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How to Pick the Right Heating and Cooling College near Catalina Foothills Arizona

Catalina Foothills Arizona residential air conditioning condensersOnce you have decided on a career as a heating and air conditioning technician, the next action is to find an HVAC technical school near Catalina Foothills AZ. But with so many to pick from, how do you choose the ideal one to receive the training that you need? Many potential students will make their selection based entirely on the cost of tuition or how close the school is to their residence. Even though these are significant considerations, they are not the only ones to evaluate. Just some of the other details 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. Those and other criteria will be discussed 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 air conditioning technician does to become a licensed skilled tradesman.

Becoming an HVAC Tech

Catalina Foothills Arizona Heating and Cooling Tech inspecting 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 air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are typically mandated to be licensed, though every state and local municipality has its own criteria. Obtaining professional certification is not required, but an optional way for Catalina Foothills AZ HVAC techs to establish that they are highly proficient and accomplished in their area of specialization. There are multiple acknowledged certifications within the field that are available. Here are some 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 proficiency examination and can be earned in one or more specialties.
  • HVAC Excellence. This certification makes available both a professional and a master specialist credential. 2 years of professional experience as well as passing a comprehensive examination are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have 3 years of experience along with a passing score on the professional level examination. As with NATE, certifications are provided in various specialties.
  • EPA Section 608. This certification is necessary for technicians that handle refrigerants. There are 3 forms of certification offered, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.

Because licensing could be mandated in your location, and you may also intend to acquire certification, it's essential that you pick an HVAC trade school that will train you for both. And since you will more than likely be working with refrigerants, make certain that the school you select readies you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.

HVAC Certificate and Degree Schools

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There are a number of options offered for HVAC training in a vocational or trade school. You can attain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Earning a certificate will take the least amount of time, often achieved in as little as six months, although some programs are longer. A certificate will train you for the majority of HVAC positions, especially if you are licensed and have certification appropriate to the position. The degree training programs may provide a competitive edge for securing employment and will provide more extensive training than the certificate programs. Below is a short description of each option offered near Catalina Foothills AZ.

  • Certificate. Generally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among entry level residential or commercial HVAC specialists. They furnish a solid foundation of skills for employment within the trade.
  • Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program supplies a more detailed knowledge of heating and a/c systems than the certificate program. Typically requiring two years to finish, many 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 require an Associate Degree, while others are a traditional four year program. In addition to being taught how to service and maintain heating and cooling systems, you will also study how to design them.

Picking the ideal credential program will be based on what your long term career aspirations are, in addition to the time and financial resources that you have to commit. 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 returning to earn a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your tactic, be sure to ask the HVAC technician school you are considering about how their returning student program works.

HVAC Classes Online

Attending an HVAC school online is one alternative in attaining your education and earning a degree or certificate. Almost all schools will require some attendance on campus to take part in practical training. A number also provide internship or work-study programs in addition to or as an alternative to practical lab work. But since the remainder of the classes can be attended online, this approach may be a more practical solution for many Catalina Foothills AZ students that are short on time. And many online degree programs are less costly than other on campus options. Even commuting expenses from Catalina Foothills and study supplies may be reduced, helping to make education more budget-friendly. And many online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your career or family responsibilities have left you with little time to attend classes, perhaps an HVAC online training program will make it less complicated to accommodate school into your hectic schedule.

Questions to Ask HVAC Trade Schools

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After you have selected the type of certificate or degree that you want to attain, either online or on campus, you can begin to limit your selection of schools. As you are no doubt 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 imperative to have a list of important qualifiers when making school assessments. As previously stated in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will most likely be the first 2 aspects you will take into consideration. Following are some additional ones that you need to research 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 may attain Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to a specific program, for instance HVAC technology. Verify that the program is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency, which includes the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping guarantee that you get a quality education, it can help in securing financial aid or student loans, which are frequently not available for non-accredited schools. Furthermore, many states require that the HVAC training program be accredited for it to be approved for licensing.

High Completion Rates.  Ask the Heating and Cooling schools you are reviewing what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students who enroll in and finish the program. A lower completion rate might signify that students were unhappy with the program and dropped out. It could also suggest that the teachers were not qualified to instruct the students. It's similarly essential that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive directory of alumni, which may mean 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 an excellent reputation within the trade, but additionally that it has the network of Catalina Foothills AZ HVAC employers to help grads secure apprenticeships or employment.

Apprenticeship Programs.  Most HVAC training programs are taught along with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating trade and vocational programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of Heating and Cooling companies or trade unions. Ask if the schools you are reviewing have working partnerships with local Catalina Foothills AZ HVAC companies. An apprenticeship not only provides a valuable experience by furnishing hands-on training, but it also furnishes 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 up-to-date and what you will be working with on the job. If you are currently in an internship or an apprenticeship, consult with the HVAC technician you are working with concerning what you should be expecting. If not, ask a local Catalina Foothills AZ HVAC contracting company if they can give you some pointers. Additionally keep in mind that unless you can move, the school needs to be within driving distance of your Catalina Foothills AZ home. Take note that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides the added relocation costs there may be increased tuition charges compared to in-state residents.

Smaller Classes.   It's important that you receive as much individualized training as possible, which can be challenging 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 students and teachers. Talk to some of the students and get their opinions concerning class sizes and instruction. Finally, speak to some of the instructors and find out what their level of expertise is and what certifications or degrees they have earned.

Flexible Scheduling.  Confirm that the class schedules for the schools you are assessing are flexible enough to handle your needs. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Catalina Foothills AZ, verify that the schools you are looking at offer those choices. If you can only attend part-time, be sure that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Finally, check out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, sickness or family emergencies.

Learn More About Catalina Foothills Heating and Cooling Training Programs Near You

Earn Your Heating and Cooling Training and Certification

Choosing the right HVAC training program is a crucial beginning toward a rewarding career in the heating and cooling trade. As we have covered in this article, you should pick a Heating and Cooling training program and a certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have exceptional reputations within the HVAC community. Other things to search for are sufficient practical training and modern facilities. You should visit each of the schools personally that you are most interested in to explore the campus and speak with both the current students and faculty. Attempt to get a feel for the quality of the instruction and the interaction between them. Additionally, ask about scheduling options and whether evening or weekend classes are offered if needed. And don't forget to inquire about financial aid and student loan options as well. If you ask the right questions as we have detailed in our checklist for assessing 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 dedication, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC technician in Catalina Foothills AZ.