How to Select the Right HVAC School near Casa Grande Arizona
Now that you have made a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioner technician, the next action is to choose an HVAC trade school near Casa Grande AZ. But with so many to select from, how do you choose the best one to obtain the training that you require? Many potential students will make their choice based entirely on the price of tuition or how near the school is to their residence. Although these are significant considerations, they are not the only ones to evaluate. A few of the other factors that you need to research are the graduation rates of the HVAC schools, their reputations, and if they are accredited by professional trade organizations. Those and additional criteria will be addressed in more detail later within this article. But before we explore how to choose an HVAC trade school, let's take a look at what a heating and a/c professional does to become a licensed skilled tradesman.
How to Become an HVAC Pro
HVAC is an acronym that is commonly used in the industry that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC contractors specialize in the installation, maintenance and repair of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are generally mandated to be licensed, though every state and regional municipality has its own prerequisites. Acquiring professional certification is not compulsory, but a voluntary means for Casa Grande AZ HVAC technicians to establish that they are highly qualified and experienced in their area of expertise. There are multiple respected certifications within the trade that are offered. Here are some of the significant ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally acknowledged certification for HVAC techs. The certification is attained by passing a competency examination and can be earned in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification offers both a professional and a master specialist credential. 2 years of professional experience as well as passing a comprehensive examination are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have 3 years of experience as well as a passing result on the professional level exam. Similar to NATE, certifications are offered in several specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is mandatory for technicians that work with refrigerants. There are 3 types of certification obtainable, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Since licensing may be mandated in your location, and you may also intend to obtain certification, it's important that you pick an HVAC trade school that will train you for both. And since you will most likely be dealing with refrigerants, make certain that the program you pick prepares you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.
HVAC Degree Schools
There are several choices available for HVAC training 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, often accomplished in as little as six months, though some programs are longer. A certificate will train you for the majority of HVAC positions, especially if you are licensed and have certification applicable to the position. The degree training programs may provide a competitive advantage in the job market and will furnish more comprehensive training than the certificate programs. Below is a brief description 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 employment within the industry.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program supplies a more extensive understanding of heating and a/c systems than the certificate program. Normally requiring 2 years to finish, a number of 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 as well as business ownership. Some programs call for an Associate Degree, while others are a standard 4 year program. In addition to mastering how to service and maintain heating and cooling systems, you will also learn how to design them.
Choosing the right credential program will be based on what your long term career objectives are, in addition to the time and financial resources that you have to commit. One option is to start with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after getting some experience in the field in Casa Grande AZ, later going back to obtain 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 Online Courses
Choosing an HVAC program online is one possibility in attaining your education and receiving a certificate or degree. Almost all schools will call for some attendance on campus to complete practical training. Some also offer 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 participated in via the internet, this option may be a more convenient solution for some Casa Grande AZ students that are short on time. And some online degree programs are more economical than other on campus choices. Even travelling expenses from Casa Grande and study materials can be lessened, helping to make schooling more budget-friendly. And numerous online programs are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your career or family commitments have left you with minimal time to attend classes, maybe an HVAC online training program will make it more convenient to fit school into your active schedule.
What to Ask HVAC Training Classes
As soon as you have chosen the type of degree or certificate that you wish to earn, either on campus or online, you can begin to limit your list of schools. As you are probably aware, there are a large number of HVAC trade schools in the Casa Grande AZ area and across the Country to select from. That's why it is very important to have a checklist of important qualifiers when making school evaluations. As formerly mentioned in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will probably be the first two variables you will take into consideration. 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 acquire Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to an individual program, for instance HVAC technology. Make sure that the school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency, which includes the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping make certain that you receive a quality education, it may help in securing financial aid or student loans, which are frequently not available for non-accredited schools. Also, many states mandate that the HVAC training course be accredited for it to be approved 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 or portion of students who enroll in and complete the course. A low completion rate might signify that students were dissatisfied with the program and quit. It may also signify that the instructors were not competent to instruct the students. It's also essential that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive list of alumni, which can produce more contacts for the school to use 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 also that it has the network of Casa Grande AZ HVAC employers to assist grads secure apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. Many HVAC training programs are taught along with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating technical and vocational programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of HVAC companies or trade unions. Find out if the schools you are considering have referring partnerships with local Casa Grande AZ HVAC professionals. An apprenticeship not only provides a rewarding experience by furnishing hands-on training, but it also furnishes employment opportunities and helps to build relationships in the area HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make certain that the school facilities and the equipment that you will be trained on are up-to-date and what you will be using on the job. If you are already in an internship or an apprenticeship, check with the HVAC technician you are working with regarding what you should be expecting. Otherwise, ask a local Casa Grande AZ HVAC contractor if they can give you some pointers. Also keep in mind that unless you can relocate, the school needs to be within driving distance of your Casa Grande AZ residence. Take note that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to moving costs there can be higher tuition charges compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's important that you receive as much one-on-one instruction as possible, which can be challenging in larger 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 students and teachers. Speak to a few of the students and get their comments concerning class sizes and instruction. Last, talk with a few of the instructors and learn what their level of experience is and what degrees or certifications they hold.
Flexible Scheduling. Confirm that the class schedules for the programs you are assessing are flexible enough to fulfill 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 looking at provide those options. If you can only attend part-time, make sure that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Also, ask what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Get Your Heating and Cooling Certificate or Degree
Finding the right HVAC school course is an important first step toward a gratifying career in the heating and air conditioning industry. As we have addressed in this article, you should select a Heating and Cooling training program and a certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have excellent reputations within the HVAC field. Other factors to search for are plenty of hands-on training and state-of-the-art facilities. You should visit each of the schools personally that you are most interested in to tour 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. Additionally, inquire about scheduling choices and if night or weekend classes are offered if needed. And remember to ask about financial aid and student loan options as well. If you ask the right questions as we have outlined in our checklist for comparing schools, you'll be able to filter your options so that you can make an educated decision. With the appropriate training, hard work and dedication, you can eventually become a licensed HVAC specialist in Casa Grande AZ.