How to Select the Right Heating and Cooling Certification Class near Casa Grande Arizona
Now that you have made a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioning technician, the next action is to locate an HVAC technical school near Casa Grande AZ. But with so many to select from, how do you select the ideal one to receive the training that you require? Some potential students will make their choice based exclusively on the price of tuition or how close the school is to their home. Although these are relevant factors to consider, they are not the only ones to take into account. A few 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 benchmarks will be discussed in more detail later within this article. But before we tackle how to choose an HVAC vocational school, let's look at what a heating and air conditioning technician does to become a licensed skilled tradesman.
How to Become an HVAC Professional
HVAC is an acronym that is widely used in the business that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC professionals specialize in the installation, repair and maintenance of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are commonly mandated to be licensed, although every state and local municipality has its own prerequisites. Earning professional certification is not mandatory, but a voluntary means for Casa Grande AZ HVAC specialists to demonstrate that they are exceptionally qualified and experienced in their area of specialization. There are multiple acknowledged certifications within the field that are available. Following are some of the important ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally recognized certification for HVAC techs. The certification is achieved by passing a proficiency exam and may be acquired in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification makes available both a professional and a master specialist credential. 2 years of professional experience in addition to passing a comprehensive exam are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have three years of experience as well as a passing score on the professional level examination. Similar to NATE, certifications are offered in various specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is required for specialists that work with refrigerants. There are three types of certification offered, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Since licensing could be required in your location, and you may also intend to obtain certification, it's important that you choose an HVAC technical school that will train you for both. And since you will probably be dealing with refrigerants, make certain that the school you select preps you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.
HVAC Degree Courses
There are several choices offered for HVAC training in a vocational or trade school. You can attain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Obtaining a certificate will take the minimum amount of time, typically accomplished in just six months, however some courses are longer. A certificate will train you for most HVAC positions, particularly if you are licensed and have certification relevant to the position. The degree training programs might provide a competitive edge in the job market and will deliver more comprehensive training than the certificate programs. Following is a short summary of each option offered near Casa Grande AZ.
- Certificate. Generally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among entry level commercial or residential HVAC specialists. They furnish a solid foundation of skills for employment within the industry.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program supplies a more comprehensive understanding of heating and a/c 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 tailored more towards a career in management as well as business ownership. Some programs require an Associate Degree, while others are a standard 4 year program. In addition to being taught how to service and maintain heating and air conditioning systems, you will also learn how to design them.
Selecting the right credential program will be dependent on what your long term career aspirations are, together with the time and money that you have to invest. One possibility is to begin with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after gaining some experience in the field in Casa Grande AZ, subsequently returning to acquire a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your strategy, make sure to ask the HVAC technician school you are considering about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Training Online
Enrolling in an HVAC school online is one possibility in attaining your training and earning a degree or certificate. Nearly all schools will call for some attendance on campus to complete hands on training. Some also sponsor internship or work-study programs in addition to or instead of practical lab work. But since the rest of the classes can be participated in on the web, this alternative may be a more convenient solution for some Casa Grande AZ students that are pressed for time. And a number of online degree programs are more economical than other traditional choices. Even commuting expenses from Casa Grande and study materials may be lessened, helping to make schooling more budget-friendly. And many online programs are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your job or family commitments 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 active lifestyle.
Questions For HVAC Schools
Once you have decided on the type of degree or certificate that you want to acquire, either online or on campus, you can start to decrease your list of schools. As you are probably aware, there are many HVAC vocational schools in the Casa Grande AZ area and across the Country to choose from. That's why it is very important to have a list of key qualifiers when making school assessments. As earlier mentioned in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will probably be the initial 2 aspects you will look at. Following are some additional ones that you should explore before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Many HVAC technical schools in the Casa Grande AZ area have acquired either a regional or a national accreditation. They can receive 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 is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting agency, for example the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping guarantee that you obtain an excellent education, it may assist in securing financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently not available for non-accredited schools. Additionally, some states require that the HVAC training course be accredited in order to be approved for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the Heating and Air Conditioning schools you are looking at 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 disappointed with the program and quit. It might also indicate that the teachers were not qualified to instruct the students. It's similarly imperative that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader directory of graduates, which can produce 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 a good reputation within the trade, but also that it has the network of Casa Grande AZ HVAC employers to help graduates obtain apprenticeships or jobs.
Apprenticeship Programs. A large number of HVAC training programs are taught in conjunction with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating vocational and technical schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of HVAC companies or trade unions. Check if the schools you are considering have referring partnerships with local Casa Grande AZ HVAC professionals. An apprenticeship not only provides a valuable experience by furnishing hands-on training, but it also provides employment opportunities and helps to form relationships in the regional HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Confirm that the campus facilities and the tools that you will be instructed on are state-of-the-art and what you will be working with in the field. If you are already in an internship or an apprenticeship, check with 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 give you some suggestions. Also keep in mind that unless you can move, the school needs to be within commuting distance of your Casa Grande AZ residence. Remember that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to moving costs there might be higher tuition charges compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's important that you get as much one-on-one instruction as possible, which can be difficult in larger classes. Ask if you can sit in on a few of the classes so that you can see how big they are and experience the interaction between students and teachers. Talk with some of the students and get their opinions regarding class sizes and instruction. Last, speak to a few of the instructors and find out what their level of expertise is and what certifications or degrees they have earned.
Flexible Scheduling. Verify that the class schedules for the programs you are evaluating are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you are only able to attend classes at night or on weekends near Casa Grande AZ, confirm that the programs you are considering offer those choices. 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, illness or family responsibilities.
Learn More About Casa Grande HVAC Programs Near You
Earn Your HVAC Training and Certification
Picking the right HVAC school course is a crucial first step toward a fulfilling career in the heating & cooling trade. As we have discussed 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 excellent reputations within the HVAC trade. Other features to look for are plenty of practical training and modern facilities. You need to visit each of the schools in person that you are most interested in to explore the campus and talk with both the faculty and current students. Attempt to get a feel for the quality of the teaching and the interaction between them. Also, inquire about scheduling choices and whether night 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 outlined in our checklist for evaluating schools, you'll be able to filter your choices so that you can make an informed decision. With the right training, hard work and commitment, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC technician in Casa Grande AZ.