How to Find the Right Heating and Cooling School near Bullhead City Arizona
Now that you have made a decision on a career as a heating and cooling technician, 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 select the ideal one to receive the training that you require? Some future students will make their choice based solely on the price of tuition or how close the school is to their residence. Although these are important concerns, they are not the only ones to take into account. Some of the other things 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. Those and additional criteria will be addressed in more detail later in this article. But before we discuss how to pick an HVAC training program, let's look at what a heating and air conditioning technician does to become a licensed professional tradesman.
How to Become an HVAC Specialist
HVAC is an acronym that is commonly used in the industry that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC professionals provide services for the installation, maintenance and repair of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are generally required to be licensed, although each state and regional municipality has its own prerequisites. Attaining professional certification is not required, but an alternative means for Bullhead City AZ HVAC specialists to demonstrate that they are highly qualified and knowledgeable in their area of expertise. There are many recognized certifications within the industry that are available. Here are a few of the important ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally recognized certification for HVAC technicians. The certification is achieved by passing a proficiency exam and may be acquired in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification offers both a professional and a master specialist credential. 2 years of field experience as well as passing a comprehensive examination are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have three years of experience in addition to a passing result on the professional level examination. Similar to NATE, certifications are made available in multiple specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is necessary for techs that handle refrigerants. There are three forms of certification offered, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Considering that licensing could be mandated in your area, and you may also intend to earn certification, it's imperative that you choose an HVAC technical school that will train you for both. And since you will more than likely be dealing with refrigerants, make sure that the school you decide on preps you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.
HVAC Certificate and Degree Classes
There are several alternatives offered for HVAC training in a vocational or trade school. You can obtain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Obtaining a certificate will take the lesser amount of time, usually accomplished in just 6 months, though some courses are longer. A certificate will train you for the majority of HVAC positions, especially if you are licensed and have certification appropriate to the position. The degree training programs might provide a competitive advantage for securing employment and will deliver more extensive training than the certificate programs. Below is a short explanation of each option offered near Bullhead City AZ.
- Certificate. Generally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among entry level residential or commercial HVAC professionals. They furnish 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 and a/c systems than the certificate program. Generally taking two years to complete, some degrees incorporate an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is suited more for a career in management or even business ownership. Some programs require 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 ideal credential program will be based on what your future career objectives are, as well as 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 acquiring some experience in the field in Bullhead City AZ, later returning to earn a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your tactic, be sure to ask the HVAC technician school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Online Schools
Enrolling in an HVAC program online is one possibility in attaining your training and earning a certificate or degree. Most schools will require some attendance on campus to complete hands on training. Some also sponsor internship or work-study programs in addition to or instead of practical lab work. But since the rest of the classes may be attended via the internet, this approach may be a more practical solution for some Bullhead City AZ students that are pressed for time. And some online degree programs are cheaper than other traditional alternatives. Even driving expenses from Bullhead City and study materials may be lessened, helping to make education more economical. And many online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your career or family responsibilities have left you with little time to attend classes, perhaps an HVAC online training program will make it more convenient to accommodate school into your hectic lifestyle.
Questions For HVAC Certification Courses
Once you have decided on the type of degree or certificate that you want to earn, either on campus or online, you can begin to limit your list of schools. As you are probably aware, there are numerous HVAC trade schools in the Bullhead City AZ area and all over the United States to pick from. That's why it is very important to have a checklist of key qualifications when making school assessments. As previously mentioned in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will probably be the first two factors you will look at. Following are some additional ones that you should explore before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Numerous HVAC technical schools in the Bullhead City AZ area have earned either a regional or a national accreditation. They may attain Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to a specific program, for example HVAC technology. Make certain that the school and program are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization, for example the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping guarantee that you obtain a superior education, it can help in obtaining financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently not available for non-accredited programs. Furthermore, some states require that the HVAC training program be accredited in order to be approved for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the Heating and Cooling schools you are considering what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage of students who enroll in and complete the course. A low completion rate might suggest that students were dissatisfied with the program and dropped out. It may also mean that the teachers were not qualified to instruct the students. It's also imperative that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive list of alumni, which may produce more contacts for the school to employ for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate will 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 assist students acquire apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. Most HVAC vocational programs are taught in conjunction 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 contractors or labor 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 rewarding experience by furnishing practical training, but it also provides job opportunities and helps to establish relationships in the local HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Confirm that the school facilities and the tools that you will be trained on are up-to-date and what you will be working with in the field. If you are presently in an internship or an apprenticeship, consult with the HVAC technician you are working with regarding what you should be looking for. If not, ask a local Bullhead City AZ HVAC contractor if they can give you some tips. Additionally keep in mind that unless you are willing to relocate, the school must be within driving distance of your Bullhead City AZ residence. Take note that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides the added relocation 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 difficult in bigger classes. Ask if you can monitor a few of the classes so that you can observe how big they are and experience the interaction between students and teachers. Talk with several of the students and get their comments regarding class sizes and instruction. Last, speak to a few of the instructors and find out what their level of experience is and what degrees or certifications they hold.
Flexible Scheduling. Verify that the class schedules for the programs you are reviewing are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you are only able to attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Bullhead City AZ, confirm that the schools you are looking at provide those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Also, find out what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, sickness or family emergencies.
Find Out More About Bullhead City Heating and Cooling Trade Schools In Your Area
Get Your Heating and Cooling Degree and Certification
Enrolling in the right HVAC training program is a critical first step toward a gratifying career in the heating and air conditioning field. As we have discussed in this article, you need to pick a Heating and Cooling training program and a degree or certificate program that are both accredited and have excellent reputations within the HVAC profession. Other factors to search for are plenty of hands-on training and state-of-the-art 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 training and the interaction between them. Also, ask about scheduling options and whether night or weekend classes are available if needed. And remember to inquire about financial aid and student loan options too. If you ask the right questions as we have detailed 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 proper training, hard work and dedication, you can eventually become a licensed HVAC technician in Bullhead City AZ.