HVAC Schools in Northern California with Program Options

California has more than 40 schools that offer HVAC programs. Learn about the degree and certificate programs, tuition info, and program options for the ten largest schools in the Northern California region to make an informed education decision.

Essential Information

Programs in HVAC can be found at several 2-year colleges and career centers in Northern California. Education is offered at the certificate and associate's degree levels. The associate's degree programs take longer to complete and include general education course requirements in addition to major courses. Some programs feature various options or specialty areas. The following programs are offered:

  • Environmental Control Technology
  • Commercial HVAC Systems
  • Building Automation Systems
  • Engineering Technology with Options in HVAC Design or Mechanical HVAC/Plumbing Systems
  • Residential and Light Commercial HVAC&R
  • Level 2 or 3 in Air Conditioning and Refrigeration Technology

Charles A. Jones Career and Education Center

Students can complete a 42-week, 1260-hour program in HVAC at this Sacramento-based school. They'll learn how to install and repair heating and air conditioning equipment. The program also prepares students to sit for the refrigerant handling exams along with tests for heat pump, electrical, and green technology. Classes occur during the daytime and involve practical demonstrations taught by teachers with related work experience.

City College of San Francisco

This 2-year college in San Francisco awards a Certificate of Accomplishment in Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning and Refrigeration. In this program, students develop the skills needed to work on air conditioning units, refrigeration units, and plumbing systems. Graduates complete nine and a half units in this program over a minimum of two semesters that prepares them for employment as HVACR installers, mechanics and technicians.

College of the Sequoias

Located in Visalia, the College of the Sequoias offers programs that award an Associate of Science (AS) in Environmental Control Technology (HVAC) or a Certificate of Achievement in Environmental Control Technology. These programs are available through the school's Division of Industry and Technology.

The four required major courses in the AS program introduce students to working with heating electricity and controls, air conditioning, refrigeration, and air conditioning sheet metal. Students must complete nine additional elective units and 19 units in general education requirements. Students who do not want to pursue the 2-year associate degree program can take only the four major courses to earn the Certificate of Achievement.

Fresno City College

This 2-year public college in Fresno has an Associate in Science in Air Conditioning program, as well as a Certificate of Achievement in Air Conditioning offered through the school's Applied Technology Division. Instructors in the air conditioning program teach students the electrical and HVAC fundamentals of air conditioning systems. Coursework in this program covers topics such as electrical systems, mechanical refrigeration, and industrial math. Students who complete only the major courses earn a Certificate of Achievement, while those who earn additional requirements earn the AS degree.

Laney College

Oakland's Laney College provides three programs that allow students to earn certificates who complete the major course requirements or AS degrees for those who also complete general education requirements. In the commercial HVAC systems program, students take major courses in electricity, mechanical and electrical codes, refrigeration, troubleshooting, and control systems networking, among other topics. In the residential and light commercial HVAC&R program, students learn about welding, motors and drives, refrigeration equipment troubleshooting, and blueprint reading. Students who pursue the building automation systems option take courses in commercial HVAC systems, troubleshooting, control systems, and other topics.

Merced College

This 2-year college in Merced offers HVAC technician and commercial refrigeration technician programs; students can choose to earn a Certificate of Achievement or Associate of Arts (AA) in either major. Earning the latter requires additional general education courses beyond the major requirements.

In the HVAC technician program, students take required classes like heating and control systems, ventilation and air conditioning, and welding. Students also take a course on the Environmental Protection Agency requirements for refrigerant usage. Students who pursue the commercial refrigeration technician major take courses in programmable logic controllers; commercial refrigeration design, installation and service; electrical codes and ordinances; and industrial motor and equipment control. Students also learn about various types of welding.

Riverside City College

Located in Riverside, this 2-year college is part of the Riverside Community College District. Students can earn an Associate in Science or Certificate in Air Conditioning and Refrigeration. Both programs require study in environmental controls, industrial commercial refrigeration, electricity for air conditioning and refrigeration, and other topics. Students complete 26-27 units in major-specific courses, with general education courses needed to earn the AS. Electives are available in metals joining or blueprint reading.

Sacramento City College

This 2-year public college in Sacramento offers Associate in Science or Career Certificate programs in engineering design technology with options in HVAC systems design and mechanical (HVAC/plumbing systems). Both AS programs require completion of major, elective and general education courses, while earning a certificate requires the completion of only major courses.

