How to Enroll In the Right Heating and Cooling Certificate Program near Fortuna Foothills Arizona
Now that you have come to a decision on a career as a heating and cooling professional, the next action is to find an HVAC technical school near Fortuna Foothills AZ. But with so many to pick from, how do you select the best one to obtain the training that you need? Many future students will make their selection based entirely on the price of tuition or how close the school is to their residence. Although these are relevant factors to consider, they are not the only ones to evaluate. A few of the other things that you need to investigate 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 within this article. But before we discuss how to pick an HVAC vocational school, let's look at what a heating and air conditioning specialist does to become a licensed skilled tradesman.
Becoming an HVAC Pro
HVAC is an acronym that is widely used in the business that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC technicians 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 local municipality has its own criteria. Obtaining professional certification is not compulsory, but an alternative means for Fortuna Foothills AZ HVAC techs to prove that they are highly qualified and knowledgeable in their area of specialization. There are multiple recognized certifications within the industry that are offered. 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 exam and can be earned in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification offers both a professional and a master specialist credential. Two years of field experience as well as passing a comprehensive exam are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have three years of experience along with a passing result on the professional level examination. As with NATE, certifications are offered in various specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is required for technicians that work with refrigerants. There are three types of certification offered, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Considering that licensing could be mandated in your location, and you may also desire to obtain certification, it's important that you select an HVAC vocational school that will prepare you for both. And since you will most likely be dealing with refrigerants, make certain that the program you pick readies you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
HVAC Degree and Certificate Classes
There are a variety of alternatives offered for HVAC instruction in a vocational or trade school. You can earn a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Earning a certificate will take the lesser amount of time, typically accomplished in just 6 months, though some courses 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 programs may provide a competitive edge for securing employment and will provide more in-depth training than the certificate programs. Following is a brief explanation of each option offered near Fortuna Foothills AZ.
- Certificate. Generally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among entry level commercial or residential HVAC professionals. They furnish a strong foundation of skills for job opportunities within the industry.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program supplies a more comprehensive knowledge of heating & cooling systems than the certificate program. Usually taking 2 years to complete, a number of degrees incorporate an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is tailored more for a career in management or even business ownership. Some programs call for an Associate Degree, while others are a traditional 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.
Picking the right credential program will be based on what your future career goals are, together with the time and money that you have to invest. One option is to begin with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after acquiring some experience in the field in Fortuna Foothills AZ, eventually returning to obtain a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your approach, be sure to ask the HVAC technician school you are considering about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Training Online
Choosing an HVAC school online is one possibility in obtaining your training and receiving a degree or certificate. Almost all schools will call for some attendance on campus to take part in practical training. A number also provide internship or work-study programs in addition to or instead of practical lab work. But since the balance of the classes may be attended via the internet, this option may be a more practical solution for some Fortuna Foothills AZ students that are short on time. And many online degree programs are less expensive than other on campus alternatives. Even travelling expenses from Fortuna Foothills and study materials may be lessened, helping to make schooling more budget-friendly. And numerous online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your work or family responsibilities have left you with limited time to attend classes, perhaps an online HVAC degree program will make it less complicated to fit school into your active lifestyle.
Questions to Ask HVAC Training Classes
As soon as you have picked the type of certificate or degree that you would like to obtain, either on campus or online, you can start to decrease your list of schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are numerous HVAC vocational schools in the Fortuna Foothills AZ area and all over the United States to select from. That's why it is imperative to have a list of relevant qualifiers when making school comparisons. As previously stated in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will probably be the first two factors you will take into consideration. Following are several additional ones that you need to research before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. A large number of HVAC technical schools in the Fortuna Foothills AZ area have earned either a regional or a national accreditation. They may earn Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to a specific program, such as HVAC technology. Confirm that the program is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency, which includes the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping make certain that you get a quality education, it can help in obtaining financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently unavailable for non-accredited schools. Furthermore, many states mandate that the HVAC training program be accredited in order to qualify for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the Heating and Cooling schools you are considering what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage of students who enroll in and complete the program. A lower completion rate may signify that students were unhappy with the course and dropped out. It might also suggest that the instructors were not competent to train the students. It's also essential that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader directory of alumni, which can mean more contacts for the school to employ 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 industry, but also that it has the network of Fortuna Foothills AZ HVAC employers to help graduates acquire apprenticeships or jobs.
Apprenticeship Programs. Most HVAC trade programs are taught along with an internship or an apprenticeship 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 considering have referring relationships with local Fortuna Foothills AZ HVAC professionals. An apprenticeship not only provides a valuable experience by furnishing practical training, but it also furnishes employment opportunities and helps to form relationships in the local HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Confirm that the campus facilities and the tools that you will be trained on are up-to-date and what you will be using on the job. If you are already in an internship or an apprenticeship, consult with the HVAC technician you are working under regarding what you should be looking for. If not, ask a local Fortuna Foothills AZ HVAC company if they can provide some suggestions. Also bear in mind that unless you are willing to move, the school needs to be within driving distance of your Fortuna Foothills AZ residence. Remember that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, besides the added moving costs there may be increased tuition charges compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's important that you get as much personalized training as possible, which can be challenging 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 teachers and students. Talk with some of the students and get their feedback concerning class sizes and instruction. Last, speak to some of the teachers and learn what their level of experience is and what degrees or certifications they have earned.
Flexible Scheduling. Verify that the class schedules for the programs you are evaluating are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you are only able to go to classes at night or on weekends near Fortuna Foothills AZ, confirm that the schools you are looking at offer those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Also, find out what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Earn Your Heating and Cooling Training and Certification
Enrolling in the right HVAC training program is a crucial beginning toward a gratifying career in the heating and air conditioning industry. As we have discussed in this article, you should select a Heating and Cooling training program and a certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have excellent reputations within the HVAC field. Other features to search for are plenty of hands-on training and modern facilities. You should check out each of the schools personally 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. Also, ask about scheduling options and if evening or weekend classes are offered if needed. And remember to ask about financial aid and student loan options too. If you ask the right questions as we have laid out in our guidelines for evaluating schools, you'll be able to filter your choices so that you can make an educated decision. With the appropriate training, hard work and dedication, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC specialist in Fortuna Foothills AZ.