How to Find the Right Heating and Cooling Certification Training near Green Valley Arizona
Now that you have come to a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioner specialist, the next action is to choose an HVAC vocational school near Green Valley AZ. But with so many to choose from, how do you select the right one to receive the training that you require? A number of prospective students will make their selection based entirely on the price of tuition or how close the school is to their residence. Although these are necessary concerns, they are not the only ones to evaluate. Just some 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 additional criteria will be discussed 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 specialist does to become a licensed professional tradesman.
Becoming an HVAC Tech
HVAC is an acronym that is commonly used in the business that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC contractors provide services for the installation, repair and maintenance of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are typically required to be licensed, though each state and local municipality has its own criteria. Attaining professional certification is not mandatory, but an optional means for Green Valley AZ HVAC technicians to establish that they are exceptionally qualified and experienced in their area of specialization. There are multiple acknowledged certifications within the field that are available. Following are a few 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 competency examination and can be earned in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification offers 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 need to have 3 years of experience as well as a passing score on the professional level examination. As with NATE, certifications are made available in multiple specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is required for techs that work with refrigerants. There are three forms of certification available, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Since licensing could be mandated in your location, and you may also wish to earn certification, it's imperative that you pick an HVAC vocational school that will train you for both. And since you will most likely be handling refrigerants, make sure that the program you select readies you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
HVAC Degree Courses
There are a number of options offered for HVAC instruction in a vocational or trade school. You can attain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Obtaining a certificate will take the minimum amount of time, usually completed in just 6 months, although some courses are longer. A certificate will train you for most HVAC positions, especially if you are licensed and have certification applicable to the position. The degree programs might provide a competitive advantage in the job market and will furnish more extensive training than the certificate programs. Below is a short description 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 professionals. They provide a solid foundation of skills for employment within the trade.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program provides a more detailed understanding of heating and cooling systems than the certificate program. Normally taking 2 years to finish, some 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 call for an Associate Degree, while others are a standard 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.
Selecting the appropriate credential program will be based on what your long term career goals are, together with the time and financial resources that you have to invest. One approach is to start with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after acquiring some experience in the field in Green Valley AZ, eventually going back to obtain a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your approach, be sure to ask the HVAC technician school you are considering about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Online Classes
Attending an HVAC program online is one approach to attaining your training and earning a degree or certificate. Most schools will call for some attendance on campus to participate in hands on training. Many also sponsor internship or work-study programs in addition to or as an alternative to practical lab work. But since the remainder of the classes can be participated in online, this option may be a more convenient solution for some Green Valley AZ students that are short on time. And some online degree programs are cheaper than other on campus choices. Even travelling expenses from Green Valley and study supplies may be lessened, helping to make schooling more budget-friendly. And a large number of online schools 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 HVAC online training program will make it easier to fit school into your busy schedule.
Questions to Ask HVAC Training Programs
When you have selected the type of degree or certificate that you would like to obtain, either online or on campus, you can start to decrease your list of schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are numerous HVAC technical schools in the Green Valley AZ area and throughout the United States to pick from. That's why it is imperative to have a checklist of relevant qualifiers when making school assessments. As formerly stated in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will undoubtedly be the first 2 variables you will consider. Following are some additional ones that you need to investigate before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. A large number of HVAC trade programs in the Green Valley AZ area have received either a regional or a national accreditation. They can attain Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to an individual program, for example HVAC technology. Make certain that the school and program are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency, which includes the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping guarantee that you receive a quality education, it may assist in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are frequently unavailable for non-accredited schools. Furthermore, many states mandate that the HVAC training course be accredited for it 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 finish the program. A low completion rate might signify that students were unhappy with the program and dropped out. It may also mean that the teachers were not qualified to train the students. It's similarly imperative that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive list of alumni, which may produce more contacts for the school to employ 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 assist grads acquire apprenticeships or jobs.
Apprenticeship Programs. A large number of HVAC vocational programs are taught in conjunction with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating trade and vocational programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of Heating and Cooling businesses or trade unions. Ask if the schools you are comparing have referring partnerships with local Green Valley AZ HVAC specialists. An apprenticeship not only provides a valuable experience by supplying hands-on training, but it also supplies 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 trained on are up-to-date and what you will be working with on the job. If you are already in an internship or an apprenticeship, check with the HVAC specialist you are working under regarding what you should be looking for. If not, ask a local Green Valley AZ HVAC contracting company if they can give you some tips. Also keep in mind that unless you are willing to relocate, the school must be within driving distance of your Green Valley AZ home. Remember that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, besides the added moving costs there may 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 a couple of the classes so that you can see how large they are and witness first hand the interaction between instructors and students. Speak with several of the students and get their comments relating to class sizes and instruction. Last, speak to some of the instructors and learn what their level of expertise is and what degrees or certifications they hold.
Flexible Scheduling. Make sure that the class schedules for the schools you are reviewing are flexible enough to handle your needs. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Green Valley AZ, check that the schools you are considering provide those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Additionally, ask what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, sickness or family issues.
Get Your HVAC Certificate or Degree
Finding the right HVAC training course is an important beginning toward a rewarding career in the heating & cooling trade. As we have discussed in this article, you need to choose a Heating and Cooling training program and a degree or certificate program that are both accredited and have outstanding reputations within the HVAC profession. Other factors to search for are ample hands-on training and state-of-the-art facilities. You should go to each of the schools personally that you are most interested in to tour 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. In addition, inquire about scheduling options and whether night or weekend classes are available if needed. And don't forget to ask about financial aid and student loan options too. If you ask the appropriate questions as we have outlined in our checklist for comparing schools, you'll be able to filter your choices so that you can make an informed decision. With the appropriate training, hard work and dedication, you can eventually become a licensed HVAC specialist in Green Valley AZ.