How Long Does It Take To Graduate, How Do You Get Certified and How About Licensing For the HVAC and Refrigeration Industry?

Some schools are degree granting, meaning that you graduate with a two year Associates Degree, or a four year Bachelor’s Degree and beyond (Masters and Doctorate), if one is so inclined.

However, many careers don’t require a degree, many can be learned in a shorter program.  In other words, you learn specifically what is needed to do a given job without the general education requirements (History, English, Sociology, etc..) required to get a degree.

Trade specific schools such as Brownson Technical Schools offer programs in HVAC/R Technology that consist (in the case of Brownson Technical School) of 1040 hours (or 40 semester credits).  This equates to a schedule of either 40 weeks or 88 weeks for the evening (traditional) class.

40 weeks is around 9 and a half months not counting holiday breaks.  88 weeks is something like 20 and a half months – again not accounting for holidays.

The length of training (in clock hours or “credits”) is a rough measure of knowledge achieved.

Should you take a 200 hour class? How about a 600 hour one?

What you should do is try to figure out what is right for you by examining your goals.  Perhaps a chat with an employer might help you decide.  There is always a conflict between what you would “like” to learn and how long you have to learn it.  Cost plays a role as well, but can be a tricky thing to calculate.

Be a good consumer, look at all of your options and give them serious consideration – look at all of the schools.  Look into not just what they teach, but how they teach it.

Is the training mostly classroom or hands-on?  Is it online or on campus or a blend?  Is it open entry or sequentially taught?  Does the school have either institutional accreditation or programmatic accreditation – perhaps both?  Look at the “meat” of what the school is doing and ask them how they do it (teaching methods)?  Is there active assistance with placement?  How long have they been teaching HVAC/R?

What sort of licensing or certification is required?

There is a requirement for everyone in the HVAC/R industry that works with Class I and Class II refrigerants (CFCs and HCFCs) to become Section 608 certified.

There are several possible levels of certification – up to Universal, but generally speaking Level II or higher is required.  These are proctored – requiring an authorized person to administer the test.

Level II and beyond can’t be done online or in a take-home form.   This certification is a minimum legal requirement to handle these restricted refrigerants.

If (and only if) a person wants to start their own business (in the language of the State of California, become a contractor) they must obtain a contractors license through the California State Licensing Board (CSLB).

Among other requirements, (with certain exceptions) a minimum of four years of experience as a Journeyman is required prior to issuance of the license. This is only for those wanting to start their own business. HVAC/R Technicians and others in the industry work for contractors.

There is no license required to be an HVAC/R technician or installer in California (working for a licensed contractor), though without a valid California Driver’s License – with a clean record – it is very difficult to get a job.  A clean background is also important – if you aren’t sure either ask the school or ask some HVAC/R contractors about your past.

Voluntary Certifications

such as NATE, HVAC Excellence, RSES CM, UA STARS, and other certifications are extremely valuable to prove a certain level of knowledge. These test are designed to be rigorous and meant to showcase the talents of those that successfully pass the tests. Increasingly, manufacturers and utility incentive programs such as rebates for high efficiency equipment are only available through contractors with a certain percentage of certified technicians (usually 50% or more of that company workforce). For questions regarding any of these certifications, see the note following this blog).

Customers can see the “chevrons” on the sleeve of certified technicians and have some level of increased assurance that they are getting a highly trained technician working on their equipment.

Is HVAC Training Right For You?

Brownson Technical School has been training Heating and Cooling Technicians for over 30 years.   Our focused HVAC technician training allows us to dedicate 100% of our time and resources to the field and has made us a trusted name with top employers in the HVAC industry.

Discover if a rewarding career in heating, air conditioning and refrigeration is right for you.   Learn more about HVAC technician training Today!

Where to find out more on certification tests:

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