How to Pick the Right HVAC Program near Casas Adobes Arizona
Now that you have made a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioner professional, the next step is to look for an HVAC vocational school near Casas Adobes AZ. But with so many to select from, how do you choose the best one to get the training that you require? A number of prospective students will make their decision based solely on the cost of tuition or how near the school is to their residence. While these are important factors to consider, they are not the only ones to investigate. Just some of the other things that you need to research 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 in this article. But before we tackle how to pick an HVAC trade school, let's take a look at what a heating and air conditioning specialist does to become a licensed professional tradesman.
How to Become an HVAC Contractor
HVAC is an acronym that is frequently used in the industry that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC contractors specialize in the installation, repair and maintenance of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are typically mandated to be licensed, although every state and regional municipality has its own requirements. Attaining professional certification is not compulsory, but an optional way for Casas Adobes AZ HVAC specialists to prove that they are exceptionally skilled and knowledgeable in their area of expertise. There are several acknowledged certifications within the industry 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 proficiency examination 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 as well as passing a comprehensive examination are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have three years of experience along with a passing result on the professional level examination. As with NATE, certifications are offered in several specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is necessary for techs 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 required in your area, and you may also wish to obtain certification, it's important that you choose an HVAC trade school that will prepare you for both. And since you will probably be dealing with refrigerants, make certain that the program you pick prepares you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.
HVAC Degree and Certificate Classes
There are several options available for HVAC training in a technical or trade school. You can earn a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Obtaining a certificate will take the least period of time, often completed in as little as six months, however some courses are longer. A certificate will train you for most HVAC positions, especially if you are licensed and have certification applicable to the position. The degree programs can provide a competitive edge in the job market and will deliver more extensive training than the certificate programs. Following is a brief summary of each credential offered near Casas Adobes AZ.
- Certificate. Usually requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among entry level commercial or residential HVAC professionals. They furnish a strong foundation of skills for job opportunities within the trade.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program supplies a more extensive knowledge of heating and a/c systems than the certificate program. Typically taking 2 years to complete, 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 or even business ownership. Some programs require an Associate Degree, while others are a traditional 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.
Selecting the right credential program will be based on what your long term career goals are, together with the time and financial resources that you have to invest. One option is to start with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after getting some experience in the field in Casas Adobes AZ, later returning to earn a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your strategy, make sure to ask the HVAC tech school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Courses Online
Choosing an HVAC program online is one approach to obtaining your education and receiving a degree or certificate. Almost all schools will require some attendance on campus to take part in practical training. A number also sponsor internship or work-study programs in addition to or in place of practical lab work. But since the rest of the classes may be attended on the web, this option may be a more accessible solution for some Casas Adobes AZ students that are short on time. And some online degree programs are cheaper than other on campus options. Even commuting expenses from Casas Adobes and study materials can be reduced, helping to make education more budget-friendly. And a large number of online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your career or family responsibilities 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 active schedule.
Questions to Ask HVAC Trade Schools
After you have decided on the type of degree or certificate that you want to obtain, either online or on campus, you can begin to limit your selection of schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are a large number of HVAC technical schools in the Casas Adobes AZ area and across the Country to pick from. That's why it is very important to have a checklist of key qualifiers when making school assessments. As earlier mentioned in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will undoubtedly be the first two factors you will look at. Following are some additional ones that you need to explore before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Many HVAC technical schools in the Casas Adobes AZ area have received 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, such as HVAC technology. Verify that the program is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization, which includes the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping make certain that you obtain an excellent education, it may assist in securing financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently unavailable for non-accredited programs. Also, a number of states mandate 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 portion or percentage of students who enroll in and finish the course. A low completion rate could suggest that students were dissatisfied with the course and quit. It could also suggest that the teachers were not competent to train the students. It's also imperative that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader list of alumni, which may mean more contacts for the school to employ for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate will not only validate that the school has a good reputation within the industry, but also that it has the network of Casas Adobes AZ HVAC employers to assist grads acquire apprenticeships or jobs.
Apprenticeship Programs. Numerous HVAC technical programs are taught in conjunction with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating trade and vocational programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of HVAC contractors or trade unions. Ask if the schools you are reviewing have working partnerships with local Casas Adobes AZ HVAC companies. An apprenticeship not only offers a valuable experience by furnishing practical training, but it also supplies job opportunities and helps to establish relationships in the regional HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Confirm that the school facilities and the tools that you will be instructed on are state-of-the-art and what you will be working with on the job. If you are already in an internship or an apprenticeship, consult with the HVAC tech you are working with concerning what you should be expecting. If not, ask a local Casas Adobes AZ HVAC contracting company if they can provide some suggestions. Additionally keep in mind that unless you are able to move, the school must be within commuting distance of your Casas Adobes AZ home. Remember that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, in addition to moving costs there may be increased tuition charges compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's important that you receive as much one-on-one training as possible, which can be challenging in larger classes. Ask if you can monitor a few of the classes so that you can see how large they are and experience the interaction between students and teachers. Speak to some of the students and get their opinions concerning class sizes and instruction. Finally, talk with a few of the instructors and learn what their level of experience is and what certifications or degrees they have earned.
Flexible Scheduling. Make sure that the class schedules for the programs you are evaluating are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you are only able to attend classes at night or on weekends near Casas Adobes AZ, confirm that the schools you are looking at provide those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, be sure that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Additionally, ask what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Earn Your HVAC Certificate or Degree
Finding the right HVAC training course is an important beginning toward a fulfilling career in the heating and air conditioning field. As we have discussed in this article, you need to choose 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 features to search for are lots of practical training and state-of-the-art facilities. You need to check out each of the schools personally 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. In addition, inquire about scheduling choices and whether or not night or weekend classes are available if needed. And remember to ask about financial assistance and student loan options as well. If you ask the proper questions as we have outlined in our guidelines for comparing schools, you'll be able to filter your options so that you can make an informed decision. With the right training, hard work and dedication, you can eventually become a licensed HVAC professional in Casas Adobes AZ.