How to Pick the Right HVAC Certification Class near Catalina Foothills Arizona
Now that you have decided on a career as a heating and air conditioner technician, the next step is to find an HVAC trade school near Catalina Foothills AZ. But with so many to choose from, how do you choose the right one to get the training that you need? Some potential students will make their choice based exclusively on the cost of tuition or how close the school is to their residence. Although these are important concerns, they are not the only ones to investigate. Some of the other details that you need to look into are the graduation 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 discuss how to pick an HVAC vocational school, let's look at what a heating and cooling specialist does to become a licensed qualified tradesman.
How to Become an HVAC Specialist
HVAC is an acronym that is extensively used in the industry that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC technicians provide services for the installation, maintenance and repair of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are typically mandated to be licensed, however each state and regional municipality has its own criteria. Earning professional certification is not mandatory, but an alternative way for Catalina Foothills AZ HVAC technicians to establish that they are exceptionally qualified and accomplished in their area of expertise. There are many acknowledged certifications within the field that are available. Here are some of the important ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally acknowledged certification for HVAC techs. The certification is earned by passing a competency examination and can 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 required for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have three years of experience as well as a passing score on the professional level examination. As with NATE, certifications are offered in several specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is necessary for techs that handle refrigerants. There are 3 types of certification available, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Since licensing could be required in your area, and you may also wish to earn certification, it's essential that you enroll in an HVAC technical school that will prepare you for both. And since you will probably be dealing with refrigerants, make certain that the program you choose readies you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
HVAC Degree and Certificate Schools
There are several alternatives available for HVAC instruction in a trade or technical school. You can earn a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Obtaining a certificate will take the least amount of time, often completed in as little as 6 months, though some courses are longer. A certificate will qualify you for the majority of HVAC positions, especially if you are licensed and have certification applicable to the position. The degree programs may provide a competitive edge in the job market and will provide more extensive training than the certificate programs. Below is a short summary of each option offered near Catalina Foothills AZ.
- Certificate. Normally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among entry level residential or commercial HVAC technicians. They furnish a solid foundation of skills for job opportunities within the industry.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program provides a more exhaustive background of heating and cooling systems than the certificate program. Normally taking 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 for a career in management or even business ownership. Some programs call for an Associate Degree, while others are a traditional four year program. In addition to being taught how to service and maintain heating and air conditioning systems, you will also study how to design them.
Selecting the appropriate credential program will be dependent on what your long term career aspirations are, as well as the time and money that you have to invest. One possibility is to begin with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after gaining some experience in the field in Catalina Foothills AZ, eventually going back to earn a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your strategy, make certain to ask the HVAC technician school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Courses Online
Enrolling in an HVAC program online is one approach to getting your education and receiving a degree or certificate. Almost all schools will call for some attendance on campus to participate in hands on training. Many also provide internship or work-study programs in addition to or instead of practical lab work. But since the balance of the classes can be participated in on the web, this approach 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 on campus options. Even commuting expenses from Catalina Foothills and study materials may be reduced, helping to make education more affordable. And numerous online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your career or family obligations have left you with little time to attend classes, maybe an HVAC online training program will make it less complicated to accommodate school into your hectic schedule.
Questions to Ask HVAC Certification Classes
When you have picked the type of degree or certificate that you want to attain, either online or on campus, you can begin to narrow down your list of schools. As you are certainly aware, there are a large number of HVAC technical schools in the Catalina Foothills AZ area and throughout the United States to select from. That's why it is imperative to have a checklist of key qualifiers when making school comparisons. As earlier stated in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will probably be the initial two aspects you will take into consideration. Following are some additional ones that you will want to investigate before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Numerous HVAC technical programs in the Catalina Foothills AZ area have earned either a regional or a national accreditation. They may attain Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to an individual program, such as HVAC technology. Confirm that the school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting organization, which includes the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping guarantee that you get an excellent education, it can help in obtaining financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently unavailable for non-accredited programs. Furthermore, some states mandate that the HVAC training course be accredited in order to qualify for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the HVAC 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 program. A lower completion rate may signify that students were unhappy with the program and quit. It might also signify that the instructors 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 broader directory of alumni, which may result in more contacts for the school to use for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate can not only confirm that the school has an excellent reputation within the trade, but additionally that it has the network of Catalina Foothills AZ HVAC employers to help graduates secure apprenticeships or jobs.
Apprenticeship Programs. A large number of HVAC trade programs are taught in conjunction with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating vocational and technical schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of Heating and Cooling companies or labor unions. Find out if the schools you are comparing have referring partnerships with local Catalina Foothills AZ HVAC contractors. An apprenticeship not only offers a rewarding experience by furnishing practical training, but it also furnishes employment opportunities and helps to build relationships in the local HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make certain that the campus facilities and the equipment that you will be instructed on are up-to-date and what you will be using in the field. If you are presently in an internship or an apprenticeship, talk to the HVAC specialist you are working with regarding what you should be looking for. Otherwise, ask a local Catalina Foothills AZ HVAC contractor if they can give you some tips. Additionally keep in mind that unless you can relocate, the school needs to be within driving distance of your Catalina Foothills AZ residence. Take note that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to moving costs there may be increased tuition fees compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's desirable that you receive as much personalized training as possible, which can be challenging in bigger classes. Ask if you can sit in on some of the classes so that you can observe how large they are and witness first hand the interaction between instructors and students. Talk with a few of the students and get their comments regarding class sizes and instruction. Last, speak with a few of the instructors and find out what their level of experience is and what certifications or degrees they hold.
Flexible Scheduling. Confirm that the class schedules for the schools you are assessing 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 schools you are looking at offer those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, be sure that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Finally, find out what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, sickness or family emergencies.
Get Your Heating and Cooling Degree and Certification
Enrolling in the ideal HVAC training course is an important first step toward a fulfilling career in the heating and cooling industry. As we have addressed 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 exceptional reputations within the HVAC trade. Other features to look for are lots of hands-on training and modern facilities. You need to go to each of the schools in person that you are most interested in to inspect the campus and talk with both the current students and faculty. Attempt to get a feel for the quality of the instruction and the interaction between them. Also, ask about scheduling options and if evening or weekend classes are available if needed. And remember to ask about financial assistance and student loan options as well. If you ask the appropriate questions as we have detailed in our checklist for comparing schools, you'll be able to filter your choices so that you can make an educated decision. With the appropriate training, hard work and commitment, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC professional in Catalina Foothills AZ.