How to Pick the Right Heating and Cooling Training Program near Nogales Arizona
Now that you have made a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioner technician, the next action is to locate an HVAC trade school near Nogales AZ. But with so many to pick from, how do you select the right one to obtain the training that you require? A number of prospective students will make their decision based exclusively on the cost of tuition or how close the school is to their residence. Although these are significant considerations, they are not the only ones to take into account. Just some of the other things that you need to look into 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 select an HVAC trade school, let's take a look at what a heating and a/c contractor does to become a licensed qualified tradesman.
How to Become an HVAC Contractor
HVAC is an acronym that is widely used in the business that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC technicians specialize in the installation, repair and maintenance of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are typically mandated to be licensed, although each state and regional municipality has its own requirements. Obtaining professional certification is not mandatory, but an alternative way for Nogales AZ HVAC specialists to prove that they are exceptionally qualified and experienced in their area of expertise. There are many acknowledged certifications within the trade that are offered. Here are some of the important ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally acknowledged certification for HVAC techs. The certification is attained by passing a proficiency 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 field 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. As with NATE, certifications are provided in several specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is necessary 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 may be required in your area, and you may also desire to obtain certification, it's imperative that you select an HVAC technical school that will train you for both. And since you will more than likely be handling refrigerants, make certain that the school you choose readies you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
HVAC Certificate and Degree Classes
There are a number of options offered for HVAC training in a technical or vocational school. You can attain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Obtaining a certificate will take the lesser period of time, usually completed in as little as 6 months, although 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 may provide a competitive edge in the job market and will provide more extensive training than the certificate programs. Following is a short summary of each credential offered near Nogales AZ.
- Certificate. Generally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred 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. Typically taking two years to finish, 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 traditional 4 year program. In addition to mastering how to service and maintain heating and cooling systems, you will also study how to design them.
Choosing the appropriate credential program will be dependent on what your long term career objectives are, in addition to the time and financial resources that you have to invest. One option is to start with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after gaining some experience in the trade in Nogales AZ, later going back to obtain a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your strategy, make certain to ask the HVAC tech school you are considering about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Classes Online
Attending an HVAC program online is one approach to obtaining your education and earning a certificate or degree. Almost all schools will require some attendance on campus to participate in hands on training. A number also offer internship or work-study programs in addition to or instead of practical lab work. But since the balance of the classes can be attended online, this approach may be a more practical solution for many Nogales AZ students that are pressed for time. And a number of online degree programs are cheaper than other on campus options. Even travelling expenses from Nogales and study supplies can be reduced, helping to make schooling more affordable. And a large number of online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your work or family commitments have left you with limited time to attend classes, maybe an online HVAC degree program will make it less complicated to fit school into your hectic lifestyle.
Questions For HVAC Training Classes
When you have selected the type of certificate or degree that you wish to acquire, either online or on campus, you can start to limit your selection of schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are numerous HVAC vocational schools in the Nogales AZ area and across the United States to select from. That's why it is extremely important to have a list of relevant qualifiers when making school evaluations. As earlier mentioned in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will most likely be the initial 2 aspects you will consider. Following are some additional ones that you will want to research before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Many HVAC technical schools in the Nogales AZ area have attained either a regional or a national accreditation. They can attain Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to a specific program, for instance HVAC technology. Make certain that the program and school are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization, which includes the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping guarantee that you get an excellent education, it can assist in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are often unavailable for non-accredited programs. Additionally, a number of states require that the HVAC training program 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 portion or percentage of students who enroll in and finish the program. A low completion rate may indicate that students were unhappy with the course and quit. It might also indicate that the teachers were not qualified to instruct the students. It's similarly essential that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive list of graduates, which may mean 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 a good reputation within the trade, but also that it has the network of Nogales AZ HVAC employers to help grads secure apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. A large number of HVAC trade programs are taught together with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating vocational and trade schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of Heating and Cooling contractors or labor unions. Check if the schools you are reviewing have referring relationships with local Nogales AZ HVAC specialists. An apprenticeship not only provides a rewarding experience by furnishing hands-on training, but it also provides job opportunities and helps to form relationships in the area HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make certain that the campus facilities and the equipment that you will be trained on are up-to-date and what you will be working with on the job. If you are currently in an internship or an apprenticeship, consult with the HVAC technician you are working under concerning what you should be expecting. If not, ask a local Nogales AZ HVAC company if they can give you some suggestions. Additionally bear in mind that unless you can relocate, the school must be within driving distance of your Nogales AZ home. Remember that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides the added moving costs there might be higher tuition charges compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's desirable that you receive as much personalized training as possible, which can be difficult in bigger classes. Ask if you can sit in on some of the classes so that you can see how large they are and experience the interaction between instructors and students. Speak to a few of the students and get their opinions regarding class sizes and instruction. Finally, speak to a few of the instructors and learn what their level of experience is and what degrees or certifications they hold.
Flexible Scheduling. Confirm that the class schedules for the programs you are assessing are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Nogales AZ, confirm that the schools you are comparing offer those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Additionally, check out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, sickness or family emergencies.
Get Your HVAC Certificate or Degree
Choosing the right HVAC training course is a crucial first step toward a fulfilling career in the heating and cooling trade. 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 trade. Other factors to look for are lots of practical training and state-of-the-art facilities. You should visit each of the schools in person 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 instruction and the interaction between them. In addition, inquire about scheduling choices and whether evening or weekend classes are offered if needed. And remember to ask about financial assistance and student loan options too. If you ask the proper questions as we have laid out in our guidelines for evaluating schools, you'll be able to filter your options so that you can make an informed decision. With the appropriate training, hard work and commitment, you can eventually become a licensed HVAC specialist in Nogales AZ.