepare for Section 608 and R-410 certifications. Passing the 608 test is required for graduation.

Students also complete an externship. Graduates receive a diploma and are prepared to seek entry-level employment as HVAC and HVAC/R technicians.

  • Location: Encino, CA
  • Accreditation: Accrediting Council for Continuous Education and Training (ACCET)
  • Tuition: $19,900
  • Format: On-campus
  • Program Length: 36 weeks

Aspiring technicians in Santa Clarita who are unable to attend a local school may find that online HVAC training at an accredited online institution may better meet their needs.

HVAC Certification & Licensing in Santa Clarita, CA

HVAC technicians who work with environmentally sensitive refrigerants are required by federal law to obtain Section 608 Certification from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Certification means that technicians have passed an exam on the safe handling of refrigerants. The four types of certification are based on the type of equipment on which the technician will be working, as follows:

  • Small appliances (Type I)
  • High-pressure appliances, except small appliances and motor vehicle air conditioning (Type II)
  • Low-pressure appliances (Type III)
  • All types of equipment (Universal)

Further information and practice exams are available on the website.

Technicians may obtain 608 certification, training, and additional certifications from Industry organizations such as the following:

  • Refrigeration Service Engineers Society (RSES) – comprehensive, cutting-edge education and certification to the HVAC/R industry
  • North American Technician Excellence (NATE) – certification tests that represent real-world working knowledge of HVAC/R systems
  • HVAC Excellence – validation that an individual has retained knowledge in a specific area of the HVAC/R industry

There is more information on the HVAC certifications page.

California does not require HVAC and HVAC/R technicians who are employed to obtain a state license. Self-employed technicians must obtain a specialty contractor’s license from the California Contractors State Licensing Board. HVAC contractors obtain C-20 licenses and HVAC/R contractors obtain C-38 licenses.

Applicants must pay the relevant fees and pass exams in business, trade, and law. Applicants who can submit proof of five years of journey-level experience with a licensed contractor may obtain an exam waiver. All applicants must 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

Licenses are renewed every two years.

The City of Santa Clarita does not require HVAC technicians or contractors to obtain a business license.

As licensing agencies always have the option of changing their guidelines, HVAC technicians are strongly encouraged to ensure 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.