How to Find the Right HVAC Certification Training near Douglas Arizona
Once you have made a decision on a career as a heating and cooling specialist, the next step is to locate an HVAC vocational school near Douglas AZ. But with so many to pick from, how do you decide on the right one to get the training that you require? Many potential students will make their choice based solely on the cost of tuition or how close the school is to their residence. While these are important concerns, they are not the only ones to evaluate. A few of the other details that you need to research are the graduation rates of the HVAC schools, their reputations, and if they are accredited by professional trade organizations. These and other criteria will be addressed in more detail later in this article. But before we explore how to select an HVAC training program, let's look at what a heating and cooling technician does to become a licensed skilled tradesman.
Becoming an HVAC Contractor
HVAC is an acronym that is commonly used in the business that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC technicians provide services for the installation, maintenance and repair of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are commonly required to be licensed, however every state and local municipality has its own requirements. Acquiring professional certification is not compulsory, but a voluntary means for Douglas AZ HVAC technicians to demonstrate that they are highly proficient and experienced in their area of expertise. There are many acknowledged certifications within the industry that are available. Below are some of the important ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally acknowledged certification for HVAC techs. The certification is achieved by passing a proficiency exam and can be received in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification offers both a professional and a master specialist credential. 2 years of field experience as well as passing a comprehensive exam are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have three years of experience in addition to a passing score on the professional level exam. Similar to NATE, certifications are provided in various specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is mandatory for specialists that handle refrigerants. There are 3 forms of certification available, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Because licensing could be required in your area, and you may also wish to earn certification, it's essential that you select an HVAC technical school that will train you for both. And since you will most likely be working with refrigerants, make certain that the program you decide on preps you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.
HVAC Degree Classes
There are several choices offered for HVAC instruction in a technical or vocational school. You can attain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Acquiring a certificate will take the least amount of time, usually achieved in just 6 months, although some programs are longer. A certificate will train you for the majority of HVAC positions, particularly 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 deliver more extensive training than the certificate programs. Following is a short summary of each credential offered near Douglas AZ.
- Certificate. Usually requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among beginning residential or commercial HVAC professionals. They provide a strong foundation of skills for employment within the trade.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program delivers a more extensive knowledge of heating & cooling systems than the certificate program. Typically taking 2 years to complete, many 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 as well as business ownership. Some programs call for 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 study how to design them.
Choosing the appropriate credential program will be based on what your long term career goals are, in addition to the time and money that you have to invest. One approach is to begin with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after acquiring some experience in the field in Douglas AZ, eventually returning to earn a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your approach, be sure to ask the HVAC tech school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Courses Online
Attending an HVAC program online is one approach in attaining your education and earning a degree or certificate. Nearly all schools will call for some attendance on campus to complete hands on training. Some also provide internship or work-study programs in addition to or instead of practical lab work. But since the balance of the classes can be attended on the web, this alternative may be a more convenient solution for some Douglas AZ students that are short on time. And some online degree programs are more economical than other on campus choices. Even driving expenses from Douglas and study supplies can be reduced, helping to make education more economical. And a large number of online programs are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your career or family commitments 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 busy schedule.
Questions to Ask HVAC Schools
After you have decided on the type of degree or certificate that you wish to earn, either online or on campus, you can start to decrease your selection of schools. As you are probably aware, there are numerous HVAC trade schools in the Douglas AZ area and across the USA to select from. That's why it is very important to have a checklist of important qualifications when making school comparisons. As formerly stated in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will undoubtedly be the first two aspects you will consider. Following are some additional ones that you need to research before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Numerous HVAC technical programs in the Douglas AZ area have earned either a regional or a national accreditation. They may attain Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to an individual program, for instance HVAC technology. Confirm that the school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting agency, which includes the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping guarantee that you acquire a superior education, it can help in obtaining financial assistance or student loans, which are in many cases not available for non-accredited programs. Additionally, a number of states require that the HVAC training program be accredited for it to be approved 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 finish the program. A lower completion rate could signify that students were dissatisfied with the program and dropped out. It might also mean that the teachers were not qualified to train the students. It's also imperative that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader directory of graduates, which may mean more contacts for the school to utilize for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate will not only validate that the school has a good reputation within the field, but additionally that it has the network of Douglas AZ HVAC employers to assist students secure apprenticeships or jobs.
Apprenticeship Programs. Numerous HVAC training programs are taught together with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating trade and technical programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of HVAC businesses or trade unions. Check if the schools you are comparing have working partnerships with local Douglas AZ HVAC specialists. An apprenticeship not only provides a valuable experience by providing practical training, but it also provides employment opportunities and helps to build relationships in the area HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make sure that the campus facilities and the equipment that you will be trained on are state-of-the-art and what you will be using on the job. If you are currently in an internship or an apprenticeship, check with the HVAC technician you are working under concerning what you should be expecting. If not, ask a local Douglas AZ HVAC contracting company if they can give you some pointers. Also bear in mind that unless you are able to relocate, the school needs to be within commuting distance of your Douglas AZ home. Remember that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides the added moving costs there may be increased tuition charges compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's important that you get as much individualized training as possible, which can be challenging in bigger classes. Ask if you can sit in on some of the classes so that you can observe how big they are and experience the interaction between students and instructors. Speak to a few of the students and get their opinions relating to class sizes and instruction. Last, speak to a few of the teachers and learn what their level of experience 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 handle your needs. If you are only able to go to classes at night or on weekends near Douglas AZ, verify that the programs you are reviewing provide those choices. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Additionally, find out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, illness or family responsibilities.
Get Your HVAC Certificate or Degree
Finding the right HVAC training course is a critical beginning toward a gratifying career in the heating and cooling industry. As we have discussed 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 profession. Other things to search for are ample practical training and modern facilities. You should go to each of the schools in person that you are most interested in to explore the campus and talk with both the faculty and current students. Attempt to get a feel for the quality of the instruction and the interaction between them. In addition, ask about scheduling options and if night or weekend classes are available if needed. And remember to inquire about financial aid 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 informed decision. With the appropriate training, hard work and commitment, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC contractor in Douglas AZ.