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How to Pick the Right HVAC College near Nogales Arizona

Nogales Arizona residential air conditioning condensersOnce you have made a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioner professional, the next action is to locate an HVAC vocational school near Nogales AZ. But with so many to select from, how do you choose the best one to receive the training that you need? Some prospective students will make their choice based entirely on the price of tuition or how near the school is to their residence. Even though these are important considerations, they are not the only ones to evaluate. Just some of the other things that you need to research are the graduation completion 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 examine how to pick an HVAC training program, let's take a look at what a heating and a/c professional does to become a licensed professional tradesman.

Becoming an HVAC Contractor

Nogales Arizona HVAC Contractor inspecting air conditioning condenserHVAC is an acronym that is commonly used in the business that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC professionals specialize in the installation, maintenance and repair of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are generally required to be licensed, although every state and regional municipality has its own requirements. Attaining professional certification is not required, but an alternative means for Nogales AZ HVAC specialists to establish that they are exceptionally qualified and knowledgeable in their area of specialization. There are several respected certifications within the industry that are offered. Below are a few of the important ones.

  • North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally recognized certification for HVAC techs. The certification is achieved by passing a proficiency exam 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 needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have 3 years of experience in addition to a passing result on the professional level exam. As with NATE, certifications are offered in multiple specialties.
  • EPA Section 608. This certification is necessary for techs that work with refrigerants. There are 3 forms of certification available, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.

Considering that licensing could be mandated in your area, and you may also wish to acquire certification, it's imperative that you choose an HVAC trade school that will train you for both. And since you will probably be working with refrigerants, make sure that the school you pick preps you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.

HVAC Degree and Certificate Training Programs

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There are a variety of choices offered for HVAC instruction in a technical or vocational school. You can earn a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Earning a certificate will take the lesser period of time, usually accomplished in just six months, though some programs are longer. A certificate will train you for most HVAC positions, particularly if you are licensed and have certification applicable to the position. The degree training programs may provide a competitive advantage in the job market and will furnish more comprehensive training than the certificate programs. Following is a short description of each credential offered near Nogales AZ.

  • Certificate. Generally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among entry level residential or commercial HVAC technicians. They provide a strong foundation of skills for employment within the industry.
  • Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program supplies a more exhaustive background of heating and a/c systems than the certificate program. Typically 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 tailored more towards a career in management as well as business ownership. Some programs call for an Associate Degree, while others are a conventional four year program. In addition to mastering how to service and maintain heating and air conditioning systems, you will also study how to design them.

Choosing the appropriate credential program will be dependent on what your future career aspirations are, in addition to the time and money that you have to invest. One approach is to begin with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after acquiring some experience in the field in Nogales AZ, subsequently returning to earn a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your tactic, be sure to ask the HVAC technician school you are considering about how their returning student program works.

HVAC Online Classes

Attending an HVAC program online is one possibility to getting your education and earning a degree or certificate. Nearly all schools will call for some attendance on campus to take part in practical training. Many also sponsor internship or work-study programs in addition to or as an alternative to practical lab work. But since the rest of the classes may be attended online, this approach may be a more convenient solution for many Nogales AZ students that are pressed for time. And a number of online degree programs are more economical than other traditional options. Even commuting expenses from Nogales and study materials may be reduced, helping to make education more affordable. And a large number of online programs are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your career 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 busy lifestyle.

Questions to Ask HVAC Training Classes

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After you have chosen the type of degree or certificate that you want to obtain, either online or on campus, you can begin to limit your list of schools. As you are probably aware, there are numerous HVAC technical schools in the Nogales AZ area and across the United States to choose from. That's why it is essential to have a checklist of key qualifications when making school assessments. As previously mentioned in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will undoubtedly be the initial 2 factors you will consider. Following are some additional ones that you should research before enrolling in your school of choice.

Accreditation.  A large number of HVAC vocational programs in the Nogales AZ area have received either a regional or a national accreditation. They can attain Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to an individual program, for example HVAC technology. Make certain that the school and program are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization, for example the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping make certain that you receive an excellent education, it may help in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are in many cases unavailable for non-accredited schools. Additionally, some states require that the HVAC training program be accredited in order to be approved for licensing.

High Completion Rates.  Ask the Heating and Cooling schools you are considering what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students who enroll in and finish the program. A lower completion rate may signify that students were dissatisfied with the course and dropped out. It might also suggest that the instructors were not competent to train the students. It's similarly essential that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader directory of graduates, which may mean more contacts for the school to employ for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate can not only validate that the school has an excellent reputation within the field, but also that it has the network of Nogales AZ HVAC employers to assist grads secure apprenticeships or employment.

Apprenticeship Programs.  Numerous HVAC vocational programs are taught together with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating vocational and technical programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of HVAC companies or labor unions. Find out if the schools you are reviewing have referring partnerships with local Nogales AZ HVAC specialists. An apprenticeship not only offers a rewarding experience by furnishing practical training, but it also supplies employment opportunities and helps to form relationships in the regional HVAC professional community.

Modern Facilities.  Make sure that the campus facilities and the equipment that you will be trained on are state-of-the-art and what you will be working with in the field. If you are currently in an internship or an apprenticeship, check with the HVAC technician you are working under concerning what you should be looking for. Otherwise, ask a local Nogales AZ HVAC contractor if they can give you some pointers. 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 attend an out-of-state school, besides the added relocation costs there can be increased tuition charges compared to in-state residents.

Smaller Classes.   It's desirable that you get as much personalized instruction as possible, which can be challenging in larger classes. Ask if you can sit in on a few of the classes so that you can observe how big they are and experience the interaction between teachers and students. Talk to several of the students and get their feedback regarding class sizes and instruction. Finally, talk to a few of the instructors and learn what their level of expertise is and what certifications or degrees they hold.

Flexible Scheduling.  Make sure that the class schedules for the schools you are evaluating are flexible enough to handle your needs. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Nogales AZ, check that the programs you are looking at provide those options. If you can only attend part-time, make sure that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Additionally, find out what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, illness or family responsibilities.

Learn More About Nogales Heating and Cooling Training In Your Area

Earn Your Heating and Cooling Degree and Certification

Finding the right HVAC school program is an important first step toward a rewarding career in the heating and air conditioning trade. As we have discussed in this article, you should select a Heating and Cooling training program and a degree or certificate program that are both accredited and have exceptional reputations within the HVAC community. Other things to search for are lots of hands-on training and state-of-the-art facilities. You need to go to each of the schools in person that you are most interested in to tour the campus and talk with both the current students and faculty. Try to get a feel for the quality of the training and the interaction between them. Also, ask about scheduling options and whether or not night or weekend classes are available if needed. And don't forget to ask about financial aid and student loan options as well. If you ask the proper questions as we have detailed in our checklist for comparing 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 ultimately become a licensed HVAC specialist in Nogales AZ.