How to Select the Right Heating and Cooling Certification Class near Douglas Arizona
Now that you have come to a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioning specialist, the next action is to find an HVAC vocational school near Douglas AZ. But with so many to select from, how do you decide on the ideal one to obtain the training that you require? Some potential students will make their selection based entirely on the cost of tuition or how close the school is to their residence. Even though these are relevant considerations, they are not the only ones to investigate. Just some of the other factors that you need to look into are the graduation completion rates of the HVAC schools, their reputations, and if they are accredited by professional trade organizations. Those and additional criteria will be addressed in more detail later within this article. But before we discuss how to choose an HVAC vocational school, let's take a look at what a heating and cooling professional does to become a licensed professional tradesman.
How to Become an HVAC Specialist
HVAC is an acronym that is extensively used in the business that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC contractors 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, although every state and local municipality has its own prerequisites. Attaining professional certification is not mandatory, but a voluntary way for Douglas AZ HVAC techs to prove that they are exceptionally proficient and knowledgeable in their area of expertise. There are several recognized certifications within the industry that are available. Following are a few of the important ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally acknowledged certification for HVAC technicians. The certification is earned by passing a competency 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 field experience as well as passing a comprehensive examination are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have 3 years of experience along with a passing score on the professional level exam. Similar to NATE, certifications are offered in several specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is necessary for specialists that work with refrigerants. There are 3 forms of certification offered, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Because licensing might be required in your area, and you may also desire to acquire certification, it's imperative that you pick an HVAC technical school that will train you for both. And since you will more than likely be dealing with refrigerants, make certain that the program you decide on prepares you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.
HVAC Certificate and Degree Schools
There are a variety of alternatives offered for HVAC training in a trade or technical school. You can attain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Obtaining a certificate will take the least amount of time, usually achieved in just 6 months, though some programs are longer. A certificate will qualify you for most HVAC positions, especially if you are licensed and have certification relevant to the position. The degree programs might provide a competitive advantage for securing employment and will provide more extensive training than the certificate programs. Following is a brief explanation of each credential offered near Douglas AZ.
- Certificate. Normally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among beginning residential or commercial HVAC professionals. They furnish a solid foundation of skills for job opportunities within the trade.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program supplies a more exhaustive knowledge of heating & cooling systems than the certificate program. Generally 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 towards a career in management as well as business ownership. Some programs require an Associate Degree, while others are a conventional four year program. In addition to mastering how to service and maintain heating and cooling systems, you will also learn how to design them.
Selecting the right credential program will be based on what your long term career objectives are, together with the time and financial resources that you have to invest. One possibility is to begin with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after getting some experience in the trade in Douglas AZ, eventually going back to obtain a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your tactic, make sure to ask the HVAC tech school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Courses Online
Choosing an HVAC school online is one option to attaining your training and earning a degree or certificate. Most schools will require some attendance on campus to take part in hands on training. Some also sponsor internship or work-study programs in addition to or as an alternative to practical lab work. But since the rest of the classes can be participated in online, this approach may be a more accessible solution for some Douglas AZ students that are short on time. And many online degree programs are more economical than other on campus options. Even commuting expenses from Douglas and study supplies can be minimized, helping to make schooling more budget-friendly. And many online programs are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your job or family commitments have left you with minimal time to attend classes, perhaps an online HVAC degree program will make it less complicated to fit school into your hectic lifestyle.
Questions to Ask HVAC Certification Classes
As soon as you have decided on the type of certificate or degree that you desire to acquire, either on campus or online, you can begin to decrease your selection of schools. As you are certainly aware, there are numerous HVAC vocational schools in the Douglas AZ area and throughout the USA to choose from. That's why it is very important to have a checklist of important qualifiers when making school assessments. As previously stated in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will most likely be the initial two aspects you will consider. Following are several additional ones that you need to investigate before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Many HVAC technical schools in the Douglas AZ area have attained either a regional or a national accreditation. They can attain Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to an individual program, for example HVAC technology. Make sure that the program is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting organization, for instance the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping make certain that you acquire a quality education, it can help in securing financial assistance or student loans, which are often not available for non-accredited programs. Also, a number of states require that the HVAC training course be accredited in order to be approved 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 complete the program. A lower completion rate might signify that students were dissatisfied with the program and dropped out. It might also indicate that the teachers were not competent to train the students. It's similarly important that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive list of alumni, which may produce more contacts for the school to use for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate can not only affirm that the school has a good reputation within the trade, but additionally that it has the network of Douglas AZ HVAC employers to assist graduates secure apprenticeships or jobs.
Apprenticeship Programs. A large number of HVAC technical programs are taught together with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating vocational and trade schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of Heating and Cooling businesses or labor unions. Ask if the schools you are comparing have working partnerships with local Douglas AZ HVAC companies. An apprenticeship not only offers a valuable experience by furnishing practical training, but it also provides job opportunities and helps to form relationships in the regional HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make certain that the school facilities and the equipment that you will be instructed on are state-of-the-art and what you will be using in the field. If you are presently in an internship or an apprenticeship, talk to the HVAC tech you are working under regarding what you should be looking for. Otherwise, ask a local Douglas AZ HVAC contracting company if they can provide some tips. Also bear in mind that unless you can relocate, the school must be within commuting distance of your Douglas AZ residence. Remember that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation costs there can be increased tuition charges compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's desirable that you get as much one-on-one training as possible, which can be challenging in larger classes. Ask if you can monitor a few of the classes so that you can see how large they are and experience the interaction between students and teachers. Talk to some of the students and get their comments concerning class sizes and instruction. Last, speak with some of the teachers and find out what their level of experience is and what degrees or certifications they have earned.
Flexible Scheduling. Verify that the class schedules for the schools you are evaluating are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Douglas AZ, check that the schools you are comparing offer those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain 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, sickness or family responsibilities.
Get Your HVAC Training and Certification
Enrolling in the ideal HVAC school course is a critical beginning toward a rewarding career in the heating and air conditioning field. As we have covered 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 exceptional reputations within the HVAC profession. Other factors to search for are sufficient hands-on training and modern facilities. You should go to each of the schools personally that you are most interested in to inspect the campus and speak with both the current students and faculty. Try to get a feel for the quality of the teaching and the interaction between them. Additionally, ask about scheduling choices and whether or not night or weekend classes are available if needed. And don't forget to inquire about financial assistance and student loan options also. If you ask the proper questions as we have laid out in our checklist for comparing 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 dedication, you can eventually become a licensed HVAC contractor in Douglas AZ.