Heating and Air Conditioning Schools in California

There are more than 40 schools in California that have heating and air conditioning programs. Read an overview of 10 of the largest schools' programs, requirements and tuition info and find out which school is the right one for you.

Essential Information

Heating and air conditioning training in California is commonly offered through undergraduate certificate and associate degree programs. Often both types of programs require students to complete the same set of major courses, though associate-level programs typically integrate additional studies in general education topics. Students learn through lectures and hands-on labs. Many programs are designed for adult learners, and day and evening schedules are provided. Additionally, most schools offer career assistance services to graduates.

City College of San Francisco

Located in San Francisco, this public college offers a heating, ventilation, air-conditioning and refrigeration certificate of accomplishment program through its Engineering and Technology department. Through lectures and lab courses, students learn about elements of air conditioning, air handling equipment, refrigeration cycles and systems, heat transfer components and psychometric instruments. An engineering plumbing systems course familiarizes students with codes and regulations. The college offers the Working Adults Degree Program, which helps adult students earn a degree; the program offers daytime, evening and weekend courses.

El Camino College

Torrance-based El Camino College has an air conditioning and refrigeration program that's offered in both a certificate and an associate degree format. Both programs offer the same major-related courses, but students must also complete general education courses to earn the degree, which requires 60 units. Course topics include basic refrigeration, electrical applications, air conditioning fundamentals, heating technologies and HVAC customer service. El Camino College has many facilities available to students and the community, such as the Schauerman Library, Planetarium, Fitness/Wellness Center and the Center for the Arts.

Fresno City College

Located in Fresno, Fresno City College was California's first community college. The college's air conditioning program prepares students to troubleshoot, install, repair and maintain HVAC systems. Students can earn certificates of achievement in commercial air conditioning, air conditioning technology, mechanical and electrical systems or heating and duct systems. A two-year associate degree program in air conditioning is also offered. Graduates of the program can take the Air Conditioning and Refrigeration Institute's (ARI) Industry Competency Examination (ICE). Certification can also be obtained through the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The college has a Career and Employment Center that can assist students in finding jobs and planning their careers.

Long Beach City College

Long Beach's Long Beach City College offers a day and evening air conditioning/refrigeration certificate and associate degree program. The certificate program takes one to two years to complete and teaches students about HVAC-R (heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration) technology. The two-year associate degree program includes the same courses as the certificate but also requires general education courses. Lectures and lab courses prepare students for entry-level work as HVAC-R technicians. The school has an AC student workshop and various resources to assist students with their careers.

Mt. San Antonio College

One of the state's largest community colleges, Mt. San Antonio College (Mt. SAC) is located in Walnut and offers an air conditioning and refrigeration technology program that includes day and evening classes. Students who complete 31.5 units of HVAC courses earn a certificate, while general education courses must also be completed to earn an associate degree. This is the only program in California that meets the requirements for Partnership for Air Conditioning, Heating and Refrigeration Accreditation (PAHRA) certification. Students and alumni can receive career and employment assistance through Mt. SAC's Career Services department.

Orange Coast College

Orange Coast College, located in Costa Mesa, has an HVAC-R program that prepares students to take EPA certification exams and seek careers as refrigeration mechanics or heating/air conditioning technicians. This training, offered as a certificate or associate degree program, includes theory-based courses and extensive hands-on training. Course topics include basic electrical for HVAC-R, pneumatic controls, refrigeration service, non-residential A/C refrigeration controls and computer use in air conditioning and refrigeration technology. The college's Student Services division offers various resources, including assessment center, counseling services, child daycare and a student success center.

Riverside City College

Part of the Riverside Community College District, Riverside City College (RCC) is a public school located in Riverside. As part of the Air Conditioning Applied Technology division, the air conditioning and refrigeration program covers advanced refrigeration, blueprint reading, industrial refrigeration and heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) controls. Students can also learn about environmental control systems, electrical wiring and metal joining. The program is designed to provide hands-on experience with HVAC equipment. Students can earn a certificate or complete general education courses and earn an associate degree if other degree requirements are met. RCC offers a wide variety of academic choices to more than 19,000 students each semester.

