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

Douglas Arizona residential air conditioning condensersOnce you have come to a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioning technician, the next action is to locate an HVAC trade school near Douglas AZ. But with so many to pick from, how do you choose the best one to receive the training that you require? Some future students will make their decision based solely on the price of tuition or how near the school is to their residence. Although these are relevant concerns, they are not the only ones to evaluate. Some of the other details 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 criteria will be covered in more detail later in this article. But before we explore how to pick an HVAC training program, let's take a look at what a heating and a/c specialist does to become a licensed qualified tradesman.

Becoming an HVAC Specialist

Douglas Arizona HVAC Contractor repairing air conditioning condenserHVAC is an acronym that is widely used in the trade that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC technicians provide services for the installation, repair and maintenance of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are commonly required to be licensed, although every state and local municipality has its own criteria. Obtaining professional certification is not mandatory, but a voluntary way for Douglas AZ HVAC technicians to establish that they are highly proficient and accomplished in their area of expertise. There are several acknowledged certifications within the field that are offered. Below are a few of the important ones.

  • North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally acknowledged certification for HVAC technicians. The certification is attained by passing a proficiency examination and may be acquired in one or more specialties.
  • HVAC Excellence. This certification offers 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 three years of experience as well as a passing score on the professional level examination. Similar to NATE, certifications are provided in multiple specialties.
  • EPA Section 608. This certification is necessary for technicians that handle refrigerants. There are three types of certification available, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.

Considering that licensing may be required in your area, and you may also wish to acquire certification, it's imperative that you select an HVAC technical school that will prepare you for both. And since you will more than likely be handling refrigerants, make sure that the program you choose prepares you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.

HVAC Degree and Certificate Schools

Douglas Arizona residential heater

There are several options available for HVAC training in a technical or vocational school. You can obtain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Earning a certificate will take the lesser period of time, typically accomplished in as little as six 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 related to the position. The degree training programs may provide a competitive edge in the job market and will furnish more in-depth training than the certificate programs. Below is a brief summary of each option offered near Douglas AZ.

  • Certificate. Normally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among entry level residential or commercial HVAC professionals. They provide a strong foundation of skills for employment within the industry.
  • Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program delivers a more detailed understanding of heating and a/c systems than the certificate program. Generally taking 2 years to finish, some degrees feature an internship or work-study program.
  • Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is geared more towards a career in management as well as business ownership. Some programs require an Associate Degree, while others are a traditional four 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 right credential program will be dependent on what your long term career aspirations are, in addition to the time and money that you have to invest. One option is to start with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after getting some experience in the field in Douglas AZ, subsequently going back to obtain a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your strategy, make certain to ask the HVAC tech school you are considering about how their returning student program works.

HVAC Online Training

Attending an HVAC school online is one possibility in getting your training and earning a certificate or degree. Almost all schools will call for some attendance on campus to complete practical training. Many also provide 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 some online degree programs are less costly than other on campus options. Even driving expenses from Douglas and study supplies may be lessened, helping to make education more affordable. And many online programs are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your career or family obligations 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 lifestyle.

Questions to Ask HVAC Training Programs

Douglas Arizona HVAC contractor repairing water heater

Once you have selected the type of certificate or degree that you wish to obtain, either online or on campus, you can start to narrow down your selection of schools. As you are certainly aware, there are many HVAC technical schools in the Douglas AZ area and throughout the United States to select from. That's why it is essential to have a list of relevant qualifications when making school assessments. As formerly mentioned in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will undoubtedly be the first 2 variables you will consider. Following are some additional ones that you need to investigate before enrolling in your school of choice.

Accreditation.  Numerous HVAC trade programs in the Douglas AZ area have received either a regional or a national accreditation. They may attain Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to an individual program, such as HVAC technology. Confirm that the program and school are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency, for instance the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping make certain that you receive a superior education, it can help in acquiring financial assistance or student loans, which are often unavailable for non-accredited schools. Additionally, a number of states require that the HVAC training program be accredited in order to be approved for licensing.

High Completion Rates.  Ask the HVAC schools you are reviewing what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage or portion of students who enroll in and complete the course. A low completion rate might signify that students were unhappy with the course and quit. It could also signify that the teachers were not competent to train the students. It's similarly essential that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader directory of graduates, which can result in more contacts for the school to employ 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 field, but additionally that it has the network of Douglas AZ HVAC employers to help students obtain apprenticeships or employment.

Apprenticeship Programs.  Most HVAC technical programs are taught together with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating trade and vocational schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of Heating and Cooling companies or trade unions. Find out if the schools you are reviewing have referring partnerships with local Douglas AZ HVAC companies. An apprenticeship not only offers a rewarding experience by furnishing hands-on training, but it also provides job opportunities and helps to establish relationships in the area HVAC professional community.

Modern Facilities.  Make certain that the campus facilities and the tools 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, consult with the HVAC technician you are working with regarding what you should be looking for. If not, ask a local Douglas AZ HVAC company if they can give you some tips. Also keep in mind that unless you can move, the school must be within commuting distance of your Douglas AZ residence. Remember that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, besides the added relocation costs there can be increased tuition charges compared to in-state residents.

Smaller Classes.   It's important that you receive as much personalized training as possible, which can be challenging in larger classes. Ask if you can sit in on a couple of the classes so that you can observe how large they are and witness first hand the interaction between instructors and students. Speak with some of the students and get their comments regarding class sizes and instruction. Finally, talk with a few of the instructors and learn what their level of experience is and what degrees or certifications they have earned.

Flexible Scheduling.  Make sure that the class schedules for the schools you are assessing are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Douglas AZ, check that the programs you are comparing provide those choices. If you can only attend part-time, make sure that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Additionally, ask what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, illness or family emergencies.

Find Out More About Douglas HVAC Training Programs In Your Area

Earn Your HVAC Training and Certification

Choosing the ideal HVAC training program is an important beginning toward a rewarding career in the heating & cooling 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 outstanding reputations within the HVAC community. Other factors to look for are ample practical training and state-of-the-art facilities. You need to go to each of the schools in person that you are most interested in to inspect the campus and talk with both the current students and faculty. Attempt to get a feel for the quality of the training and the interaction between them. In addition, 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 appropriate questions as we have laid out in our guidelines for comparing schools, you'll be able to narrow down your options so that you can make an informed decision. With the appropriate training, hard work and commitment, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC professional in Douglas AZ.