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

Catalina Foothills Arizona residential A/C condensersNow that you have come to a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioning technician, the next action is to locate an HVAC vocational school near Catalina Foothills AZ. But with so many to pick from, how do you select the best one to get the training that you need? Some future students will make their choice based solely on the cost of tuition or how near the school is to their residence. Although these are necessary considerations, they are not the only ones to take into account. Just 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. Those and other benchmarks will be addressed in more detail later within this article. But before we tackle how to choose an HVAC technical school, let's look at what a heating and cooling technician does to become a licensed qualified tradesman.

How to Become an HVAC Professional

Catalina Foothills Arizona Heating and Cooling Tech servicing air conditioning condenserHVAC is an acronym that is commonly used in the industry that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC professionals specialize in the installation, maintenance and repair of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are generally mandated to be licensed, though each state and local municipality has its own requirements. Acquiring professional certification is not compulsory, but an alternative way for Catalina Foothills AZ HVAC technicians to demonstrate that they are highly proficient and accomplished in their area of expertise. There are many recognized certifications within the trade that are available. Below are a few of the important ones.

  • North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally recognized certification for HVAC techs. The certification is attained by passing a competency examination and may be received in one or more specialties.
  • HVAC Excellence. This certification makes available both a professional and a master specialist credential. Two years of professional experience together with passing a comprehensive examination are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have three years of experience as well as a passing score on the professional level examination. As with NATE, certifications are made available in various specialties.
  • EPA Section 608. This certification is necessary for techs that handle refrigerants. There are three forms of certification obtainable, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.

Considering that licensing could be mandated in your location, and you may also wish to acquire certification, it's essential that you enroll in an HVAC vocational school that will train you for both. And since you will most likely be dealing with refrigerants, make certain that the program you choose prepares you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.

HVAC Degree and Certificate Schools

Catalina Foothills Arizona residential heat pump

There are a variety of options offered for HVAC training in a technical or trade school. You can obtain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Obtaining a certificate will take the least period of time, usually completed in just 6 months, though some programs are longer. A certificate will qualify you for the majority of HVAC positions, especially if you are licensed and have certification related to the position. The degree programs might provide a competitive advantage for securing employment and will deliver more extensive training than the certificate programs. Following is a brief description 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 solid foundation of skills for employment within the trade.
  • Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program supplies a more comprehensive background of heating and cooling systems than the certificate program. Generally requiring 2 years to complete, some degrees feature 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 conventional 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 future career goals are, in addition to the time and financial resources that you have to invest. One possibility is to start with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after getting some experience in the trade in Catalina Foothills AZ, later returning to earn a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your strategy, be sure to ask the HVAC technician school you are considering about how their returning student program works.

HVAC Schools Online

Choosing an HVAC school online is one alternative to getting your training and receiving a degree or certificate. Nearly all schools will require some attendance on campus to take part in practical training. Some also provide internship or work-study programs in addition to or in place of practical lab work. But since the remainder of the classes may be participated in via the internet, this approach may be a more convenient solution for many Catalina Foothills AZ students that are short on time. And some online degree programs are more economical than other traditional options. Even travelling expenses from Catalina Foothills and study materials can be reduced, helping to make education more affordable. 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, perhaps an HVAC online training program will make it less complicated to fit school into your hectic schedule.

Questions For HVAC Training Programs

Catalina Foothills Arizona HVAC technician servicing water heater

When you have chosen the type of degree or certificate that you want to attain, either on campus or online, you can start to limit your selection of schools. As you are certainly aware, there are numerous HVAC vocational schools in the Catalina Foothills AZ area and throughout the United States to pick from. That's why it is essential to have a checklist of important qualifiers when making school evaluations. As formerly stated in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will undoubtedly be the first 2 factors you will take into consideration. Following are several additional ones that you should explore before enrolling in your school of choice.

Accreditation.  A large number of HVAC vocational schools in the Catalina Foothills AZ area have received either a regional or a national accreditation. They can attain Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to a specific program, for instance HVAC technology. Make sure that the program and school are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency, for instance the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping ensure that you receive a superior education, it may help in acquiring financial assistance or student loans, which are in many cases unavailable for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of states require that the HVAC training course be accredited in order to qualify 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 of students who enroll in and complete the course. A lower completion rate may indicate that students were disappointed with the course and dropped out. It may also suggest that the instructors were not competent to train the students. It's similarly important 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 utilize 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 additionally that it has the network of Catalina Foothills AZ HVAC employers to help graduates obtain apprenticeships or employment.

Apprenticeship Programs.  A large number of HVAC training programs are taught in conjunction with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating vocational and technical schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of Heating and Cooling contractors or trade unions. Ask if the schools you are reviewing have referring partnerships with local Catalina Foothills AZ HVAC companies. An apprenticeship not only provides a valuable experience by furnishing hands-on training, but it also supplies job opportunities and helps to build relationships in the local HVAC professional community.

Modern Facilities.  Confirm that the school facilities and the equipment that you will be trained on are state-of-the-art and what you will be working with in the field. If you are presently in an internship or an apprenticeship, check with the HVAC technician you are working under regarding what you should be looking for. If not, ask a local Catalina Foothills AZ HVAC contractor if they can provide some suggestions. Additionally keep in mind that unless you are willing to move, the school needs to be within driving distance of your Catalina Foothills AZ home. Remember that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation costs there can be increased tuition fees compared to in-state residents.

Smaller Classes.   It's desirable that you receive as much individualized instruction as possible, which can be difficult in larger classes. Ask if you can monitor a few of the classes so that you can see how large they are and witness first hand the interaction between students and instructors. Talk with a few of the students and get their feedback regarding class sizes and instruction. Finally, talk to a few of the teachers and find out what their level of expertise is and what degrees or certifications they hold.

Flexible Scheduling.  Make sure that the class schedules for the schools you are assessing are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you are only able to attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Catalina Foothills AZ, confirm that the programs you are looking at provide those choices. If you can only attend part-time, make sure that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Additionally, check out what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, sickness or family issues.

Learn More About Catalina Foothills Heating and Cooling Schools In Your Area

Earn Your HVAC Degree and Certification

Finding the right HVAC training program is a critical beginning toward a gratifying career in the heating and cooling field. As we have addressed in this article, you need to pick a Heating and Cooling training program and a degree or certificate program that are both accredited and have outstanding reputations within the HVAC community. Other things to look for are ample practical training and modern facilities. You need to check out each of the schools personally that you are most interested in to explore 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 options and whether evening or weekend classes are offered if needed. And remember to ask about financial assistance and student loan options as well. If you ask the proper questions as we have laid out in our checklist for evaluating schools, you'll be able to filter your choices so that you can make an educated decision. With the appropriate training, hard work and dedication, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC contractor in Catalina Foothills AZ.