How to Enroll In the Right Heating and Cooling School near Green Valley Arizona
Now that you have come to a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioning professional, the next action is to choose an HVAC vocational school near Green Valley AZ. But with so many to choose from, how do you pick the right one to obtain the training that you require? Some potential students will make their selection based exclusively on the cost of tuition or how close the school is to their residence. While these are important considerations, they are not the only ones to evaluate. Just some of the other things 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. These and additional criteria will be discussed in more detail later in this article. But before we tackle how to select an HVAC training program, let's look at what a heating and cooling specialist does to become a licensed qualified 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 technicians specialize in the installation, repair and maintenance of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are typically mandated to be licensed, although every state and local municipality has its own requirements. Acquiring professional certification is not required, but a voluntary way for Green Valley AZ HVAC specialists to prove that they are exceptionally qualified and accomplished in their area of expertise. There are a number of recognized certifications within the field that are offered. Below are some of the important ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally recognized certification for HVAC technicians. The certification is earned by passing a competency exam and may be received in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification makes available both a professional and a master specialist credential. Two years of field experience as well as passing a comprehensive examination are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have 3 years of experience as well as a passing result on the professional level exam. As with NATE, certifications are offered in various specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is mandatory for techs that work with refrigerants. There are three types of certification offered, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Because licensing could be mandated in your location, and you may also intend to earn certification, it's important that you select an HVAC trade school that will train you for both. And since you will more than likely be dealing with refrigerants, make certain that the program you decide on prepares you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.
HVAC Certificate and Degree Classes
There are a number of options available for HVAC training in a technical or trade school. You can attain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Earning a certificate will take the least period of time, often completed in as little as 6 months, however some programs are longer. A certificate will qualify you for the majority of HVAC positions, particularly if you are licensed and have certification applicable to the position. The degree training programs can provide a competitive advantage for securing employment and will deliver more extensive training than the certificate programs. Following is a brief explanation of each credential offered near Green Valley AZ.
- Certificate. Usually requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among beginning residential or commercial HVAC specialists. They provide 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. Typically taking 2 years to complete, a number of degrees incorporate an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is tailored more towards a career in management or even 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 ideal credential program will be dependent on what your long term career aspirations are, in addition to the time and financial resources that you have to commit. One approach is to begin with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after acquiring some experience in the field in Green Valley AZ, eventually returning to acquire a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your tactic, be sure to ask the HVAC technician school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Online Schools
Choosing an HVAC program online is one possibility in attaining your training and earning a degree or certificate. Nearly all schools will call for some attendance on campus to participate in hands on training. A number also provide internship or work-study programs in addition to or in place of practical lab work. But since the rest of the classes may 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 a number of online degree programs are less costly than other traditional options. Even travelling expenses from Green Valley and study supplies may 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 obligations have left you with minimal time to attend classes, perhaps an online HVAC degree program will make it easier to fit school into your hectic schedule.
Questions to Ask HVAC Schools
When you have decided on the type of certificate or degree that you want to earn, either online or on campus, you can begin to limit your selection of schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are many HVAC trade schools in the Green Valley AZ area and all over the Country to select from. That's why it is very important to have a list of key qualifiers when making school assessments. As formerly stated in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will undoubtedly be the initial two factors you will consider. Following are some additional ones that you should investigate before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Many HVAC trade schools in the Green Valley AZ area have received either a regional or a national accreditation. They may attain Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to a specific program, such as HVAC technology. Confirm that the program is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency, such as the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping make certain that you receive an excellent education, it can help in acquiring financial assistance or student loans, which are in many cases not available for non-accredited programs. Furthermore, some states mandate that the HVAC training course be accredited in order to qualify for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the HVAC schools you are reviewing what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students who enroll in and complete the course. A lower completion rate might indicate that students were disappointed with the course and dropped out. It may also suggest that the instructors were not qualified to instruct the students. It's also essential that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive list of graduates, which can result in more contacts for the school to employ 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 field, but also that it has the network of Green Valley AZ HVAC employers to help graduates acquire apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. Most HVAC technical programs are taught together with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating trade and technical programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of Heating and Cooling companies or labor unions. Find out if the schools you are comparing have working partnerships with local Green Valley AZ HVAC companies. An apprenticeship not only offers a valuable experience by supplying practical training, but it also furnishes employment opportunities and helps to form relationships in the area HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make sure that the campus facilities and the equipment that you will be instructed on are up-to-date and what you will be using in the field. If you are already in an internship or an apprenticeship, consult with the HVAC specialist you are working under concerning what you should be expecting. Otherwise, ask a local Green Valley AZ HVAC contractor if they can give you some pointers. Additionally bear in mind that unless you can relocate, the school needs to be within commuting distance of your Green Valley AZ home. Remember that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, in addition to moving costs there might be increased tuition fees compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's desirable that you get as much individualized instruction as possible, which can be difficult in bigger classes. Ask if you can sit in on a couple of the classes so that you can see how big they are and witness first hand the interaction between teachers and students. Speak with some of the students and get their feedback regarding class sizes and instruction. Finally, talk to a few of the instructors and learn what their level of experience is and what degrees or certifications they have earned.
Flexible Scheduling. Make sure that the class schedules for the schools you are evaluating are flexible enough to handle your needs. If you are only able to go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Green Valley AZ, confirm that the programs you are comparing offer those choices. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Also, check out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, sickness or family responsibilities.
Earn Your HVAC Training and Certification
Choosing the right HVAC school course is a crucial first step toward a fulfilling career in the heating & cooling field. As we have covered in this article, you should pick a Heating and Cooling training program and a certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have exceptional reputations within the HVAC profession. Other factors to search for are ample practical training and state-of-the-art facilities. You need to go to each of the schools personally that you are most interested in to explore the campus and speak with both the faculty and current students. Attempt to get a feel for the quality of the teaching and the interaction between them. Also, ask about scheduling options and whether 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 appropriate questions as we have laid out in our checklist for assessing schools, you'll be able to filter your choices so that you can make an educated decision. With the appropriate training, hard work and commitment, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC contractor in Green Valley AZ.