How to Choose the Right Heating and Cooling Certification Class near Oro Valley Arizona
Now that you have come to a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioner professional, the next step is to find an HVAC vocational school near Oro Valley AZ. But with so many to select from, how do you pick the best one to obtain the training that you require? Many potential students will make their selection based entirely on the price of tuition or how near the school is to their home. While these are necessary concerns, they are not the only ones to investigate. Some of the other things that you need to investigate are the graduation completion rates of the HVAC schools, their reputations, and if they are accredited by professional trade organizations. These and other criteria will be addressed in more detail later within this article. But before we discuss how to select an HVAC training program, let's take a look at what a heating and air conditioning specialist does to become a licensed qualified tradesman.
How to Become an HVAC Tech
HVAC is an acronym that is commonly used in the business that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC contractors provide services for the installation, repair and maintenance of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are generally mandated to be licensed, although every state and local municipality has its own criteria. Acquiring professional certification is not mandatory, but an alternative way for Oro Valley AZ HVAC technicians to prove that they are exceptionally proficient and accomplished in their area of expertise. There are several recognized certifications within the trade that are available. Here are a few of the important ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally recognized certification for HVAC technicians. The certification is earned by passing a proficiency examination and can be received 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 3 years of experience along with a passing score on the professional level examination. Similar to NATE, certifications are offered in multiple specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is mandatory for techs that handle refrigerants. There are three types of certification offered, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Considering that licensing might be mandated in your area, and you may also intend to earn certification, it's imperative that you select an HVAC trade school that will prepare you for both. And since you will more than likely be working with refrigerants, make certain that the school you choose prepares you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
HVAC Degree Courses
There are a variety of alternatives available for HVAC training in a trade or technical school. You can attain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Acquiring a certificate will take the minimum period of time, often accomplished in as little as six months, however some programs are longer. A certificate will train you for the majority of HVAC positions, particularly if you are licensed and have certification relevant to the position. The degree programs might provide a competitive advantage in the job market and will furnish more comprehensive training than the certificate programs. Below is a brief explanation of each option offered near Oro Valley AZ.
- Certificate. Usually requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among entry level commercial or residential 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 extensive understanding of heating & cooling systems than the certificate program. Normally requiring 2 years to finish, a number of degrees feature an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is suited more for a career in management as well as business ownership. Some programs require an Associate Degree, while others are a standard four year program. In addition to mastering how to service and maintain heating and cooling systems, you will also learn how to design them.
Picking the appropriate credential program will be based on what your future career goals are, as well as the time and money that you have to commit. One possibility is to start with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after getting some experience in the field in Oro Valley AZ, subsequently going back to acquire a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your strategy, make sure to ask the HVAC tech school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Online Training
Choosing an HVAC program online is one approach in attaining your education and receiving a degree or certificate. Nearly all schools will require some attendance on campus to complete practical training. A number also provide internship or work-study programs in addition to or in place of practical lab work. But since the rest of the classes can be participated in on the web, this alternative may be a more accessible solution for many Oro Valley AZ students that are pressed for time. And some online degree programs are more economical than other traditional options. Even commuting expenses from Oro Valley and study supplies may be reduced, helping to make schooling more affordable. And many online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your career or family obligations 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 hectic schedule.
What to Ask HVAC Training Classes
As soon as you have chosen the type of degree or certificate that you want to acquire, either online or on campus, you can begin to decrease your selection of schools. As you are certainly aware, there are numerous HVAC vocational schools in the Oro Valley AZ area and all over the United States to pick from. That's why it is essential to have a checklist of important qualifiers when making school evaluations. As formerly stated in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will most likely be the first 2 aspects you will take into consideration. Following are several additional ones that you need to investigate before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Many HVAC vocational programs in the Oro Valley AZ area have earned either a regional or a national accreditation. They may acquire Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to an individual program, for example HVAC technology. Confirm that the school and program are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting organization, for example the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping make certain that you acquire a quality education, it may assist in acquiring financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently unavailable for non-accredited programs. Furthermore, many states mandate that the HVAC training program be accredited in order to qualify for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the Heating and Cooling 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 program. A lower completion rate could indicate that students were unhappy with the course and dropped out. It may also suggest that the instructors were not qualified to train the students. It's similarly essential that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive directory of alumni, which can result in more contacts for the school to utilize for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate will not only validate that the school has a good reputation within the field, but additionally that it has the network of Oro Valley AZ HVAC employers to assist graduates acquire apprenticeships or jobs.
Apprenticeship Programs. Many HVAC trade programs are taught together with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating trade and vocational programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of HVAC businesses or labor unions. Ask if the schools you are considering have working relationships with local Oro Valley AZ HVAC contractors. An apprenticeship not only offers a valuable experience by providing practical training, but it also provides employment opportunities and helps to form relationships in the area HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make certain that the school facilities and the tools that you will be instructed on are up-to-date and what you will be working with in the field. If you are currently in an internship or an apprenticeship, talk to the HVAC specialist you are working under regarding what you should be expecting. Otherwise, ask a local Oro Valley AZ HVAC contracting company if they can provide some suggestions. Additionally bear in mind that unless you are willing to relocate, the school needs to be within commuting distance of your Oro Valley AZ home. Take note that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, besides the added relocation costs there might be higher tuition charges compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's important that you get as much one-on-one instruction as possible, which can be difficult in larger classes. Ask if you can monitor some of the classes so that you can see how big they are and witness first hand the interaction between instructors and students. Talk to several of the students and get their comments regarding class sizes and instruction. Finally, speak with some of the instructors and learn what their level of experience is and what degrees or certifications they have earned.
Flexible Scheduling. Confirm that the class schedules for the schools you are evaluating are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you are only able to go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Oro Valley AZ, check 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, find out what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, illness or family issues.
Earn Your Heating and Cooling Degree and Certification
Selecting the ideal HVAC school course is an important first step toward a gratifying career in the heating and air conditioning field. As we have covered 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 community. Other things to search for are ample hands-on training and modern facilities. You need to check out each of the schools in person that you are most interested in to inspect the campus and talk with both the faculty and current students. Attempt to get a feel for the quality of the training and the interaction between them. Also, ask about scheduling choices and whether or not night or weekend classes are offered if needed. And remember to ask about financial aid and student loan options also. If you ask the appropriate questions as we have laid out in our checklist for evaluating 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 eventually become a licensed HVAC contractor in Oro Valley AZ.