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

Douglas Arizona residential A/C condensersNow that you have come to a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioner professional, the next step is to look for an HVAC trade school near Douglas AZ. But with so many to choose from, how do you choose the best one to obtain the training that you require? Some potential students will make their decision based exclusively on the price of tuition or how close the school is to their home. Although these are significant concerns, they are not the only ones to take into account. Just some of the other details 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 additional benchmarks will be covered in more detail later within this article. But before we discuss how to choose 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 Tech

Douglas Arizona HVAC Technician servicing air conditioning condenserHVAC is an acronym that is frequently used in the trade that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC technicians specialize in the installation, maintenance and repair of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are generally mandated to be licensed, although every state and local municipality has its own requirements. Acquiring professional certification is not compulsory, but a voluntary way for Douglas AZ HVAC specialists to prove that they are highly proficient and accomplished in their area of specialization. There are several acknowledged certifications within the field that are offered. Following are some of the important ones.

  • North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally recognized certification for HVAC technicians. The certification is attained by passing a competency exam and can be received in one or more specialties.
  • HVAC Excellence. This certification makes available both a professional and a master specialist credential. Two years of field experience together with passing a comprehensive exam are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have 3 years of experience in addition to a passing result on the professional level exam. Similar to NATE, certifications are provided in multiple specialties.
  • EPA Section 608. This certification is necessary for specialists that work with refrigerants. There are three forms of certification available, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.

Since licensing might be mandated in your area, and you may also wish to earn certification, it's essential that you enroll in an HVAC vocational school that will prepare you for both. And since you will most likely be handling refrigerants, make certain that the program you select prepares you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.

HVAC Certificate and Degree Classes

Douglas Arizona home heater

There are a number of alternatives 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 lesser amount of time, usually completed in as little as 6 months, though some programs are longer. A certificate will train you for most HVAC positions, particularly if you are licensed and have certification relevant to the position. The degree programs may provide a competitive edge in the job market and will provide more extensive training than the certificate programs. Below is a short summary of each credential offered near Douglas AZ.

  • Certificate. Usually requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among entry level commercial or residential HVAC specialists. They provide a strong foundation of skills for job opportunities within the industry.
  • Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program supplies a more comprehensive knowledge of heating and a/c systems than the certificate program. Typically taking 2 years to complete, some degrees incorporate an internship or work-study program.
  • Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is tailored more for a career in management or even business ownership. Some programs require an Associate Degree, while others are a traditional 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 appropriate credential program will be dependent on what your long term career aspirations are, along with the time and money that you have to invest. One approach is to begin with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after gaining some experience in the field in Douglas AZ, later returning to acquire a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your approach, make sure to ask the HVAC technician school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.

HVAC Classes Online

Attending an HVAC school online is one possibility in attaining your training and receiving a certificate or degree. Almost all schools will require some attendance on campus to take part in practical training. Some also offer internship or work-study programs in addition to or as an alternative to practical lab work. But since the balance of the classes may be attended online, this approach may be a more accessible solution for some Douglas AZ students that are pressed for time. And many online degree programs are more economical than other on campus options. Even driving expenses from Douglas and study materials may 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 work or family responsibilities have left you with minimal time to attend classes, maybe an HVAC online training program will make it less complicated to accommodate school into your hectic schedule.

Questions to Ask HVAC Certification Courses

Douglas Arizona Heating and Cooling technician installing water heater

After you have picked the type of degree or certificate that you wish to acquire, either online or on campus, you can begin to decrease your selection of schools. As you are certainly aware, there are many HVAC vocational schools in the Douglas AZ area and throughout the USA to pick from. That's why it is imperative to have a checklist of key qualifications when making school assessments. As formerly stated in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will undoubtedly be the initial two variables you will consider. Following are some additional ones that you should investigate before enrolling in your school of choice.

Accreditation.  Many HVAC vocational schools in the Douglas AZ area have acquired either a regional or a national accreditation. They can attain Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to a specific program, for instance HVAC technology. Make sure that the program is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting agency, which includes the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping make certain that you receive a quality education, it may help in acquiring financial assistance or student loans, which are in many cases not available for non-accredited programs. Furthermore, many states require that the HVAC training program be accredited for it to qualify for licensing.

High Completion Rates.  Ask the Heating and Cooling schools you are considering what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage of students who enroll in and finish the course. A lower completion rate might indicate that students were disappointed with the course and quit. It may also suggest that the teachers were not qualified to instruct the students. It's also imperative that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive list of graduates, which may mean more contacts for the school to utilize for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate can not only validate that the school has an excellent reputation within the field, but additionally that it has the network of Douglas AZ HVAC employers to help grads acquire apprenticeships or employment.

Apprenticeship Programs.  Many HVAC trade programs are taught in conjunction with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating vocational and technical schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of HVAC contractors or trade unions. Check if the schools you are considering have working relationships with local Douglas AZ HVAC specialists. An apprenticeship not only provides a rewarding experience by furnishing practical training, but it also supplies job opportunities and helps to establish relationships in the regional HVAC professional community.

Modern Facilities.  Make sure that the campus facilities and the tools that you will be trained on are state-of-the-art and what you will be using in the field. If you are currently in an internship or an apprenticeship, talk to the HVAC specialist you are working with regarding what you should be expecting. Otherwise, ask a local Douglas AZ HVAC contractor if they can provide some suggestions. Additionally bear in mind that unless you can relocate, the school needs to be within driving distance of your Douglas AZ residence. Take note that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to moving costs there can 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 difficult in bigger classes. Ask if you can monitor some of the classes so that you can observe how big they are and witness first hand the interaction between students and instructors. Talk with some of the students and get their comments concerning class sizes and instruction. Finally, speak with some of the instructors and learn what their level of expertise is and what degrees or certifications they have earned.

Flexible Scheduling.  Confirm that the class schedules for the schools you are reviewing are flexible enough to handle your needs. If you are only able to attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Douglas AZ, verify that the programs you are comparing provide those choices. If you can only attend part-time, make certain that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Finally, ask what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, sickness or family issues.

Learn More About Douglas Heating and Cooling Schools In Your Area

Earn Your HVAC Training and Certification

Picking the ideal HVAC school course is an important beginning toward a fulfilling career in the heating and air conditioning trade. As we have discussed 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 outstanding reputations within the HVAC community. Other features to search for are ample practical training and modern facilities. You need to visit 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 instruction and the interaction between them. In addition, inquire about scheduling options and if 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 proper questions as we have outlined in our guidelines for assessing schools, you'll be able to narrow down your options so that you can make an informed decision. With the proper training, hard work and commitment, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC contractor in Douglas AZ.