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How to Pick the Right HVAC Training Program near Bullhead City Arizona

Bullhead City Arizona home A/C condensersOnce you have made a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioning technician, the next action is to look for an HVAC technical school near Bullhead City AZ. But with so many to choose from, how do you decide on the ideal one to obtain the training that you need? Many potential students will make their selection based entirely on the cost of tuition or how close the school is to their home. While these are significant concerns, they are not the only ones to investigate. A few of the other factors that you need to look into are the graduation completion 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 explore how to select an HVAC trade school, let's look at what a heating and cooling contractor does to become a licensed skilled tradesman.

Becoming an HVAC Tech

Bullhead City Arizona Heating and Cooling Technician inspecting A/C condenserHVAC is an acronym that is commonly used in the industry that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC technicians provide services for the installation, repair and maintenance of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are commonly mandated to be licensed, though every state and regional municipality has its own criteria. Obtaining professional certification is not compulsory, but an alternative way for Bullhead City AZ HVAC technicians to demonstrate that they are highly qualified and accomplished in their area of specialization. There are a number of recognized certifications within the trade that are offered. Below are a few of the important ones.

  • North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally acknowledged certification for HVAC technicians. The certification is achieved by passing a proficiency examination and may be earned in one or more specialties.
  • HVAC Excellence. This certification offers both a professional and a master specialist credential. Two years of field experience in addition to passing a comprehensive exam are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have three years of experience in addition to a passing score on the professional level exam. Similar to NATE, certifications are made available in multiple specialties.
  • EPA Section 608. This certification is necessary for specialists that work with refrigerants. There are three forms of certification offered, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.

Since licensing might be mandated in your location, and you may also desire to earn certification, it's essential that you choose an HVAC vocational school that will prepare you for both. And since you will most likely be dealing with refrigerants, make certain that the school you select prepares you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.

HVAC Certificate and Degree Classes

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There are a variety of options offered for HVAC training 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 least period of time, usually accomplished in just 6 months, although some programs are longer. A certificate will qualify you for the majority of HVAC positions, especially if you are licensed and have certification appropriate to the position. The degree programs might provide a competitive advantage in the job market and will furnish more in-depth training than the certificate programs. Following is a short summary of each option offered near Bullhead City AZ.

  • Certificate. Usually requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among entry level commercial or residential HVAC technicians. They provide a solid foundation of skills for job opportunities within the industry.
  • Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program delivers a more detailed background of heating & cooling systems than the certificate program. Generally taking two years to complete, some degrees feature an internship or work-study program.
  • Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is geared more towards a career in management or even business ownership. Some programs call for an Associate Degree, while others are a standard 4 year program. In addition to learning how to service and maintain heating and cooling systems, you will also study how to design them.

Choosing the appropriate credential program will be dependent on what your future career aspirations are, together with the time and money that you have to invest. One approach is to begin with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after getting some experience in the trade in Bullhead City AZ, later going back to earn 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 Training

Enrolling in an HVAC program online is one alternative to obtaining your education and receiving a degree or certificate. Almost all schools will call for some attendance on campus to complete hands on training. A number also provide internship or work-study programs in addition to or in place of practical lab work. But since the rest of the classes can be participated in online, this alternative may be a more accessible solution for some Bullhead City AZ students that are short on time. And some online degree programs are less expensive than other traditional choices. Even commuting expenses from Bullhead City and study supplies may be lessened, helping to make schooling more economical. And numerous online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your work or family commitments have left you with little time to attend classes, perhaps an HVAC online training program will make it less complicated to fit school into your hectic schedule.

Questions For HVAC Certification Classes

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Once you have decided on the type of certificate or degree that you wish to acquire, either online or on campus, you can start to decrease your list of schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are numerous HVAC technical schools in the Bullhead City AZ area and throughout the USA to choose from. That's why it is very important to have a checklist of important qualifiers when making school comparisons. As formerly mentioned in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will probably 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.  Many HVAC technical programs in the Bullhead City AZ area have acquired either a regional or a national accreditation. They may acquire Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to an individual program, for instance HVAC technology. Verify that the school and program are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency, such as the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping ensure that you get an excellent education, it can assist in securing financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently unavailable for non-accredited programs. Also, a number of states require that the HVAC training program be accredited in order to be approved for licensing.

High Completion Rates.  Ask the Heating and Air Conditioning schools you are considering 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 might indicate that students were unhappy with the course and dropped out. It could also signify that the instructors were not competent to train the students. It's also imperative that the schools have higher 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 employ for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate will not only validate that the school has a good reputation within the field, but additionally that it has the network of Bullhead City AZ HVAC employers to assist grads acquire apprenticeships or jobs.

Apprenticeship Programs.  Numerous HVAC technical programs are taught in conjunction with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating vocational and technical programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of Heating and Cooling contractors or trade unions. Ask if the schools you are reviewing have working partnerships with local Bullhead City AZ HVAC professionals. An apprenticeship not only offers a valuable experience by furnishing hands-on training, but it also supplies job opportunities and helps to form relationships in the area HVAC professional community.

Modern Facilities.  Make sure that the campus facilities and the equipment that you will be trained on are state-of-the-art and what you will be using in the field. If you are currently in an internship or an apprenticeship, talk to the HVAC tech you are working with regarding what you should be looking for. Otherwise, ask a local Bullhead City AZ HVAC contracting company if they can provide some pointers. Also bear in mind that unless you can relocate, the school must be within driving distance of your Bullhead City AZ home. Take note that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides the added moving costs there can be increased tuition charges compared to in-state residents.

Smaller Classes.   It's desirable that you receive as much personalized instruction as possible, which can be difficult in bigger classes. Ask if you can monitor a couple of the classes so that you can observe how big they are and experience the interaction between students and instructors. Speak with some of the students and get their comments relating to class sizes and instruction. Finally, speak to some of the teachers and find out what their level of expertise is and what degrees or certifications they have earned.

Flexible Scheduling.  Confirm that the class schedules for the programs you are assessing are flexible enough to handle your needs. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Bullhead City AZ, check that the schools you are reviewing provide those choices. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Additionally, ask what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, illness or family emergencies.

Find Out More About Bullhead City HVAC Training Programs In Your Area

Get Your HVAC Degree and Certification

Picking the right HVAC training program is a critical beginning toward a rewarding career in the heating & cooling trade. As we have addressed in this article, you should select a Heating and Cooling training program and a certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have excellent reputations within the HVAC profession. Other things to look for are plenty of practical training and state-of-the-art facilities. You should visit each of the schools personally that you are most interested in to tour the campus and talk with both the current students and faculty. Try to get a feel for the quality of the training and the interaction between them. Also, ask about scheduling options and whether night or weekend classes are offered if needed. And remember to inquire about financial assistance and student loan options also. If you ask the proper questions as we have detailed in our guidelines for assessing schools, you'll be able to narrow down your options so that you can make an educated decision. With the appropriate training, hard work and dedication, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC technician in Bullhead City AZ.