Major class topics in the HVAC systems design option include drafting, computer-aided design, and air conditioning system design. Students in the associate program choose 10 units in electives, such as blueprint reading; piping and air conditioning; or air conditioning, piping and sheet metal drafting. The mechanical (HVAC/plumbing systems) option includes courses in technical drafting; basic, intermediate and advanced computer-aided design; and air conditioning, plumbing and piping design. Students must choose elective course from blueprint reading, architectural and structural drafting, or other topics.

San Jose City College

At San Jose's 2-year public college, students can earn an AS degree or Certificate of Achievement, levels 2 or 3, in air conditioning and refrigeration. The level 2 certificate program requires completion of 20 units, with the daytime accelerated program allowing for completion in two semesters. Required courses include principles of refrigeration, refrigeration and air conditioning electrical principles, and facilities operation.

In the level 3 certificate program, students complete 30 units in courses covering hydronics and air distribution, air conditioning control systems, refrigeration service, and other topics. Completing general education courses and a physical activity course, along with the courses in both certificate programs, leads to earning the AS in Air Conditioning and Refrigeration.

San Joaquin Delta College

Stockton's San Joaquin Delta College offers two programs that award either an Associate of Science in Heating and Air Conditioning - Refrigeration or a Certificate of Achievement in Heating and Air Conditioning. The degree program requires completion of 38 units in major courses like residential gas heating, metal trade layout, and air conditioning components. Students also complete a basic course in electricity and learn to troubleshoot air conditioning systems. The remaining 24 units in this degree program are dedicated to general education requirements.

Students pursuing the certificate program complete 44 units. In addition to the major courses in the degree program, students also take classes in industrial mathematics and industrial health and safety.

Career Requirements

The Contractors State License Board (CSLB) in California regulates professionals in the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) field. The CSLB requires contractors to complete a law and business examination, and if required, a specific trade examination. To qualify for these exams, an individual must have at least four years of experience in the classification they are seeking. An apprenticeship or transcripts for a 4-year business or construction-related degree, a 2-year degree, or technical training could account for a maximum of three years of credit.

School Comparison: At a Glance

School Name School Type & Setting HVAC Programs Offered Costs (2018-2019)
Charles A. Jones Career and Education Center 2-year, public; large city Certificate of Completion and Skills Sheet in Heating/Air Conditioning Installer and Service Technician $9,156 program fee*
City College of San Francisco 2-year, public; large city Certificate of Accomplishment in Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning and Refrigeration $46 per semester unit for California residents,
$234 for non-residents (Summer 2017)**
College of the Sequoias 2-year, public; midsize city Certificate of Achievement in Environmental Control Technology,
Associate of Science in Environmental Control Technology (HVAC)
$1,390 in-state; $7,690 out-of-state*
Fresno City College 2-year public; large city Certificate of Achievement in Air Conditioning,
Other Various HVAC-Related Certificate Programs,
Associate in Science in Air Conditioning
$1,304 in-state; $7,496 out-of-state*
Laney College 2-year, public; large city Certificate in Commercial HVAC Systems, Residential and Light Commercial HVAC&R, or Building Automation Systems,
Associate in Science in Commercial HVAC Systems, Residential and Light Commercial HVAC&R, or Building Automation Systems
$1,254 in-state; $7,806 out-of-state*
Merced College 2-year, public; small city Certificate of Achievement in Commercial Refrigeration Technician,
Certificate of Achievement in HVAC Technician,
Associate in Arts in Commercial Refrigeration Technician,
Associate in Arts in HVAC Technician
$1,150 in-state; $6,115 out-of-state *
Riverside City College 2-year, public; large city Certificate in Air Conditioning and Refrigeration,
Associate in Science in Air Conditioning and Refrigeration
$1,420 in-state; $9,160 out-of-state*
Sacramento City College 2-year, public; large city Career Certificate in Engineering Technology with Options in HVAC Design or Mechanical (HVAC/Plumbing Systems),
Associate in Science in Engineering Design Technology with Options in HVAC Design or Mechanical (HVAC/Plumbing Systems
$1,104 in-state; $8,712 out-of-state*
San Jose City College 2-year, public; large city Certificate of Achievement Level 2 or 3 in Air Conditioning and Refrigeration Technology,
Associate of Science in Air Conditioning and Refrigeration Technology
$1,358 in-state; $7,994 out-of-state*
San Joaquin Delta College 2-year, public; large city Certificate of Achievement in Heating and Air Conditioning,
Associate in Science in Heating and Air Conditioning - Refrigeration
$1,288 in-state; $8,848 out-of-state*

Sources: * NCES College Navigator, **City College of San Francisco


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