How to Find the Right Heating and Cooling Training Program near Douglas Arizona
Now that you have made a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioning technician, the next action is to look for an HVAC technical school near Douglas AZ. But with so many to select from, how do you select the right one to get the training that you need? Some potential students will make their choice based exclusively on the price of tuition or how near the school is to their home. Although these are important concerns, they are not the only ones to take into account. A few of the other factors that you need to look into are the graduation rates of the HVAC schools, their reputations, and if they are accredited by professional trade organizations. Those and other benchmarks will be covered in more detail later within this article. But before we discuss how to pick an HVAC technical school, let's take a look at what a heating and a/c professional does to become a licensed professional tradesman.
Becoming an HVAC Professional
HVAC is an acronym that is widely used in the trade 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, although every state and regional municipality has its own prerequisites. Attaining professional certification is not required, but an optional means for Douglas AZ HVAC specialists to demonstrate that they are highly skilled and accomplished in their area of expertise. There are a number of recognized certifications within the field that are offered. Here 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 exam and may be acquired in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification makes available both a professional and a master specialist credential. Two years of professional experience as well as passing a comprehensive examination are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have three years of experience in addition to a passing result on the professional level exam. Similar to NATE, certifications are offered in various specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is mandatory for techs that handle refrigerants. There are 3 types of certification offered, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Because licensing might be mandated in your area, and you may also intend to earn certification, it's imperative that you select an HVAC vocational school that will prepare you for both. And since you will more than likely be dealing with refrigerants, make certain that the program you pick prepares you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
HVAC Certificate and Degree Classes
There are a variety of choices available for HVAC training in a vocational 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, typically achieved in just 6 months, however some courses are longer. A certificate will qualify you for most HVAC positions, particularly if you are licensed and have certification related to the position. The degree training programs may provide a competitive edge in the job market and will provide more extensive training than the certificate programs. Following is a short description of each option offered near Douglas AZ.
- Certificate. Usually requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among beginning commercial or residential HVAC technicians. They provide a solid foundation of skills for employment within the industry.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program supplies a more extensive background of heating and cooling systems than the certificate program. Typically requiring 2 years to finish, 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 call for an Associate Degree, while others are a conventional 4 year program. In addition to learning 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 future career goals are, in addition to the time and financial resources that you have to commit. One possibility is to begin with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after gaining some experience in the field in Douglas AZ, eventually going back to acquire a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your tactic, make certain 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 possibility to obtaining your education and earning a certificate or degree. Almost all schools will require some attendance on campus to take part in practical training. Many also offer internship or work-study programs in addition to or in place of practical lab work. But since the remainder of the classes can be participated in online, this approach may be a more practical solution for many Douglas AZ students that are pressed for time. And many online degree programs are more economical than other traditional options. Even driving expenses from Douglas and study supplies can be minimized, helping to make schooling more budget-friendly. And a large number of online programs are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your job or family commitments have left you with limited time to attend classes, perhaps an HVAC online training program will make it more convenient to fit school into your hectic lifestyle.
What to Ask HVAC Training Programs
When you have decided on the type of degree or certificate that you would like to attain, either on campus or online, you can begin to decrease your list of schools. As you are probably aware, there are numerous HVAC trade schools in the Douglas AZ area and across the United States to pick from. That's why it is extremely important to have a list of important qualifiers when making school assessments. As earlier mentioned in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will most likely be the initial two aspects you will look at. Following are several additional ones that you should research before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Many HVAC trade programs in the Douglas AZ area have earned either a regional or a national accreditation. They may acquire Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to an individual program, for instance HVAC technology. Make certain that the school and program are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency, which includes the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping make certain that you get an excellent education, it may assist in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are often unavailable for non-accredited programs. 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 looking at what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students who enroll in and complete the course. A low completion rate could signify that students were unhappy with the course and dropped out. It could also indicate that the instructors 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 list of graduates, which can produce more contacts for the school to utilize 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 Douglas AZ HVAC employers to assist students acquire apprenticeships or jobs.
Apprenticeship Programs. Most 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 inside their network of HVAC companies or trade unions. Ask if the schools you are considering have working relationships with local Douglas AZ HVAC companies. An apprenticeship not only provides a valuable experience by supplying practical training, but it also provides job opportunities and helps to build relationships in the local HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Confirm 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, check with the HVAC specialist you are working with concerning what you should be looking for. If not, ask a local Douglas AZ HVAC contracting company if they can provide some suggestions. Additionally bear in mind that unless you are able to relocate, the school needs to be within driving distance of your Douglas AZ home. Remember that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to moving costs there may be higher tuition fees compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's desirable that you get as much individualized training as possible, which can be difficult in larger classes. Ask if you can sit in on a few of the classes so that you can observe how large they are and experience the interaction between students and instructors. Speak with a few of the students and get their opinions concerning class sizes and instruction. Finally, speak with some of the instructors and learn what their level of expertise is and what certifications or degrees they hold.
Flexible Scheduling. Make sure that the class schedules for the programs you are evaluating are flexible enough to handle your needs. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Douglas AZ, check that the schools you are considering provide those options. If you can only attend part-time, make certain that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Finally, ask what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, sickness or family issues.
Earn Your HVAC Training and Certification
Selecting the right HVAC training course is an important beginning toward a fulfilling career in the heating and cooling industry. As we have covered in this article, you need to select a Heating and Cooling training program and a degree or certificate program that are both accredited and have excellent reputations within the HVAC profession. Other factors to search for are ample practical training and modern facilities. You need to go to each of the schools in person that you are most interested in to explore the campus and speak with both the current students and faculty. Try to get a feel for the quality of the training and the interaction between them. In addition, inquire about scheduling options and if night or weekend classes are available if needed. And don't forget to ask about financial assistance and student loan options also. If you ask the appropriate questions as we have outlined in our guidelines for assessing schools, you'll be able to filter your choices so that you can make an educated decision. With the appropriate training, hard work and commitment, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC specialist in Douglas AZ.