How to Select the Right HVAC Degree Program near Florence Arizona
Now that you have decided on a career as a heating and cooling technician, the next step is to find an HVAC technical school near Florence AZ. But with so many to choose from, how do you select the right one to receive the training that you require? Some prospective students will make their selection based exclusively on the price of tuition or how near the school is to their residence. While these are relevant 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 other benchmarks will be addressed in more detail later in this article. But before we tackle how to select an HVAC technical school, let's look at what a heating and cooling technician does to become a licensed skilled tradesman.
How to Become an HVAC Professional
HVAC is an acronym that is frequently used in the business that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC professionals provide services for the installation, repair and maintenance of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are typically mandated to be licensed, however each state and regional municipality has its own requirements. Attaining professional certification is not mandatory, but a voluntary way for Florence AZ HVAC techs to prove that they are highly qualified and knowledgeable in their area of expertise. There are multiple acknowledged certifications within the field that are available. Below are some of the significant ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally recognized certification for HVAC techs. The certification is achieved by passing a proficiency 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 professional experience in addition to passing a comprehensive examination are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have three years of experience along with a passing score on the professional level exam. Similar to NATE, certifications are made available in several specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is mandatory for technicians that work with refrigerants. There are 3 types of certification obtainable, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Because licensing could be required in your area, and you may also wish to earn certification, it's imperative that you pick an HVAC trade school that will prepare you for both. And since you will probably be working with refrigerants, make certain that the school you decide on readies you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.
HVAC Certificate and Degree Training Programs
There are a variety of alternatives available 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 lesser period of time, typically accomplished in just six months, although some programs are longer. A certificate will qualify you for most HVAC positions, especially if you are licensed and have certification applicable to the position. The degree training programs might provide a competitive advantage for securing employment and will provide more comprehensive training than the certificate programs. Following is a short explanation of each option offered near Florence AZ.
- Certificate. Generally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among beginning commercial or residential HVAC technicians. They provide a solid foundation of skills for employment within the industry.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program supplies a more comprehensive background of heating and a/c systems than the certificate program. Usually taking 2 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 conventional four year program. In addition to mastering how to service and maintain heating and cooling systems, you will also study how to design them.
Choosing the right credential program will be based on what your future career aspirations are, as well as the time and financial resources 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 trade in Florence AZ, eventually returning to acquire a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your approach, make certain to ask the HVAC technician school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Training Online
Enrolling in an HVAC school online is one alternative to getting your education and receiving a certificate or degree. Nearly all schools will call for some attendance on campus to participate in hands on training. Some also sponsor internship or work-study programs in addition to or instead of practical lab work. But since the rest of the classes may be attended online, this alternative may be a more practical solution for some Florence AZ students that are pressed for time. And many online degree programs are cheaper than other traditional alternatives. Even commuting expenses from Florence and study materials may be minimized, helping to make schooling more budget-friendly. And many online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your job or family responsibilities have left you with little time to attend classes, perhaps an online HVAC degree program will make it less complicated to accommodate school into your busy lifestyle.
Questions to Ask HVAC Certification Courses
When you have decided on the type of certificate or degree that you would like to obtain, either online or on campus, you can start to limit your selection of schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are many HVAC technical schools in the Florence AZ area and across the USA to choose from. That's why it is imperative to have a list of key qualifications when making school comparisons. As previously stated in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will probably be the initial 2 factors you will look at. Following are some additional ones that you need to research before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Numerous HVAC technical schools in the Florence AZ area have earned either a regional or a national accreditation. They can earn Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to a specific program, such as HVAC technology. Verify that the program and school are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting agency, for example the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping guarantee that you get a superior education, it may assist in securing financial aid or student loans, which are often unavailable for non-accredited schools. Additionally, some states mandate that the HVAC training program be accredited in order to qualify for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the HVAC schools you are looking at what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage of students who enroll in and finish the program. A lower completion rate might suggest that students were dissatisfied with the course and quit. It might also indicate that the instructors were not qualified to train the students. It's also imperative that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive list of graduates, which may produce 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 industry, but also that it has the network of Florence AZ HVAC employers to help grads acquire apprenticeships or jobs.
Apprenticeship Programs. Many HVAC vocational programs are taught together with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating vocational and trade programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of HVAC companies or labor unions. Ask if the schools you are comparing have working relationships with local Florence AZ HVAC contractors. An apprenticeship not only provides a valuable experience by furnishing practical training, but it also provides job opportunities and helps to establish relationships in the regional HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make certain that the school facilities and the equipment that you will be trained on are state-of-the-art and what you will be using on the job. If you are already in an internship or an apprenticeship, check with the HVAC specialist you are working under regarding what you should be expecting. If not, ask a local Florence AZ HVAC contracting company if they can give you some pointers. Also keep in mind that unless you can relocate, the school must be within commuting distance of your Florence AZ residence. Remember that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, besides the added relocation costs there can be higher tuition fees compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's desirable that you get as much individualized training as possible, which can be difficult in larger classes. Ask if you can sit in on a few of the classes so that you can see how big they are and experience the interaction between students and instructors. Speak with some of the students and get their comments relating to class sizes and instruction. Finally, speak with a few 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 meet your needs. If you are only able to attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Florence AZ, verify that the programs you are reviewing offer those options. If you can only attend part-time, make sure that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Additionally, check out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, illness or family issues.
Find Out More About Florence Heating and Cooling Courses In Your Area
Earn Your Heating and Cooling Certificate or Degree
Selecting the ideal HVAC school program is a crucial beginning toward a rewarding career in the heating and air conditioning trade. As we have addressed in this article, you need to pick a Heating and Cooling training program and a certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have exceptional reputations within the HVAC trade. Other things to search for are sufficient practical training and modern facilities. You should check out 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. Attempt to get a feel for the quality of the instruction and the interaction between them. Additionally, ask about scheduling options and whether evening or weekend classes are available if needed. And don't forget to inquire about financial assistance and student loan options as well. If you ask the appropriate questions as we have laid out in our checklist for evaluating schools, you'll be able to filter your choices so that you can make an educated decision. With the right training, hard work and dedication, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC professional in Florence AZ.