How to Pick the Right Heating and Cooling Training Program near Green Valley Arizona
Now that you have come to a decision on a career as a heating and cooling technician, the next action is to look for an HVAC trade school near Green Valley AZ. But with so many to choose from, how do you choose the right one to obtain the training that you require? Some prospective students will make their selection based exclusively on the price of tuition or how near the school is to their residence. Even though these are necessary considerations, they are not the only ones to take into account. Just 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. These and additional benchmarks will be discussed in more detail later in this article. But before we discuss how to pick an HVAC technical school, let's take a look at what a heating and air conditioning specialist does to become a licensed skilled tradesman.
How to Become an HVAC Tech
HVAC is an acronym that is extensively used in the industry that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC professionals provide services for the installation, maintenance and repair of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are typically mandated to be licensed, however each state and regional municipality has its own criteria. Acquiring professional certification is not compulsory, but an alternative way for Green Valley AZ HVAC specialists to establish that they are exceptionally proficient and knowledgeable in their area of specialization. There are several respected certifications within the trade 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 attained by passing a competency examination and may be earned 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 needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have 3 years of experience in addition to a passing result on the professional level examination. As with NATE, certifications are made available in multiple specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is required for specialists that handle refrigerants. There are 3 types of certification available, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Considering that licensing may be required in your area, and you may also intend to obtain certification, it's important that you choose 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 Schools
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, often achieved in as little as six months, though some programs are longer. A certificate will train you for the majority of HVAC positions, especially if you are licensed and have certification relevant to the position. The degree training programs may provide a competitive advantage for securing employment and will provide more in-depth training than the certificate programs. Below is a short explanation of each option offered near Green Valley AZ.
- Certificate. Usually requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among entry level commercial or residential HVAC specialists. They furnish a strong foundation of skills for job opportunities within the trade.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program supplies a more exhaustive background of heating and a/c systems than the certificate program. Typically requiring two years to complete, many degrees incorporate an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is suited more for a career in management or even business ownership. Some programs call for an Associate Degree, while others are a conventional 4 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 long term career aspirations are, in addition to the time and financial resources that you have to invest. One option is to start with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after gaining some experience in the field 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 considering about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Courses Online
Enrolling in an HVAC school online is one approach to attaining your training and receiving a certificate or degree. Almost all schools will call for some attendance on campus to take part in hands on training. Many also offer 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 online, this option may be a more accessible solution for some Green Valley AZ students that are short on time. And many online degree programs are less expensive than other on campus choices. Even driving expenses from Green Valley and study materials 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 work or family commitments have left you with limited time to attend classes, perhaps an HVAC online training program will make it less complicated to accommodate school into your busy lifestyle.
Questions to Ask HVAC Training Classes
After you have decided on the type of degree or certificate that you would like to earn, either online or on campus, you can begin to limit your list of schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are numerous HVAC technical schools in the Green Valley AZ area and all over the Country to pick from. That's why it is essential to have a checklist of key qualifiers when making school comparisons. As formerly mentioned in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will most likely be the initial 2 variables you will take into consideration. Following are some additional ones that you will want to explore before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Many HVAC trade schools in the Green Valley AZ area have attained either a regional or a national accreditation. They may acquire Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to a specific program, for example HVAC technology. Verify that the school and program are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency, such as the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping make certain that you acquire an excellent education, it can assist in securing financial aid or student loans, which are often not available for non-accredited schools. Furthermore, many states mandate that the HVAC training course be accredited in order to be approved 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 portion or percentage of students who enroll in and complete the program. A lower completion rate could signify that students were disappointed with the course and dropped out. It might also indicate that the instructors were not competent to instruct the students. It's similarly important that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive list of alumni, which may result in 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 industry, but also that it has the network of Green Valley AZ HVAC employers to assist grads obtain apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. Most HVAC vocational programs are taught along with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating vocational and trade schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of HVAC businesses or trade unions. Check if the schools you are reviewing have referring relationships with local Green Valley AZ HVAC professionals. An apprenticeship not only provides a valuable experience by supplying practical training, but it also furnishes job opportunities and helps to build relationships in the regional HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make sure that the school facilities and the equipment that you will be trained on are state-of-the-art and what you will be using in the field. If you are currently in an internship or an apprenticeship, check with the HVAC specialist you are working with concerning what you should be expecting. Otherwise, ask a local Green Valley AZ HVAC contracting company if they can give you some suggestions. Additionally keep in mind that unless you can move, the school needs to be within driving distance of your Green Valley AZ residence. Remember that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, besides the added relocation costs there can be increased tuition fees compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's desirable that you get as much personalized training 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 observe how big they are and experience the interaction between students and teachers. Talk to several 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 have earned.
Flexible Scheduling. Verify that the class schedules for the schools you are reviewing 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 provide those choices. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure 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 emergencies.
Get Your HVAC Certificate or Degree
Selecting the ideal HVAC school program is a critical beginning toward a gratifying career in the heating and air conditioning trade. As we have addressed in this article, you should pick 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 features to look for are sufficient practical training and modern facilities. You need to check out each of the schools in person that you are most interested in to explore the campus and speak with both the current students and faculty. Attempt to get a feel for the quality of the instruction and the interaction between them. Also, inquire about scheduling options and whether or not night or weekend classes are offered if needed. And remember to ask about financial aid and student loan options as well. If you ask the right questions as we have outlined in our checklist for comparing schools, you'll be able to narrow down your choices so that you can make an educated decision. With the appropriate training, hard work and dedication, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC technician in Green Valley AZ.