How to Enroll In the Right Heating and Cooling Training Class near Florence Arizona
Once you have made a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioner professional, the next step is to choose an HVAC technical school near Florence AZ. But with so many to pick from, how do you choose the ideal one to obtain the training that you need? Some prospective students will make their selection based solely on the cost of tuition or how near the school is to their residence. Even though these are necessary factors to consider, they are not the only ones to evaluate. Just some of the other details 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 additional benchmarks will be discussed in more detail later in this article. But before we explore how to select an HVAC training program, let's take a look at what a heating and cooling contractor does to become a licensed skilled tradesman.
How to Become an HVAC Tech
HVAC is an acronym that is extensively used in the business that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC professionals specialize in the installation, repair and maintenance of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are generally mandated to be licensed, although every state and local municipality has its own requirements. Obtaining professional certification is not required, but an alternative way for Florence AZ HVAC techs to establish that they are highly qualified and knowledgeable in their area of specialization. There are multiple recognized certifications within the field 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 achieved by passing a proficiency examination and may be acquired 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 required for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have 3 years of experience together with a passing result on the professional level exam. As with NATE, certifications are made available in several specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is necessary for techs that work with refrigerants. There are 3 forms 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 important that you pick an HVAC technical school that will train you for both. And since you will more than likely be handling refrigerants, make sure that the program you pick prepares you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.
HVAC Degree and Certificate Courses
There are a variety of options offered for HVAC instruction in a vocational or trade school. You can obtain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Earning a certificate will take the lesser period of time, often completed in just 6 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 training programs may provide a competitive edge in the job market and will furnish more extensive training than the certificate programs. Following is a brief explanation of each credential offered near Florence AZ.
- Certificate. Usually requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among entry level residential or commercial HVAC technicians. They provide a strong foundation of skills for employment within the trade.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program delivers a more comprehensive understanding of heating and cooling systems than the certificate program. Normally requiring two years to complete, a number of degrees include an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is suited more for a career in management as well as business ownership. Some programs require an Associate Degree, while others are a traditional 4 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 dependent on what your long term career objectives are, as well as the time and financial resources that you have to commit. One option is to start with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after getting some experience in the field in Florence AZ, subsequently going back to obtain 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 Schools Online
Enrolling in an HVAC program online is one possibility to attaining your training and receiving a degree or certificate. Nearly all schools will require some attendance on campus to take part in practical training. Many also sponsor internship or work-study programs in addition to or instead of practical lab work. But since the remainder of the classes may be attended via the internet, this approach may be a more convenient solution for many Florence AZ students that are short on time. And a number of online degree programs are more economical than other traditional options. Even travelling expenses from Florence and study materials can be lessened, helping to make schooling more affordable. And many online programs are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your job or family commitments have left you with little time to attend classes, maybe an HVAC online training program will make it easier to accommodate school into your hectic schedule.
Questions For HVAC Schools
Once you have chosen the type of degree or certificate that you wish to attain, either on campus or online, you can start to decrease your list of schools. As you are certainly aware, there are many HVAC technical schools in the Florence AZ area and all over the Country to choose from. That's why it is extremely important to have a list of important qualifiers when making school comparisons. As previously stated in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will probably be the first 2 aspects you will consider. Following are some additional ones that you need to research before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Many HVAC technical schools in the Florence AZ area have acquired either a regional or a national accreditation. They may earn Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to an individual program, such as HVAC technology. Verify that the school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting agency, such as the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping make certain that you get a superior education, it can assist in obtaining financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently not available for non-accredited programs. Additionally, a number of states mandate that the HVAC training program be accredited for it to qualify for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the Heating and Air Conditioning schools you are looking at what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage of students who enroll in and complete the course. A low completion rate may signify that students were dissatisfied with the program and dropped out. It may also mean that the instructors were not qualified to instruct the students. It's also important that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader list of alumni, which can mean more contacts for the school to use for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate will not only affirm that the school has a good reputation within the field, but also that it has the network of Florence AZ HVAC employers to help graduates obtain apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. Numerous HVAC training programs are taught together with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating vocational and trade programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of HVAC companies or trade unions. Check if the schools you are considering have working relationships with local Florence AZ HVAC companies. An apprenticeship not only provides a valuable experience by providing practical training, but it also furnishes employment opportunities and helps to build relationships in the regional HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Confirm that the school facilities and the tools that you will be trained on are up-to-date and what you will be using in the field. If you are currently in an internship or an apprenticeship, consult with the HVAC technician you are working under concerning what you should be looking for. If not, ask a local Florence AZ HVAC contracting company if they can give you some suggestions. Additionally bear in mind that unless you can relocate, the school needs to be within commuting distance of your Florence AZ residence. Remember that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides the added relocation costs there can be increased tuition fees compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's important that you get as much individualized training as possible, which can be difficult in bigger classes. Ask if you can sit in on a few of the classes so that you can observe how big they are and experience the interaction between teachers and students. Talk to several of the students and get their opinions relating to class sizes and instruction. Last, talk with a few of the instructors and find out what their level of experience is and what degrees or certifications they have earned.
Flexible Scheduling. Verify that the class schedules for the schools you are reviewing are flexible enough to handle your needs. If you are only able to attend classes at night or on weekends near Florence AZ, confirm that the programs you are considering provide those choices. If you can only attend part-time, be sure that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Finally, ask what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, sickness or family issues.
Get Your HVAC Degree and Certification
Finding the ideal HVAC school program is a crucial beginning toward a fulfilling career in the heating and air conditioning field. As we have covered in this article, you should choose 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 things to search for are lots of practical training and modern facilities. You should visit each of the schools in person that you are most interested in to explore the campus and talk with both the faculty and current students. 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 evening or weekend classes are offered if needed. And remember to ask about financial assistance and student loan options also. If you ask the right questions as we have detailed in our guidelines for assessing schools, you'll be able to filter your choices so that you can make an informed decision. With the appropriate training, hard work and commitment, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC specialist in Florence AZ.