How to Enroll In the Right Heating and Cooling Program near Florence Arizona
Now that you have made a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioning technician, the next action is to choose an HVAC technical school near Florence AZ. But with so many to pick from, how do you decide on the best one to receive the training that you require? Some prospective students will make their choice based entirely on the price of tuition or how close the school is to their residence. While these are necessary factors to consider, they are not the only ones to evaluate. 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 other benchmarks will be addressed in more detail later within this article. But before we discuss how to pick an HVAC vocational school, let's look at what a heating and a/c contractor does to become a licensed qualified tradesman.
How to Become an HVAC Professional
HVAC is an acronym that is commonly used in the business that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC contractors specialize in the installation, repair and maintenance of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are commonly required to be licensed, though each state and regional municipality has its own requirements. Acquiring professional certification is not compulsory, but an alternative way for Florence AZ HVAC specialists to prove that they are exceptionally qualified and accomplished in their area of expertise. There are a number of respected certifications within the trade that are offered. Below are a few of the important ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally recognized certification for HVAC techs. The certification is attained by passing a proficiency exam and can be acquired in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification makes available 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 must have three years of experience in addition to a passing result on the professional level examination. As with NATE, certifications are provided in various specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is necessary for technicians that work with refrigerants. There are 3 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 desire to earn certification, it's essential that you pick an HVAC technical school that will train you for both. And since you will more than likely be working with refrigerants, make sure that the school you pick readies you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.
HVAC Degree Courses
There are several choices available for HVAC training in a technical or trade school. You can earn a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Acquiring a certificate will take the least amount of time, often 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 related to the position. The degree programs can provide a competitive advantage in the job market and will furnish more comprehensive training than the certificate programs. Below is a brief description of each option offered near Florence AZ.
- Certificate. Usually requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among entry level 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 provides a more exhaustive background of heating & cooling systems than the certificate program. Usually taking two years to complete, many degrees incorporate an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is tailored more towards 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 learn how to design them.
Picking the appropriate credential program will be based on what your long term career goals are, together with the time and financial resources that you have to commit. One option is to begin with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after gaining some experience in the field in Florence AZ, later going back to earn 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 Courses Online
Attending an HVAC program online is one approach to attaining your education and earning a certificate or degree. Most schools will call for some attendance on campus to complete practical training. Some also offer internship or work-study programs in addition to or in place of practical lab work. But since the balance of the classes may be attended online, this approach may be a more accessible solution for some Florence AZ students that are short on time. And some online degree programs are more economical than other on campus alternatives. Even travelling expenses from Florence and study supplies may be minimized, helping to make education more budget-friendly. And many online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your job or family commitments have left you with limited time to attend classes, perhaps an HVAC online training program will make it easier to accommodate school into your active schedule.
Questions to Ask HVAC Certification Classes
Once you have picked the type of certificate or degree that you wish to acquire, either on campus or online, you can begin to narrow down your selection of schools. As you are probably aware, there are a large number of HVAC trade schools in the Florence AZ area and throughout the United States to choose from. That's why it is very important to have a list of key qualifications when making school assessments. As formerly mentioned in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will most likely be the first two variables you will take into consideration. Following are several additional ones that you need to explore before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Numerous HVAC technical programs in the Florence AZ area have acquired either a regional or a national accreditation. They may acquire Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to an individual program, for instance HVAC technology. Make certain that the school and program are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting organization, such as the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping make certain that you acquire an excellent education, it may assist in acquiring financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently unavailable for non-accredited schools. Furthermore, some 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 reviewing what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage or portion of students who enroll in and finish the course. A lower completion rate could suggest that students were unhappy with the course and quit. It might also mean that the teachers were not competent to instruct the students. It's similarly imperative that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader 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 confirm that the school has an excellent reputation within the industry, but additionally that it has the network of Florence AZ HVAC employers to help students secure apprenticeships or jobs.
Apprenticeship Programs. Numerous HVAC trade 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 inside their network of Heating and Cooling businesses or trade unions. Find out if the schools you are comparing have referring partnerships with local Florence AZ HVAC contractors. An apprenticeship not only offers a rewarding experience by furnishing hands-on training, but it also furnishes job opportunities and helps to establish relationships in the regional HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Confirm that the school facilities and the tools 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, consult with the HVAC specialist you are working under concerning what you should be expecting. Otherwise, ask a local Florence AZ HVAC contractor if they can give you some pointers. Also bear in mind that unless you are willing to relocate, the school needs to be within driving distance of your Florence AZ residence. Take note that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation costs there might be increased tuition charges compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's important that you get as much one-on-one training as possible, which can be difficult in bigger classes. Ask if you can sit in on a couple of the classes so that you can observe how large they are and experience the interaction between instructors and students. Speak with a few of the students and get their opinions regarding class sizes and instruction. Last, talk to some of the instructors and learn what their level of expertise is and what degrees or certifications they hold.
Flexible Scheduling. Verify that the class schedules for the programs you are assessing are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Florence AZ, verify that the programs you are considering provide those options. If you can only attend part-time, 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 because of work, illness or family issues.
Earn Your HVAC Degree and Certification
Choosing the ideal HVAC school program is a critical first step toward a rewarding career in the heating & cooling field. As we have covered in this article, you need to select a Heating and Cooling training program and a degree or certificate program that are both accredited and have excellent reputations within the HVAC profession. Other things to search for are lots of hands-on training and state-of-the-art facilities. You should check out each of the schools in person that you are most interested in to inspect the campus and talk with both the faculty and current students. Try to get a feel for the quality of the teaching and the interaction between them. Additionally, ask about scheduling options and whether evening or weekend classes are offered if needed. And don't forget to inquire about financial aid and student loan options also. If you ask the proper questions as we have laid out in our guidelines for assessing schools, you'll be able to narrow down your choices so that you can make an educated decision. With the appropriate training, hard work and commitment, you can eventually become a licensed HVAC contractor in Florence AZ.