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How to Pick the Right HVAC Certification Class near Catalina Foothills Arizona

Catalina Foothills Arizona residential A/C condensersNow that you have come to a decision on a career as a heating and cooling specialist, the next step is to find an HVAC vocational school near Catalina Foothills AZ. But with so many to select from, how do you pick the right one to receive the training that you need? Many prospective students will make their selection based solely on the price of tuition or how close the school is to their residence. While these are important considerations, they are not the only ones to take into account. 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. These and other benchmarks will be addressed in more detail later in this article. But before we explore how to select an HVAC technical school, let's look at what a heating and cooling contractor does to become a licensed skilled tradesman.

Becoming an HVAC Professional

Catalina Foothills Arizona Heating and Cooling Tech fixing A/C condenserHVAC is an acronym that is frequently used in the business that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC professionals specialize in the installation, maintenance and repair of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are commonly required to be licensed, however every state and regional municipality has its own requirements. Attaining professional certification is not compulsory, but a voluntary way for Catalina Foothills AZ HVAC technicians to prove that they are highly qualified and knowledgeable in their area of specialization. There are several recognized certifications within the field that are offered. Here are some of the important ones.

  • North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally recognized certification for HVAC technicians. The certification is achieved by passing a competency exam and can be received in one or more specialties.
  • HVAC Excellence. This certification makes available both a professional and a master specialist credential. 2 years of field experience as well as passing a comprehensive examination are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have three years of experience along with a passing result on the professional level examination. Similar to NATE, certifications are offered in multiple specialties.
  • EPA Section 608. This certification is required for technicians that handle refrigerants. There are 3 types of certification offered, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.

Because licensing may be required in your location, and you may also intend to acquire certification, it's imperative that you pick an HVAC vocational school that will train you for both. And since you will probably be handling refrigerants, make sure that the program you choose preps you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.

HVAC Degree and Certificate Courses

Catalina Foothills Arizona residential heater

There are several alternatives available for HVAC instruction in a trade or technical school. You can obtain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Acquiring a certificate will take the lesser amount of time, typically accomplished 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 related to the position. The degree training programs may provide a competitive advantage in the job market and will furnish more extensive training than the certificate programs. Below is a brief explanation of each credential offered near Catalina Foothills AZ.

  • Certificate. Normally 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 job opportunities within the trade.
  • Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program provides a more extensive knowledge of heating and cooling systems than the certificate program. Typically requiring 2 years to finish, a number of 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 call for an Associate Degree, while others are a conventional 4 year program. In addition to learning how to service and maintain heating and cooling systems, you will also learn how to design them.

Choosing the appropriate credential program will be dependent on what your future career aspirations are, along with the time and financial resources that you have to commit. One possibility is to begin with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after gaining some experience in the trade in Catalina Foothills AZ, eventually going back to acquire a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your approach, be sure to ask the HVAC technician school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.

HVAC Online Training

Attending an HVAC program online is one approach in obtaining your education and receiving a certificate or degree. Nearly all schools will call for some attendance on campus to participate in 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 remainder of the classes may be participated in via the internet, this alternative may be a more convenient solution for many Catalina Foothills AZ students that are pressed for time. And a number of online degree programs are less expensive than other on campus alternatives. Even driving expenses from Catalina Foothills and study supplies can be lessened, 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 obligations have left you with minimal time to attend classes, maybe an online HVAC degree program will make it easier to accommodate school into your active lifestyle.

What to Ask HVAC Training Classes

Catalina Foothills Arizona Heating and Cooling contractor servicing water heater

As soon as you have selected the type of certificate or degree that you desire to acquire, either on campus or online, you can start to decrease your list of schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are many HVAC vocational schools in the Catalina Foothills AZ area and across the United States to pick from. That's why it is very important to have a checklist of important qualifiers when making school comparisons. As previously mentioned in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will undoubtedly be the first two aspects you will take into consideration. Following are several additional ones that you will want to investigate before enrolling in your school of choice.

Accreditation.  Numerous HVAC trade schools in the Catalina Foothills AZ area have acquired either a regional or a national accreditation. They may receive Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to a specific program, for example HVAC technology. Make sure that the school and program are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency, such as the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping ensure that you obtain a superior education, it can assist in acquiring financial assistance or student loans, which are often unavailable for non-accredited programs. Also, a number of states require that the HVAC training course be accredited for it to be approved for licensing.

High Completion Rates.  Ask the HVAC 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 program. A low completion rate could indicate that students were dissatisfied with the program and dropped out. It may also indicate that the instructors were not competent 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 more extensive directory of graduates, which may result in more contacts for the school to employ for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate can not only affirm that the school has a good reputation within the trade, but also that it has the network of Catalina Foothills AZ HVAC employers to help students acquire apprenticeships or jobs.

Apprenticeship Programs.  Numerous HVAC trade programs are taught together with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating trade and vocational schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of Heating and Cooling contractors or labor unions. Ask if the schools you are comparing have referring relationships with local Catalina Foothills AZ HVAC companies. An apprenticeship not only provides a rewarding experience by supplying practical training, but it also supplies job opportunities and helps to build relationships in the local HVAC professional community.

Modern Facilities.  Make certain 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 presently in an internship or an apprenticeship, check with the HVAC tech you are working under regarding what you should be looking for. Otherwise, ask a local Catalina Foothills AZ HVAC company if they can give you some pointers. Also bear in mind that unless you are able to relocate, the school must be within driving distance of your Catalina Foothills AZ residence. Take note that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides the added moving costs there may be increased tuition fees compared to in-state residents.

Smaller Classes.   It's desirable that you get as much one-on-one training as possible, which can be difficult in bigger classes. Ask if you can sit in on a few of the classes so that you can see how big they are and witness first hand the interaction between instructors and students. Talk with several of the students and get their feedback regarding class sizes and instruction. Finally, talk to a few of the teachers and learn what their level of expertise is and what certifications or degrees they hold.

Flexible Scheduling.  Confirm that the class schedules for the schools you are evaluating are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Catalina Foothills AZ, check that the programs you are looking at provide those choices. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, be sure that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Finally, find out what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, illness or family emergencies.

Learn More About Catalina Foothills Heating and Cooling Training Classes In Your Area

Earn Your HVAC Training and Certification

Selecting the ideal HVAC school program is an important beginning toward a fulfilling career in the heating & cooling trade. As we have covered in this article, you need to select a Heating and Cooling training program and a certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have excellent reputations within the HVAC trade. Other factors to look for are ample hands-on training and state-of-the-art facilities. You need to check out each of the schools in person 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. Also, inquire about scheduling choices and whether or not night or weekend classes are offered if needed. And remember to inquire about financial assistance and student loan options as well. If you ask the appropriate questions as we have laid out in our guidelines for evaluating schools, you'll be able to filter your options 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.