How to Find the Right HVAC Certificate Program near Bullhead City Arizona
Now that you have come to a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioning technician, the next action is to find an HVAC vocational school near Bullhead City AZ. But with so many to pick from, how do you select the right one to get the training that you need? A number of future students will make their choice based exclusively on the cost of tuition or how close the school is to their residence. While these are important factors to consider, they are not the only ones to evaluate. A few 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 covered in more detail later in this article. But before we examine how to choose an HVAC trade school, let's look at what a heating and air conditioning professional does to become a licensed qualified tradesman.
Becoming an HVAC Specialist
HVAC is an acronym that is widely used in the industry that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC contractors specialize in the installation, maintenance and repair of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are typically mandated to be licensed, however every state and local municipality has its own requirements. Acquiring professional certification is not required, but an alternative means for Bullhead City AZ HVAC techs to demonstrate that they are exceptionally skilled and accomplished in their area of expertise. There are many acknowledged certifications within the field that are offered. Following are some of the significant ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally recognized certification for HVAC techs. The certification is achieved by passing a proficiency exam and can be earned in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification makes available both a professional and a master specialist credential. 2 years of professional experience in addition to passing a comprehensive examination are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have three years of experience in addition to a passing result on the professional level examination. As with NATE, certifications are offered in several specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is necessary for technicians that handle refrigerants. There are 3 types of certification obtainable, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Since licensing might be required in your location, and you may also wish to acquire certification, it's essential that you select an HVAC vocational school that will train you for both. And since you will probably be dealing with refrigerants, make certain that the program you choose prepares you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
HVAC Certificate and Degree Schools
There are a number of options offered for HVAC training in a technical or trade school. You can attain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Earning a certificate will take the lesser amount of time, usually achieved in just 6 months, though 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 training programs can provide a competitive edge in the job market and will deliver more extensive training than the certificate programs. Below is a short summary of each option offered near Bullhead City AZ.
- Certificate. Normally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among entry level residential or commercial HVAC technicians. They provide a strong foundation of skills for job opportunities within the industry.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program supplies a more comprehensive understanding of heating & cooling systems than the certificate program. Normally taking 2 years to complete, some 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 4 year program. In addition to mastering how to service and maintain heating and cooling systems, you will also learn how to design them.
Choosing the right credential program will be dependent on what your future career aspirations are, in addition to the time and financial resources that you have to invest. One option is to begin with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after acquiring some experience in the field in Bullhead City AZ, eventually going back to earn a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your tactic, be sure to ask the HVAC tech school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Online Classes
Attending an HVAC school online is one approach to getting your training and receiving a degree or certificate. Most schools will require some attendance on campus to participate in hands on training. Some also provide internship or work-study programs in addition to or in place of practical lab work. But since the rest of the classes may be attended online, this option may be a more convenient solution for some Bullhead City AZ students that are pressed for time. And a number of online degree programs are cheaper than other on campus choices. Even travelling expenses from Bullhead City and study supplies can be reduced, helping to make schooling more budget-friendly. And numerous online programs are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your career or family commitments have left you with limited time to attend classes, maybe an HVAC online training program will make it less complicated to accommodate school into your busy lifestyle.
Questions For HVAC Certification Courses
Once you have chosen the type of degree or certificate that you desire to attain, either on campus or online, you can start to narrow down your list of schools. As you are certainly aware, there are a large number of HVAC technical schools in the Bullhead City AZ area and throughout the Country to select from. That's why it is very important to have a list of important qualifiers when making school evaluations. As formerly mentioned in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will probably be the first 2 factors you will take into consideration. Following are several additional ones that you need to investigate before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. A large number of HVAC vocational programs in the Bullhead City AZ area have earned either a regional or a national accreditation. They can attain Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to an individual program, such as HVAC technology. Make sure that the school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization, which includes the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping make certain that you acquire a superior education, it may help in obtaining financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently not available for non-accredited programs. Furthermore, 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 considering what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage or portion of students who enroll in and finish the program. A low completion rate might suggest that students were unhappy with the course and quit. It might also indicate that the instructors were not competent to instruct the students. It's similarly important 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 confirm that the school has an excellent reputation within the industry, but also that it has the network of Bullhead City AZ HVAC employers to assist students obtain apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. A large number of HVAC technical programs are taught along with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating trade and technical programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of HVAC companies or trade unions. Find out if the schools you are comparing have working partnerships with local Bullhead City AZ HVAC specialists. An apprenticeship not only provides a valuable experience by supplying hands-on training, but it also supplies job opportunities and helps to build relationships in the area HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make certain that the campus facilities and the equipment that you will be instructed on are state-of-the-art and what you will be working with on the job. 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. Otherwise, ask a local Bullhead City AZ HVAC company if they can provide some tips. Also bear in mind that unless you are able to move, the school needs to be within commuting distance of your Bullhead City AZ home. Remember that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to moving costs there might be higher tuition charges compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's important that you get as much one-on-one instruction as possible, which can be challenging in larger 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 students and instructors. Talk to some of the students and get their opinions concerning class sizes and instruction. Finally, speak to some of the instructors and find out what their level of experience 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 fulfill your needs. If you are only able to go to classes at night or on weekends near Bullhead City AZ, verify that the programs you are comparing provide those choices. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Additionally, find out what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, illness or family responsibilities.
Get Your Heating and Cooling Degree and Certification
Selecting the right HVAC school program is a critical beginning toward a gratifying career in the heating and air conditioning field. As we have discussed in this article, you need to select a Heating and Cooling training program and a certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have exceptional reputations within the HVAC profession. Other things to look for are sufficient practical training and state-of-the-art facilities. You should check out each of the schools in person that you are most interested in to explore the campus and speak with both the current students and faculty. Try to get a feel for the quality of the teaching and the interaction between them. In addition, inquire about scheduling options and whether night or weekend classes are offered if needed. And remember to inquire about financial aid and student loan options too. If you ask the right questions as we have outlined in our checklist for comparing schools, you'll be able to filter your choices so that you can make an educated decision. With the appropriate training, hard work and commitment, you can eventually become a licensed HVAC professional in Bullhead City AZ.