How to Enroll In the Right HVAC Program near Bullhead City Arizona
Now that you have made a decision on a career as a heating and cooling specialist, the next action is to choose an HVAC trade school near Bullhead City AZ. But with so many to select from, how do you select the best one to get the training that you require? A number of future students will make their selection based solely on the price of tuition or how close the school is to their residence. Even though these are important factors to consider, they are not the only ones to take into account. Some of the other details that you need to research are the graduation completion rates of the HVAC schools, their reputations, and if they are accredited by professional trade organizations. These and other benchmarks will be addressed in more detail later in this article. But before we discuss how to choose an HVAC training program, let's take a look at what a heating and a/c contractor does to become a licensed qualified tradesman.
Becoming an HVAC Contractor
HVAC is an acronym that is frequently used in the trade that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC professionals specialize in the installation, repair and maintenance of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are generally required to be licensed, although every state and local municipality has its own criteria. Attaining professional certification is not compulsory, but an alternative means for Bullhead City AZ HVAC techs to establish that they are highly skilled and accomplished in their area of expertise. There are many recognized certifications within the field that are offered. Here are some of the significant ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally acknowledged certification for HVAC technicians. The certification is attained by passing a proficiency examination and can be received in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification offers both a professional and a master specialist credential. 2 years of field experience in addition to passing a comprehensive examination are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have three years of experience along with a passing result on the professional level exam. Similar to NATE, certifications are made available in various specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is required for specialists that handle refrigerants. There are 3 types of certification available, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Since licensing could be required in your area, and you may also wish to acquire certification, it's essential that you choose an HVAC trade school that will prepare you for both. And since you will more than likely be dealing with refrigerants, make sure that the program you choose preps you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
HVAC Degree Courses
There are a variety of options offered for HVAC instruction in a trade or technical school. You can obtain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Earning a certificate will take the minimum amount of time, usually accomplished in as little as six months, although some programs are longer. A certificate will train you for the majority of HVAC positions, especially if you are licensed and have certification related to the position. The degree programs may provide a competitive edge in the job market and will provide more extensive training than the certificate programs. Below is a brief summary of each credential offered near Bullhead City AZ.
- Certificate. Usually requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among beginning commercial or residential HVAC technicians. They furnish a solid foundation of skills for employment within the industry.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program delivers a more exhaustive understanding of heating and a/c systems than the certificate program. Generally taking two years to finish, many degrees incorporate an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is tailored more towards a career in management or even business ownership. Some programs require an Associate Degree, while others are a conventional four year program. In addition to mastering how to service and maintain heating and air conditioning systems, you will also study how to design them.
Picking the right credential program will be based on what your long term career objectives are, together with the time and money that you have to commit. One approach is to begin with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after getting some experience in the trade in Bullhead City AZ, later returning to obtain a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your approach, make sure to ask the HVAC tech school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Online Classes
Choosing an HVAC program online is one approach in obtaining your education and receiving a certificate or degree. Almost all schools will require some attendance on campus to take part in hands on training. A number also provide internship or work-study programs in addition to or as an alternative to practical lab work. But since the remainder of the classes may be attended on the web, this approach may be a more practical solution for many Bullhead City AZ students that are pressed for time. And many online degree programs are more economical than other traditional alternatives. Even travelling expenses from Bullhead City and study supplies may be lessened, helping to make education more affordable. And many online programs are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your career or family obligations have left you with limited time to attend classes, perhaps an online HVAC degree program will make it more convenient to fit school into your hectic schedule.
Questions to Ask HVAC Certification Classes
When you have selected the type of degree or certificate that you wish to acquire, either online or on campus, you can begin to limit your selection of schools. As you are certainly aware, there are many HVAC technical schools in the Bullhead City AZ area and all over the USA to pick from. That's why it is very important to have a list of key qualifiers when making school comparisons. As formerly mentioned in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will most likely be the first 2 aspects you will consider. Following are some additional ones that you will want to research before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Many HVAC trade schools in the Bullhead City AZ area have earned either a regional or a national accreditation. They can earn Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to an individual program, such as HVAC technology. Confirm that the school and program are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency, which includes the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping guarantee that you get an excellent education, it may assist in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are in many cases not available for non-accredited programs. Also, some states mandate that the HVAC training course be accredited for it to qualify for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the HVAC schools you are reviewing what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage or portion of students who enroll in and finish the course. A low completion rate may suggest that students were unhappy with the course and dropped out. It could also signify that the teachers were not qualified to train the students. It's also essential that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive list of graduates, which can produce more contacts for the school to use for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate can not only confirm that the school has a good reputation within the trade, but also that it has the network of Bullhead City AZ HVAC employers to assist grads acquire apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. Numerous HVAC trade programs are taught together with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating vocational and technical schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of Heating and Cooling companies or trade unions. Check if the schools you are considering have working relationships with local Bullhead City AZ HVAC contractors. An apprenticeship not only provides a valuable experience by providing hands-on training, but it also furnishes job opportunities and helps to establish relationships in the area HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make certain that the campus facilities and the tools that you will be trained on are state-of-the-art and what you will be using in the field. If you are already in an internship or an apprenticeship, consult with the HVAC specialist you are working under regarding what you should be expecting. If not, ask a local Bullhead City AZ HVAC contractor if they can provide some tips. Also bear in mind that unless you are able to relocate, the school must be within commuting distance of your Bullhead City AZ residence. Take note that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, besides the added moving costs there may be increased tuition fees compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's desirable that you get as much individualized instruction as possible, which can be challenging in bigger classes. Ask if you can sit in on a couple of the classes so that you can see how big they are and witness first hand the interaction between instructors and students. Talk with several of the students and get their feedback concerning class sizes and instruction. Last, speak to some of the teachers and learn what their level of expertise is and what certifications or degrees they hold.
Flexible Scheduling. Verify that the class schedules for the schools you are evaluating are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you are only able to go to classes at night or on weekends near Bullhead City AZ, confirm that the schools you are comparing offer those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, be sure that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Additionally, find out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, sickness or family emergencies.
Get Your HVAC Training and Certification
Picking the right HVAC school program is a crucial beginning toward a fulfilling career in the heating and cooling field. As we have covered in this article, you should select a Heating and Cooling training program and a certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have outstanding reputations within the HVAC profession. Other things to search for are ample hands-on training and modern facilities. You should visit each of the schools in person that you are most interested in to explore the campus and talk with both the current students and faculty. Attempt to get a feel for the quality of the training and the interaction between them. Additionally, inquire about scheduling choices and if night or weekend classes are offered if needed. And don't forget to ask about financial assistance and student loan options as well. If you ask the appropriate questions as we have detailed in our guidelines for assessing schools, you'll be able to filter your choices so that you can make an informed decision. With the right training, hard work and commitment, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC professional in Bullhead City AZ.