How to Find the Right Heating and Cooling School near Douglas Arizona
Now that you have made a decision on a career as a heating and cooling professional, the next action is to choose an HVAC trade school near Douglas AZ. But with so many to choose from, how do you pick the right one to receive the training that you need? Some future students will make their choice based entirely on the cost of tuition or how close the school is to their residence. Although these are relevant concerns, they are not the only ones to evaluate. Some of the other things 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 other benchmarks will be discussed in more detail later within this article. But before we discuss how to choose an HVAC training program, let's take a look at what a heating and a/c specialist does to become a licensed skilled tradesman.
Becoming an HVAC Technician
HVAC is an acronym that is widely 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 professional tradesmen, they are generally mandated to be licensed, however every state and regional municipality has its own requirements. Attaining professional certification is not mandatory, but a voluntary means for Douglas AZ HVAC techs to prove that they are exceptionally qualified and knowledgeable in their area of expertise. There are a number of acknowledged certifications within the field that are offered. Following are some 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 competency exam 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 field experience in addition to passing a comprehensive exam are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have 3 years of experience in addition to a passing score on the professional level exam. As with NATE, certifications are offered in multiple specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is mandatory for techs that work with refrigerants. There are 3 forms of certification offered, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Considering that licensing might be mandated in your area, and you may also desire to earn certification, it's essential that you select an HVAC vocational school that will train you for both. And since you will probably be dealing with refrigerants, make sure that the school you decide on prepares you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
HVAC Certificate and Degree Classes
There are several options offered for HVAC instruction in a technical or trade school. You can earn a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Earning a certificate will take the least amount of time, typically completed in as little as six months, although some programs are longer. A certificate will train you for most HVAC positions, especially 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 furnish more comprehensive training than the certificate programs. Following is a short explanation of each credential offered near Douglas AZ.
- Certificate. Normally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among beginning commercial or residential HVAC professionals. They provide a solid foundation of skills for employment within the industry.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program supplies a more comprehensive understanding of heating and a/c systems than the certificate program. Usually requiring 2 years to finish, 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 or even business ownership. Some programs require an Associate Degree, while others are a traditional 4 year program. In addition to mastering how to service and maintain heating and air conditioning systems, you will also study how to design them.
Selecting the ideal credential program will be based on what your long term career goals are, as well as the time and financial resources that you have to invest. One possibility is to start with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after acquiring some experience in the field in Douglas AZ, subsequently going back to obtain a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your approach, be sure to ask the HVAC tech school you are considering about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Schools Online
Enrolling in an HVAC program online is one option in getting your training and receiving a certificate or degree. Most schools will require some attendance on campus to participate in practical training. A number also offer internship or work-study programs in addition to or instead of practical lab work. But since the remainder of the classes can be participated in on the web, this approach may be a more practical solution for some Douglas AZ students that are pressed for time. And a number of online degree programs are less costly than other traditional choices. Even commuting expenses from Douglas and study supplies can be minimized, 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 little time to attend classes, perhaps an online HVAC degree program will make it more convenient to fit school into your hectic lifestyle.
Questions For HVAC Certification Classes
After you have decided on the type of certificate or degree that you desire to obtain, either on campus or online, you can begin to narrow down your list of schools. As you are certainly aware, there are many HVAC trade schools in the Douglas AZ area and all over the Country to select from. That's why it is extremely 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 2 aspects you will look at. Following are some additional ones that you need to research before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Many HVAC trade schools in the Douglas AZ area have acquired either a regional or a national accreditation. They can attain Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to a specific program, for example HVAC technology. Make certain that the school and program are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting organization, which includes the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping ensure that you get a superior education, it may assist in securing financial aid or student loans, which are in many cases not available for non-accredited programs. Furthermore, many states mandate that the HVAC training course be accredited in order to be approved for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the HVAC schools you are considering what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage or portion of students who enroll in and finish the program. A lower completion rate could signify that students were disappointed with the program and dropped out. It could also mean that the instructors 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 broader list of graduates, which may result in more contacts for the school to employ for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate can not only validate that the school has a good reputation within the trade, but also that it has the network of Douglas AZ HVAC employers to help students secure apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. Many HVAC training programs are taught along with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating trade and vocational 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 referring partnerships with local Douglas AZ HVAC companies. An apprenticeship not only offers a valuable experience by providing hands-on training, but it also provides employment opportunities and helps to form relationships in the local HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make certain that the campus 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 already in an internship or an apprenticeship, consult with the HVAC tech you are working with concerning what you should be looking for. If not, ask a local Douglas AZ HVAC contractor if they can give you some suggestions. Additionally bear in mind that unless you are able to move, the school must be within commuting distance of your Douglas AZ home. Remember that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation costs there may be higher tuition fees compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's important that you get as much one-on-one instruction as possible, which can be challenging in larger classes. Ask if you can monitor some of the classes so that you can observe how large they are and experience the interaction between teachers and students. Speak to several of the students and get their comments relating to class sizes and instruction. Finally, speak with some of the instructors 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 programs you are evaluating are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you are only able to go to classes at night or on weekends near Douglas AZ, check that the schools you are looking at offer those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, be sure that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Finally, ask what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, sickness or family issues.
Get Your Heating and Cooling Degree and Certification
Picking the right HVAC school course is a crucial beginning toward a gratifying career in the heating & cooling field. As we have addressed in this article, you should pick a Heating and Cooling training program and a certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have outstanding reputations within the HVAC community. Other things to look for are sufficient practical training and modern facilities. You should visit each of the schools personally that you are most interested in to tour 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. Also, ask about scheduling options and whether evening or weekend classes are offered if needed. And remember to inquire about financial aid and student loan options as well. If you ask the right questions as we have laid out in our checklist for assessing schools, you'll be able to filter your options so that you can make an informed decision. With the proper training, hard work and dedication, you can eventually become a licensed HVAC specialist in Douglas AZ.