How to Pick the Right Heating and Cooling Program near Lake Havasu City Arizona
Now that you have come to a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioner professional, the next action is to look for an HVAC vocational school near Lake Havasu City AZ. But with so many to select from, how do you decide on the right one to receive the training that you require? A number of prospective students will make their selection based entirely on the cost of tuition or how near the school is to their home. Even though these are significant factors to consider, they are not the only ones to evaluate. A few of the other things 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. Those and additional criteria will be discussed in more detail later within this article. But before we discuss how to select an HVAC training program, let's look at what a heating and cooling professional does to become a licensed qualified 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 professionals specialize in the installation, maintenance and repair of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are commonly mandated to be licensed, although each state and local municipality has its own criteria. Earning professional certification is not mandatory, but an alternative way for Lake Havasu City AZ HVAC technicians to prove that they are exceptionally proficient and experienced in their area of expertise. There are multiple recognized certifications within the industry that are offered. Here are some of the significant ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally acknowledged certification for HVAC technicians. The certification is achieved by passing a competency exam and can be received in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification offers both a professional and a master specialist credential. 2 years of field experience in addition to passing a comprehensive exam are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have three years of experience as well as a passing score on the professional level examination. As with NATE, certifications are made available in various specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is required for specialists that work with refrigerants. There are 3 forms of certification available, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Considering that licensing could be required in your area, and you may also intend to obtain certification, it's important that you select an HVAC vocational school that will prepare you for both. And since you will most likely be handling refrigerants, make sure that the school you choose prepares you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
HVAC Degree and Certificate Schools
There are several choices offered for HVAC training in a vocational or trade school. You can earn a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Earning a certificate will take the least amount of time, often accomplished in as little as 6 months, however some programs are longer. A certificate will train you for most HVAC positions, especially if you are licensed and have certification related to the position. The degree programs might provide a competitive edge in the job market and will furnish more in-depth training than the certificate programs. Below is a brief explanation of each credential offered near Lake Havasu City AZ.
- Certificate. Usually requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among beginning commercial or residential 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 detailed understanding of heating & cooling systems than the certificate program. Generally requiring 2 years to finish, a number of degrees include 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 require an Associate Degree, while others are a standard 4 year program. In addition to mastering how to service and maintain heating and cooling systems, you will also study how to design them.
Choosing the right credential program will be based on what your future career objectives are, in addition to the time and money that you have to commit. One possibility is to begin with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after gaining some experience in the trade in Lake Havasu City AZ, later returning to obtain a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your strategy, make certain to ask the HVAC technician school you are considering about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Training Online
Choosing an HVAC school online is one alternative in obtaining your training and earning a certificate or degree. Most schools will call for some attendance on campus to take part in practical training. Many also provide internship or work-study programs in addition to or in place of practical lab work. But since the remainder of the classes may be attended via the internet, this option may be a more accessible solution for some Lake Havasu City AZ students that are short on time. And a number of online degree programs are less costly than other traditional choices. Even travelling expenses from Lake Havasu City and study materials may be reduced, helping to make schooling more economical. And numerous online programs are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your career or family commitments have left you with minimal time to attend classes, perhaps an online HVAC degree program will make it more convenient to fit school into your busy schedule.
What to Ask HVAC Certification Courses
Once you have chosen the type of certificate or degree that you want to attain, either online or on campus, you can begin to narrow down your list of schools. As you are certainly aware, there are numerous HVAC vocational schools in the Lake Havasu City AZ area and throughout the USA to select from. That's why it is essential to have a checklist of key qualifications when making school evaluations. As earlier stated in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will undoubtedly be the initial 2 aspects you will take into consideration. Following are several additional ones that you will want to research before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. A large number of HVAC technical programs in the Lake Havasu City AZ area have received either a regional or a national accreditation. They can receive Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to an individual program, for instance HVAC technology. Make certain that the school and program are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency, which includes the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping guarantee that you receive an excellent education, it may help in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are frequently not available for non-accredited schools. Additionally, a number of states require that the HVAC training course be accredited in order to be approved 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 program. A lower completion rate could signify that students were unhappy with the program and quit. It might also mean that the teachers were not qualified to instruct the students. It's similarly imperative that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader directory of alumni, 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 confirm that the school has an excellent reputation within the industry, but additionally that it has the network of Lake Havasu City AZ HVAC employers to assist graduates acquire apprenticeships or jobs.
Apprenticeship Programs. Most HVAC vocational programs are taught along with an apprenticeship or an internship 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. Check if the schools you are considering have referring partnerships with local Lake Havasu City AZ HVAC specialists. An apprenticeship not only offers a valuable experience by furnishing practical training, but it also supplies employment opportunities and helps to build 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 on the job. If you are already in an internship or an apprenticeship, talk to the HVAC specialist you are working under regarding what you should be looking for. Otherwise, ask a local Lake Havasu City AZ HVAC contracting company if they can provide some suggestions. Also bear in mind that unless you are able to move, the school must be within commuting distance of your Lake Havasu City AZ residence. Remember that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation costs there might be increased tuition charges compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's important that you receive as much one-on-one instruction as possible, which can be difficult in larger classes. Ask if you can monitor a couple of the classes so that you can observe how big they are and experience the interaction between students and instructors. Talk with some of the students and get their comments 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 hold.
Flexible Scheduling. Confirm that the class schedules for the programs you are assessing are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you are only able to attend classes at night or on weekends near Lake Havasu City AZ, verify that the programs you are reviewing offer those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Additionally, check out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Get Your HVAC Degree and Certification
Finding the ideal HVAC training course is a critical first step toward a gratifying career in the heating and air conditioning trade. As we have discussed 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 outstanding reputations within the HVAC community. Other features to search for are lots of practical training and modern facilities. You should visit each of the schools personally that you are most interested in to inspect the campus and speak with both the current students and faculty. Attempt to get a feel for the quality of the training and the interaction between them. Additionally, inquire about scheduling choices and whether or not evening or weekend classes are available if needed. And remember to ask about financial assistance and student loan options too. If you ask the appropriate questions as we have outlined in our guidelines for evaluating schools, you'll be able to filter your options so that you can make an informed decision. With the proper training, hard work and dedication, you can eventually become a licensed HVAC contractor in Lake Havasu City AZ.