How to Enroll In the Right HVAC Program near Casa Grande Arizona
Once you have made a decision on a career as a heating and cooling technician, the next step is to locate an HVAC vocational school near Casa Grande AZ. But with so many to choose from, how do you pick the best one to obtain the training that you require? A number of prospective students will make their choice based solely on the cost of tuition or how close the school is to their home. While these are important factors to consider, they are not the only ones to evaluate. A few of the other details 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 other benchmarks will be addressed in more detail later within this article. But before we examine how to select an HVAC vocational school, let's look at what a heating and cooling specialist does to become a licensed qualified tradesman.
How to Become an HVAC Specialist
HVAC is an acronym that is commonly used in the business that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC contractors specialize in the installation, repair and maintenance of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are typically required to be licensed, though every state and local municipality has its own prerequisites. Obtaining professional certification is not compulsory, but an alternative way for Casa Grande AZ HVAC specialists to establish that they are exceptionally qualified and experienced in their area of expertise. There are several acknowledged certifications within the trade that are offered. Below are some of the important ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally acknowledged certification for HVAC technicians. The certification is earned by passing a competency exam and may be acquired in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification offers both a professional and a master specialist credential. 2 years of field experience together with passing a comprehensive exam are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have 3 years of experience together with a passing result on the professional level examination. Similar to NATE, certifications are offered in several specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is required for specialists that work with refrigerants. There are three forms of certification offered, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Because licensing may be mandated in your location, and you may also desire to earn certification, it's essential that you choose an HVAC technical school that will train you for both. And since you will probably be working with refrigerants, make sure that the program you decide on readies you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.
HVAC Degree and Certificate Training Programs
There are a variety of alternatives offered for HVAC instruction in a vocational or trade school. You can attain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Acquiring a certificate will take the minimum period of time, typically achieved in just 6 months, however some programs are longer. A certificate will qualify you for most HVAC positions, particularly if you are licensed and have certification applicable to the position. The degree training programs might provide a competitive advantage in the job market and will provide more extensive training than the certificate programs. Following is a short explanation of each credential offered near Casa Grande AZ.
- Certificate. Usually requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among beginning commercial or residential HVAC technicians. They provide a strong foundation of skills for job opportunities within the industry.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program delivers a more comprehensive background of heating and a/c systems than the certificate program. Usually taking two years to finish, a number of degrees include 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 cooling systems, you will also study how to design them.
Picking the ideal credential program will be dependent on what your long term career goals are, along with the time and money that you have to commit. One approach is to begin with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after acquiring some experience in the field in Casa Grande AZ, eventually returning to earn a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your tactic, make sure to ask the HVAC technician school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Courses Online
Enrolling in an HVAC program online is one possibility in attaining your education and earning a degree or certificate. Most schools will call for some attendance on campus to take part in practical training. Some also provide internship or work-study programs in addition to or as an alternative to practical lab work. But since the rest of the classes may be attended online, this option may be a more convenient solution for many Casa Grande AZ students that are short on time. And a number of online degree programs are more economical than other on campus alternatives. Even driving expenses from Casa Grande and study supplies can be minimized, helping to make education more affordable. And a large number of online programs are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your work or family obligations have left you with minimal time to attend classes, maybe an online HVAC degree program will make it more convenient to fit school into your hectic lifestyle.
What to Ask HVAC Training Programs
Once you have chosen the type of degree or certificate that you would like 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 trade schools in the Casa Grande AZ area and all over the United States to choose from. That's why it is very important to have a list of important qualifiers when making school comparisons. As formerly stated in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will probably be the initial two factors you will look at. Following are some additional ones that you should explore before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. A large number of HVAC vocational schools in the Casa Grande AZ area have earned either a regional or a national accreditation. They can attain Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to a specific program, for instance HVAC technology. Confirm that the school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency, such as the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping guarantee that you obtain a superior education, it can assist in acquiring financial assistance or student loans, which are in many cases not available for non-accredited schools. Additionally, some states require that the HVAC training program be accredited in order to be approved for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the Heating and Cooling schools you are reviewing what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage or portion of students who enroll in and finish the course. A lower completion rate could indicate that students were dissatisfied with the course and quit. It might also mean that the instructors were not competent 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 broader directory of graduates, which can mean more contacts for the school to utilize for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate can not only affirm that the school has a good reputation within the field, but also that it has the network of Casa Grande AZ HVAC employers to help graduates acquire apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. Numerous HVAC training programs are taught along with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating technical and vocational schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of Heating and Cooling businesses or labor unions. Ask if the schools you are comparing have referring relationships with local Casa Grande AZ HVAC specialists. An apprenticeship not only provides a rewarding experience by supplying practical training, but it also supplies employment 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 instructed 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 tech you are working under regarding what you should be expecting. If not, ask a local Casa Grande AZ HVAC contractor if they can give you some pointers. Also bear in mind that unless you can move, the school needs to be within commuting 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 may be higher tuition charges compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's important that you receive as much individualized instruction as possible, which can be difficult in bigger classes. Ask if you can monitor a few of the classes so that you can observe how large they are and witness first hand the interaction between students and instructors. Speak with some of the students and get their opinions concerning class sizes and instruction. Finally, speak with a few of the instructors and find out what their level of experience 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 handle your needs. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Casa Grande AZ, confirm that the programs you are looking at provide those options. If you can only attend part-time, be sure that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Additionally, find out what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, illness or family issues.
Earn Your HVAC Certificate or Degree
Choosing the right HVAC training course is a crucial beginning toward a rewarding career in the heating and air conditioning field. As we have covered in this article, you should pick a Heating and Cooling training program and a certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have outstanding reputations within the HVAC community. Other features to look for are ample practical training and modern facilities. You need to visit 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. Try to get a feel for the quality of the instruction and the interaction between them. Also, inquire about scheduling options and if evening or weekend classes are offered if needed. And don't forget to ask about financial aid and student loan options also. If you ask the right questions as we have laid out in our guidelines for evaluating schools, you'll be able to filter your choices 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.