How to Enroll In the Right Heating and Cooling Degree Program near Bullhead City Arizona
Once you have made a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioning specialist, the next action is to look for an HVAC trade school near Bullhead City AZ. But with so many to choose from, how do you pick the ideal one to obtain the training that you need? A number of future students will make their decision based solely on the price of tuition or how near the school is to their residence. Even though these are significant considerations, they are not the only ones to investigate. Just some of the other things that you need to research are the graduation rates of the HVAC schools, their reputations, and if they are accredited by professional trade organizations. These and additional criteria will be discussed in more detail later in this article. But before we discuss how to choose an HVAC vocational school, let's look at what a heating and a/c specialist does to become a licensed professional tradesman.
How to Become an HVAC Pro
HVAC is an acronym that is frequently used in the business that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC technicians specialize in the installation, maintenance and repair of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are generally required to be licensed, although each state and local municipality has its own requirements. Obtaining professional certification is not compulsory, but a voluntary means for Bullhead City AZ HVAC techs to prove that they are highly qualified and knowledgeable in their area of specialization. There are several respected certifications within the field that are available. Here are some of the important ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally recognized certification for HVAC techs. The certification is attained by passing a proficiency examination and may be received in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification offers both a professional and a master specialist credential. Two years of professional experience in addition to passing a comprehensive exam are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have three years of experience together with a passing score on the professional level exam. As with NATE, certifications are made available in several specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is necessary for techs that work with refrigerants. There are 3 types of certification obtainable, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Considering that licensing may be mandated in your area, and you may also wish to obtain certification, it's imperative that you select an HVAC trade school that will prepare you for both. And since you will probably be dealing with refrigerants, make sure that the program you select preps you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.
HVAC Degree and Certificate Training Programs
There are a variety of options available for HVAC training in a technical or vocational school. You can attain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Earning a certificate will take the minimum period of time, usually completed in as little as 6 months, though some courses are longer. A certificate will train you for the majority of HVAC positions, particularly if you are licensed and have certification applicable to the position. The degree training programs may provide a competitive advantage for securing employment and will provide more comprehensive training than the certificate programs. Below is a brief explanation of each option offered near Bullhead City AZ.
- Certificate. Normally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred 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 supplies a more detailed understanding of heating and a/c systems than the certificate program. Normally taking 2 years to complete, a number of degrees feature an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is tailored more for a career in management or even business ownership. Some programs call for an Associate Degree, while others are a traditional four year program. In addition to being taught how to service and maintain heating and air conditioning systems, you will also study how to design them.
Choosing the ideal credential program will be dependent on what your long term career goals are, in addition to the time and financial resources that you have to commit. One option is to start with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after gaining some experience in the field in Bullhead City AZ, later going back to obtain a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your approach, make sure to ask the HVAC technician school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Online Classes
Enrolling in an HVAC school online is one option in attaining your education and receiving a degree or certificate. Most schools will call for some attendance on campus to take part in practical training. A number also provide internship or work-study programs in addition to or in place of practical lab work. But since the balance of the classes can be attended on the web, this option may be a more convenient solution for some Bullhead City AZ students that are short on time. And a number of online degree programs are cheaper than other traditional options. Even driving expenses from Bullhead City and study materials may be minimized, helping to make schooling more affordable. And many online programs are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your career or family obligations have left you with little time to attend classes, maybe an HVAC online training program will make it easier to fit school into your hectic lifestyle.
Questions to Ask HVAC Schools
Once you have decided on the type of degree or certificate that you want to acquire, either online or on campus, you can begin to decrease your list of schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are numerous HVAC trade schools in the Bullhead City AZ area and across the United States to select from. That's why it is essential to have a list of key qualifications when making school assessments. As previously stated in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will most likely be the first two factors you will look at. Following are some additional ones that you should research before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Numerous HVAC vocational programs in the Bullhead City AZ area have received either a regional or a national accreditation. They can receive Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to an individual program, for example HVAC technology. Make certain that the school and program are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting agency, such as the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping guarantee that you obtain an excellent education, it may help in obtaining financial assistance or student loans, which are often unavailable for non-accredited programs. Also, some states require that the HVAC training course be accredited for it to be approved for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the HVAC schools you are looking at what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage of students who enroll in and finish the course. A lower completion rate may indicate that students were dissatisfied with the course and quit. It may also suggest that the instructors were not competent to instruct the students. It's similarly essential that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive list of graduates, which may mean more contacts for the school to utilize for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate can not only affirm that the school has a good reputation within the trade, but additionally that it has the network of Bullhead City AZ HVAC employers to help graduates acquire apprenticeships or jobs.
Apprenticeship Programs. Many HVAC training programs are taught along with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating vocational and trade schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of Heating and Cooling businesses or labor unions. Check if the schools you are considering have referring partnerships with local Bullhead City AZ HVAC contractors. An apprenticeship not only provides a valuable experience by providing hands-on training, but it also provides job opportunities and helps to build relationships in the local HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make certain that the school facilities and the equipment that you will be trained on are up-to-date and what you will be working with on the job. If you are presently in an internship or an apprenticeship, consult with the HVAC specialist you are working with concerning what you should be expecting. If not, ask a local Bullhead City AZ HVAC contractor if they can give you some pointers. Also bear in mind that unless you are willing to relocate, the school needs to be within commuting distance of your Bullhead City AZ home. Take note that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to moving costs there can be increased tuition fees compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's desirable that you get as much personalized instruction as possible, which can be difficult in bigger classes. Ask if you can monitor a few of the classes so that you can see how large they are and experience the interaction between students and teachers. Talk with a few of the students and get their comments concerning class sizes and instruction. Last, talk to some of the instructors and learn what their level of experience is and what degrees or certifications they hold.
Flexible Scheduling. Confirm that the class schedules for the programs you are reviewing are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you are only able to attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Bullhead City AZ, check that the programs you are looking at offer those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Also, ask what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Earn Your HVAC Training and Certification
Finding the right HVAC school course is an important beginning toward a fulfilling career in the heating & cooling field. As we have discussed in this article, you need to choose a Heating and Cooling training program and a certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have outstanding reputations within the HVAC community. Other features to look for are lots of hands-on training and modern facilities. You need to visit each of the schools in person that you are most interested in to inspect the campus and talk with both the current students and faculty. Attempt to get a feel for the quality of the instruction and the interaction between them. In addition, ask about scheduling choices and whether night or weekend classes are offered if needed. And remember to inquire about financial aid and student loan options as well. If you ask the right questions as we have outlined in our checklist for comparing schools, you'll be able to narrow down your choices so that you can make an informed decision. With the appropriate training, hard work and commitment, you can eventually become a licensed HVAC technician in Bullhead City AZ.