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How to Pick the Right HVAC School near Florence Arizona

Florence Arizona home air conditioning condensersNow that you have made a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioner professional, the next action is to find an HVAC vocational school near Florence AZ. But with so many to select from, how do you choose the best one to receive the training that you require? A number of potential students will make their selection based solely on the cost of tuition or how near the school is to their home. While these are significant concerns, they are not the only ones to evaluate. Just some of the other factors that you need to investigate 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 addressed in more detail later in this article. But before we explore how to choose an HVAC training program, let's look at what a heating and a/c professional does to become a licensed professional tradesman.

How to Become an HVAC Technician

Florence Arizona Heating and Cooling Technician repairing air conditioning condenserHVAC is an acronym that is extensively used in the industry that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC contractors provide services for 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, however each state and regional municipality has its own prerequisites. Acquiring professional certification is not mandatory, but an alternative means for Florence AZ HVAC specialists to demonstrate that they are highly skilled and knowledgeable in their area of expertise. There are a number of recognized certifications within the industry that are available. Here 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 proficiency examination and may be earned in one or more specialties.
  • HVAC Excellence. This certification makes available both a professional and a master specialist credential. 2 years of professional experience together with passing a comprehensive exam are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have three years of experience together with a passing score on the professional level examination. As with NATE, certifications are made available in various specialties.
  • EPA Section 608. This certification is mandatory for techs that handle refrigerants. There are 3 forms of certification obtainable, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.

Because licensing may be required in your area, and you may also desire to obtain certification, it's important that you choose an HVAC trade school that will prepare you for both. And since you will most likely be dealing with refrigerants, make certain that the school you pick readies you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.

HVAC Degree and Certificate Courses

Florence Arizona residential heating pump

There are several alternatives available for HVAC training in a vocational or trade school. You can obtain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Obtaining a certificate will take the lesser amount of time, usually completed in as little as six months, although some courses 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 might provide a competitive advantage for securing employment and will deliver more extensive training than the certificate programs. Following is a short description of each credential offered near Florence AZ.

  • Certificate. Generally 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 job opportunities within the industry.
  • Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program provides a more extensive background of heating & cooling systems than the certificate program. Typically requiring 2 years to complete, many degrees include an internship or work-study program.
  • Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is tailored more for a career in management as well as business ownership. Some programs call for an Associate Degree, while others are a standard 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.

Choosing the ideal credential program will be dependent on what your future career goals are, as well as the time and money that you have to commit. One approach is to begin with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after acquiring some experience in the field in Florence AZ, subsequently returning to acquire a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your approach, make sure to ask the HVAC tech school you are considering about how their returning student program works.

HVAC Courses Online

Enrolling in an HVAC school online is one possibility to obtaining your training and earning a certificate or degree. Nearly all schools will call for some attendance on campus to participate in hands on training. Many also provide internship or work-study programs in addition to or instead of practical lab work. But since the rest of the classes may be participated in via the internet, this option may be a more practical solution for some Florence AZ students that are short on time. And a number of online degree programs are cheaper than other on campus alternatives. Even commuting expenses from Florence and study materials may be lessened, helping to make schooling more budget-friendly. And many online programs are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your work or family commitments have left you with limited time to attend classes, perhaps an online HVAC degree program will make it more convenient to fit school into your hectic schedule.

Questions For HVAC Certification Classes

Florence Arizona Heating and Cooling tech repairing water heater

As soon as you have decided on the type of degree or certificate that you desire to obtain, either on campus or online, you can begin to narrow down your list of schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are many HVAC trade schools in the Florence AZ area and across the United States to choose from. That's why it is imperative to have a list of relevant qualifications when making school evaluations. As previously mentioned in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will undoubtedly be the initial two variables you will consider. Following are some additional ones that you will want to explore before enrolling in your school of choice.

Accreditation.  Numerous HVAC vocational schools in the Florence AZ area have attained either a regional or a national accreditation. They can attain Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to an individual program, for instance HVAC technology. Confirm that the program and school are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization, for instance the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping guarantee that you receive a superior education, it can help in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are often not available for non-accredited programs. Also, a number of 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 considering what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students who enroll in and complete the course. A low completion rate may signify that students were unhappy with the course and dropped out. It could also suggest that the teachers were not competent 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 broader directory of alumni, which can produce more contacts for the school to use for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate will not only validate that the school has an excellent reputation within the industry, but additionally that it has the network of Florence AZ HVAC employers to assist graduates acquire apprenticeships or employment.

Apprenticeship Programs.  Numerous HVAC technical programs are taught together with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating technical and vocational schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of Heating and Cooling contractors or trade unions. Check if the schools you are reviewing have working relationships with local Florence AZ HVAC companies. An apprenticeship not only provides a rewarding experience by supplying practical training, but it also supplies job opportunities and helps to form relationships in the local HVAC professional community.

Modern Facilities.  Confirm that the school 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 currently in an internship or an apprenticeship, talk to the HVAC specialist you are working with concerning what you should be looking for. Otherwise, ask a local Florence AZ HVAC contracting company if they can give you some suggestions. Additionally keep in mind that unless you are willing to relocate, the school must be within commuting 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 may be higher tuition fees compared to in-state residents.

Smaller Classes.   It's desirable that you receive as much one-on-one training as possible, which can be challenging in bigger classes. Ask if you can monitor a few of the classes so that you can see how big they are and witness first hand the interaction between students and teachers. Talk to several of the students and get their opinions regarding class sizes and instruction. Finally, speak to a few of the teachers and find out what their level of experience is and what certifications or degrees they hold.

Flexible Scheduling.  Make sure that the class schedules for the programs you are assessing are flexible enough to handle your needs. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Florence AZ, verify that the schools you are looking at provide those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain 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 emergencies.

Learn More About Florence HVAC Programs In Your Area

Earn Your Heating and Cooling Certificate or Degree

Selecting the ideal HVAC training course is an important first step toward a rewarding career in the heating and cooling field. As we have discussed 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 exceptional reputations within the HVAC profession. Other things to search for are sufficient hands-on training and modern facilities. You need to go to each of the schools in person 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. In addition, inquire about scheduling options and whether or not night or weekend classes are available if needed. And don't forget to ask about financial assistance and student loan options also. If you ask the right questions as we have laid out in our checklist for evaluating schools, you'll be able to filter 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 technician in Florence AZ.