How to Enroll In the Right HVAC College near Fortuna Foothills Arizona
Once you have come to a decision on a career as a heating and cooling professional, the next step is to choose an HVAC trade school near Fortuna Foothills AZ. But with so many to select from, how do you decide on the best one to receive the training that you require? Many future students will make their decision based solely on the cost of tuition or how close the school is to their residence. While these are necessary considerations, they are not the only ones to evaluate. A few of the other factors that you need to look into are the graduation rates of the HVAC schools, their reputations, and if they are accredited by professional trade organizations. Those and additional criteria will be addressed in more detail later in this article. But before we explore how to pick an HVAC training program, let's look at what a heating and a/c professional does to become a licensed qualified tradesman.
Becoming an HVAC Tech
HVAC is an acronym that is extensively used in the industry that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC professionals specialize in the installation, repair and maintenance of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are commonly mandated to be licensed, though every state and regional municipality has its own requirements. Acquiring professional certification is not mandatory, but an alternative way for Fortuna Foothills AZ HVAC technicians to establish that they are highly proficient and accomplished in their area of specialization. There are multiple recognized certifications within the field that are offered. Following are a few of the significant ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally acknowledged certification for HVAC techs. The certification is achieved by passing a proficiency exam and can be received in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification offers both a professional and a master specialist credential. Two years of field experience together with passing a comprehensive examination are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have three years of experience along with a passing result on the professional level examination. As with NATE, certifications are made available in several specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is necessary for technicians that handle refrigerants. There are three types of certification obtainable, 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 select an HVAC technical school that will prepare you for both. And since you will probably be handling refrigerants, make sure that the school you decide on preps you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.
HVAC Certificate and Degree Courses
There are several options offered for HVAC instruction 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 lesser period of time, often completed in as little as 6 months, though some courses are longer. A certificate will qualify you for most HVAC positions, especially if you are licensed and have certification relevant to the position. The degree training programs may provide a competitive advantage for securing employment and will deliver more comprehensive training than the certificate programs. Below is a short explanation of each option offered near Fortuna Foothills AZ.
- Certificate. Normally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among entry level commercial or residential HVAC specialists. They provide a solid foundation of skills for employment within the trade.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program provides a more extensive background of heating & cooling systems than the certificate program. Usually requiring 2 years to complete, many degrees feature an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is suited more towards a career in management as well as business ownership. Some programs call for an Associate Degree, while others are a traditional 4 year program. In addition to being taught how to service and maintain heating and air conditioning systems, you will also study how to design them.
Picking the appropriate credential program will be based on what your future career goals are, in addition to the time and money that you have to invest. One approach is to start with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after gaining some experience in the trade in Fortuna Foothills AZ, eventually returning to earn a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your approach, be sure to ask the HVAC technician school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Classes Online
Attending an HVAC school online is one alternative in attaining your education and receiving a certificate or degree. Nearly all schools will call for some attendance on campus to complete practical training. Some also provide 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 attended via the internet, this approach may be a more practical solution for many Fortuna Foothills AZ students that are short on time. And many online degree programs are more economical than other on campus options. Even driving expenses from Fortuna Foothills and study supplies may be lessened, helping to make education more budget-friendly. And numerous online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your job or family obligations have left you with limited time to attend classes, perhaps an HVAC online training program will make it less complicated to fit school into your busy schedule.
What to Ask HVAC Trade Schools
As soon as you have chosen the type of degree or certificate that you desire to obtain, either online or on campus, you can start to decrease your list of schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are many HVAC technical schools in the Fortuna Foothills AZ area and all over the USA to select from. That's why it is extremely important to have a list of key qualifiers when making school comparisons. As previously stated in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will probably be the initial 2 variables you will look at. Following are several additional ones that you need to explore before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Many HVAC vocational programs in the Fortuna Foothills AZ area have received either a regional or a national accreditation. They may attain Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to an individual program, for example HVAC technology. Make certain that the program and school are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency, which includes the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping ensure that you obtain a quality education, it can help in obtaining financial assistance or student loans, which are in many cases unavailable for non-accredited programs. Furthermore, many states mandate that the HVAC training program be accredited for it to qualify for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the HVAC schools you are considering what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage or portion of students who enroll in and finish the program. A low completion rate might suggest that students were dissatisfied with the course and dropped out. It could also signify that the teachers were not qualified to instruct the students. It's also imperative that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader directory of graduates, which can produce more contacts for the school to employ for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate will not only validate that the school has a good reputation within the industry, but also that it has the network of Fortuna Foothills AZ HVAC employers to assist graduates secure apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. Numerous HVAC technical programs are taught along with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating vocational and technical schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of HVAC businesses or labor unions. Find out if the schools you are comparing have working relationships with local Fortuna Foothills AZ HVAC specialists. An apprenticeship not only offers a valuable experience by supplying hands-on training, but it also provides employment opportunities and helps to establish relationships in the area 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 working with in the field. If you are presently in an internship or an apprenticeship, check with the HVAC specialist you are working with concerning what you should be looking for. If not, ask a local Fortuna Foothills AZ HVAC contractor if they can give you some tips. Additionally bear in mind that unless you can relocate, the school needs to be within driving distance of your Fortuna Foothills AZ home. Remember that if you decide to enroll in 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 receive as much one-on-one training as possible, which can be difficult in larger classes. Ask if you can monitor a couple of the classes so that you can see how big they are and experience the interaction between teachers and students. Talk with several of the students and get their opinions concerning class sizes and instruction. Finally, talk with some of the instructors and learn what their level of expertise is and what certifications or degrees they hold.
Flexible Scheduling. Confirm that the class schedules for the schools you are reviewing are flexible enough to handle your needs. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Fortuna Foothills AZ, check that the schools you are comparing provide those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, be sure that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Finally, find out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, illness or family responsibilities.
Earn Your HVAC Training and Certification
Enrolling in the ideal HVAC training program is an important first step toward a fulfilling career in the heating and air conditioning 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 field. Other factors to search for are sufficient practical training and state-of-the-art facilities. You need to visit each of the schools personally that you are most interested in to inspect the campus and talk with both the current students and faculty. Attempt to get a feel for the quality of the training and the interaction between them. Also, ask about scheduling options and whether or not night or weekend classes are offered if needed. And remember to ask about financial aid and student loan options also. If you ask the appropriate questions as we have laid out in our checklist for assessing schools, you'll be able to filter your options so that you can make an educated decision. With the right training, hard work and commitment, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC contractor in Fortuna Foothills AZ.