How to Select the Right Heating and Cooling Training Program near Nogales Arizona
Now that you have come to a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioner professional, the next action is to choose an HVAC technical school near Nogales AZ. But with so many to pick from, how do you choose the ideal one to obtain the training that you need? A number of prospective students will make their decision based exclusively on the price of tuition or how near the school is to their residence. Although these are necessary considerations, they are not the only ones to take into account. A few of the other things that you need to research 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 addressed in more detail later within this article. But before we examine how to pick an HVAC technical school, let's look at what a heating and air conditioning specialist does to become a licensed qualified tradesman.
How to Become an HVAC Pro
HVAC is an acronym that is widely used in the industry that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC contractors specialize in the installation, repair and maintenance of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are commonly mandated to be licensed, although every state and regional municipality has its own prerequisites. Earning professional certification is not required, but an optional way for Nogales AZ HVAC specialists to establish that they are exceptionally skilled and knowledgeable in their area of expertise. There are several recognized certifications within the industry 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 acquired in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification makes available both a professional and a master specialist credential. 2 years of professional experience in addition to passing a comprehensive exam are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have three years of experience as well as a passing score on the professional level examination. Similar to NATE, certifications are offered in several specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is mandatory for techs that handle refrigerants. There are three types of certification obtainable, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Because licensing could be required in your area, and you may also desire to obtain certification, it's important that you enroll in an HVAC technical school that will train you for both. And since you will probably be dealing with refrigerants, make certain that the program you decide on preps you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
HVAC Degree Schools
There are a number of alternatives offered for HVAC training in a technical or vocational school. You can obtain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Acquiring a certificate will take the least amount of time, usually accomplished in just six months, although some courses are longer. A certificate will qualify you for the majority of HVAC positions, especially if you are licensed and have certification applicable to the position. The degree training programs can provide a competitive advantage for securing employment and will provide more in-depth training than the certificate programs. Following is a short explanation of each option offered near Nogales AZ.
- Certificate. Usually requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among beginning commercial or residential HVAC technicians. They furnish a strong foundation of skills for employment within the industry.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program delivers a more detailed background of heating and a/c systems than the certificate program. Generally requiring 2 years to finish, some degrees include an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is geared more towards a career in management as well as business ownership. Some programs require an Associate Degree, while others are a standard 4 year program. In addition to learning how to service and maintain heating and air conditioning systems, you will also study how to design them.
Picking the appropriate credential program will be dependent on what your long term career aspirations are, as well as the time and money that you have to invest. One approach is to start with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after gaining some experience in the field in Nogales AZ, subsequently going back to obtain a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your approach, make sure to ask the HVAC tech school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Online Courses
Attending an HVAC school online is one alternative to obtaining your training and earning a certificate or degree. Nearly all schools will require some attendance on campus to participate 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 balance of the classes can be participated in online, this alternative may be a more convenient solution for some Nogales AZ students that are pressed for time. And a number of online degree programs are less costly than other traditional alternatives. Even travelling expenses from Nogales and study materials can be minimized, helping to make education more budget-friendly. And a large number of online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your job or family responsibilities have left you with little time to attend classes, perhaps an HVAC online training program will make it more convenient to fit school into your hectic schedule.
Questions For HVAC Trade Schools
As soon as you have picked the type of certificate or degree that you wish to acquire, either on campus or online, you can begin to limit your list of schools. As you are probably aware, there are many HVAC trade schools in the Nogales AZ area and across the Country to choose from. That's why it is essential to have a checklist of key qualifications when making school assessments. As previously stated in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will undoubtedly be the first two aspects you will look at. Following are some additional ones that you will want to investigate before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Numerous HVAC vocational programs in the Nogales AZ area have earned either a regional or a national accreditation. They may receive Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to an individual program, for example HVAC technology. Verify that the school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization, such as the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping make certain that you receive a quality education, it may help in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are in many cases unavailable for non-accredited programs. Additionally, many states mandate that the HVAC training course be accredited for it 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 lower completion rate might indicate that students were disappointed with the program and dropped out. It might also suggest that the teachers were not competent 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 list of alumni, which can result in more contacts for the school to employ for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate will not only affirm that the school has an excellent reputation within the field, but additionally that it has the network of Nogales AZ HVAC employers to help graduates secure apprenticeships or jobs.
Apprenticeship Programs. A large number of HVAC technical programs are taught along with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating trade and technical programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of Heating and Cooling companies or trade unions. Check if the schools you are considering have working partnerships with local Nogales AZ HVAC contractors. An apprenticeship not only offers a valuable experience by providing practical training, but it also supplies job opportunities and helps to build relationships in the regional HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make certain that the campus facilities and the tools that you will be trained on are state-of-the-art and what you will be working with on the job. If you are presently in an internship or an apprenticeship, check with the HVAC technician you are working with regarding what you should be looking for. If not, ask a local Nogales AZ HVAC contractor if they can give you some pointers. Also keep in mind that unless you are able to move, the school must be within commuting distance of your Nogales AZ residence. Take note that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, in addition to moving costs there can be higher tuition charges compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's important that you receive as much one-on-one training as possible, which can be challenging in bigger classes. Ask if you can monitor some of the classes so that you can see how large they are and experience the interaction between teachers and students. Speak to some of the students and get their feedback regarding class sizes and instruction. Last, talk to some of the instructors and find out what their level of expertise is and what certifications or degrees they have earned.
Flexible Scheduling. Make sure that the class schedules for the schools you are assessing are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you are only able to attend classes at night or on weekends near Nogales AZ, verify that the schools you are considering offer those options. If you can only attend part-time, make sure that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Finally, find out what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, sickness or family issues.
Get Your Heating and Cooling Degree and Certification
Choosing the right HVAC training course is an important beginning toward a gratifying career in the heating and air conditioning field. As we have discussed in this article, you should pick a Heating and Cooling training program and a degree or certificate program that are both accredited and have excellent reputations within the HVAC trade. Other things to search for are sufficient hands-on training and modern 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 instruction and the interaction between them. Additionally, ask about scheduling options and if 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 detailed in our checklist for assessing schools, you'll be able to narrow down your options so that you can make an informed decision. With the right training, hard work and dedication, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC contractor in Nogales AZ.