Sacramento City College

Located in Sacramento, Sacramento (SAC) City College is part of the Los Rios Community College District and offers an HVAC systems designs program that is aimed at individuals who want to learn about HVAC technology or those interested in upgrading their skills in this profession. Students need to complete 24 units for the certificate and 60 units for the associate degree. Courses include blueprint reading, architectural/structural drafting, plumbing and piping systems designs and electrical/electronics drafting/design problem solving. A work experience, consisting of 18 lecture hours and 300 lab hours, provides students with hands-on training in the workforce. Students at SAC City College can take advantage of the school's Career Center, which assists students in finding job resources, internships, workshops and other career events.

San Diego City College

San Diego City College in San Diego has an Air Conditioning, Refrigeration and Environmental Control Technology (AIRE) program that offers a series of HVAC-R certificate programs that can also lead to a degree by adding general education courses to the curriculum. Green technology and alternative energy systems are a focus of this program. Through lab and theoretical courses, students learn about control systems, solar energy utilization and basic refrigeration theory. Students pursuing the degree learn about high efficiency HVAC systems and complete advanced courses. Learning resource center/library, counseling center, tutorial learning center and extended opportunities programs are just a few of the student resources offered at San Diego City College.

San Joaquin Delta College

San Joaquin Delta College, with locations in Stockton, Mountain House and Manteca, offers a heating, air conditioning: refrigeration program that teaches students to repair and install heating and cooling systems. The curriculum includes lectures and lab courses that provide students with hands-on training working on various types of equipment. This training is offered in a certificate or associate degree program. Upon completion, graduates are prepared to take the EPA refrigerant recovery certification exam. The Professional Development Center at San Joaquin Delta College provides students with services to help them reach their career goals.

Career Requirements

The State of California requires contractors performing work that totals at least $500 in parts and labor be licensed by the Contractors State License Board (CSLB). The CSLB has specific codes and requirements that must be met before one can become licensed heating, ventilating and air conditioning (HVAC) contractors. The individual must pass a criminal background and fingerprint screening, be bonded, have at least four years experience and pass both a standard business and law exam as well as an exam covering the trade area from which they are applying. The 2-year public schools outlined below offer HVAC training programs that prepare students to take required exams and seek careers as HVAC specialists or technicians.

School Comparison: At a Glance

School Name School Type and Setting Heating and Air Conditioning Programs Offered Undergraduate Tuition & Fees (2015-2016)
City College of San Francisco two-year, public; large city Heating, Ventilation, Air-Conditioning and Refrigeration Certificate of Accomplishment $1,598 in-state; $7,554 out-of-state*
El Camino Community College District two-year, public; large suburb Four Certificates of Achievement in HVAC-related areas,
Associate in Science in Air Conditioning and Refrigeration
$1,142 in-state; $5,678 out-of-state*
Fresno City College two-year, public; large city Air Conditioning Technology Overview Certificate of Achievement,
Commercial Air Conditioning, Heating and Duct Systems Certificate of Achievement,
Digital Air Conditioning Controls Certificate of Achievement,
Mechanical and Electrical Systems Certificate of Achievement,
Associate in Science in Air Conditioning
$1,194 in-state; $6,834 out-of-state*
Long Beach City College two-year, public; large city HVAC/R Certificate Program,
Associate in Science in HVAC/R
$1,182 in-state; $7,398 out-of-state*
Mt. San Antonio College two-year, public; large suburb Air Conditioning and Refrigeration Certificate,
Associate in Science in Air Conditioning and Refrigeration
$1,348 in-state; $7,960 out-of-state*
Orange Coast College two-year, public; midsize city Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning and Refrigeration Certificate $1,184 in-state; $6,584 out-of-state*
Riverside City College two-year, public; large city Air Conditioning and Refrigeration Certificate Program,
Associate in Science in Air Conditioning and Refrigeration
$1,426 in-state; $7,366 out-of-state*
Sacramento City College two-year, public; large city HVAC Systems Designs Certificate of Achievement,
Associate in Science in HVAC Systems Designs
$1,104 in-state; $7,440 out-of-state*
San Diego City College two-year, public; large city Air Conditioning and Solar Energy Certificate of Achievement,
Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning Systems Design Certificate of Achievement,
Associate in Science in Air Conditioning, Refrigeration and Environmental Control Technology
$1,142 in-state; $4,670 out-of-state*
San Joaquin Delta College two-year, public; large city Heating and Air Conditioning Certificate of Achievement,
Associate in Science in Heating and Air Conditioning-Refrigeration
$1,104 in-state; $6,312 out-of-state*

Source: *NCES College Navigator

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