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How to Enroll In the Right HVAC Degree Program near Casa Grande Arizona

Casa Grande Arizona residential A/C condensersNow that you have made a decision on a career as a heating and cooling technician, the next action is to locate an HVAC technical school near Casa Grande AZ. But with so many to choose from, how do you pick the ideal one to get the training that you require? A number of prospective students will make their selection based solely on the cost of tuition or how near the school is to their home. Even though these are relevant considerations, they are not the only ones to investigate. A few of the other things that you need to look into are the graduation rates of the HVAC schools, their reputations, and if they are accredited by professional trade organizations. These and other criteria will be discussed in more detail later in this article. But before we examine how to select an HVAC trade school, let's take a look at what a heating and air conditioning professional does to become a licensed qualified tradesman.

Becoming an HVAC Technician

Casa Grande Arizona HVAC Contractor inspecting A/C condenserHVAC is an acronym that is frequently used in the business that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC contractors provide services for the installation, maintenance and repair of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are typically mandated to be licensed, though every state and local municipality has its own prerequisites. Obtaining professional certification is not mandatory, but a voluntary way for Casa Grande AZ HVAC techs to establish that they are exceptionally qualified and experienced in their area of expertise. There are many acknowledged certifications within the industry that are available. 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 proficiency examination and can 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 together with passing a comprehensive examination are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have 3 years of experience along with a passing result on the professional level exam. Similar to NATE, certifications are made available in various specialties.
  • EPA Section 608. This certification is necessary for techs that handle refrigerants. There are three types of certification obtainable, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.

Since licensing may be required in your location, and you may also desire to obtain certification, it's essential that you choose an HVAC vocational school that will prepare you for both. And since you will probably be dealing with refrigerants, make sure that the program you pick preps you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.

HVAC Degree and Certificate Classes

Casa Grande Arizona home heating pump

There are a number of options offered for HVAC instruction in a technical or trade school. You can attain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Acquiring a certificate will take the least period of time, often accomplished in as little as 6 months, however some courses are longer. A certificate will qualify you for the majority of 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 deliver more in-depth training than the certificate programs. Below is a brief explanation of each option offered near Casa Grande AZ.

  • Certificate. Normally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among beginning residential or commercial HVAC professionals. They provide a solid foundation of skills for employment within the trade.
  • Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program supplies a more detailed understanding of heating & cooling systems than the certificate program. Usually taking 2 years to finish, many 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 conventional 4 year program. In addition to being taught how to service and maintain heating and cooling systems, you will also learn how to design them.

Picking the right credential program will be dependent on what your long term career goals are, together with the time and money that you have to invest. One possibility is to start with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after acquiring some experience in the field in Casa Grande AZ, later returning to acquire a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your strategy, make certain to ask the HVAC technician school you are considering about how their returning student program works.

HVAC Online Training

Enrolling in an HVAC school online is one alternative to attaining your education and receiving a degree or certificate. Nearly all schools will call for some attendance on campus to complete hands on training. Many also provide internship or work-study programs in addition to or instead of practical lab work. But since the rest of the classes may be participated in on the web, this option may be a more accessible solution for many Casa Grande AZ students that are pressed for time. And many online degree programs are less costly than other on campus options. Even driving expenses from Casa Grande and study supplies may be minimized, helping to make schooling more budget-friendly. And a large number of online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your work or family obligations have left you with little time to attend classes, perhaps an online HVAC degree program will make it more convenient to fit school into your active schedule.

What to Ask HVAC Certification Classes

Casa Grande Arizona Heating and Cooling contractor installing water heater

After you have decided on the type of certificate or degree that you desire to obtain, either on campus or online, you can start to narrow down your list 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 United States to choose from. That's why it is imperative to have a checklist of relevant qualifiers when making school comparisons. As earlier stated in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will probably be the initial two factors you will consider. Following are some additional ones that you should investigate before enrolling in your school of choice.

Accreditation.  A large number of HVAC vocational programs in the Casa Grande AZ area have earned either a regional or a national accreditation. They can acquire Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to an individual program, such as HVAC technology. Verify that the program and school are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency, for example the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping ensure that you receive a quality education, it can help in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are often not available for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of states require that the HVAC training program be accredited in order 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 of students who enroll in and complete the course. A lower completion rate may indicate that students were unhappy with the program and dropped out. It might also indicate that the instructors were not qualified to instruct the students. It's also important that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader list of graduates, which can result in more contacts for the school to use 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 secure apprenticeships or employment.

Apprenticeship Programs.  Many HVAC training programs are taught along with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating technical and vocational schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of HVAC companies or trade unions. Ask if the schools you are considering have working partnerships with local Casa Grande AZ HVAC specialists. An apprenticeship not only provides a valuable experience by supplying practical training, but it also supplies job opportunities and helps to establish relationships in the area HVAC professional community.

Modern Facilities.  Make sure that the school 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, check 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 provide some tips. Also keep in mind that unless you are willing to relocate, the school needs to be within driving distance of your Casa Grande AZ home. Take note that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides the added relocation costs there can be increased tuition charges compared to in-state residents.

Smaller Classes.   It's desirable that you get as much individualized instruction as possible, which can be difficult in larger classes. Ask if you can sit in on some of the classes so that you can see how big they are and experience the interaction between students and teachers. Speak with a few of the students and get their feedback regarding class sizes and instruction. Last, speak to some of the instructors and find out what their level of experience 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 fulfill your needs. If you are only able to attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Casa Grande AZ, check that the schools you are looking at provide those choices. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Also, ask what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, illness or family responsibilities.

Find Out More About Casa Grande HVAC Programs Near You

Get Your HVAC Degree and Certification

Choosing the right HVAC school course is an important beginning toward a gratifying career in the heating and air conditioning trade. As we have covered in this article, you need to select a Heating and Cooling training program and a degree or certificate program that are both accredited and have outstanding reputations within the HVAC trade. Other factors to search for are sufficient practical training and modern facilities. You should go to each of the schools in person that you are most interested in to tour the campus and speak 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 options and whether evening or weekend classes are offered if needed. And don't forget to inquire about financial assistance and student loan options too. If you ask the proper questions as we have laid out in our guidelines for comparing schools, you'll be able to filter your choices so that you can make an informed decision. With the appropriate training, hard work and commitment, you can eventually become a licensed HVAC specialist in Casa Grande AZ.