How to Find the Right HVAC Certification Training near Catalina Foothills Arizona
Once you have decided on a career as a heating and cooling professional, the next action is to look for an HVAC trade school near Catalina Foothills AZ. But with so many to select from, how do you choose the best one to get the training that you need? A number of prospective students will make their decision based exclusively on the cost of tuition or how near the school is to their home. Although these are necessary considerations, they are not the only ones to evaluate. A few of the other factors that you need to look into are the graduation completion rates of the HVAC schools, their reputations, and if they are accredited by professional trade organizations. These and additional criteria will be covered in more detail later within this article. But before we discuss how to choose an HVAC vocational school, let's take a look at what a heating and a/c specialist does to become a licensed professional tradesman.
Becoming an HVAC Technician
HVAC is an acronym that is widely used in the industry that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC technicians 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 generally mandated to be licensed, although every state and local municipality has its own criteria. Acquiring professional certification is not required, but an alternative means for Catalina Foothills AZ HVAC techs to demonstrate that they are exceptionally skilled and experienced in their area of specialization. There are multiple respected certifications within the trade 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 exam and may be received in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification offers both a professional and a master specialist credential. Two years of professional experience together with passing a comprehensive exam are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have 3 years of experience in addition to a passing score on the professional level exam. Similar to NATE, certifications are provided in various specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is mandatory for technicians that work with refrigerants. There are three forms of certification obtainable, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Since licensing might be mandated in your location, and you may also desire to acquire certification, it's essential that you enroll in an HVAC vocational school that will prepare you for both. And since you will most likely be dealing with refrigerants, make certain that the program you decide on prepares you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.
HVAC Degree Schools
There are a number of choices available for HVAC instruction in a technical or trade school. You can obtain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Acquiring a certificate will take the lesser period of time, often accomplished in just 6 months, though 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 training programs can provide a competitive advantage in the job market and will deliver more extensive training than the certificate programs. Following is a brief description of each credential offered near Catalina Foothills AZ.
- Certificate. Usually requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among entry level commercial or residential HVAC specialists. They furnish a solid foundation of skills for employment within the industry.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program delivers a more detailed understanding of heating & cooling systems than the certificate program. Generally taking 2 years to finish, 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 as well as business ownership. Some programs call for an Associate Degree, while others are a conventional four year program. In addition to learning how to service and maintain heating and cooling systems, you will also study how to design them.
Selecting the appropriate credential program will be dependent on what your long term career goals are, along 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 Catalina Foothills AZ, eventually going back to earn a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your strategy, be sure to ask the HVAC technician school you are considering about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Online Classes
Choosing an HVAC school online is one alternative to getting your education and earning a degree or certificate. Almost all schools will require some attendance on campus to complete hands on training. Many also sponsor 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 practical solution for many Catalina Foothills AZ students that are pressed for time. And some online degree programs are less expensive than other traditional alternatives. Even travelling expenses from Catalina Foothills and study supplies can be reduced, helping to make schooling more economical. And a large number of online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your job or family obligations have left you with little time to attend classes, maybe an online HVAC degree program will make it less complicated to accommodate school into your busy lifestyle.
Questions to Ask HVAC Trade Schools
Once you have chosen the type of certificate or degree that you desire to attain, either online or on campus, you can start to limit your list of schools. As you are probably aware, there are a large number of HVAC trade schools in the Catalina Foothills AZ area and all over the USA to select from. That's why it is essential to have a list of important qualifiers when making school evaluations. As previously stated in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will undoubtedly be the initial two variables you will look at. Following are several additional ones that you should investigate before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. A large number of HVAC trade schools in the Catalina Foothills AZ area have acquired either a regional or a national accreditation. They can attain Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to an individual program, for example HVAC technology. Make certain that the program is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency, for example the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping make certain that you obtain an excellent education, it may assist in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are often not available for non-accredited schools. Also, some 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 complete the course. A low completion rate could signify that students were unhappy with the program and dropped out. It might also suggest that the instructors were not qualified to instruct the students. It's similarly important that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive directory of graduates, which can produce more contacts for the school to utilize 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 additionally that it has the network of Catalina Foothills AZ HVAC employers to assist students acquire apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. Many HVAC vocational programs are taught along with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating vocational and trade schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of HVAC businesses or trade unions. Ask if the schools you are comparing have referring partnerships with local Catalina Foothills AZ HVAC contractors. An apprenticeship not only provides a valuable experience by providing practical training, but it also provides employment opportunities and helps to build relationships in the area HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make sure that the school facilities and the tools that you will be trained on are up-to-date and what you will be working with on the job. If you are presently in an internship or an apprenticeship, talk to the HVAC tech you are working with regarding what you should be expecting. Otherwise, ask a local Catalina Foothills AZ HVAC company if they can provide some suggestions. Additionally bear in mind that unless you can move, the school needs to be within commuting distance of your Catalina Foothills AZ home. Remember that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides the added relocation costs there can be higher tuition charges compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's desirable that you receive as much individualized training as possible, which can be difficult in larger classes. Ask if you can monitor some of the classes so that you can observe how large they are and experience the interaction between teachers and students. Talk with some of the students and get their comments relating to class sizes and instruction. Finally, talk to some of the teachers and find out what their level of experience is and what certifications or degrees they hold.
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 in the evening or on weekends near Catalina Foothills AZ, check that the programs you are considering provide those options. If you can only attend part-time, make sure that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Finally, ask what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, illness or family issues.
Find Out More About Catalina Foothills HVAC Schools In Your Area
Earn Your Heating and Cooling Training and Certification
Selecting the right HVAC school program is a crucial beginning toward a rewarding career in the heating and cooling industry. As we have discussed 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 exceptional reputations within the HVAC profession. Other factors to search for are lots of practical training and modern facilities. You need to visit each of the schools personally that you are most interested in to explore 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. In addition, ask about scheduling choices and whether night or weekend classes are offered if needed. And remember to ask about financial assistance and student loan options too. If you ask the appropriate questions as we have outlined in our checklist for assessing schools, you'll be able to narrow down your choices so that you can make an informed decision. With the appropriate training, hard work and dedication, you can eventually become a licensed HVAC technician in Catalina Foothills AZ.