How to Enroll In the Right HVAC Training Program near Fortuna Foothills Arizona
Now that you have made a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioning professional, the next step is to choose an HVAC vocational school near Fortuna Foothills AZ. But with so many to select from, how do you decide on the ideal one to receive the training that you require? A number of potential students will make their decision based entirely on the price of tuition or how near the school is to their home. Although these are necessary considerations, they are not the only ones to investigate. Some of the other things that you need to research are the graduation rates of the HVAC schools, their reputations, and if they are accredited by professional trade organizations. These and additional benchmarks will be discussed in more detail later in this article. But before we discuss how to select an HVAC training program, let's take a look at what a heating and cooling professional does to become a licensed skilled tradesman.
How to Become an HVAC Tech
HVAC is an acronym that is widely used in the industry that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC contractors specialize in the installation, maintenance and repair of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are commonly required to be licensed, although every state and local municipality has its own prerequisites. Acquiring professional certification is not mandatory, but an optional means for Fortuna Foothills AZ HVAC technicians to prove that they are exceptionally skilled and knowledgeable in their area of expertise. There are many acknowledged certifications within the industry that are available. Below are some of the significant ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally acknowledged certification for HVAC technicians. The certification is attained by passing a competency exam 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 field experience together with passing a comprehensive exam are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have three years of experience as well as a passing result on the professional level examination. Similar to NATE, certifications are made available in various specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is necessary for specialists that handle refrigerants. There are 3 forms of certification offered, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Since licensing might be mandated in your area, and you may also wish to obtain certification, it's important that you pick an HVAC vocational school that will train you for both. And since you will more than likely be working with refrigerants, make certain that the program you choose readies you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
HVAC Degree and Certificate Training Programs
There are several options available for HVAC training in a technical 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, typically completed in as little as 6 months, though some programs are longer. A certificate will train you for the majority of HVAC positions, especially if you are licensed and have certification relevant to the position. The degree programs can provide a competitive advantage for securing employment and will deliver more in-depth training than the certificate programs. Below is a short description of each option offered near Fortuna Foothills AZ.
- Certificate. Usually requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among beginning residential or commercial HVAC professionals. They furnish a solid foundation of skills for job opportunities within the industry.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program delivers a more detailed knowledge of heating and cooling systems than the certificate program. Generally taking 2 years to finish, a number of 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 or even business ownership. Some programs require an Associate Degree, while others are a traditional four year program. In addition to being taught how to service and maintain heating and cooling systems, you will also study how to design them.
Picking the appropriate credential program will be dependent on what your future career objectives are, in addition to the time and money that you have to invest. One approach is to begin with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after gaining some experience in the trade in Fortuna Foothills AZ, subsequently going back to obtain 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 Online Schools
Choosing an HVAC program online is one alternative in getting your training and earning a certificate or degree. Most schools will call for some attendance on campus to participate in practical training. Many also offer internship or work-study programs in addition to or as an alternative to practical lab work. But since the remainder of the classes may be participated in online, this alternative may be a more practical solution for some Fortuna Foothills AZ students that are pressed for time. And many online degree programs are less costly than other traditional choices. Even commuting expenses from Fortuna Foothills and study supplies may be minimized, helping to make schooling more budget-friendly. And a large number of online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your work or family commitments have left you with little time to attend classes, maybe an online HVAC degree program will make it easier to accommodate school into your busy schedule.
What to Ask HVAC Training Classes
Once you have picked the type of degree or certificate that you would like to obtain, either on campus or online, you can start to narrow down your selection of schools. As you are probably aware, there are a large number of HVAC vocational schools in the Fortuna Foothills AZ area and throughout the Country to choose from. That's why it is very important to have a list of key qualifications when making school comparisons. As previously mentioned in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will probably be the initial two aspects you will consider. Following are some additional ones that you should explore before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. A large number of HVAC trade schools in the Fortuna Foothills AZ area have earned either a regional or a national accreditation. They can attain Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to an individual program, such as HVAC technology. Make sure that the program is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization, which includes the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping guarantee that you obtain a quality education, it can help in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are frequently not available for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of states require that the HVAC training course be accredited in order to qualify for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the Heating and Air Conditioning schools you are considering what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage of students who enroll in and complete the course. A lower completion rate might suggest that students were disappointed with the course and quit. It might also mean that the teachers were not qualified to train the students. It's similarly imperative that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader list of graduates, which can produce 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 an excellent reputation within the trade, but also that it has the network of Fortuna Foothills AZ HVAC employers to assist grads acquire apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. Most HVAC technical programs are taught together with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating technical and vocational schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of HVAC businesses or labor unions. Ask if the schools you are comparing have referring relationships with local Fortuna Foothills AZ HVAC companies. An apprenticeship not only provides a rewarding experience by furnishing practical training, but it also supplies job opportunities and helps to build relationships in the regional HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make certain that the campus facilities and the equipment that you will be instructed on are state-of-the-art and what you will be working with in the field. If you are presently in an internship or an apprenticeship, check with the HVAC technician you are working with regarding what you should be looking for. Otherwise, ask a local Fortuna Foothills AZ HVAC contracting company if they can provide some suggestions. Additionally bear in mind that unless you are willing to relocate, the school needs to be within driving distance of your Fortuna Foothills AZ home. Remember that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to moving costs there might be higher tuition charges compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's important that you receive as much personalized instruction as possible, which can be challenging in larger classes. Ask if you can sit in on some of the classes so that you can observe how large they are and witness first hand the interaction between students and teachers. Talk to some of the students and get their feedback regarding class sizes and instruction. Last, talk to a few of the instructors and find out what their level of expertise is and what degrees or certifications they hold.
Flexible Scheduling. Make sure that the class schedules for the schools you are reviewing are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you are only able to go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Fortuna Foothills AZ, confirm that the programs you are comparing provide those choices. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure 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, illness or family responsibilities.
Earn Your HVAC Certificate or Degree
Choosing the right HVAC training course is an important first step toward a rewarding career in the heating and air conditioning field. As we have addressed in this article, you need to select a Heating and Cooling training program and a certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have exceptional reputations within the HVAC field. Other things to look for are sufficient practical training and modern facilities. You should go to 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 instruction and the interaction between them. Also, ask about scheduling options and if night or weekend classes are offered if needed. And don't forget to inquire about financial assistance and student loan options as well. If you ask the proper questions as we have laid out in our guidelines for evaluating schools, you'll be able to filter your options so that you can make an informed decision. With the right training, hard work and dedication, you can eventually become a licensed HVAC specialist in Fortuna Foothills AZ.