How to Enroll In the Right Heating and Cooling School near Green Valley Arizona
Now that you have decided on a career as a heating and air conditioner professional, the next action is to look for an HVAC technical school near Green Valley AZ. But with so many to select from, how do you select the best one to get the training that you need? Some potential students will make their choice based solely on the price of tuition or how close the school is to their home. While these are necessary concerns, they are not the only ones to take into account. A few of the other things that you need to research 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 in this article. But before we discuss how to choose an HVAC vocational school, let's take a look at what a heating and air conditioning contractor does to become a licensed professional tradesman.
Becoming an HVAC Pro
HVAC is an acronym that is widely used in the business that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC professionals 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, though every state and regional municipality has its own prerequisites. Acquiring professional certification is not mandatory, but an optional means for Green Valley AZ HVAC technicians to establish that they are exceptionally skilled and accomplished in their area of expertise. There are a number of recognized certifications within the industry that are available. Below are a few of the important ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally recognized certification for HVAC techs. The certification is achieved by passing a competency examination and can be acquired in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification offers 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 need to have three years of experience along with a passing score on the professional level examination. Similar to NATE, certifications are made available in several specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is necessary for techs that handle refrigerants. There are three forms of certification offered, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Considering that licensing could be mandated in your area, and you may also desire to obtain certification, it's imperative that you choose an HVAC technical school that will train you for both. And since you will probably be working with refrigerants, make sure that the program you choose readies you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
HVAC Degree Training Programs
There are a number of choices offered for HVAC instruction 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 minimum amount of time, often accomplished in just six months, although some courses are longer. A certificate will qualify you for most HVAC positions, particularly if you are licensed and have certification applicable to the position. The degree training programs may provide a competitive edge for securing employment and will provide more comprehensive training than the certificate programs. Following is a short summary of each option 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 strong foundation of skills for job opportunities within the trade.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program supplies a more exhaustive understanding of heating & cooling systems than the certificate program. Generally taking two years to finish, a number of degrees include 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 four year program. In addition to mastering how to service and maintain heating and cooling systems, you will also learn how to design them.
Selecting the appropriate credential program will be dependent on what your future career goals are, together with the time and financial resources that you have to commit. One approach is to begin with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after getting some experience in the trade in Green Valley AZ, eventually returning to acquire a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your approach, make sure to ask the HVAC technician school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Online Classes
Enrolling in an HVAC program online is one approach to attaining your education and receiving a degree or certificate. Most schools will call for some attendance on campus to participate in practical training. Some also offer internship or work-study programs in addition to or as an alternative to practical lab work. But since the balance of the classes may be participated in online, this alternative may be a more accessible solution for some Green Valley AZ students that are short on time. And many online degree programs are more economical than other on campus choices. Even commuting expenses from Green Valley and study materials may be lessened, helping to make schooling more budget-friendly. And many online programs are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your career or family commitments have left you with little time to attend classes, maybe an online HVAC degree program will make it easier to fit school into your active schedule.
What to Ask HVAC Schools
As soon as you have selected the type of degree or certificate that you want to acquire, either on campus or online, you can start to decrease your selection of schools. As you are certainly aware, there are many HVAC vocational schools in the Green Valley AZ area and throughout the USA to pick from. That's why it is very important to have a list of relevant qualifications when making school assessments. As previously stated in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will undoubtedly be the initial two factors you will take into consideration. Following are some additional ones that you should investigate before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. A large number of HVAC trade programs in the Green Valley AZ area have earned either a regional or a national accreditation. They can receive Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to a specific program, for instance HVAC technology. Confirm 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 make certain that you get an excellent education, it may assist in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are frequently not available for non-accredited programs. Furthermore, many states mandate that the HVAC training course be accredited in order to qualify for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the Heating and Air Conditioning schools you are considering what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage or portion of students who enroll in and complete the course. A low completion rate may indicate that students were dissatisfied with the program and dropped out. It might also signify that the teachers were not qualified to instruct 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 graduates, which can produce 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 also that it has the network of Green Valley AZ HVAC employers to assist grads obtain apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. Most HVAC trade programs are taught along with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating trade and technical schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of Heating and Cooling companies or trade unions. Ask if the schools you are reviewing have working partnerships with local Green Valley AZ HVAC professionals. An apprenticeship not only provides a rewarding experience by supplying practical training, but it also furnishes employment opportunities and helps to establish relationships in the regional HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Confirm that the campus facilities and the tools that you will be instructed on are up-to-date and what you will be using in the field. If you are presently in an internship or an apprenticeship, check with the HVAC tech you are working under regarding what you should be looking for. Otherwise, ask a local Green Valley AZ HVAC contractor if they can provide some suggestions. Also bear in mind that unless you are able to move, 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 moving costs there can be increased tuition charges compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's important that you receive as much individualized instruction as possible, which can be challenging in larger classes. Ask if you can monitor some of the classes so that you can observe how big they are and experience the interaction between instructors and students. Talk with some of the students and get their comments concerning class sizes and instruction. Last, talk to a few of the teachers and find out what their level of experience is and what degrees or certifications they hold.
Flexible Scheduling. Verify that the class schedules for the programs you are evaluating are flexible enough to handle your needs. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Green Valley AZ, verify that the programs you are looking at offer those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Additionally, check out what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, illness or family responsibilities.
Get Your HVAC Training and Certification
Choosing the ideal HVAC school program is an important beginning toward a gratifying career in the heating and cooling trade. As we have covered 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 profession. Other things 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 tour the campus and speak with both the faculty and current students. Try to get a feel for the quality of the training and the interaction between them. Additionally, ask about scheduling options and whether night 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 outlined in our guidelines for comparing 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 technician in Green Valley AZ.