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How to Choose the Right HVAC Certificate Program near Casa Grande Arizona

Casa Grande Arizona residential air conditioning condensersOnce you have made a decision on a career as a heating and cooling technician, the next step is to look for an HVAC vocational school near Casa Grande AZ. But with so many to select from, how do you decide on the best one to get the training that you need? Many potential students will make their selection based entirely on the cost of tuition or how close the school is to their residence. Even though these are important concerns, they are not the only ones to evaluate. Just 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 other criteria will be discussed in more detail later in this article. But before we tackle how to select an HVAC training program, let's look at what a heating and cooling specialist does to become a licensed skilled tradesman.

How to Become an HVAC Technician

Casa Grande Arizona Heating and Cooling Tech servicing A/C condenserHVAC is an acronym that is frequently 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 generally mandated to be licensed, although every state and regional municipality has its own requirements. Attaining professional certification is not mandatory, but a voluntary way for Casa Grande AZ HVAC techs to prove that they are exceptionally proficient and experienced in their area of expertise. There are many acknowledged certifications within the field that are available. Here are some of the significant ones.

  • North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally acknowledged certification for HVAC technicians. The certification is attained by passing a competency examination and may be received in one or more specialties.
  • HVAC Excellence. This certification offers both a professional and a master specialist credential. 2 years of professional experience as well as passing a comprehensive examination are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have 3 years of experience as well as a passing score on the professional level examination. As with NATE, certifications are offered in various specialties.
  • EPA Section 608. This certification is necessary for specialists that handle refrigerants. There are 3 forms of certification obtainable, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.

Considering that licensing may be mandated in your location, and you may also desire to earn certification, it's essential that you enroll in an HVAC trade school that will train you for both. And since you will probably be handling refrigerants, make sure that the program you choose readies you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.

HVAC Degree Schools

Casa Grande Arizona residential heater

There are several alternatives available for HVAC training in a trade or technical school. You can obtain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Earning a certificate will take the minimum amount of time, often accomplished in as little as six months, however 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 training programs may provide a competitive advantage in the job market and will deliver more in-depth training than the certificate programs. Following is a brief description of each option offered near Casa Grande 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 provides a more extensive understanding of heating & cooling systems than the certificate program. Generally requiring 2 years to complete, some degrees incorporate an internship or work-study program.
  • Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is geared more for a career in management as well as business ownership. Some programs require an Associate Degree, while others are a standard four 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 based on what your long term career objectives are, along with 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 getting some experience in the field in Casa Grande AZ, subsequently returning to obtain a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your strategy, be sure to ask the HVAC technician school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.

HVAC Online Schools

Attending an HVAC program online is one approach in getting your training and receiving a certificate or degree. Nearly all schools will call for some attendance on campus to complete hands on training. A number also sponsor internship or work-study programs in addition to or in place of practical lab work. But since the remainder of the classes may be participated in on the web, this alternative may be a more accessible solution for many Casa Grande AZ students that are pressed for time. And a number of online degree programs are cheaper than other on campus options. Even driving expenses from Casa Grande and study materials may be lessened, helping to make education more economical. And many online programs are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your job or family commitments have left you with little time to attend classes, perhaps an HVAC online training program will make it more convenient to fit school into your busy lifestyle.

Questions to Ask HVAC Certification Courses

Casa Grande Arizona Heating and Cooling contractor replacing water heater

As soon as you have picked the type of certificate or degree that you want to acquire, either online or on campus, you can begin to narrow down your selection of schools. As you are certainly aware, there are many HVAC trade schools in the Casa Grande AZ area and across the United States to pick from. That's why it is very important to have a checklist of important qualifiers when making school comparisons. As formerly mentioned in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will most likely be the first 2 aspects you will look at. Following are some additional ones that you should research before enrolling in your school of choice.

Accreditation.  Many HVAC technical programs in the Casa Grande AZ area have acquired either a regional or a national accreditation. They can earn Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to a specific program, such as HVAC technology. Make sure that the school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting organization, which includes the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping ensure that you obtain a quality education, it can help in securing financial aid or student loans, which are in many cases unavailable for non-accredited programs. Additionally, many states mandate that the HVAC training program be accredited for it to qualify 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 or portion of students who enroll in and finish the program. A lower completion rate may indicate that students were disappointed with the program and dropped out. It may also mean that the teachers were not qualified to train the students. It's similarly essential that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive directory of alumni, which can result in more contacts for the school to utilize 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 Casa Grande AZ HVAC employers to assist students acquire apprenticeships or employment.

Apprenticeship Programs.  Most HVAC training programs are taught together with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating technical and vocational schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of HVAC contractors or labor unions. Find out if the schools you are considering have working partnerships with local Casa Grande AZ HVAC contractors. An apprenticeship not only offers a rewarding experience by supplying practical training, but it also provides employment opportunities and helps to build relationships in the regional HVAC professional community.

Modern Facilities.  Confirm that the school 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, consult with the HVAC tech you are working with regarding what you should be looking for. Otherwise, ask a local Casa Grande AZ HVAC company if they can give you some suggestions. Also keep in mind that unless you are willing to relocate, the school must be within driving distance of your Casa Grande AZ home. Remember that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation costs there might be higher tuition charges compared to in-state residents.

Smaller Classes.   It's important that you get as much individualized instruction as possible, which can be challenging in bigger classes. Ask if you can monitor a few of the classes so that you can observe how large they are and experience the interaction between teachers and students. Talk with some of the students and get their feedback regarding class sizes and instruction. Finally, talk to a few of the instructors and find out what their level of experience is and what certifications or degrees they hold.

Flexible Scheduling.  Verify that the class schedules for the programs you are assessing are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you are only able to attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Casa Grande AZ, verify that the programs you are looking at offer those options. If you can only attend part-time, make certain that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Additionally, check out what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, illness or family issues.

Learn More About Casa Grande HVAC Training Classes Near You

Earn Your Heating and Cooling Certificate or Degree

Finding the ideal HVAC training program is a crucial beginning toward a fulfilling career in the heating & cooling trade. As we have covered in this article, you should pick a Heating and Cooling training program and a degree or certificate program that are both accredited and have exceptional reputations within the HVAC profession. Other features to search for are lots of practical training and state-of-the-art facilities. You need to check out each of the schools in person that you are most interested in to tour the campus and talk with both the faculty and current students. Try to get a feel for the quality of the training and the interaction between them. Additionally, inquire about scheduling options and if evening or weekend classes are offered if needed. And remember to ask about financial aid and student loan options as well. If you ask the appropriate questions as we have outlined in our guidelines for evaluating schools, you'll be able to narrow down your choices so that you can make an educated decision. With the proper training, hard work and dedication, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC professional in Casa Grande AZ.