One of the great things about becoming an HVAC technician in California is the amount of jobs and clients you potentially have at your disposal. California currently has over 38.8 million people and is expected to continue to grow by 12% over the next 5 years. In terms of finding an HVAC trade school you will have access to over 75 schools that currently offer HVAC programs. Most of the programs are hands-on and require that you attend a campus location. The average length of training program is 12 months but some offer a 9 month fast-track program. Most of the schools you find will be in Los Angeles County, Orange County, Riverside County and up in Northern California or Sacramento area.
You can find a few schools that offer a blended training program where you take your main HVAC courses hands-on in a classroom setting but are allowed to take some 100% online.
Because you have a lot of different choices when it comes to schools you’ll want to do your best to research all of the schools to choose the best one. Below are just some of the main areas students research:
Facilities – Look at size of facility. Does the HVAC lab you’ll be working in have enough square footage to allow 15+ students to work comfortably? Is the facility nice, well maintained or does the equipment look old and worn-out? This is important as one of the top complaints students have is that the lab equipment they use isn’t up to standards or is broken.
HVAC Teacher – Does the HVAC instructor have the proper credentials? Make sure the person that is going to teach you has previous experience and hasn’t just taken a few courses. You want “real world” experience taught by someone who has been in the field.
One of the ways the schools will teach you is based off of knowledge you’ll need to know in order to pass some of the required California Contractors Licensing exams. In California you’ll need to pass two exams offered by the state. The first exam is called Business Law and the second one will be your trade. In your situation your trade course will be a Class C Certificate License including C20 which is for Hot Water Heaters, C-38 which is for Refrigeration and even C-46 which is for Solar. You can apply online at the California Contractors State License Board website at www.cslb.ca.gov.
Some of the requirements is you must work for 4 years as a journeyman under the supervision of a licensed HVAC technician professional, hold a valid California driver’s license and be 18 years of age or older. Once you receive your license one of the biggest advantages is your license will have reciprocity with Nevada, Arizona and Utah allowing you to do business in those states.
- The salary for HVAC technicians is highest in Orange County and Riverside County.
- Currently the entire state of California has over 26,600 HVAC Technicians and is expected to grow by over 23%.
- You’ll have an apprenticeship first under a licensed HVAC technician which will give you time to clock the number of required hours as well as learn the trade from someone who has a license.
- One of the best associations to join is http://www.arcamca.org/
- In California over 5100 student’s graduated last year from schools.
The top 10% of HVAC technicians earn a salary of $80,400 per year. The median salary is $53,000 and those who work in Southern California earn approx. 5% higher of a wage. The national average salary is $44,600.
You can go to school from any school in California as long as you are able to pass the state tests however deciding where to work can mean a big difference in pay as well as competition, especially if you are opening up your own HVAC business.
Below is the number of technicians by region as well as the average wage.
Los Angeles area – A total of 4250 HVAC technicians with a median salary of $64,779.
Orange County and San Diego – Has a total of 2224 licensed technicians with an average salary of $53,819.
Riverside County/Inland Empire – Currently has 2544 HVAC technicians with earning a $55,470 average wage.
Oakland CA – Has the smallest number of technicians at 1360 but make one of the higher salaries at $58,447.
If you live in California one of the greatest things is the number of HVAC schools that are available to you. All of the major cities have trade schools as well as colleges that offer HVAC programs. All of the programs are hands-on as you can’t get the training necessary by taking an online program. Below are just a few schools we selected.
The campus is located at 1200 North Fair Oaks Avenue, Suite 32 in Pasadena, CA 91103. The program is affordable and offers job placement after you graduate. The school lists all of the employers that hire their gradates. Also if you are a military veteran give them a call to see what you can qualify for regarding tuition assistance.
Institute for Business Technology
Learn how to troubleshoot electrical components and equipment in both commercial and residential units. You can also test and earn your EPA certification by ESCO. The school is located at 2400 Walsh Avenue in Santa Clara, CA 95051.
The college is located at 6700 Fallbrook Avenue Suite 260 in West Hills, CA 91607. Their HVAC/R program will teach you everything you need to know in order to perform the duties needed as an entry HVAC technician. The program is 960 total hours and is 44 weeks in length. You will need a high school diploma or GED in order to attend NIU College. Although they can’t guarantee job placement they will help you with everything you need to launch a new career after graduation.
Study their HVAC program at their Bakersfield, CA, Rancho Mirage, CA or Venture, CA campus locations. Their HVAC program offers financial aid to those who quality, is skill-oriented/hands-on and uses industry standard equipment and resources. SBB College’s HVAC program can be completed in 4 – 10 week terms and you’ll be able to sit for the EPA technician certification exam upon graduation.
Los Angeles Trade-Tech Community College
The school offers both an Associate in Science Degree in Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Mechanic or a Certificate of Accomplishment. The degree is a total of 48 units and covers areas of refrigeration, component construction, electrical mathematics and gas and heating systems. The campus is located at 400 West Washington Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90015 just off the 10 freeway.
the college has 3 campus locations: 9460 Sierra Avenue Fontana, CA 92335, 22515 Alessandro Blvd Moreno Valley, CA 92553 and 14554 7th Street in Victorville, CA 92395. You can earn a diploma in as little as 8 months. Westech College is an accredited ACCSC college. Schedule your campus tour today and learn more about their HVAC program.
One of the areas that you’ll need to spend time on once you graduate is your resume. If you do a simple search on the web you’ll see 1000’s of available HVAC technician jobs in California. In fact in some areas the need is so great to hire that companies are giving bonuses to individuals who will sign on to work for them. Be sure you take your time and really look for a good fit. One company in Santa Rosa offers $100,000 a year and their requirements are just you have graduated from an HVAC school or have 3 years of experience, are a team player and great at troubleshooting. Also all of the companies we researched required that you have a clean DMV driving record in California and that you also have earned your EPA certification which many of the HVAC trade schools will train you for.
Depending on where you live in California competition for those top jobs could be competitive. Also if you are just graduating from college you’ll need to impress the company you wish to work for in other ways since you won’t have the required number of years of experience. This doesn’t mean you give up in fact many companies would rather train you in order to do it their way. Much of being an HVAC technician is all about great customer service. The one thing a school can’t teach you is honesty, integrity and hard work. Show your new employers you are willing to go that extra mile right when you get hired by working extra shifts, longer hours and even coming in on your days off to help. Nobody walks into a $100K a year HVAC job right out of school but it is possible with the right experience and hard work. Take the first step in becoming an HVAC technician in California by requesting information from any of the featured HVAC/R schools we have listed.