How to Find the Right HVAC Certification Course near Casa Grande Arizona
Once you have decided on a career as a heating and cooling professional, the next action is to find an HVAC trade school near Casa Grande AZ. But with so many to pick from, how do you decide on the best one to receive the training that you require? A number of potential students will make their decision based entirely on the cost of tuition or how near the school is to their home. Even though these are relevant factors to consider, they are not the only ones to evaluate. Just some of the other factors that you need to research are the graduation rates of the HVAC schools, their reputations, and if they are accredited by professional trade organizations. Those and other criteria will be discussed in more detail later within this article. But before we discuss how to pick an HVAC training program, let's look at what a heating and cooling professional does to become a licensed professional tradesman.
Becoming an HVAC Technician
HVAC is an acronym that is frequently used in the industry that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC contractors provide services for the installation, maintenance and repair of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are commonly required to be licensed, though every state and regional municipality has its own criteria. Acquiring professional certification is not mandatory, but an optional way for Casa Grande AZ HVAC technicians to establish that they are highly proficient and knowledgeable in their area of expertise. There are multiple recognized certifications within the field that are offered. Here are some of the significant ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally acknowledged certification for HVAC techs. The certification is earned by passing a competency examination and can be earned in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification offers 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 need to have three years of experience together with a passing result on the professional level examination. Similar to NATE, certifications are made available in several specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is required for techs 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.
Considering that licensing could be required in your area, and you may also wish to obtain certification, it's essential that you enroll in an HVAC trade school that will train you for both. And since you will most likely be working with refrigerants, make certain that the program you decide on readies you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.
HVAC Degree Schools
There are a number of choices 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 period of time, usually achieved in just 6 months, however some courses are longer. A certificate will qualify you for most HVAC positions, particularly if you are licensed and have certification appropriate to the position. The degree programs may provide a competitive advantage in the job market and will furnish more comprehensive training than the certificate programs. Below is a short explanation of each credential offered near Casa Grande AZ.
- Certificate. Usually requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among beginning commercial or residential HVAC technicians. They furnish a strong foundation of skills for employment within the trade.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program supplies a more exhaustive background of heating and a/c systems than the certificate program. Typically taking 2 years to finish, many degrees incorporate an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is tailored more towards a career in management as well as business ownership. Some programs call for an Associate Degree, while others are a conventional four year program. In addition to learning how to service and maintain heating and air conditioning systems, you will also learn how to design them.
Picking the appropriate credential program will be based on what your long term career aspirations are, in addition to the time and money that you have to invest. One option is to begin with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after gaining some experience in the field in Casa Grande AZ, later going back to obtain a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your approach, make sure to ask the HVAC tech school you are considering about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Courses Online
Choosing an HVAC school online is one alternative in attaining your training and receiving a degree or certificate. Almost all schools will call for some attendance on campus to complete practical training. Some also sponsor internship or work-study programs in addition to or as an alternative to practical lab work. But since the remainder of the classes can be participated in via the internet, this approach may be a more practical solution for some Casa Grande AZ students that are pressed for time. And many online degree programs are less expensive than other on campus choices. Even travelling expenses from Casa Grande and study materials may be reduced, helping to make education more budget-friendly. And many online programs are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your work or family commitments have left you with limited time to attend classes, perhaps an online HVAC degree program will make it less complicated to fit school into your hectic lifestyle.
Questions For HVAC Schools
When you have selected the type of certificate or degree that you would like to obtain, either on campus or online, you can begin to narrow down your selection of schools. As you are probably aware, there are numerous HVAC vocational schools in the Casa Grande AZ area and across the United States to select from. That's why it is very important to have a list of key qualifiers when making school comparisons. As earlier stated in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will probably be the first 2 factors you will take into consideration. Following are several additional ones that you will want to explore before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Numerous HVAC trade programs in the Casa Grande AZ area have attained either a regional or a national accreditation. They may earn Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to a specific program, for instance HVAC technology. Confirm that the program and school are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization, for example the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping make certain that you get a superior education, it may assist in securing financial assistance or student loans, which are often not available for non-accredited schools. Furthermore, many states require that the HVAC training program 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 portion or percentage of students who enroll in and finish the program. A low completion rate could indicate that students were disappointed with the course and quit. It could also signify that the teachers were not qualified to train the students. It's also important that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader directory of alumni, which may produce 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 a good reputation within the field, but also that it has the network of Casa Grande AZ HVAC employers to help students secure apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. Numerous HVAC trade programs are taught in conjunction with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating vocational and trade schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of Heating and Cooling companies or trade unions. Ask if the schools you are considering have working partnerships with local Casa Grande AZ HVAC contractors. An apprenticeship not only offers a valuable experience by supplying practical training, but it also furnishes employment opportunities and helps to form relationships in the local HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make sure that the campus facilities and the equipment that you will be instructed on are up-to-date and what you will be working with in the field. If you are already in an internship or an apprenticeship, consult with the HVAC technician you are working under concerning what you should be expecting. Otherwise, ask a local Casa Grande AZ HVAC company if they can provide some pointers. Also bear in mind that unless you are willing to move, the school needs to be within driving distance of your Casa Grande AZ residence. Remember that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, in addition to moving costs there may be increased tuition charges compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's desirable that you get as much personalized 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 teachers. Speak to several of the students and get their opinions regarding class sizes and instruction. Finally, talk with a few of the instructors and find out what their level of experience is and what certifications or degrees they hold.
Flexible Scheduling. Make sure that the class schedules for the schools you are assessing are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you are only able to go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Casa Grande AZ, verify that the programs you are comparing offer those options. If you can only attend part-time, make sure that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Additionally, find out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, sickness or family emergencies.
Get Your HVAC Training and Certification
Enrolling in the ideal HVAC school course is an important beginning toward a gratifying career in the heating and air conditioning field. 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 community. Other things to look for are plenty of practical training and modern 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 faculty and current students. Try to get a feel for the quality of the teaching and the interaction between them. In addition, inquire about scheduling options and whether or not evening or weekend classes are offered if needed. And don't forget to ask about financial assistance and student loan options as well. If you ask the proper questions as we have laid out in our checklist for comparing schools, you'll be able to narrow down 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 Casa Grande AZ.