How to Choose the Right Heating and Cooling Certificate Program near Casa Grande Arizona
Once you have come to a decision on a career as a heating and cooling specialist, the next action is to look for an HVAC trade school near Casa Grande AZ. But with so many to pick from, how do you choose the ideal one to receive the training that you require? A number of future students will make their choice based solely on the price of tuition or how near the school is to their residence. Even though these are significant factors to consider, they are not the only ones to investigate. Just some of the other factors that you need to investigate 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 technical school, let's take a look at what a heating and air conditioning professional does to become a licensed professional tradesman.
Becoming an HVAC Contractor
HVAC is an acronym that is widely used in the industry that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC technicians provide services for the installation, maintenance and repair of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are typically required to be licensed, although each state and regional municipality has its own prerequisites. Earning professional certification is not required, but an optional way for Casa Grande AZ HVAC techs to prove that they are highly skilled and knowledgeable in their area of specialization. There are multiple recognized certifications within the trade that are offered. Here are some of the significant ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally acknowledged certification for HVAC technicians. The certification is earned by passing a proficiency examination and may be acquired in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification makes available both a professional and a master specialist credential. Two years of field experience as well as passing a comprehensive exam are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have 3 years of experience along with a passing result on the professional level exam. As with NATE, certifications are offered in multiple specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is required for specialists that handle refrigerants. There are three types of certification available, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Considering that licensing might be mandated in your location, and you may also desire to obtain certification, it's imperative that you choose an HVAC technical school that will prepare you for both. And since you will more than likely be handling refrigerants, make sure that the school you choose prepares you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.
HVAC Degree and Certificate Training Programs
There are a variety of choices offered for HVAC instruction in a trade or technical school. You can obtain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Acquiring a certificate will take the least period of time, typically accomplished in just six months, however some programs are longer. A certificate will qualify you for most HVAC positions, particularly if you are licensed and have certification relevant to the position. The degree training programs can provide a competitive edge in the job market and will deliver more in-depth training than the certificate programs. Following is a brief summary of each credential offered near Casa Grande AZ.
- Certificate. Generally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among beginning commercial or residential HVAC specialists. They provide a strong foundation of skills for job opportunities within the trade.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program supplies a more extensive background of heating and a/c systems than the certificate program. Generally 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 or even business ownership. Some programs require an Associate Degree, while others are a conventional 4 year program. In addition to learning how to service and maintain heating and cooling systems, you will also learn how to design them.
Picking the appropriate credential program will be dependent on what your long term career goals are, along with the time and financial resources that you have to commit. One approach is to start with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after gaining some experience in the trade in Casa Grande AZ, later going back to obtain 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
Choosing an HVAC school online is one alternative in getting your education and receiving a degree or certificate. Almost all schools will call for some attendance on campus to participate in hands on training. A number also sponsor internship or work-study programs in addition to or as an alternative to practical lab work. But since the balance of the classes can be attended via the internet, this alternative may be a more accessible solution for many Casa Grande AZ students that are pressed for time. And some online degree programs are cheaper than other traditional options. Even driving expenses from Casa Grande and study supplies can be lessened, helping to make schooling more economical. And a large number of online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your job or family responsibilities have left you with limited time to attend classes, perhaps an online HVAC degree program will make it less complicated to accommodate school into your hectic schedule.
Questions to Ask HVAC Schools
As soon as you have decided on the type of certificate or degree that you would like to attain, either online or on campus, you can begin to narrow down your list of schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are many HVAC vocational schools in the Casa Grande AZ area and throughout the United States to choose from. That's why it is essential to have a list of relevant qualifiers when making school evaluations. As earlier mentioned in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will most likely be the first 2 variables you will consider. Following are several additional ones that you will want to research before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Numerous HVAC trade schools in the Casa Grande AZ area have acquired either a regional or a national accreditation. They may attain Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to a specific program, for instance HVAC technology. Make certain that the program is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization, such as the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping ensure that you acquire an excellent education, it can assist in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are frequently not available for non-accredited programs. Additionally, many states require that the HVAC training course be accredited in order to qualify for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the Heating and Air Conditioning schools you are reviewing what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage of students who enroll in and complete the program. A lower completion rate may indicate that students were unhappy with the course and quit. It could also mean that the teachers were not qualified to instruct the students. It's also essential 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 use for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate can not only validate that the school has an excellent reputation within the trade, but additionally that it has the network of Casa Grande AZ HVAC employers to assist graduates obtain apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. Many HVAC training programs are taught together 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 Heating and Cooling contractors or labor unions. Check if the schools you are considering have working relationships with local Casa Grande AZ HVAC contractors. An apprenticeship not only provides a rewarding experience by providing practical training, but it also supplies job opportunities and helps to build relationships in the regional HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make certain that the school facilities and the tools that you will be trained on are up-to-date and what you will be using on the job. If you are presently in an internship or an apprenticeship, consult with the HVAC tech you are working under regarding what you should be looking for. Otherwise, ask a local Casa Grande AZ HVAC company if they can provide some suggestions. Additionally keep in mind that unless you can move, the school needs to be within driving distance of your Casa Grande AZ residence. Remember that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, besides the added relocation costs there might be increased tuition fees compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's important that you get as much personalized training as possible, which can be challenging in larger classes. Ask if you can monitor a couple of the classes so that you can see how large they are and witness first hand the interaction between students and teachers. Talk with a few of the students and get their comments relating to class sizes and instruction. Last, talk to a few of the teachers and learn what their level of experience is and what degrees or certifications they hold.
Flexible Scheduling. Make sure that the class schedules for the schools you are reviewing are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Casa Grande AZ, confirm that the programs you are comparing provide those choices. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Additionally, ask what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, sickness or family responsibilities.
Earn Your Heating and Cooling Degree and Certification
Finding the ideal HVAC training program is a crucial first step toward a fulfilling career in the heating and cooling industry. As we have discussed in this article, you should select a Heating and Cooling training program and a certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have exceptional reputations within the HVAC community. Other features to look for are plenty of practical training and modern facilities. You should visit each of the schools in person 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 teaching and the interaction between them. Also, inquire about scheduling choices and whether evening or weekend classes are available if needed. And don't forget to inquire about financial assistance and student loan options as well. If you ask the right questions as we have laid out in our checklist for evaluating schools, you'll be able to narrow down your choices so that you can make an educated decision. With the right training, hard work and commitment, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC professional in Casa Grande AZ.