How to Select the Right Heating and Cooling Certificate Program near Catalina Foothills Arizona
Once you have come to a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioner technician, the next step is to find an HVAC vocational school near Catalina Foothills AZ. But with so many to select from, how do you decide on the right one to get the training that you require? A number of prospective students will make their choice based exclusively on the cost of tuition or how close the school is to their home. Although these are relevant concerns, they are not the only ones to take into account. A few of the other things that you need to research are the graduation rates of the HVAC schools, their reputations, and if they are accredited by professional trade organizations. Those and additional criteria will be discussed in more detail later within this article. But before we discuss how to select 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 Contractor
HVAC is an acronym that is widely used in the trade that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC techs provide services for the installation, maintenance and repair of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are generally required to be licensed, however every state and local municipality has its own prerequisites. Earning professional certification is not required, but a voluntary way for Catalina Foothills AZ HVAC technicians to prove that they are exceptionally skilled and knowledgeable in their area of specialization. There are several acknowledged certifications within the field that are available. Following are a few of the significant ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally acknowledged certification for HVAC technicians. 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. 2 years of field experience as well as passing a comprehensive examination are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have three years of experience together with a passing result on the professional level exam. As with NATE, certifications are made available in several specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is necessary for techs that handle refrigerants. There are 3 types of certification offered, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Because licensing may be mandated in your area, and you may also desire to earn certification, it's essential that you select an HVAC trade school that will train you for both. And since you will probably be working with refrigerants, make certain that the school you pick preps you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.
HVAC Degree Training Programs
There are a number of options available for HVAC instruction in a technical or trade school. You can attain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Acquiring a certificate will take the lesser amount of time, usually achieved in just 6 months, though some programs are longer. A certificate will qualify you for most HVAC positions, particularly if you are licensed and have certification relevant to the position. The degree training programs may provide a competitive edge for securing employment and will furnish more in-depth training than the certificate programs. Following is a short description 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 professionals. They provide a strong foundation of skills for employment within the trade.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program supplies a more comprehensive understanding of heating and cooling systems than the certificate program. Usually taking two years to finish, many degrees incorporate an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is suited more towards a career in management or even business ownership. Some programs call for 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.
Choosing the appropriate credential program will be dependent on what your long term career aspirations are, together with the time and money that you have to commit. One possibility is to begin with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after getting some experience in the field in Catalina Foothills AZ, subsequently going back to obtain a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your strategy, make sure to ask the HVAC technician school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Classes Online
Enrolling in an HVAC school online is one possibility to obtaining your training and earning a degree or certificate. Nearly all schools will require some attendance on campus to participate in practical training. A number also offer internship or work-study programs in addition to or as an alternative to practical lab work. But since the balance of the classes may be participated in on the web, this approach may be a more practical solution for some Catalina Foothills AZ students that are pressed for time. And a number of online degree programs are cheaper than other on campus alternatives. Even travelling expenses from Catalina Foothills and study supplies may be lessened, helping to make schooling more economical. And many 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 online HVAC degree program will make it easier to accommodate school into your busy schedule.
Questions For HVAC Schools
As soon as you have picked the type of degree or certificate that you would like to obtain, either online or on campus, you can start to limit your selection of schools. As you are probably aware, there are a large number of HVAC trade schools in the Catalina Foothills AZ area and throughout the United States to pick from. That's why it is very important to have a checklist of important qualifiers when making school assessments. As formerly stated in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will probably be the initial two aspects you will consider. Following are several additional ones that you will want to research before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Numerous HVAC trade programs in the Catalina Foothills AZ area have received either a regional or a national accreditation. They may acquire 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. Verify that the program is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting organization, for instance the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping ensure that you receive a superior education, it can assist in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are often unavailable for non-accredited programs. Additionally, 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 reviewing what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage or portion of students who enroll in and complete the program. A low completion rate could signify that students were unhappy with the course and quit. It could also indicate that the instructors were not competent to train the students. It's similarly important that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader list of alumni, which can produce more contacts for the school to employ for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate will not only confirm that the school has a good reputation within the industry, but also that it has the network of Catalina Foothills AZ HVAC employers to assist grads secure apprenticeships or jobs.
Apprenticeship Programs. A large number of HVAC vocational programs are taught in conjunction with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating trade and technical schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of Heating and Cooling companies or labor unions. Check if the schools you are considering have referring partnerships with local Catalina Foothills AZ HVAC companies. An apprenticeship not only provides a rewarding experience by furnishing hands-on training, but it also provides job opportunities and helps to form relationships in the local HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make sure that the campus facilities and the tools that you will be trained on are state-of-the-art and what you will be using on the job. If you are already in an internship or an apprenticeship, talk to the HVAC technician you are working under regarding what you should be looking for. Otherwise, ask a local Catalina Foothills AZ HVAC company if they can provide some suggestions. Also bear in mind that unless you can move, the school must be within driving distance of your Catalina Foothills AZ residence. Take note that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, besides the added relocation costs there might 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 a couple of the classes so that you can see how large they are and experience the interaction between students and instructors. Talk with some of the students and get their comments concerning class sizes and instruction. Finally, talk to some of the teachers and learn what their level of expertise is and what degrees or certifications they have earned.
Flexible Scheduling. Confirm that the class schedules for the programs you are reviewing are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Catalina Foothills AZ, confirm that the programs you are considering offer those options. If you can only attend part-time, be sure that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Additionally, ask what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, illness or family emergencies.
Get Your Heating and Cooling Degree and Certification
Selecting the ideal HVAC school course is a critical beginning toward a rewarding career in the heating and air conditioning field. As we have addressed in this article, you should 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 features to look for are sufficient practical training and modern facilities. You should visit each of the schools personally that you are most interested in to inspect the campus and speak 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 evening or weekend classes are offered if needed. And don't forget to ask about financial aid and student loan options also. If you ask the proper questions as we have detailed in our guidelines for evaluating schools, you'll be able to narrow down your options so that you can make an educated decision. With the proper training, hard work and commitment, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC contractor in Catalina Foothills AZ.