How to Select the Right Heating and Cooling Training Class near Casa Grande Arizona
Once you have decided on a career as a heating and air conditioning technician, the next step is to look for an HVAC vocational school near Casa Grande AZ. But with so many to pick from, how do you select the ideal one to obtain the training that you need? Some future students will make their selection based exclusively on the cost of tuition or how close the school is to their home. Even though these are relevant concerns, they are not the only ones to investigate. Some of the other things that you need to investigate 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 covered in more detail later in this article. But before we discuss how to select an HVAC vocational school, let's look at what a heating and cooling technician does to become a licensed skilled tradesman.
How to Become an HVAC Contractor
HVAC is an acronym that is commonly used in the industry that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC techs specialize in the installation, repair and maintenance of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are typically required to be licensed, though each state and regional municipality has its own prerequisites. Acquiring professional certification is not required, but an optional means for Casa Grande AZ HVAC technicians to establish that they are highly qualified and accomplished in their area of expertise. There are several respected certifications within the trade 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 earned by passing a proficiency examination and may be received in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification makes available both a professional and a master specialist credential. Two years of professional experience as well as passing a comprehensive examination are required 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 offered in various specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is necessary for technicians that work with refrigerants. There are three types of certification offered, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Since licensing may be mandated in your area, and you may also intend to acquire certification, it's important that you select an HVAC technical school that will prepare you for both. And since you will more than likely be working with refrigerants, make certain that the program you pick readies you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
HVAC Degree Schools
There are several alternatives available for HVAC training in a trade or technical school. You can attain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Acquiring a certificate will take the lesser amount of time, typically achieved in just six months, however some programs are longer. A certificate will train you for the majority of HVAC positions, particularly if you are licensed and have certification appropriate to the position. The degree programs may provide a competitive advantage for securing employment and will provide more extensive training than the certificate programs. Below is a short description of each option offered near Casa Grande AZ.
- Certificate. Usually requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among beginning residential or commercial HVAC specialists. They provide a strong foundation of skills for employment within the trade.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program delivers a more detailed understanding of heating and cooling systems than the certificate program. Normally taking two years to complete, many degrees incorporate an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is suited more towards a career in management as well as 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.
Selecting the ideal credential program will be dependent on what your future career aspirations are, together with the time and money that you have to commit. One option is to begin with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after acquiring some experience in the trade in Casa Grande AZ, subsequently going back to obtain a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your strategy, make certain to ask the HVAC tech school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Online Courses
Enrolling in an HVAC school online is one possibility in attaining your education and receiving a certificate or degree. Most schools will call for some attendance on campus to participate in practical training. Many also offer internship or work-study programs in addition to or instead of practical lab work. But since the remainder of the classes may be participated in via the internet, this alternative may be a more accessible solution for many Casa Grande AZ students that are short on time. And many online degree programs are less costly than other on campus choices. Even commuting expenses from Casa Grande and study supplies may be minimized, helping to make schooling more budget-friendly. And many online programs are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your job or family obligations have left you with little time to attend classes, maybe an HVAC online training program will make it less complicated to accommodate school into your hectic schedule.
Questions to Ask HVAC Trade Schools
When you have chosen the type of certificate or degree that you want to attain, either on campus or online, you can begin to narrow down your selection of schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are a large number of HVAC trade 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 checklist of key qualifiers when making school comparisons. As formerly stated in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will probably be the initial 2 variables you will look at. Following are some additional ones that you will want to explore before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Numerous HVAC vocational programs in the Casa Grande AZ area have attained either a regional or a national accreditation. They may receive Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to a specific program, for instance HVAC technology. Make sure that the program is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting organization, for instance the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping ensure that you obtain an excellent education, it may help in acquiring financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently unavailable for non-accredited programs. Furthermore, some states require that the HVAC training program be accredited for it to be approved for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the HVAC schools you are considering what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage of students who enroll in and complete the program. A low completion rate may suggest that students were dissatisfied with the course and quit. It might also signify that the teachers were not qualified to instruct the students. It's similarly essential that the schools have higher 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 use for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate will not only confirm that the school has a good reputation within the industry, but also that it has the network of Casa Grande AZ HVAC employers to help students acquire apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. Many 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 within their network of Heating and Cooling contractors or trade unions. Check if the schools you are comparing have referring partnerships with local Casa Grande AZ HVAC contractors. An apprenticeship not only provides a valuable experience by furnishing hands-on training, but it also supplies employment opportunities and helps to build relationships in the area HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make sure 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 specialist you are working with regarding what you should be looking for. If not, ask a local Casa Grande AZ HVAC contracting company if they can provide some pointers. Also bear in mind that unless you are able to move, the school needs to be within driving distance of your Casa Grande AZ home. Remember that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides the added relocation costs there can be higher tuition charges compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's desirable that you receive as much personalized training as possible, which can be challenging in larger classes. Ask if you can monitor some of the classes so that you can see how large they are and experience the interaction between students and teachers. Speak with some of the students and get their comments relating to class sizes and instruction. Finally, speak with some of the teachers and learn what their level of expertise is and what degrees or certifications they hold.
Flexible Scheduling. Make sure that the class schedules for the schools you are evaluating are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you are only able to go to classes at night or on weekends near Casa Grande AZ, check that the programs you are comparing provide those options. If you can only attend part-time, be sure that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Additionally, find out what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, illness or family emergencies.
Get Your Heating and Cooling Certificate or Degree
Finding the right HVAC training course is a crucial beginning toward a gratifying career in the heating & cooling industry. As we have addressed in this article, you need to pick a Heating and Cooling training program and a certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have outstanding reputations within the HVAC field. Other things to look for are ample hands-on training and modern facilities. You should check out each of the schools personally that you are most interested in to tour the campus and talk with both the faculty and current students. Attempt to get a feel for the quality of the training 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 inquire about financial assistance and student loan options as well. If you ask the proper questions as we have laid out in our guidelines for assessing schools, you'll be able to narrow down your options so that you can make an informed decision. With the appropriate training, hard work and commitment, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC technician in Casa Grande AZ.