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How to Choose the Right Heating and Cooling Certification Class near Catalina Foothills Arizona

Catalina Foothills Arizona residential air conditioning condensersNow that you have decided on a career as a heating and air conditioning technician, the next step is to choose an HVAC vocational school near Catalina Foothills AZ. But with so many to choose from, how do you pick the right one to receive the training that you require? Many potential students will make their decision based entirely on the price of tuition or how near the school is to their home. Although these are relevant concerns, they are not the only ones to take into account. Some of the other factors that you need to research are the graduation completion rates of the HVAC schools, their reputations, and if they are accredited by professional trade organizations. These and other benchmarks will be covered in more detail later within this article. But before we tackle how to pick an HVAC technical school, let's look at what a heating and air conditioning contractor does to become a licensed professional tradesman.

How to Become an HVAC Contractor

Catalina Foothills Arizona HVAC Tech servicing A/C condenserHVAC is an acronym that is widely used in the industry that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC contractors provide services for the installation, maintenance and repair of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are commonly mandated to be licensed, though every state and regional municipality has its own requirements. Acquiring professional certification is not mandatory, but an alternative means for Catalina Foothills AZ HVAC techs to establish that they are highly proficient and experienced in their area of expertise. There are several acknowledged certifications within the industry that are offered. Here are some of the significant ones.

  • North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally recognized certification for HVAC technicians. The certification is earned by passing a proficiency exam and may be earned in one or more specialties.
  • HVAC Excellence. This certification offers both a professional and a master specialist credential. Two years of professional experience in addition to passing a comprehensive exam are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have three years of experience along with a passing score on the professional level exam. As with NATE, certifications are offered in several specialties.
  • EPA Section 608. This certification is required for specialists that handle refrigerants. There are three forms of certification obtainable, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.

Since licensing might be required in your area, and you may also desire to earn certification, it's essential that you enroll in an HVAC technical school that will train you for both. And since you will probably be dealing with refrigerants, make certain that the school you decide on preps you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.

HVAC Degree Schools

Catalina Foothills Arizona residential heater

There are several choices offered for HVAC training in a technical or trade school. You can obtain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Acquiring a certificate will take the minimum amount of time, usually achieved in just 6 months, although some programs are longer. A certificate will train you for most HVAC positions, especially if you are licensed and have certification relevant to the position. The degree training programs can provide a competitive advantage for securing employment and will provide more in-depth training than the certificate programs. Below 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 technicians. They provide a strong foundation of skills for employment within the trade.
  • Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program supplies a more extensive background of heating and cooling systems than the certificate program. Usually requiring two years to finish, a number of degrees incorporate an internship or work-study program.
  • Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is suited more for a career in management or even business ownership. Some programs require an Associate Degree, while others are a standard 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 based on what your long term career objectives are, in addition to the time and financial resources that you have to invest. One option 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 strategy, make sure to ask the HVAC technician school you are considering about how their returning student program works.

HVAC Courses Online

Enrolling in an HVAC school online is one alternative to attaining your training and earning a degree or certificate. Nearly all schools will require some attendance on campus to participate in hands on training. A number also provide internship or work-study programs in addition to or in place 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 short on time. And some online degree programs are cheaper than other traditional alternatives. Even driving expenses from Catalina Foothills and study materials can be minimized, helping to make schooling more affordable. And numerous online programs 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 more convenient to fit school into your busy lifestyle.

Questions to Ask HVAC Training Programs

Catalina Foothills Arizona Heating and Cooling contractor installing water heater

After you have decided on the type of degree or certificate that you would like to earn, either online or on campus, you can begin to narrow down your list of schools. As you are probably aware, there are numerous HVAC trade schools in the Catalina Foothills AZ area and all over the Country to pick from. That's why it is very important to have a list of relevant qualifiers when making school evaluations. As formerly mentioned in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will undoubtedly be the first 2 factors you will look at. Following are several additional ones that you need to explore before enrolling in your school of choice.

Accreditation.  Many HVAC technical programs 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 relates to a specific program, for example HVAC technology. Verify that the school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting agency, for example the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping make certain that you get a superior education, it may assist in obtaining financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently not available for non-accredited schools. Furthermore, some states mandate that the HVAC training program be accredited in order to qualify for licensing.

High Completion Rates.  Ask the Heating and Air Conditioning schools you are considering 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 may signify that students were unhappy with the course and dropped out. It might also indicate that the instructors were not competent to instruct the students. It's also essential that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader list of graduates, which can mean 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 field, but also that it has the network of Catalina Foothills AZ HVAC employers to assist grads obtain apprenticeships or jobs.

Apprenticeship Programs.  Numerous HVAC technical programs are taught in conjunction with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating technical and vocational programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of HVAC companies or trade unions. Find out if the schools you are comparing have working partnerships with local Catalina Foothills AZ HVAC professionals. An apprenticeship not only offers a valuable experience by supplying practical training, but it also supplies job opportunities and helps to build relationships in the regional HVAC professional community.

Modern Facilities.  Confirm that the school facilities and the tools that you will be trained on are up-to-date and what you will be using on the job. If you are already in an internship or an apprenticeship, check with the HVAC tech you are working with concerning what you should be expecting. Otherwise, ask a local Catalina Foothills AZ HVAC contractor if they can provide some tips. Additionally keep in mind that unless you are willing to relocate, the school needs to be within commuting distance of your Catalina Foothills AZ home. Remember that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to moving costs there can be increased tuition fees 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 couple of the classes so that you can observe how big they are and experience the interaction between instructors and students. Talk to some of the students and get their feedback concerning class sizes and instruction. Finally, speak to a few of the instructors and learn what their level of expertise is and what degrees or certifications they have earned.

Flexible Scheduling.  Make sure that the class schedules for the programs you are evaluating are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you are only able to attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Catalina Foothills AZ, verify that the schools you are considering provide those choices. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, be sure that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Finally, check out what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, sickness or family responsibilities.

Learn More About Catalina Foothills HVAC Trade Schools In Your Area

Get Your Heating and Cooling Certificate or Degree

Enrolling in the right HVAC school program is a critical first step toward a rewarding career in the heating & cooling industry. As we have covered in this article, you should choose a Heating and Cooling training program and a certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have outstanding reputations within the HVAC profession. Other factors to look for are plenty of practical 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 inspect the campus and talk with both the faculty and current students. Attempt to get a feel for the quality of the teaching and the interaction between them. Also, ask about scheduling choices and whether night or weekend classes are available if needed. And remember to ask about financial aid and student loan options too. If you ask the proper questions as we have laid out in our guidelines for evaluating schools, you'll be able to narrow down your choices so that you can make an informed decision. With the appropriate training, hard work and commitment, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC technician in Catalina Foothills AZ.