How to Select the Right Heating and Cooling School near Marana Arizona
Once you have come to a decision on a career as a heating and cooling specialist, the next action is to find an HVAC vocational school near Marana AZ. But with so many to choose from, how do you select the best one to get the training that you require? Many future students will make their decision based entirely on the cost of tuition or how near the school is to their home. While these are significant concerns, they are not the only ones to investigate. Some of the other things that you need to investigate are the graduation rates of the HVAC schools, their reputations, and if they are accredited by professional trade organizations. Those and additional benchmarks will be discussed in more detail later in this article. But before we discuss how to choose an HVAC technical school, let's take a look at what a heating and air conditioning contractor does to become a licensed qualified tradesman.
Becoming an HVAC Professional
HVAC is an acronym that is commonly used in the trade that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC professionals provide services for the installation, maintenance and repair of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are commonly mandated to be licensed, though every state and regional municipality has its own criteria. Obtaining professional certification is not required, but an optional means for Marana AZ HVAC specialists to prove that they are highly skilled and accomplished in their area of specialization. There are several recognized certifications within the industry that are offered. Following are a few of the significant ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally acknowledged certification for HVAC technicians. The certification is earned by passing a competency 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 field experience as well as passing a comprehensive examination are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have 3 years of experience as well as a passing score on the professional level exam. Similar to NATE, certifications are made available in multiple specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is required for specialists that work with refrigerants. There are three types of certification obtainable, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Since licensing could be mandated in your area, and you may also wish to obtain certification, it's important that you pick an HVAC vocational school that will prepare you for both. And since you will probably be dealing with refrigerants, make sure that the school you select preps you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
HVAC Certificate and Degree Classes
There are several choices offered for HVAC training in a vocational or trade school. You can attain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Earning a certificate will take the minimum amount of time, typically achieved in as little as six months, although some courses are longer. A certificate will train you for the majority of HVAC positions, particularly if you are licensed and have certification applicable to the position. The degree training programs may provide a competitive edge in the job market and will deliver more extensive training than the certificate programs. Following is a short summary of each option offered near Marana 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 job opportunities within the trade.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program delivers a more comprehensive understanding of heating and a/c systems than the certificate program. Normally taking two years to complete, some 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 being taught how to service and maintain heating and cooling systems, you will also study how to design them.
Selecting the right credential program will be dependent on what your long term career objectives are, together with the time and financial resources that you have to commit. One option is to start with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after getting some experience in the trade in Marana AZ, later returning to acquire a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your tactic, make certain to ask the HVAC tech school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Online Schools
Choosing an HVAC school online is one alternative in obtaining your education and earning a certificate or degree. Most schools will call for some attendance on campus to complete practical training. A number also offer internship or work-study programs in addition to or as an alternative to practical lab work. But since the balance of the classes may be participated in via the internet, this option may be a more practical solution for some Marana AZ students that are pressed for time. And some online degree programs are more economical than other traditional choices. Even driving expenses from Marana and study materials can be lessened, helping to make education more affordable. And numerous online programs 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 HVAC online training program will make it more convenient to accommodate school into your busy lifestyle.
What to Ask HVAC Certification Classes
Once you have decided on the type of certificate or degree that you desire to earn, either on campus or online, you can begin to decrease your list of schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are a large number of HVAC trade schools in the Marana AZ area and across the Country to pick from. That's why it is extremely important to have a checklist of key qualifications when making school evaluations. As earlier mentioned in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will most likely be the first two aspects you will take into consideration. Following are some additional ones that you should research before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Numerous HVAC trade programs in the Marana AZ area have acquired 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 sure that the school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting organization, for instance the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping make certain that you obtain an excellent education, it may assist in acquiring financial assistance or student loans, which are in many cases unavailable for non-accredited programs. Additionally, a number of states require that the HVAC training program be accredited in order to qualify for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the Heating and Cooling schools you are reviewing what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage of students who enroll in and complete the course. A lower completion rate could suggest that students were disappointed with the course and quit. It could also indicate that the teachers were not qualified to train the students. It's also important 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 utilize for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate can not only validate that the school has a good reputation within the trade, but also that it has the network of Marana AZ HVAC employers to assist graduates acquire apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. Numerous HVAC trade programs are taught together with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating trade and technical schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of HVAC contractors or labor unions. Check if the schools you are comparing have referring partnerships with local Marana AZ HVAC companies. An apprenticeship not only offers a valuable experience by providing hands-on training, but it also provides job opportunities and helps to establish relationships in the area HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Confirm that the campus facilities and the equipment that you will be trained on are state-of-the-art and what you will be using in the field. If you are currently in an internship or an apprenticeship, consult with the HVAC tech you are working with concerning what you should be looking for. If not, ask a local Marana AZ HVAC contracting company if they can give you some tips. Also bear in mind that unless you can move, the school needs to be within driving distance of your Marana AZ residence. Take note that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, besides the added relocation costs there can be increased tuition fees compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's important that you get as much one-on-one instruction as possible, which can be difficult in bigger classes. Ask if you can sit in on a couple of the classes so that you can see how big they are and experience the interaction between students and teachers. Speak with some of the students and get their feedback concerning class sizes and instruction. Finally, talk with some of the teachers and learn what their level of expertise is and what degrees or certifications they hold.
Flexible Scheduling. Confirm that the class schedules for the programs you are evaluating are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Marana AZ, confirm that the programs you are considering offer those choices. If you can only attend part-time, make sure that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Also, check out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, sickness or family responsibilities.
Get Your HVAC Training and Certification
Selecting the right HVAC school program is a crucial first step toward a rewarding career in the heating & cooling industry. As we have covered in this article, you should choose a Heating and Cooling training program and a degree or certificate program that are both accredited and have excellent reputations within the HVAC field. Other things to search for are ample practical training and state-of-the-art facilities. You need to visit each of the schools in person that you are most interested in to inspect the campus and talk with both the faculty and current students. Attempt to get a feel for the quality of the teaching and the interaction between them. In addition, inquire about scheduling choices and whether evening or weekend classes are available if needed. And don't forget to ask about financial assistance and student loan options as well. If you ask the right questions as we have outlined in our guidelines for evaluating schools, you'll be able to narrow down your options so that you can make an educated decision. With the appropriate training, hard work and dedication, you can eventually become a licensed HVAC technician in Marana AZ.