How to Find the Right Heating and Cooling Degree Program near Marana Arizona
Now that you have made a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioner professional, the next action is to find an HVAC technical school near Marana AZ. But with so many to select from, how do you decide on the right one to get the training that you need? Some prospective students will make their choice based solely on the price of tuition or how near the school is to their home. Even though these are important factors to consider, they are not the only ones to take into account. Just some of the other details 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 criteria will be discussed in more detail later within this article. But before we discuss how to choose an HVAC technical school, let's look at what a heating and cooling specialist does to become a licensed professional tradesman.
How to Become an HVAC Specialist
HVAC is an acronym that is widely used in the industry that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC contractors provide services for the installation, maintenance and repair of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are generally mandated to be licensed, although every state and local municipality has its own criteria. Attaining professional certification is not mandatory, but an alternative way for Marana AZ HVAC specialists to establish that they are exceptionally qualified and accomplished in their area of expertise. There are many acknowledged certifications within the trade that are available. Below are a few of the important ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally acknowledged certification for HVAC techs. The certification is earned by passing a proficiency examination and can be received in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification makes available both a professional and a master specialist credential. 2 years of professional experience as well as passing a comprehensive examination are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have three years of experience together with a passing score on the professional level examination. As with NATE, certifications are provided in various specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is necessary for techs that work with refrigerants. There are 3 types of certification obtainable, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Considering that licensing could be required in your area, and you may also wish to acquire certification, it's imperative that you select an HVAC vocational school that will train you for both. And since you will probably be working with refrigerants, make sure that the program you decide on readies you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
HVAC Degree and Certificate Courses
There are a number of options offered for HVAC instruction in a trade or technical school. You can attain 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 qualify you for the majority of HVAC positions, especially if you are licensed and have certification relevant to the position. The degree training programs might provide a competitive edge for securing employment and will deliver more comprehensive training than the certificate programs. Following is a short explanation of each credential offered near Marana AZ.
- Certificate. Generally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among beginning residential or commercial HVAC professionals. They furnish a strong foundation of skills for employment within the industry.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program provides a more comprehensive understanding of heating and cooling systems than the certificate program. Usually requiring 2 years to complete, a number of degrees feature an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is tailored more towards 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 mastering how to service and maintain heating and cooling systems, you will also learn how to design them.
Selecting the ideal credential program will be based on what your future career aspirations are, along with the time and financial resources that you have to commit. One option is to begin with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after getting some experience in the trade in Marana AZ, eventually going back to earn a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your tactic, be sure to ask the HVAC tech school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Schools Online
Attending an HVAC school online is one alternative to attaining your education and receiving a degree or certificate. Almost all schools will call for some attendance on campus to take part in practical training. A number also offer internship or work-study programs in addition to or instead of practical lab work. But since the rest of the classes may be participated in on the web, this approach may be a more practical solution for some Marana AZ students that are short on time. And many online degree programs are less costly than other traditional options. Even travelling expenses from Marana and study materials may be reduced, helping to make schooling more affordable. And many online programs are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your work or family obligations have left you with limited time to attend classes, maybe an HVAC online training program will make it easier to accommodate school into your hectic schedule.
Questions to Ask HVAC Certification Classes
When you have decided on the type of degree or certificate that you would like to acquire, either on campus or online, you can start to decrease your selection of schools. As you are certainly aware, there are numerous HVAC vocational schools in the Marana AZ area and across the USA to pick from. That's why it is extremely important to have a checklist of key qualifiers when making school evaluations. As formerly stated in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will probably be the first 2 aspects you will take into consideration. Following are several additional ones that you should explore before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Many HVAC vocational programs in the Marana AZ area have attained either a regional or a national accreditation. They may attain Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to an individual program, for instance HVAC technology. Make sure that the program and school are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting agency, for example the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping guarantee that you get a quality education, it may help in securing financial aid or student loans, which are in many cases unavailable for non-accredited programs. Also, a number of states mandate that the HVAC training program be accredited in order 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 percentage or portion of students who enroll in and finish the course. A low completion rate might signify that students were dissatisfied with the course and quit. It may also indicate that the instructors were not competent to instruct the students. It's also important that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader 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 confirm that the school has a good reputation within the trade, but additionally that it has the network of Marana AZ HVAC employers to help students acquire apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. Most HVAC training programs are taught in conjunction with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating trade and vocational schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of HVAC contractors or trade unions. Check if the schools you are reviewing have working relationships with local Marana AZ HVAC contractors. An apprenticeship not only offers a rewarding experience by providing practical training, but it also provides job opportunities and helps to establish 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 working with on the job. If you are already in an internship or an apprenticeship, consult with the HVAC technician you are working with regarding what you should be expecting. If not, ask a local Marana AZ HVAC contractor if they can provide some pointers. Also bear in mind that unless you are willing to relocate, the school must be within driving distance of your Marana AZ home. Remember that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, besides the added moving costs there might be higher tuition fees compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's desirable that you receive as much personalized instruction 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 big they are and experience the interaction between students and instructors. Speak with some of the students and get their opinions concerning class sizes and instruction. Last, speak to a few of the instructors and learn what their level of experience is and what certifications or degrees they have earned.
Flexible Scheduling. Make sure that the class schedules for the programs you are evaluating are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Marana AZ, check that the programs you are comparing provide those choices. If you can only attend part-time, make sure that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Additionally, check out what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, illness or family issues.
Get Your HVAC Certificate or Degree
Finding the right HVAC school program is an important beginning toward a rewarding career in the heating and air conditioning industry. As we have addressed 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 community. Other features to search for are sufficient practical training and state-of-the-art facilities. You should visit 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 teaching and the interaction between them. In addition, ask about scheduling choices and if night or weekend classes are offered if needed. And remember to ask about financial aid and student loan options also. If you ask the appropriate questions as we have detailed in our checklist 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 commitment, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC specialist in Marana AZ.