How to Pick the Right Heating and Cooling Certification Training near Bullhead City Arizona
Once you have made a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioner technician, the next step is to find an HVAC vocational school near Bullhead City AZ. But with so many to select from, how do you choose the ideal one to obtain the training that you need? Many future students will make their selection based solely on the cost of tuition or how near the school is to their residence. Although these are relevant considerations, they are not the only ones to evaluate. Some of the other things that you need to investigate are the graduation completion rates of the HVAC schools, their reputations, and if they are accredited by professional trade organizations. Those and additional criteria will be addressed in more detail later in this article. But before we explore how to select an HVAC vocational school, let's look at what a heating and air conditioning specialist does to become a licensed skilled tradesman.
Becoming an HVAC Pro
HVAC is an acronym that is widely used in the industry that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC contractors provide services for the installation, repair and maintenance of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, 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. Attaining professional certification is not required, but an optional means for Bullhead City AZ HVAC techs to demonstrate that they are exceptionally proficient and experienced in their area of expertise. There are several recognized certifications within the field that are available. Below are some 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 exam and may be earned in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification offers both a professional and a master specialist credential. 2 years of field experience together with passing a comprehensive examination are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have 3 years of experience together with a passing score on the professional level exam. As with NATE, certifications are offered in several specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is mandatory for specialists that work with refrigerants. There are 3 forms of certification available, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Because licensing might be mandated in your area, and you may also intend to acquire certification, it's imperative that you pick an HVAC vocational school that will prepare you for both. And since you will most likely be working with refrigerants, make certain that the school you decide on readies you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.
HVAC Degree and Certificate Classes
There are a number of alternatives offered for HVAC instruction in a technical or vocational school. You can obtain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Earning a certificate will take the lesser period of time, often accomplished in as little as 6 months, though some courses are longer. A certificate will train you for most HVAC positions, especially if you are licensed and have certification related to the position. The degree programs might provide a competitive advantage for securing employment and will provide more extensive training than the certificate programs. Following is a short description of each credential offered near Bullhead City AZ.
- Certificate. Normally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among entry level residential or commercial HVAC specialists. They provide a strong foundation of skills for job opportunities within the industry.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program supplies a more detailed background of heating & cooling systems than the certificate program. Typically taking 2 years to finish, some degrees feature an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is suited more for a career in management as well as business ownership. Some programs call for an Associate Degree, while others are a standard four year program. In addition to mastering how to service and maintain heating and cooling systems, you will also study how to design them.
Picking the right credential program will be based on what your long term career aspirations are, in addition to the time and money that you have to commit. One option is to begin with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after acquiring some experience in the trade in Bullhead City AZ, later returning 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 Training
Attending an HVAC program online is one option in obtaining your training and receiving a degree or certificate. Most schools will require some attendance on campus to participate in hands on training. Some also offer internship or work-study programs in addition to or instead of practical lab work. But since the balance of the classes may be participated in online, this approach 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 more economical than other traditional alternatives. Even commuting expenses from Bullhead City and study materials can be reduced, helping to make education more affordable. And a large number of 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 online HVAC degree program will make it more convenient to accommodate school into your hectic lifestyle.
Questions to Ask HVAC Certification Courses
When you have picked the type of certificate or degree that you desire to acquire, either on campus or online, you can start to decrease your selection 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 pick from. That's why it is very important to have a list of key qualifiers when making school evaluations. As earlier mentioned in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will probably be the initial two variables you will look at. Following are several additional ones that you will want to investigate before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Numerous HVAC trade programs in the Bullhead City AZ area have earned either a regional or a national accreditation. They may receive 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. Confirm that the school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency, which includes the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping make certain that you obtain a superior education, it may help in securing financial assistance or student loans, which are often not available for non-accredited programs. Also, some states require that the HVAC training course be accredited for it to qualify for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the Heating and Cooling schools you are looking at what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students who enroll in and complete the course. A lower completion rate may signify that students were disappointed with the program and quit. It might also signify that the teachers were not qualified to train the students. It's also important that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader directory of alumni, which may result in 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 help grads obtain apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. A large number of HVAC technical programs are taught in conjunction with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating trade and vocational schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of HVAC contractors or labor unions. Ask if the schools you are considering have working partnerships with local Bullhead City AZ HVAC contractors. An apprenticeship not only offers a valuable experience by furnishing hands-on training, but it also provides employment opportunities and helps to form relationships in the local HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Confirm that the campus facilities and the tools that you will be trained 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, talk to the HVAC tech you are working under regarding what you should be expecting. If not, ask a local Bullhead City AZ HVAC contractor if they can give you some pointers. Additionally keep in mind that unless you are willing to move, the school must be within commuting 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 may be higher tuition charges compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's desirable that you receive as much one-on-one training as possible, which can be difficult in larger classes. Ask if you can monitor a couple of the classes so that you can see how big they are and experience the interaction between instructors and students. Talk with several of the students and get their comments regarding class sizes and instruction. Last, talk to a few of the teachers and find out what their level of experience is and what degrees or certifications they have earned.
Flexible Scheduling. Verify that the class schedules for the schools you are evaluating are flexible enough to handle your needs. If you are only able to attend classes at night or on weekends near Bullhead City AZ, verify that the schools you are reviewing offer those choices. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Additionally, check out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, sickness or family issues.
Earn Your Heating and Cooling Certificate or Degree
Enrolling in the right HVAC school course is a critical beginning toward a rewarding career in the heating and cooling trade. As we have addressed in this article, you should choose a Heating and Cooling training program and a degree or certificate program that are both accredited and have excellent reputations within the HVAC trade. Other factors to look for are sufficient hands-on training and state-of-the-art facilities. You need to go to each of the schools in person that you are most interested in to explore the campus and speak with both the faculty and current students. Attempt to get a feel for the quality of the instruction and the interaction between them. Additionally, ask about scheduling options and whether or not night or weekend classes are available if needed. And remember to ask about financial aid and student loan options as well. If you ask the right questions as we have outlined in our guidelines for comparing schools, you'll be able to filter your options so that you can make an educated decision. With the appropriate training, hard work and commitment, you can eventually become a licensed HVAC contractor in Bullhead City AZ.