Frequently Asked Questions
What is the Building Automation Systems Program (BAS Program)?
Building automation is defined as a programmed, computerized network of electronic devices that monitor and control the energy consumption of buildings. The intent is to create an intelligent building and reduce energy and maintenance costs. In commercial buildings, most fire-life-safety, lighting, air conditioning, and ventilation systems are automated to manage energy consumption. This has created a strong and sustainable demand for Building Automation Service (BAS) technicians that will continue as long as energy remains a limited commodity.
How is the Air Conditioning & Refrigeration program structured?
The program is structured for students that may or may not have a background in air conditioning or refrigeration. The course numbers reflect a progression of classes students may follow. For example, beginning or entry level courses start with the 10 series and 20 series up to AIRC 25, while advanced courses are AIRC 26 and higher.
Most courses feature lecture and lab components that require students to complete hands-on lab assignments for completion. Labs include electrical schematic drawings and circuit construction, mechanical labs where students work on operating equipment, manipulate refrigerants and obtain vital signs from the machines, pneumatics labs, and a computer lab where students will design duct systems, calculate heat loads and program a building automation simulation with mockup variable air volume duct systems.
The college uses a Fall and Spring 16-week semester format, with six-week Winter and Summer Intersessions between the semesters. Consult session schedules for offerings or on the www.mtsac.edu website.
How is the Building Automation Systems program structured?
The program is structured for students to build on their air conditioning knowledge and experience. Air conditioning courses are offered as part of the certificate/degree to allow students to achieve this background. The course numbers reflect a progression of classes a student may follow. For example, beginning entry level courses start with AIRC 20 and AIRC 25 while the advanced courses are AIRC 31 and higher.
Most courses feature lecture and lab components that require students to complete hands-on lab assignments. Labs include electrical circuit design and construction, mechanical design and operation, network strategy and integration, control system development and implementation, programming, and energy management. Students perform practical tasks on electrical and mechanical equipment, and various energy management controls.
What classes does a student complete at Mt. SAC for the BAS Certificate?
Students complete the following classes at Mt. SAC: AIRC 20, AIRC 25, AIRC 31, AIRC 34, AIRC 61, AIRC 63, AIRC 65, AIRC 67, ELEC 11, CNET 56, CISW 41.
What courses should I take first if I decide to start the BAS Program?
The courses for the BAS Program are structured in a numerical order. The entry level AIRC courses are AIRC 20 and AIRC 25. Students may register for any of these courses to enter the Program. AIRC 31 through AIRC 67 are considered advanced level courses and recommended advisory prerequisite entry level courses should be completed first. The entry level computer courses ELEC 11, CNET 56 and CISW 41 are considered advanced level courses, and recommended advisory prerequisite entry level courses should be completed first.
What courses should I take first for the Air Conditioning & Refrigeration Program?
The Air Conditioning and Refrigeration Program is structured in a numerical order. The entry level AIRC courses are AIRC 10 through AIRC 25. Students may register for any of these courses to enter the Program. AIRC 26 through AIRC 34 are considered advanced level courses and recommended advisory prerequisite entry level courses should be completed first.
Are there any prerequisites required to enter the AIRC program?
Students should have good math and reading skills along with mechanical abilities. Math skills should be at a basic Algebra level. AIRC10 will teach those skills and individual help is also available to bring math skills up to the required level. Reading skills needed are for textbook and assignment reading and comprehension including reading of instructions required for homework and lab assignments. Mechanical skills can be developed and good reasoning skills are also needed. The refrigeration technician will need mechanical, reasoning, math and reading skills to succeed.
Do I need a high school diploma or GED to start the program?
Students entering the Air Conditioning and Refrigeration Program do not need a high school diploma or GED. This is a vocational program that leads to employment in the air conditioning and refrigeration industry. However, occupational research shows that the more education a technician has, the higher their earnings potential. There are specific skill levels for reading and math that are required for entry level employment in additional to the ability to communicate clearly with customers and work associates. Mt. SAC has supplemental education programs to help obtain these required skills. Individual help is available through the Learning Assistance Center (LAC) and Adult Basic Education (ABE). Consult the Instructor if additional skills or help is needed.
What is the job outlook for the Air Conditioning, Refrigeration and Building Automation Industries?
The State of California is predicting a need for at least 22,000 new technicians by the year 2014. The industry will need more technicians due to the large amount of baby boomers that will be retiring in the next 5 – 10 years. Due to energy demands and environmental changes, technicians are faced with an increasing work load. The growth pattern for this industry has not stopped for decades and will only increase in the foreseeable future. Building automation is a relatively new field that has just begun to require a demand for technicians and will only increase in numbers due to energy issues and equipment development utilizing energy management systems. The industry will be experience a shortage of technicians in the near future that will allow opportunities for students with strong work habits, consistent academic performance, and solid technical skills.
