How to Pick the Right Heating and Cooling Training Program near Casas Adobes Arizona
Once you have decided on a career as a heating and air conditioning specialist, the next action is to look for an HVAC vocational school near Casas Adobes AZ. But with so many to choose from, how do you pick the best one to receive the training that you need? A number of future students will make their choice based solely on the price of tuition or how near the school is to their residence. Even though these are relevant considerations, they are not the only ones to evaluate. Just some of the other factors that you need to investigate are the graduation rates of the HVAC schools, their reputations, and if they are accredited by professional trade organizations. Those and other criteria will be addressed in more detail later in this article. But before we tackle how to choose an HVAC trade school, let's take a look at what a heating and air conditioning contractor does to become a licensed skilled tradesman.
Becoming an HVAC Tech
HVAC is an acronym that is frequently used in the business that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC technicians specialize in the installation, maintenance and repair of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are typically required to be licensed, although every state and local municipality has its own requirements. Acquiring professional certification is not required, but an alternative means for Casas Adobes AZ HVAC technicians to demonstrate that they are highly skilled and accomplished in their area of specialization. There are a number of recognized certifications within the trade that are offered. Following are some of the important ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally recognized certification for HVAC technicians. The certification is attained by passing a competency exam and can be acquired in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification makes available both a professional and a master specialist credential. Two years of field experience in addition to passing a comprehensive examination are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have three 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 required for technicians that work with refrigerants. There are 3 forms of certification offered, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Considering that licensing could be required in your location, and you may also desire to acquire certification, it's important that you choose an HVAC technical school that will prepare you for both. And since you will more than likely be dealing with refrigerants, make certain that the program you choose preps you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
HVAC Degree and Certificate Training Programs
There are a number of choices available for HVAC instruction in a technical or vocational 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 achieved in as little as six months, however some programs 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 training programs might provide a competitive edge for securing employment and will provide more in-depth training than the certificate programs. Following is a short explanation of each option offered near Casas Adobes AZ.
- Certificate. Normally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among beginning residential or commercial HVAC professionals. They provide a strong foundation of skills for job opportunities 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. Generally requiring two years to complete, a number of degrees include an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is geared more for a career in management or even 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 learn how to design them.
Choosing the appropriate credential program will be based on what your future career goals are, as well as the time and financial resources that you have to commit. One option is to begin with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after gaining some experience in the trade in Casas Adobes AZ, subsequently returning to acquire a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your approach, make certain to ask the HVAC technician school you are considering about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Training Online
Attending an HVAC program online is one approach to getting your education and receiving a certificate or degree. Nearly all schools will require some attendance on campus to complete hands on training. Some also offer 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 alternative may be a more practical solution for many Casas Adobes AZ students that are short on time. And a number of online degree programs are cheaper than other traditional options. Even driving expenses from Casas Adobes and study materials can be minimized, helping to make education more economical. And many online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your work or family responsibilities have left you with little time to attend classes, maybe an HVAC online training program will make it easier to accommodate school into your busy schedule.
What to Ask HVAC Certification Courses
After you have chosen the type of certificate or degree that you want to obtain, either online or on campus, you can start to limit your list of schools. As you are probably aware, there are many HVAC trade schools in the Casas Adobes AZ area and all over the USA to pick from. That's why it is very important to have a list of relevant qualifications when making school assessments. As previously stated in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will probably be the first 2 aspects you will look at. Following are some additional ones that you need to investigate before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. A large number of HVAC technical programs in the Casas Adobes AZ area have attained either a regional or a national accreditation. They may earn Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to an individual program, for instance HVAC technology. Make certain that the school and program are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting agency, which includes the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping ensure that you get an excellent education, it may help in securing financial aid or student loans, which are in many cases not available for non-accredited schools. Furthermore, some states require that the HVAC training program 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 or portion of students who enroll in and complete the course. A low completion rate might signify that students were unhappy with the program and quit. It might also signify that the teachers were not qualified to instruct the students. It's also imperative that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive directory of alumni, which can result in more contacts for the school to employ for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate can not only confirm that the school has a good reputation within the trade, but also that it has the network of Casas Adobes AZ HVAC employers to help grads acquire apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. A large number of HVAC technical programs are taught together with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating technical and vocational schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of Heating and Cooling companies or trade unions. Find out if the schools you are considering have referring relationships with local Casas Adobes AZ HVAC specialists. An apprenticeship not only provides a valuable experience by supplying practical training, but it also furnishes employment opportunities and helps to establish relationships in the area HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make sure that the campus facilities and the equipment that you will be trained on are state-of-the-art and what you will be working with on the job. If you are presently in an internship or an apprenticeship, check with the HVAC technician you are working with concerning what you should be looking for. If not, ask a local Casas Adobes AZ HVAC contracting company if they can give you some suggestions. Additionally bear in mind that unless you are willing to move, the school must be within driving distance of your Casas Adobes AZ home. Remember that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation costs there can be increased tuition fees compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's desirable that you get as much personalized training as possible, which can be difficult in larger classes. Ask if you can sit in on some of the classes so that you can observe how large they are and experience the interaction between students and instructors. Talk to a few of the students and get their opinions relating to class sizes and instruction. Finally, talk to a few of the instructors and learn what their level of expertise 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 meet your needs. If you are only able to attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Casas Adobes AZ, confirm that the programs you are considering offer those choices. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Finally, check out what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, illness or family responsibilities.
Earn Your HVAC Training and Certification
Selecting the ideal HVAC training program is a crucial beginning toward a rewarding 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 outstanding reputations within the HVAC community. Other factors to look for are sufficient hands-on training and state-of-the-art facilities. You need to visit each of the schools in person that you are most interested in to inspect the campus and speak with both the current students and faculty. Try to get a feel for the quality of the teaching and the interaction between them. In addition, ask about scheduling options and whether or not evening or weekend classes are available if needed. And don't forget to inquire about financial assistance and student loan options also. If you ask the proper questions as we have detailed in our checklist for evaluating schools, you'll be able to narrow down your choices so that you can make an informed decision. With the proper training, hard work and commitment, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC specialist in Casas Adobes AZ.