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

Catalina Foothills Arizona home air conditioning condensersNow that you have made a decision on a career as a heating and cooling technician, the next action is to look for an HVAC vocational school near Catalina Foothills AZ. But with so many to select from, how do you choose the right one to receive the training that you need? Many prospective students will make their selection based entirely on the price of tuition or how close the school is to their residence. Even though these are significant considerations, they are not the only ones to take into account. Some 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 other criteria will be discussed in more detail later in this article. But before we discuss how to choose an HVAC training program, let's take a look at what a heating and a/c contractor does to become a licensed professional tradesman.

How to Become an HVAC Tech

Catalina Foothills Arizona Heating and Cooling Contractor servicing A/C condenserHVAC is an acronym that is commonly used in the industry that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC techs specialize in the installation, repair and maintenance of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are typically mandated to be licensed, though every state and regional municipality has its own prerequisites. Attaining professional certification is not required, but an optional means for Catalina Foothills AZ HVAC specialists to prove that they are exceptionally proficient and experienced in their area of expertise. There are many recognized certifications within the field that are available. Following are a few 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 proficiency examination and can be acquired in one or more specialties.
  • HVAC Excellence. This certification offers both a professional and a master specialist credential. 2 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 in addition to a passing result on the professional level examination. As with NATE, certifications are made available in multiple specialties.
  • EPA Section 608. This certification is mandatory for techs that handle refrigerants. There are 3 types of certification obtainable, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.

Considering that licensing might be mandated in your location, and you may also wish to earn certification, it's essential that you pick an HVAC trade school that will train you for both. And since you will probably be handling refrigerants, make sure that the school you pick readies you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.

HVAC Degree Training Programs

Catalina Foothills Arizona residential heat pump

There are several choices available for HVAC instruction in a technical or vocational school. You can earn a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Obtaining a certificate will take the least amount of time, typically accomplished in just six months, though some courses are longer. A certificate will qualify you for most HVAC positions, especially if you are licensed and have certification applicable to the position. The degree training programs may provide a competitive edge for securing employment and will furnish more comprehensive training than the certificate programs. Below is a short summary of each option offered near Catalina Foothills AZ.

  • Certificate. Usually requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among beginning residential or commercial HVAC technicians. They furnish a strong foundation of skills for employment within the trade.
  • Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program supplies a more extensive knowledge of heating and a/c systems than the certificate program. Generally requiring two years to complete, some degrees include 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 require an Associate Degree, while others are a standard four 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 right credential program will be based on what your future career aspirations are, in addition to the time and financial resources that you have to invest. One option is to start with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after gaining some experience in the field in Catalina Foothills AZ, subsequently returning to acquire a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your tactic, make sure to ask the HVAC tech school you are considering about how their returning student program works.

HVAC Schools Online

Enrolling in an HVAC program online is one approach to getting your education and earning a certificate or degree. Almost all schools will call for some attendance on campus to complete practical training. A number also sponsor internship or work-study programs in addition to or instead of practical lab work. But since the remainder of the classes can be attended online, this option may be a more accessible 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 travelling expenses from Catalina Foothills and study materials can be reduced, helping to make education more budget-friendly. And many online programs are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your work or family obligations have left you with limited time to attend classes, maybe an HVAC online training program will make it more convenient to fit school into your busy lifestyle.

Questions For HVAC Training Programs

Catalina Foothills Arizona HVAC contractor installing water heater

As soon as you have selected the type of certificate or degree that you would like to attain, either online or on campus, you can begin to limit your selection 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 USA to pick 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 probably be the initial two aspects you will look at. Following are some additional ones that you should explore before enrolling in your school of choice.

Accreditation.  Many HVAC technical schools in the Catalina Foothills AZ area have earned either a regional or a national accreditation. They can receive Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to a specific program, such as HVAC technology. Verify that the school and program are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization, such as the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping ensure that you get a quality education, it may assist in acquiring financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently not available for non-accredited programs. Furthermore, a number of states mandate that the HVAC training program be accredited in order 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 percentage of students who enroll in and finish the program. A lower completion rate might signify that students were dissatisfied with the course and quit. It may also suggest that the teachers were not qualified 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 more extensive directory of graduates, which can result in more contacts for the school to employ for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate will not only affirm that the school has a good reputation within the field, but also that it has the network of Catalina Foothills AZ HVAC employers to help grads acquire apprenticeships or jobs.

Apprenticeship Programs.  Many HVAC training programs are taught in conjunction with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating vocational and technical programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of Heating and Cooling contractors or labor unions. Find out if the schools you are reviewing have working partnerships with local Catalina Foothills AZ HVAC contractors. An apprenticeship not only offers a rewarding experience by providing hands-on training, but it also supplies employment opportunities and helps to establish relationships in the area HVAC professional community.

Modern Facilities.  Make certain 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 presently in an internship or an apprenticeship, consult with the HVAC specialist you are working with concerning what you should be expecting. Otherwise, ask a local Catalina Foothills AZ HVAC contracting company if they can provide some pointers. Additionally bear in mind that unless you are able to relocate, the school needs to be within driving distance of your Catalina Foothills AZ home. Take note that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, besides the added relocation costs there might be higher tuition charges 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 few of the classes so that you can see how large they are and witness first hand the interaction between students and teachers. Talk to several of the students and get their opinions concerning class sizes and instruction. Finally, talk with a few of the teachers and learn what their level of experience is and what certifications or degrees they hold.

Flexible Scheduling.  Verify that the class schedules for the schools you are assessing are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Catalina Foothills AZ, verify that the programs you are looking at offer those choices. If you can only attend part-time, make sure that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Additionally, find out what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, illness or family issues.

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

Get Your Heating and Cooling Certificate or Degree

Finding the right HVAC training course is a crucial first step toward a gratifying career in the heating & cooling trade. As we have covered in this article, you need to pick a Heating and Cooling training program and a certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have excellent reputations within the HVAC field. Other things to search for are sufficient hands-on training and state-of-the-art facilities. You should visit each of the schools personally that you are most interested in to explore the campus and talk with both the current students and faculty. Attempt to get a feel for the quality of the training and the interaction between them. Also, ask about scheduling options and whether or not night 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 right questions as we have laid out in our checklist for evaluating schools, you'll be able to narrow down your options so that you can make an educated decision. With the appropriate training, hard work and dedication, you can eventually become a licensed HVAC contractor in Catalina Foothills AZ.