How to Select the Right Heating and Cooling Certificate Program near Green Valley Arizona
Now that you have decided on a career as a heating and cooling technician, the next action is to find an HVAC vocational school near Green Valley AZ. But with so many to choose from, how do you pick the right one to receive the training that you need? Some prospective students will make their decision based entirely on the cost of tuition or how close the school is to their home. Even though these are important concerns, they are not the only ones to evaluate. Some of the other factors that you need to investigate are the graduation completion rates of the HVAC schools, their reputations, and if they are accredited by professional trade organizations. These and additional benchmarks will be covered in more detail later within this article. But before we discuss how to select an HVAC vocational school, let's take a look at what a heating and a/c specialist does to become a licensed professional tradesman.
How to Become an HVAC Professional
HVAC is an acronym that is commonly used in the industry that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC contractors specialize in the installation, repair and maintenance of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are generally mandated to be licensed, although each state and local municipality has its own requirements. Earning professional certification is not compulsory, but a voluntary means for Green Valley AZ HVAC specialists to demonstrate that they are exceptionally qualified and knowledgeable in their area of specialization. There are multiple recognized certifications within the field that are available. 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 proficiency exam and can be received in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification makes available both a professional and a master specialist credential. Two years of professional experience as well as passing a comprehensive exam are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have 3 years of experience as well as a passing result on the professional level examination. Similar to NATE, certifications are provided in multiple specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is necessary for technicians that handle refrigerants. There are three forms of certification obtainable, 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 wish to obtain certification, it's important that you enroll in an HVAC technical school that will train you for both. And since you will most likely be handling refrigerants, make certain that the school you pick preps you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
HVAC Certificate and Degree Courses
There are several choices offered for HVAC instruction in a vocational or trade school. You can obtain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Earning a certificate will take the lesser period of time, often completed in just six 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 related to the position. The degree training programs may provide a competitive edge for securing employment and will deliver more in-depth training than the certificate programs. Following is a short summary of each option offered near Green Valley AZ.
- Certificate. Normally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among entry level commercial or residential HVAC technicians. They furnish a strong foundation of skills for job opportunities within the trade.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program delivers a more exhaustive background of heating and cooling systems than the certificate program. Normally requiring two years to complete, many degrees incorporate an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is geared more for a career in management as well as business ownership. Some programs require 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.
Selecting the ideal credential program will be dependent on what your future career objectives are, as well as the time and money that you have to commit. One approach is to start with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after getting some experience in the trade in Green Valley AZ, later going back to acquire a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your tactic, make sure to ask the HVAC technician school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Courses Online
Enrolling in an HVAC school online is one alternative to getting your training and earning a certificate or degree. Most schools will require some attendance on campus to participate in practical training. Some also provide internship or work-study programs in addition to or as an alternative to practical lab work. But since the balance of the classes can be participated in online, this option may be a more convenient solution for many Green Valley AZ students that are pressed for time. And many online degree programs are more economical than other on campus alternatives. Even travelling expenses from Green Valley and study materials may be minimized, helping to make schooling more economical. 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, maybe an online HVAC degree program will make it more convenient to fit school into your active lifestyle.
Questions to Ask HVAC Certification Courses
When you have chosen the type of certificate or degree that you would like to earn, either on campus or online, you can begin to decrease your list of schools. As you are certainly aware, there are a large number of HVAC vocational schools in the Green Valley AZ area and throughout the Country to choose from. That's why it is extremely important to have a list of important qualifiers when making school comparisons. As previously mentioned in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will most likely 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. Many HVAC vocational programs in the Green Valley AZ area have received either a regional or a national accreditation. They may earn Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to a specific program, for instance HVAC technology. Verify 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. Along with helping guarantee that you receive a quality education, it can assist in securing financial aid or student loans, which are in many cases not available for non-accredited schools. Furthermore, some states require 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 reviewing what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students who enroll in and complete the course. A low completion rate might suggest that students were dissatisfied with the program and dropped out. It might also indicate that the teachers were not competent to instruct the students. It's similarly imperative that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive directory of alumni, which may result in more contacts for the school to utilize for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate will not only validate that the school has a good reputation within the industry, but additionally that it has the network of Green Valley AZ HVAC employers to help students secure apprenticeships or jobs.
Apprenticeship Programs. A large number of HVAC vocational programs are taught together with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating trade and vocational schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of HVAC contractors or labor unions. Find out if the schools you are comparing have referring partnerships with local Green Valley AZ HVAC professionals. An apprenticeship not only offers a rewarding experience by providing practical training, but it also furnishes job opportunities and helps to form relationships in the regional HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make certain that the campus facilities and the equipment that you will be instructed on are up-to-date and what you will be using on the job. If you are already in an internship or an apprenticeship, consult with the HVAC specialist you are working under regarding what you should be expecting. 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 move, the school must be within driving distance of your Green Valley AZ home. Remember that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides the added moving 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 monitor a few of the classes so that you can observe how big they are and witness first hand the interaction between teachers and students. Talk to several of the students and get their opinions relating to 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. Verify that the class schedules for the programs you are evaluating are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you are only able to attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Green Valley AZ, confirm that the schools you are considering provide those choices. If you can only attend part-time, make sure that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Finally, find out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, sickness or family emergencies.
Get Your HVAC Training and Certification
Picking the ideal HVAC school course is an important beginning toward a fulfilling career in the heating and air conditioning industry. As we have discussed in this article, you need to 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 features to look for are plenty of practical training and modern 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. In addition, ask about scheduling options and whether evening or weekend classes are available if needed. And remember to ask about financial assistance and student loan options too. If you ask the right questions as we have laid out in our guidelines for comparing schools, you'll be able to filter your choices so that you can make an informed decision. With the right training, hard work and dedication, you can eventually become a licensed HVAC professional in Green Valley AZ.