How to Pick the Right Heating and Cooling Degree Program near Lake Havasu City Arizona
Once you have decided on a career as a heating and air conditioning technician, the next step is to find an HVAC trade school near Lake Havasu City AZ. But with so many to select from, how do you choose the right one to receive the training that you require? Some future students will make their decision based entirely on the price of tuition or how near the school is to their residence. Even though these are significant considerations, they are not the only ones to evaluate. A few of the other details that you need to look into are the graduation completion 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 within this article. But before we tackle how to choose an HVAC training program, let's look at what a heating and cooling specialist does to become a licensed qualified tradesman.
Becoming an HVAC Specialist
HVAC is an acronym that is widely used in the business that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC techs specialize in the installation, repair and maintenance of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are typically required to be licensed, though each state and regional municipality has its own criteria. Obtaining professional certification is not mandatory, but an optional means for Lake Havasu City AZ HVAC specialists to prove that they are exceptionally qualified and experienced in their area of specialization. There are a number of respected certifications within the field that are offered. Below are some 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 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 examination are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have 3 years of experience together with a passing score on the professional level exam. Similar to NATE, certifications are offered in multiple specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is required for specialists that work with refrigerants. There are 3 types of certification available, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Since licensing could be required in your area, and you may also intend to obtain certification, it's imperative that you pick an HVAC trade school that will prepare you for both. And since you will probably be handling refrigerants, make sure that the school you decide on readies you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
HVAC Degree Training Programs
There are several options available 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 lesser period of time, often achieved in just six months, though some programs 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 might provide a competitive advantage in the job market and will deliver more in-depth training than the certificate programs. Following is a short summary of each option offered near Lake Havasu City AZ.
- Certificate. Generally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among beginning commercial or residential HVAC professionals. They furnish a strong foundation of skills for employment within the trade.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program provides a more comprehensive knowledge of heating & cooling systems than the certificate program. Normally requiring two years to finish, a number of degrees incorporate an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is tailored more for a career in management or even business ownership. Some programs call for an Associate Degree, while others are a conventional four year program. In addition to being taught how to service and maintain heating and cooling systems, you will also learn how to design them.
Choosing the right credential program will be dependent on what your long term career objectives are, in addition to the time and financial resources that you have to commit. One approach is to start with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after gaining some experience in the trade in Lake Havasu City AZ, subsequently going back to obtain a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your tactic, be sure to ask the HVAC tech school you are considering about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Online Training
Attending an HVAC program online is one approach in obtaining your training and earning a degree or certificate. Almost all schools will require some attendance on campus to complete hands on training. Some also sponsor internship or work-study programs in addition to or in place of practical lab work. But since the rest of the classes can be participated in on the web, this alternative may be a more convenient solution for many Lake Havasu City AZ students that are pressed for time. And a number of online degree programs are less costly than other on campus alternatives. Even travelling expenses from Lake Havasu City and study supplies may be reduced, helping to make education more affordable. And numerous online programs are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your job or family commitments have left you with limited time to attend classes, perhaps an HVAC online training program will make it more convenient to fit school into your active lifestyle.
What to Ask HVAC Trade Schools
When you have decided on the type of degree or certificate that you wish to acquire, either online or on campus, you can start to limit your list of schools. As you are certainly aware, there are many HVAC technical schools in the Lake Havasu City AZ area and throughout the United States to choose from. That's why it is imperative to have a checklist of relevant qualifications when making school comparisons. As formerly mentioned in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will probably be the initial 2 variables you will take into consideration. Following are some additional ones that you need to explore before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Many HVAC vocational programs in the Lake Havasu City AZ area have received either a regional or a national accreditation. They may receive Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on 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 is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting agency, for instance the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping ensure that you get an excellent education, it may assist in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are often unavailable for non-accredited programs. Furthermore, some states require that the HVAC training program be accredited for it to qualify for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the HVAC schools you are considering what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage of students who enroll in and complete the program. A lower completion rate may indicate that students were dissatisfied with the program and dropped out. It might also mean that the teachers were not qualified to instruct the students. It's also important that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader directory of graduates, which can mean more contacts for the school to utilize 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 field, but additionally that it has the network of Lake Havasu City AZ HVAC employers to assist students secure apprenticeships or jobs.
Apprenticeship Programs. Numerous HVAC training programs are taught together with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating vocational and technical schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of HVAC contractors or trade unions. Find out if the schools you are considering have referring relationships with local Lake Havasu City AZ HVAC professionals. An apprenticeship not only provides a valuable experience by providing practical training, but it also furnishes job opportunities and helps to form relationships in the local HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make certain that the campus facilities and the equipment that you will be instructed on are state-of-the-art and what you will be working with on the job. If you are currently in an internship or an apprenticeship, talk to the HVAC tech you are working under concerning what you should be looking for. If not, ask a local Lake Havasu City AZ HVAC company if they can provide some suggestions. Additionally bear in mind that unless you are able to relocate, the school must be within driving distance of your Lake Havasu City AZ home. Remember that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides the added moving costs there might be higher tuition charges compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's important that you receive as much personalized training as possible, which can be difficult in larger classes. Ask if you can sit in on a couple of the classes so that you can observe how large they are and experience the interaction between instructors and students. Speak with a few of the students and get their comments relating to class sizes and instruction. Last, speak to some of the teachers and find out 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 assessing are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Lake Havasu City AZ, check that the schools you are reviewing provide those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, be sure that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Finally, find out what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, sickness or family emergencies.
Learn More About Lake Havasu City HVAC Courses In Your Area
Get Your Heating and Cooling Degree and Certification
Enrolling in the ideal HVAC training course is an important first step toward a rewarding career in the heating & cooling trade. As we have discussed in this article, you should pick a Heating and Cooling training program and a certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have excellent reputations within the HVAC field. Other things to search for are sufficient hands-on training and state-of-the-art facilities. You should check out each of the schools in person that you are most interested in to inspect the campus and speak with both the current students and faculty. Try to get a feel for the quality of the teaching and the interaction between them. Additionally, ask about scheduling choices and whether evening or weekend classes are offered if needed. And don't forget to ask about financial aid and student loan options as well. If you ask the appropriate questions as we have outlined in our checklist for evaluating schools, you'll be able to filter your options so that you can make an informed decision. With the right training, hard work and commitment, you can eventually become a licensed HVAC professional in Lake Havasu City AZ.