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How to Find the Right Heating and Cooling College near Marana Arizona

Marana Arizona home A/C condensersNow that you have decided on a career as a heating and cooling technician, the next action is to choose an HVAC vocational school near Marana AZ. But with so many to select from, how do you decide on the right one to obtain the training that you need? Many future students will make their decision based entirely on the cost of tuition or how close the school is to their residence. Although these are necessary considerations, they are not the only ones to investigate. Some of the other factors that you need to research are the graduation rates of the HVAC schools, their reputations, and if they are accredited by professional trade organizations. These and other benchmarks will be discussed in more detail later in this article. But before we explore how to choose an HVAC trade school, let's take a look at what a heating and a/c technician does to become a licensed qualified tradesman.

Becoming an HVAC Tech

Marana Arizona HVAC Tech repairing air conditioning condenserHVAC is an acronym that is extensively used in the industry that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC techs provide services for the installation, maintenance and repair of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are generally mandated to be licensed, though every state and regional municipality has its own requirements. Earning professional certification is not mandatory, but a voluntary way for Marana AZ HVAC specialists to prove that they are exceptionally proficient and experienced in their area of specialization. There are several respected certifications within the trade that are available. Here are some of the significant ones.

  • North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally recognized certification for HVAC technicians. The certification is earned by passing a competency examination and may be received in one or more specialties.
  • HVAC Excellence. This certification offers both a professional and a master specialist credential. Two years of field experience as well as passing a comprehensive exam are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have three years of experience together with a passing score on the professional level exam. As with NATE, certifications are provided in multiple specialties.
  • EPA Section 608. This certification is mandatory for specialists that work with refrigerants. There are 3 forms of certification obtainable, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.

Because licensing may be mandated in your area, and you may also desire to obtain certification, it's essential that you enroll in an HVAC vocational school that will prepare you for both. And since you will more than likely be dealing with refrigerants, make sure that the school you pick prepares you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.

HVAC Degree and Certificate Classes

Marana Arizona residential heat pump

There are a number of alternatives available for HVAC instruction in a trade or technical school. You can earn a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Acquiring a certificate will take the lesser period of time, often accomplished in just six months, however some programs are longer. A certificate will qualify you for most HVAC positions, especially if you are licensed and have certification applicable to the position. The degree training programs can provide a competitive advantage in the job market and will deliver more extensive training than the certificate programs. Following is a brief description of each credential offered near Marana AZ.

  • Certificate. Usually requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among entry level residential or commercial HVAC specialists. They provide a strong foundation of skills for job opportunities within the trade.
  • Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program provides a more comprehensive background of heating & cooling systems than the certificate program. Normally requiring two years to finish, some degrees include an internship or work-study program.
  • Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is tailored 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 learning how to service and maintain heating and air conditioning systems, you will also learn how to design them.

Picking the right credential program will be dependent on what your long term career aspirations are, as well as the time and financial resources that you have to invest. One option is to start with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after gaining some experience in the trade in Marana AZ, later going back to acquire a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your strategy, be sure to ask the HVAC tech school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.

HVAC Training Online

Enrolling in an HVAC program online is one option to attaining your education and receiving a degree or certificate. Most schools will require some attendance on campus to take part in hands on training. Some also sponsor internship or work-study programs in addition to or instead of practical lab work. But since the remainder of the classes may be participated in via the internet, this option may be a more convenient solution for many Marana AZ students that are pressed for time. And many online degree programs are less expensive than other traditional choices. Even driving expenses from Marana and study materials may be reduced, helping to make education more economical. 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 less complicated to accommodate school into your busy schedule.

Questions to Ask HVAC Schools

Marana Arizona Heating and Cooling tech installing water heater

After you have decided on the type of degree or certificate that you desire to attain, either on campus or online, you can start to limit 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 select from. That's why it is essential to have a checklist of important qualifications when making school evaluations. As earlier stated in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will most likely be the initial 2 factors you will consider. Following are several additional ones that you need to investigate before enrolling in your school of choice.

Accreditation.  A large number of HVAC technical programs in the Marana AZ area have earned either a regional or a national accreditation. They may acquire Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to a specific program, for example HVAC technology. Confirm that the program is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization, for instance the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping guarantee that you obtain a quality education, it may assist in acquiring financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently not available for non-accredited programs. Also, a number of states mandate that the HVAC training course be accredited for it to be approved for licensing.

High Completion Rates.  Ask the Heating and Air Conditioning schools you are considering what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage or portion of students who enroll in and finish the course. A lower completion rate could signify that students were disappointed with the course and dropped out. It could also suggest that the instructors were not qualified to train the students. It's similarly important that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader directory of graduates, which may result in 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 trade, but also that it has the network of Marana AZ HVAC employers to help grads obtain apprenticeships or employment.

Apprenticeship Programs.  A large number of HVAC technical programs are taught along with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating vocational and trade programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of HVAC businesses or labor unions. Find out if the schools you are reviewing have working partnerships with local Marana AZ HVAC specialists. An apprenticeship not only offers a rewarding experience by providing practical training, but it also supplies 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 trained on are state-of-the-art and what you will be using on the job. If you are presently in an internship or an apprenticeship, consult with the HVAC technician you are working under regarding what you should be expecting. If not, ask a local Marana AZ HVAC contracting company if they can provide some suggestions. Additionally keep in mind that unless you can move, the school needs to be within commuting distance of your Marana AZ residence. Remember that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, besides the added relocation costs there can be higher tuition fees compared to in-state residents.

Smaller Classes.   It's important that you receive as much individualized training as possible, which can be difficult in larger classes. Ask if you can monitor a few of the classes so that you can observe how large they are and experience the interaction between students and instructors. Speak with a few of the students and get their opinions regarding class sizes and instruction. Last, speak to some 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 schools you are evaluating are flexible enough to handle your needs. If you are only able to go to classes at night or on weekends near Marana AZ, confirm that the schools you are reviewing provide those options. If you can only attend part-time, be sure that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Finally, find out what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, illness or family issues.

Learn More About Marana Heating and Cooling Schools Near You

Earn Your HVAC Certificate or Degree

Finding the ideal HVAC school course is an important beginning toward a gratifying career in the heating and air conditioning industry. As we have addressed in this article, you should choose a Heating and Cooling training program and a certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have excellent reputations within the HVAC trade. Other factors to look for are ample hands-on training and modern facilities. You need to go to each of the schools personally that you are most interested in to explore the campus and talk 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 whether evening or weekend classes are available if needed. And remember to ask about financial aid 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 narrow down your choices so that you can make an educated decision. With the right training, hard work and dedication, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC professional in Marana AZ.