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How to Pick the Right Heating and Cooling School near Marana Arizona

Marana Arizona residential A/C condensersOnce you have come to a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioning specialist, the next action is to look for an HVAC vocational school near Marana AZ. But with so many to choose from, how do you decide on the right one to receive the training that you need? Many potential students will make their choice based solely on the price of tuition or how close the school is to their home. Although these are important concerns, they are not the only ones to investigate. Some of the other details 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 other benchmarks will be covered in more detail later within this article. But before we explore how to select an HVAC vocational school, let's look at what a heating and cooling contractor does to become a licensed qualified tradesman.

How to Become an HVAC Contractor

Marana Arizona Heating and Cooling Contractor inspecting A/C condenserHVAC is an acronym that is widely used in the trade that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC professionals specialize in the installation, maintenance and repair of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are typically required to be licensed, though every state and local municipality has its own prerequisites. Acquiring professional certification is not mandatory, but an optional way for Marana AZ HVAC specialists to prove that they are highly qualified and accomplished in their area of expertise. There are many respected certifications within the field that are offered. Below are a few 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 examination and can be acquired in one or more specialties.
  • HVAC Excellence. This certification offers 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 3 years of experience along with a passing score on the professional level exam. As with NATE, certifications are provided in various specialties.
  • EPA Section 608. This certification is necessary for techs that handle refrigerants. There are 3 forms of certification obtainable, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.

Considering that licensing may be mandated in your location, and you may also wish to acquire certification, it's imperative that you pick an HVAC technical school that will train you for both. And since you will probably be dealing with refrigerants, make sure that the program you pick readies you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.

HVAC Certificate and Degree Training Programs

Marana Arizona residential heating pump

There are a variety of choices available for HVAC training in a trade or technical school. You can obtain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Obtaining a certificate will take the lesser amount of time, usually completed in as little as six months, although some programs are longer. A certificate will train you for the majority of HVAC positions, particularly if you are licensed and have certification appropriate to the position. The degree training programs may provide a competitive edge in the job market and will provide more extensive training than the certificate programs. Below is a brief explanation of each option offered near Marana AZ.

  • Certificate. Generally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among entry level residential or commercial HVAC technicians. They furnish a solid foundation of skills for employment within the trade.
  • Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program supplies a more extensive understanding of heating and a/c systems than the certificate program. Generally taking two years to complete, a number of degrees incorporate 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 being taught how to service and maintain heating and cooling systems, you will also study how to design them.

Picking the right credential program will be dependent on what your long term career objectives are, in addition to the time and money that you have to invest. 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, eventually returning to earn a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your approach, make certain to ask the HVAC tech school you are considering about how their returning student program works.

HVAC Classes Online

Attending an HVAC school online is one possibility in obtaining your training and earning a certificate or degree. Most schools will call for some attendance on campus to take part in hands on training. A number 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 attended online, this alternative may be a more convenient solution for some Marana AZ students that are pressed for time. And many online degree programs are less expensive than other on campus choices. Even driving expenses from Marana and study supplies can be reduced, helping to make schooling more affordable. And a large number of 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 online HVAC degree program will make it less complicated to accommodate school into your active lifestyle.

What to Ask HVAC Trade Schools

Marana Arizona Heating and Cooling technician installing water heater

As soon as you have picked the type of certificate or degree that you desire to acquire, either online or on campus, you can begin to limit your list of schools. As you are certainly aware, there are many HVAC technical schools in the Marana AZ area and across the Country to pick from. That's why it is very important to have a checklist of important qualifications when making school comparisons. As earlier mentioned in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will probably be the initial 2 variables you will look at. Following are some additional ones that you need to explore before enrolling in your school of choice.

Accreditation.  Numerous HVAC technical schools 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 as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to an individual program, for instance HVAC technology. Confirm that the school and program are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency, which includes the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping make certain that you obtain a superior education, it can assist in acquiring financial assistance or student loans, which are in many cases not available for non-accredited programs. Furthermore, a number of states require 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 looking at what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage of students who enroll in and finish the course. A low completion rate could suggest that students were dissatisfied with the course and dropped out. It may also indicate that the teachers were not qualified to train the students. It's also imperative that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader list of graduates, which can mean more contacts for the school to employ for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate will not only validate that the school has an excellent reputation within the industry, but additionally that it has the network of Marana AZ HVAC employers to assist grads secure apprenticeships or jobs.

Apprenticeship Programs.  Most HVAC training programs are taught along with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating vocational and trade schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of Heating and Cooling companies or trade unions. Find out if the schools you are reviewing have referring partnerships with local Marana AZ HVAC companies. An apprenticeship not only offers a valuable experience by supplying hands-on training, but it also supplies job opportunities and helps to establish relationships in the regional HVAC professional community.

Modern Facilities.  Confirm that the school 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 presently in an internship or an apprenticeship, consult with the HVAC tech you are working under concerning what you should be looking for. Otherwise, ask a local Marana AZ HVAC contracting company if they can give you some tips. Also keep in mind that unless you can relocate, the school must be within commuting distance of your Marana AZ residence. Remember that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation costs there can be increased tuition charges compared to in-state residents.

Smaller Classes.   It's desirable that you receive as much individualized 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 witness first hand the interaction between instructors and students. Talk to a few of the students and get their feedback regarding class sizes and instruction. Finally, talk to a few of the teachers and learn what their level of expertise is and what certifications or degrees they hold.

Flexible Scheduling.  Confirm that the class schedules for the schools you are evaluating are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you are only able to attend classes at night or on weekends near Marana AZ, verify that the schools you are reviewing offer those choices. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, be sure that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Also, check out what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, illness or family responsibilities.

Find Out More About Marana Heating and Cooling Schools Near You

Get Your HVAC Training and Certification

Enrolling in the right HVAC school program is a critical beginning toward a rewarding career in the heating and cooling field. As we have discussed 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 profession. Other factors to look for are lots of practical training and state-of-the-art facilities. You need to check out each of the schools personally that you are most interested in to tour 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 if evening or weekend classes are available if needed. And remember to ask about financial assistance and student loan options too. If you ask the proper questions as we have outlined in our guidelines for assessing schools, you'll be able to filter your choices so that you can make an educated decision. With the appropriate training, hard work and dedication, you can eventually become a licensed HVAC professional in Marana AZ.