How to Pick the Right HVAC Training Program near Green Valley Arizona
Now that you have made a decision on a career as a heating and cooling technician, the next action is to locate an HVAC trade school near Green Valley AZ. But with so many to pick from, how do you choose the ideal one to get the training that you need? 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. While these are important factors to consider, they are not the only ones to investigate. A few of the other factors that you need to look into are the graduation completion rates of the HVAC schools, their reputations, and if they are accredited by professional trade organizations. Those and other criteria will be covered in more detail later in this article. But before we explore how to pick an HVAC training program, let's take a look at what a heating and a/c professional does to become a licensed professional tradesman.
How to Become an HVAC Technician
HVAC is an acronym that is frequently used in the industry that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC technicians provide services for the installation, maintenance and repair of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are commonly required to be licensed, however each state and local municipality has its own prerequisites. Obtaining professional certification is not compulsory, but an optional way for Green Valley AZ HVAC specialists to prove that they are highly skilled and experienced in their area of expertise. There are multiple respected certifications within the industry that are offered. 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. Two years of field experience in addition to passing a comprehensive exam are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have three years of experience in addition to a passing result on the professional level examination. Similar to NATE, certifications are made available in various specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is mandatory for specialists that handle refrigerants. There are three types of certification offered, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Considering that licensing may be mandated in your area, and you may also intend to obtain certification, it's important that you select an HVAC trade school that will prepare you for both. And since you will probably be working with refrigerants, make certain that the school you pick readies you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.
HVAC Degree Courses
There are a variety of alternatives available for HVAC instruction in a technical or trade school. You can earn a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Earning a certificate will take the minimum amount of time, usually accomplished in just six months, although some programs are longer. A certificate will qualify you for most HVAC positions, especially if you are licensed and have certification appropriate to the position. The degree programs may provide a competitive edge in the job market and will deliver more comprehensive training than the certificate programs. Following is a short explanation of each option offered near Green Valley AZ.
- Certificate. Normally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among beginning commercial or residential HVAC specialists. They furnish a strong foundation of skills for employment within the trade.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program delivers a more exhaustive understanding of heating and cooling systems than the certificate program. Generally requiring two years to finish, many degrees include an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is geared more towards a career in management as well as business ownership. Some programs require an Associate Degree, while others are a traditional four year program. In addition to mastering how to service and maintain heating and air conditioning systems, you will also study how to design them.
Picking the ideal credential program will be based on what your future career objectives are, along with the time and financial resources that you have to invest. One approach is to start with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after acquiring some experience in the field in Green Valley AZ, subsequently returning to acquire a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your strategy, be sure to ask the HVAC tech school you are considering about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Courses Online
Attending an HVAC program online is one alternative to getting your education and earning a certificate or degree. Almost all schools will call for some attendance on campus to participate in practical training. Some also provide internship or work-study programs in addition to or as an alternative to practical lab work. But since the rest of the classes can be participated in on the web, this alternative may be a more convenient solution for many Green Valley AZ students that are pressed for time. And some online degree programs are less costly than other on campus options. Even commuting expenses from Green Valley and study materials can be lessened, helping to make education more affordable. And a large number of online programs are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your job or family responsibilities have left you with limited time to attend classes, maybe an online HVAC degree program will make it more convenient to accommodate school into your busy lifestyle.
Questions to Ask HVAC Training Classes
As soon as you have picked the type of certificate or degree that you desire to attain, either on campus or online, you can begin to limit your list of schools. As you are probably aware, there are many HVAC vocational schools in the Green Valley AZ area and all over the United States to pick from. That's why it is imperative to have a checklist of relevant qualifications when making school comparisons. As previously stated in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will undoubtedly be the first two variables you will consider. Following are some additional ones that you will want to research before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Numerous HVAC trade programs in the Green Valley AZ area have attained either a regional or a national accreditation. They can receive Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to an individual program, such as HVAC technology. Verify 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 guarantee that you receive a superior education, it can help in securing financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently unavailable for non-accredited programs. Also, a number of states require that the HVAC training course be accredited for it to be approved for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the Heating and Cooling schools you are looking at what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage or portion of students who enroll in and finish the program. A lower completion rate might signify that students were disappointed with the program and dropped out. It could also mean that the instructors were not qualified to instruct the students. It's also essential that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader directory of graduates, which may mean more contacts for the school to use 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 additionally that it has the network of Green Valley AZ HVAC employers to help students secure apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. A large number of HVAC technical programs are taught together with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating trade and vocational programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of Heating and Cooling businesses or trade unions. Check if the schools you are reviewing have working partnerships with local Green Valley AZ HVAC specialists. An apprenticeship not only offers a rewarding experience by providing hands-on training, but it also furnishes employment opportunities and helps to build relationships in the regional HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make sure 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, talk to the HVAC technician you are working under concerning what you should be looking for. If not, ask a local Green Valley AZ HVAC contracting company if they can provide some tips. Also bear in mind that unless you are able to move, the school must be within commuting distance of your Green Valley AZ home. Take note that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation costs there might be higher tuition fees compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's desirable that you receive as much one-on-one instruction as possible, which can be challenging in bigger classes. Ask if you can monitor a few of the classes so that you can observe how big they are and witness first hand the interaction between instructors and students. Speak to a few of the students and get their comments concerning class sizes and instruction. Last, speak to a few of the instructors and find out what their level of experience 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 Green Valley AZ, check that the programs you are looking at offer those choices. If you can only attend part-time, make sure that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Additionally, check out what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Earn Your HVAC Degree and Certification
Enrolling in the right HVAC training program is a crucial first step toward a rewarding career in the heating and air conditioning industry. 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 exceptional reputations within the HVAC community. Other things to look for are plenty of hands-on training and state-of-the-art facilities. You need to go to each of the schools in person that you are most interested in to inspect the campus and speak with both the faculty and current students. Try to get a feel for the quality of the instruction and the interaction between them. In addition, inquire about scheduling options and if night or weekend classes are offered if needed. And remember to inquire about financial assistance and student loan options also. If you ask the right questions as we have outlined in our guidelines for assessing schools, you'll be able to narrow down your choices so that you can make an informed decision. With the right training, hard work and commitment, you can eventually become a licensed HVAC specialist in Green Valley AZ.