How to Select the Right Heating and Cooling College near Fortuna Foothills Arizona
Now that you have made a decision on a career as a heating and cooling specialist, the next action is to find an HVAC vocational school near Fortuna Foothills AZ. But with so many to choose from, how do you choose the right one to get the training that you need? Some prospective students will make their choice based entirely on the cost of tuition or how near the school is to their home. While these are important factors to consider, they are not the only ones to take into account. Some of the other details 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 additional benchmarks will be covered in more detail later within this article. But before we tackle how to pick an HVAC vocational school, let's take a look at what a heating and air conditioning specialist does to become a licensed qualified tradesman.
Becoming an HVAC Contractor
HVAC is an acronym that is frequently used in the industry that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC professionals 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, though each state and local municipality has its own prerequisites. Acquiring professional certification is not mandatory, but an optional way for Fortuna Foothills AZ HVAC technicians to prove that they are highly skilled and accomplished in their area of specialization. There are multiple respected certifications within the trade that are offered. Below 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 examination and may be received in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification offers both a professional and a master specialist credential. Two years of professional experience together with passing a comprehensive exam are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have 3 years of experience in addition to a passing result on the professional level exam. Similar to NATE, certifications are made available in multiple specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is necessary for specialists that handle refrigerants. There are 3 types of certification obtainable, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Considering that licensing may be mandated in your location, and you may also wish to obtain certification, it's essential that you choose an HVAC vocational school that will train you for both. And since you will most likely be handling refrigerants, make certain that the program you choose prepares you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.
HVAC Degree Training Programs
There are several alternatives offered for HVAC instruction in a trade or technical school. You can attain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Acquiring a certificate will take the least period of time, often accomplished in just 6 months, however some courses are longer. A certificate will train you for the majority of HVAC positions, particularly if you are licensed and have certification relevant to the position. The degree programs can provide a competitive edge for securing employment and will furnish more in-depth 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 very popular among beginning commercial or residential HVAC professionals. They furnish a solid foundation of skills for job opportunities within the trade.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program provides a more detailed knowledge of heating & cooling systems than the certificate program. Usually 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 geared more for a career in management as well as business ownership. Some programs call for an Associate Degree, while others are a conventional 4 year program. In addition to learning how to service and maintain heating and cooling systems, you will also learn how to design them.
Selecting 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 invest. One possibility is to start with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after getting some experience in the field in Fortuna Foothills AZ, later going back to obtain a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your strategy, be sure to ask the HVAC technician school you are considering about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Online Training
Enrolling in an HVAC program online is one approach in obtaining your education and earning a degree or certificate. Most 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 can be attended via the internet, this option may be a more practical solution for many Fortuna Foothills AZ students that are pressed for time. And some online degree programs are more economical than other on campus options. Even commuting expenses from Fortuna Foothills and study materials may be reduced, helping to make schooling more budget-friendly. And numerous online programs 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 more convenient to accommodate school into your busy lifestyle.
What to Ask HVAC Trade Schools
As soon as you have decided on the type of certificate or degree that you desire to acquire, either on campus or online, you can begin to limit your selection of schools. As you are probably aware, there are many HVAC trade schools in the Fortuna Foothills AZ area and throughout the Country to pick from. That's why it is very important to have a list of important qualifications when making school assessments. As earlier mentioned in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will undoubtedly 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. A large number of HVAC trade programs in the Fortuna Foothills AZ area have received either a regional or a national accreditation. They can attain Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to a specific program, for instance HVAC technology. Verify that the school and program are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting agency, for example the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping guarantee that you get a quality education, it can help in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are often unavailable for non-accredited schools. Furthermore, some states require 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 portion or percentage of students who enroll in and complete the program. A low completion rate may indicate that students were disappointed with the program and quit. It might also mean that the instructors were not qualified 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 result in more contacts for the school to utilize for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate can not only validate that the school has an excellent reputation within the trade, but additionally that it has the network of Fortuna Foothills AZ HVAC employers to help grads obtain apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. Many HVAC trade programs are taught together with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating trade and technical schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of HVAC businesses or labor unions. Check if the schools you are considering have referring partnerships with local Fortuna Foothills AZ HVAC specialists. An apprenticeship not only provides a valuable experience by furnishing practical training, but it also furnishes job opportunities and helps to build relationships in the area HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make certain that the campus facilities and the tools that you will be instructed on are state-of-the-art and what you will be using on the job. If you are currently in an internship or an apprenticeship, check with the HVAC tech you are working under concerning what you should be expecting. Otherwise, ask a local Fortuna Foothills AZ HVAC contractor if they can give you some suggestions. Additionally keep in mind that unless you are willing to relocate, the school must be within driving distance of your Fortuna Foothills AZ residence. Take note that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, besides the added moving costs there might be higher tuition fees compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's important that you get as much one-on-one instruction as possible, which can be difficult in bigger classes. Ask if you can monitor some of the classes so that you can see how large they are and witness first hand the interaction between students and teachers. Talk to a few of the students and get their feedback concerning class sizes and instruction. Last, speak to some of the teachers and find out what their level of expertise is and what certifications or degrees they hold.
Flexible Scheduling. Verify that the class schedules for the schools you are assessing are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you are only able to go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Fortuna Foothills AZ, confirm that the schools you are considering provide those options. If you can only attend part-time, make certain that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Also, check out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, illness or family issues.
Earn Your HVAC Certificate or Degree
Finding the right HVAC training course is an important beginning toward a rewarding career in the heating and air conditioning trade. As we have addressed in this article, you should select a Heating and Cooling training program and a degree or certificate program that are both accredited and have outstanding reputations within the HVAC profession. Other factors to search for are sufficient practical training and state-of-the-art facilities. You need to check out each of the schools in person that you are most interested in to tour the campus and talk with both the faculty and current students. Try to get a feel for the quality of the teaching and the interaction between them. In addition, inquire about scheduling choices and if evening or weekend classes are offered 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 detailed in our guidelines for comparing schools, you'll be able to filter your options so that you can make an informed decision. With the proper training, hard work and dedication, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC technician in Fortuna Foothills AZ.