What does an Air Conditioning or Refrigeration technician’s job include?
Air conditioning or refrigeration technicians often travel to job sites in new construction and service applications to install, maintain service or repair equipment. Many technicians work in the residential and small commercial applications while others work in large commercial or industrial occupations. Numerous stationary positions exist in hospitals, manufacturing plants, and high rise buildings. A clean driving record is critical since technicians are often assigned a company vehicle. Reliable technicians with good technical skills will work many hours of overtime in hotter months. In the instance of repairing a unit that is down in an office environment or supermarket, the system must be fixed immediately and the technician must stay at the job site until the system is up and running again. Air conditioning and refrigeration is required for all aspects of our lives including grocery stores, office buildings, hospitals, schools, homes, stores, and just about all buildings. It also includes refrigeration of warehouses for food and the freezing of food and other applications.
How much can I earn as a technician in these occupations?
The pay rate for air conditioning and refrigeration technicians is based on merit. The more reliable a technician and the more responsibility they take on, the higher their pay rate. Currently, entry level technician earn from $10 - $18 per hour. Entry level technicians must know that experience pays and Increased skill levels, education, and responsibility will allow their income to increase quickly. Experienced technicians can make as much as $30 per hour or more plus overtime and benefits. Larger companies tend to pay more with more benefits than smaller companies. Pay and benefits vary among companies. Technicians working in the field can make $60,000 or more per year or more depending on overtime.
Do I have to take all the courses before I can work in the industry?
No. Recommendations are that students complete about half of the courses in the Program before seeking employment. The entry level courses will lay a foundation for application in employment in the industry. Employers recommend students continue in school to complete the Program which leads to greater success. Many contractors and employers send their students to the Program and will often pay for expenses upon successful completion of a course or the entire Program.
Does the Program offer job placement?
Mt. SAC has a job opportunity program that includes jobs in the field. The Program also lists job opportunities as contractors and/or employers call and request candidates. Those opportunities are posted on a board in the lab. The AIRC 34 course includes a project to develop a good resume to help students find employment working with experienced resume writers from the College.
Are there any certifications required to work in the refrigeration industry?
Currently, there are no requirements or certifications required to work in the air conditioning and refrigeration industry. A Certificate from the Mt. SAC Air Conditioning and Refrigeration Program is respected within the industry and helps to further a career. Staff recommends students complete the Program to obtain a Certificate and work in the industry and then return to the College to work on an Associate Degree in Air Conditioning and Refrigeration.
An EPA or Environmental Protection Agency Type 608 Certification is required to handle refrigerants. The Certification allows technicians to purchase, handle and manipulate refrigerants per the Federal Clean Air Act. The Program offers the test at least twice a year for a modest fee. It is not a part of the curriculum. It is a federal offense to work with refrigerants without a Certification except when working with refrigerants in the College Program.
What credentials can I obtain by taking the program?
A Certificate from the Air Conditioning and Refrigeration Program at Mt. SAC is widely recognized in Southern California. The Program is the only PAHRA (Partnership for Air Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Accreditation) program in California. It will help in seeking employment and for advancement in a job.
An Associate Degree in Air Conditioning and Refrigeration leads to management and supervisorial positions within the industry. Contractors and employers recognize the extra efforts technicians make when completing a degree. Those credentials usually lead to added responsibilities such as lead persons, supervisors or managers.
A Bachelor Degree is available in Air Conditioning and Refrigeration from Ferris University in Big Rapids, Michigan. The program is available on line and requires an Associate Degree as an entry level requirement. This Program usually leads to engineering and design jobs within the industry.
Are all classes offered each semester?
No. AIRC 20 and 25 are the only courses offered each semester. Most other courses are offered once a year in either the Fall or Spring semesters, or the Winter Intersession. Summer courses are sometimes offered.
Can I visit the facilities before I enroll?
Yes. Use the contact information on the course description handout or from the program information sheet to find the phone numbers of the faculty and staff. All faculty and staff will be glad to set up a time and date to give a tour and answer questions. Staff work every work day from 6:30 am to 3:30 pm and are usually at the facility. Faculty is usually on campus in the mornings or evenings during the semesters and during office hours. During the Intersessions faculty will only be on campus for the courses they teach and their office hours.
Information provided on this document is accurate at this time and may change. The web site is not automatically updated when circumstances change and therefore the information provided was accurate at the time of printing. If any other questions arise, contact staff or faculty for current information.