How to Choose the Right HVAC College near Green Valley Arizona
Once you have made a decision on a career as a heating and cooling specialist, the next step is to choose an HVAC technical school near Green Valley AZ. But with so many to select from, how do you choose the right one to obtain the training that you need? Some prospective students will make their selection based exclusively on the cost of tuition or how near the school is to their home. Although these are important factors to consider, they are not the only ones to investigate. A few of the other details 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 other benchmarks will be covered in more detail later within this article. But before we explore how to select an HVAC training program, let's take a look at what a heating and a/c contractor does to become a licensed skilled tradesman.
How to Become an HVAC Professional
HVAC is an acronym that is frequently used in the business that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC technicians specialize in the installation, maintenance and repair of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are typically required to be licensed, however each state and regional municipality has its own criteria. Earning professional certification is not required, but a voluntary way for Green Valley AZ HVAC technicians to prove that they are exceptionally proficient and accomplished in their area of expertise. There are several respected certifications within the industry that are offered. Following are some of the significant ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally acknowledged certification for HVAC techs. The certification is attained by passing a proficiency examination and can be acquired in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification makes available both a professional and a master specialist credential. 2 years of professional experience in addition to passing a comprehensive exam are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have three years of experience together with a passing result on the professional level exam. As with NATE, certifications are made available in multiple specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is necessary for techs that handle refrigerants. There are 3 types of certification available, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Because licensing could be mandated in your location, and you may also intend to obtain certification, it's important that you select an HVAC vocational school that will train you for both. And since you will more than likely be handling refrigerants, make sure that the program you pick readies you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
HVAC Degree and Certificate Classes
There are a number of options offered for HVAC training in a trade or technical school. You can earn a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Acquiring a certificate will take the least period of time, typically achieved in as little as six months, however some programs are longer. A certificate will train you for the majority of HVAC positions, particularly if you are licensed and have certification appropriate to the position. The degree programs might provide a competitive advantage for securing employment and will furnish more comprehensive training than the certificate programs. Following is a brief explanation of each credential offered near Green Valley AZ.
- Certificate. Normally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among beginning commercial or residential HVAC technicians. They provide a solid foundation of skills for employment within the industry.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program provides a more detailed understanding of heating & cooling systems than the certificate program. Normally taking 2 years to complete, many degrees incorporate an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is suited more towards a career in management or even business ownership. Some programs require an Associate Degree, while others are a standard 4 year program. In addition to mastering how to service and maintain heating and cooling systems, you will also study how to design them.
Selecting the appropriate credential program will be based on what your future career goals are, in addition to 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, later going back to acquire a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your tactic, make certain to ask the HVAC tech school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Schools Online
Enrolling in an HVAC school online is one approach in getting your education and receiving a certificate or degree. Almost all schools will require some attendance on campus to participate in hands on training. Many also offer internship or work-study programs in addition to or instead of practical lab work. But since the balance of the classes can be attended on the web, this approach may be a more accessible solution for many Green Valley AZ students that are pressed for time. And many online degree programs are less expensive than other traditional alternatives. Even commuting expenses from Green Valley and study supplies can be reduced, helping to make schooling more affordable. And many online programs are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your job or family obligations have left you with little time to attend classes, maybe an online HVAC degree program will make it less complicated to accommodate school into your busy schedule.
Questions For HVAC Certification Classes
After you have picked the type of degree or certificate that you desire to obtain, either on campus or online, you can begin to decrease your list of schools. As you are certainly aware, there are numerous HVAC vocational schools in the Green Valley AZ area and all over the Country to pick from. That's why it is very important to have a list of key qualifiers when making school assessments. As earlier mentioned in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will undoubtedly be the initial 2 variables you will take into consideration. Following are some additional ones that you need to research before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Numerous HVAC trade schools in the Green Valley AZ area have received either a regional or a national accreditation. They can receive Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to an individual program, for example HVAC technology. Make sure that the program is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization, which includes the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping guarantee that you obtain an excellent education, it may help in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are frequently unavailable for non-accredited schools. Additionally, some states mandate that the HVAC training program be accredited for it to qualify for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the HVAC schools you are reviewing what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage or portion of students who enroll in and complete the course. A lower completion rate could suggest that students were dissatisfied with the course and dropped out. It may also indicate that the instructors were not competent 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 more extensive directory of graduates, which can produce 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 a good reputation within the trade, but also that it has the network of Green Valley AZ HVAC employers to assist students acquire apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. Many HVAC trade programs are taught along with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating trade and vocational schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of HVAC contractors or labor unions. Check if the schools you are reviewing have referring partnerships with local Green Valley AZ HVAC companies. An apprenticeship not only offers a rewarding experience by supplying hands-on training, but it also provides job opportunities and helps to build relationships in the regional HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make certain that the school facilities and the equipment that you will be trained on are state-of-the-art and what you will be working with on the job. If you are already in an internship or an apprenticeship, consult with the HVAC technician you are working with concerning what you should be looking for. If not, ask a local Green Valley AZ HVAC contractor if they can give you some tips. Also bear in mind that unless you are able to relocate, the school needs to be within driving distance of your Green Valley AZ home. Take note that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation costs there can be higher tuition charges compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's desirable that you receive as much one-on-one training as possible, which can be difficult in bigger classes. Ask if you can sit in on some of the classes so that you can observe how large they are and experience the interaction between students and teachers. Speak with some of the students and get their feedback regarding class sizes and instruction. Last, speak with some 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 programs you are assessing are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Green Valley AZ, check that the schools you are reviewing offer those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, be sure that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Additionally, check 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
Choosing the right HVAC training course is a crucial beginning toward a fulfilling career in the heating and cooling field. As we have addressed 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 outstanding reputations within the HVAC field. Other things to search for are lots of hands-on training and state-of-the-art facilities. You should go to each of the schools in person that you are most interested in to inspect the campus and talk with both the faculty and current students. Attempt to get a feel for the quality of the teaching and the interaction between them. In addition, ask about scheduling options and whether or not 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 appropriate questions as we have detailed in our checklist for evaluating 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 dedication, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC contractor in Green Valley AZ.