How to Select the Right Heating and Cooling Training Program near Casa Grande Arizona
Once you have decided on a career as a heating and air conditioner specialist, the next step is to look for an HVAC technical school near Casa Grande AZ. But with so many to choose from, how do you decide on the ideal one to get the training that you need? A number of future students will make their choice based entirely on the cost of tuition or how close the school is to their home. Although these are important considerations, they are not the only ones to take into account. 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. These and additional criteria will be discussed in more detail later within this article. But before we examine how to pick an HVAC technical school, let's look at what a heating and air conditioning professional does to become a licensed skilled tradesman.
How to Become an HVAC Specialist
HVAC is an acronym that is commonly used in the trade that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC technicians provide services for the installation, repair and maintenance of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are generally mandated to be licensed, however each state and regional municipality has its own criteria. Obtaining professional certification is not compulsory, but an optional way for Casa Grande AZ HVAC techs to establish that they are highly qualified and accomplished in their area of expertise. There are multiple respected certifications within the field that are available. Following are a few of the significant ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally recognized certification for HVAC technicians. The certification is attained by passing a proficiency examination and may be acquired in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification offers both a professional and a master specialist credential. Two years of professional experience together with passing a comprehensive examination are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have 3 years of experience along with 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 technicians that work with refrigerants. There are 3 forms of certification offered, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Since licensing might be mandated in your area, and you may also wish to earn certification, it's important that you choose an HVAC technical school that will prepare you for both. And since you will most likely be dealing with refrigerants, make certain that the school you select readies you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
HVAC Degree and Certificate Courses
There are several alternatives offered for HVAC training in a technical or vocational school. You can obtain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Obtaining a certificate will take the lesser amount of time, typically accomplished in just 6 months, however some programs are longer. A certificate will train you for most HVAC positions, especially if you are licensed and have certification applicable to the position. The degree programs might provide a competitive edge in the job market and will furnish more extensive training than the certificate programs. Below is a brief description of each credential offered near Casa Grande AZ.
- Certificate. Normally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among beginning residential or commercial HVAC professionals. They furnish a solid foundation of skills for employment within the trade.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program supplies a more comprehensive background of heating and cooling systems than the certificate program. Normally taking two years to finish, many degrees feature an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is geared more towards 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 being taught how to service and maintain heating and air conditioning systems, you will also study how to design them.
Choosing the right credential program will be dependent on what your future career aspirations are, along with the time and money that you have to invest. One approach is to begin with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after gaining some experience in the trade in Casa Grande AZ, eventually going back to obtain a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your approach, make certain to ask the HVAC tech school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Online Classes
Choosing an HVAC program online is one approach in getting your training and receiving a degree or certificate. Most schools will require some attendance on campus to complete hands on training. A number also provide internship or work-study programs in addition to or in place of practical lab work. But since the balance of the classes may be attended via the internet, this option 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 more economical than other traditional options. Even commuting expenses from Casa Grande and study supplies may be reduced, helping to make schooling more economical. And a large number of online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your career or family obligations have left you with limited time to attend classes, maybe an HVAC online training program will make it more convenient to fit school into your hectic schedule.
Questions For HVAC Certification Courses
As soon as you have chosen the type of degree or certificate that you would like to acquire, either online or on campus, you can begin to decrease your selection of schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are a large number of HVAC vocational schools in the Casa Grande AZ area and across the USA to choose from. That's why it is very important to have a list of important qualifiers when making school evaluations. As earlier mentioned in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will undoubtedly be the initial two factors you will look at. Following are several additional ones that you will want to research before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Many HVAC trade programs in the Casa Grande AZ area have attained either a regional or a national accreditation. They can receive Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to an individual program, for example HVAC technology. Make sure that the school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency, which includes the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping ensure that you acquire a superior education, it may help in acquiring financial assistance or student loans, which are often not available for non-accredited programs. Furthermore, many states mandate that the HVAC training program be accredited for it to be approved for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the Heating and Air Conditioning schools you are considering what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage of students who enroll in and finish the program. A lower completion rate could signify that students were dissatisfied with the program and quit. It could also mean that the instructors were not qualified to instruct the students. It's also important that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive list of graduates, which may result in more contacts for the school to utilize 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 grads obtain apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. Most HVAC vocational programs are taught in conjunction with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating trade and technical programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of HVAC businesses or trade unions. Find out if the schools you are considering have working relationships with local Casa Grande AZ HVAC companies. An apprenticeship not only offers a rewarding experience by supplying practical training, but it also furnishes job opportunities and helps to build relationships in the area HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Confirm that the campus facilities and the tools that you will be trained on are up-to-date and what you will be using in the field. If you are already in an internship or an apprenticeship, talk to the HVAC tech you are working with concerning what you should be expecting. Otherwise, ask a local Casa Grande AZ HVAC contracting company if they can provide some tips. Additionally keep in mind that unless you can move, the school must 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 moving costs there might be increased tuition charges compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's important that you get as much personalized training as possible, which can be challenging in bigger classes. Ask if you can sit in on a couple of the classes so that you can observe how large they are and witness first hand the interaction between teachers and students. Talk with a few of the students and get their comments regarding class sizes and instruction. Last, speak to a few of the teachers and learn what their level of expertise is and what degrees or certifications they have earned.
Flexible Scheduling. Make sure that the class schedules for the programs you are reviewing 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, confirm that the schools you are considering offer those options. If you can only attend part-time, make certain that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Finally, find out what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, sickness or family emergencies.
Earn Your Heating and Cooling Certificate or Degree
Selecting the ideal HVAC school course is a crucial first step toward a rewarding career in the heating and cooling field. As we have covered in this article, you need to choose 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 search for are plenty of hands-on training and modern facilities. You need to go to each of the schools in person that you are most interested in to inspect the campus and talk with both the faculty and current students. Attempt to get a feel for the quality of the instruction and the interaction between them. Also, ask about scheduling choices and if evening or weekend classes are offered if needed. And remember to inquire about financial aid and student loan options too. If you ask the appropriate questions as we have detailed in our guidelines for comparing schools, you'll be able to narrow down your options so that you can make an informed decision. With the proper training, hard work and commitment, you can eventually become a licensed HVAC technician in Casa Grande AZ.