How to Find the Right HVAC School near Douglas Arizona
Now that you have made a decision on a career as a heating and cooling specialist, the next step is to locate an HVAC trade school near Douglas AZ. But with so many to choose from, how do you pick the ideal one to obtain the training that you need? Some potential students will make their choice based exclusively on the cost of tuition or how near the school is to their home. While these are necessary concerns, they are not the only ones to take into account. A few of the other things 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 criteria will be covered in more detail later in this article. But before we examine how to select an HVAC training program, let's look at what a heating and a/c professional does to become a licensed professional tradesman.
Becoming an HVAC Technician
HVAC is an acronym that is extensively used in the industry that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC technicians specialize in the installation, repair and maintenance of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are generally required to be licensed, although each state and local municipality has its own requirements. Acquiring professional certification is not compulsory, but a voluntary means for Douglas AZ HVAC specialists to establish that they are exceptionally proficient and knowledgeable in their area of expertise. There are many respected certifications within the industry that are available. Here are some of the significant ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally acknowledged certification for HVAC technicians. The certification is earned by passing a competency examination and can be earned 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 examination 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. As with NATE, certifications are made available in multiple specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is mandatory for technicians that handle refrigerants. There are three types of certification offered, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Considering that licensing may be mandated in your area, and you may also wish to acquire certification, it's essential that you choose an HVAC technical school that will train you for both. And since you will probably be handling refrigerants, make sure that the program you select prepares you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.
HVAC Degree and Certificate Classes
There are several options offered for HVAC instruction in a trade or technical school. You can obtain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Earning a certificate will take the least amount of time, often achieved in just six months, though some programs are longer. A certificate will train you for most HVAC positions, especially if you are licensed and have certification related to the position. The degree programs might provide a competitive advantage for securing employment and will deliver more in-depth training than the certificate programs. Below is a short explanation of each credential offered near Douglas AZ.
- Certificate. Normally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among beginning commercial or residential HVAC specialists. They furnish a strong foundation of skills for job opportunities within the industry.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program supplies a more detailed understanding of heating & cooling systems than the certificate program. Usually taking two years to complete, many degrees feature an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is geared more for a career in management or even business ownership. Some programs require an Associate Degree, while others are a standard four year program. In addition to learning how to service and maintain heating and air conditioning systems, you will also study how to design them.
Choosing the ideal credential program will be based on what your future career goals are, along with the time and financial resources that you have to commit. One approach is to start with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after getting some experience in the field in Douglas AZ, later going back to acquire a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your strategy, be sure to ask the HVAC technician school you are considering about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Classes Online
Enrolling in an HVAC school online is one possibility to getting your training and earning a certificate or degree. Nearly all schools will call for some attendance on campus to take part in hands on training. Many 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 can be participated in via the internet, this alternative may be a more accessible solution for some Douglas AZ students that are short on time. And many online degree programs are cheaper than other on campus options. Even driving expenses from Douglas and study supplies can be minimized, helping to make education more budget-friendly. And a large number of 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 HVAC online training program will make it less complicated to accommodate school into your busy lifestyle.
Questions to Ask HVAC Trade Schools
When you have chosen the type of degree or certificate that you wish to acquire, either online or on campus, you can begin to decrease your list of schools. As you are probably aware, there are a large number of HVAC trade schools in the Douglas AZ area and all over the Country to select from. That's why it is essential to have a list of key qualifiers when making school assessments. As earlier stated in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will probably be the first 2 variables you will take into consideration. Following are several additional ones that you should explore before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. A large number of HVAC trade programs in the Douglas AZ area have attained either a regional or a national accreditation. They can acquire Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to an individual program, such as HVAC technology. Confirm that the school and program are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization, for instance the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping ensure that you get a superior education, it may assist in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are often not available for non-accredited schools. Additionally, a number of states mandate that the HVAC training course be accredited in order to qualify 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 complete the course. A lower completion rate might signify that students were disappointed with the program and quit. It may also indicate that the teachers were not qualified to instruct the students. It's similarly imperative that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive directory of alumni, which may result in more contacts for the school to utilize 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 obtain apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. Numerous HVAC vocational programs are taught together 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 businesses or trade unions. Ask if the schools you are comparing have referring relationships with local Douglas AZ HVAC specialists. An apprenticeship not only offers a valuable experience by providing hands-on training, but it also furnishes employment opportunities and helps to form relationships in the area HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make certain that the school facilities and the tools that you will be trained on are state-of-the-art and what you will be working with on the job. If you are already in an internship or an apprenticeship, talk to the HVAC technician you are working under regarding what you should be looking for. Otherwise, ask a local Douglas AZ HVAC contractor if they can give you some suggestions. Also keep in mind that unless you are able to relocate, the school must be within driving distance of your Douglas AZ home. Take note that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to moving costs there may be increased tuition fees compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's desirable that you receive as much individualized training as possible, which can be challenging in bigger classes. Ask if you can monitor a couple of the classes so that you can observe how big they are and experience the interaction between students and teachers. Talk to some of the students and get their opinions regarding class sizes and instruction. Finally, talk to some of the teachers and learn what their level of experience is and what certifications or degrees they hold.
Flexible Scheduling. Make sure that the class schedules for the schools you are evaluating are flexible enough to handle your needs. If you are only able to go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Douglas AZ, check that the programs you are considering provide those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Finally, check out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, sickness or family issues.
Earn Your HVAC Training and Certification
Picking the ideal HVAC school program is a critical beginning toward a gratifying career in the heating & cooling field. As we have addressed in this article, you should select a Heating and Cooling training program and a degree or certificate program that are both accredited and have excellent reputations within the HVAC field. Other factors to look for are lots of practical training and modern facilities. You need to go to 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 training and the interaction between them. Additionally, inquire about scheduling options and whether night or weekend classes are offered if needed. And remember to ask about financial assistance and student loan options also. If you ask the appropriate questions as we have outlined in our guidelines 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 dedication, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC contractor in Douglas AZ.