How to Find the Right Heating and Cooling Training Program near Oro Valley Arizona
Now that you have come to a decision on a career as a heating and cooling professional, the next action is to find an HVAC trade school near Oro Valley AZ. But with so many to choose from, how do you select the best one to get the training that you need? Some future students will make their selection based solely on the price of tuition or how near the school is to their residence. Even though these are important concerns, they are not the only ones to evaluate. 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 additional benchmarks will be addressed 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 a/c contractor does to become a licensed professional tradesman.
How to Become an HVAC Pro
HVAC is an acronym that is commonly used in the business that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC technicians provide services for the installation, maintenance and repair of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are generally mandated to be licensed, though each state and regional municipality has its own prerequisites. Obtaining professional certification is not required, but an optional means for Oro Valley AZ HVAC specialists to establish that they are highly skilled and knowledgeable in their area of specialization. There are many respected certifications within the trade that are available. Here are a few of the important ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally acknowledged certification for HVAC techs. The certification is earned by passing a competency examination and can be earned in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification makes available both a professional and a master specialist credential. Two years of field experience in addition to passing a comprehensive examination are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have three years of experience along with a passing score on the professional level examination. As with NATE, certifications are offered in multiple specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is required for technicians that work with refrigerants. There are 3 types of certification offered, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Since licensing might be required in your location, and you may also desire to earn certification, it's imperative that you pick an HVAC trade school that will prepare you for both. And since you will probably be working with refrigerants, make sure that the program you choose readies you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.
HVAC Certificate and Degree Schools
There are a variety of alternatives offered for HVAC instruction in a vocational or trade school. You can obtain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Acquiring a certificate will take the minimum amount of time, typically achieved in just six months, although some programs are longer. A certificate will train you for the majority of HVAC positions, especially if you are licensed and have certification applicable to the position. The degree training programs may provide a competitive edge for securing employment and will provide more in-depth training than the certificate programs. Following is a short description of each credential offered near Oro Valley AZ.
- Certificate. Normally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among entry level residential or commercial HVAC professionals. They furnish 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. Usually taking 2 years to complete, a number of degrees feature an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is tailored more for a career in management as well as business ownership. Some programs call for an Associate Degree, while others are a conventional 4 year program. In addition to learning how to service and maintain heating and air conditioning systems, you will also learn how to design them.
Selecting the ideal credential program will be dependent on what your future career objectives are, as well as the time and money that you have to invest. One possibility is to begin with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after gaining some experience in the trade in Oro Valley AZ, later going back to obtain a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your strategy, be sure to ask the HVAC technician school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Classes Online
Choosing an HVAC school online is one possibility to getting your training and earning a certificate or degree. Almost all schools will require some attendance on campus to participate in practical 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 participated in online, this option may be a more practical solution for many Oro Valley AZ students that are pressed for time. And some online degree programs are more economical than other on campus choices. Even commuting expenses from Oro Valley and study supplies can be lessened, helping to make schooling more affordable. And many online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your work or family obligations have left you with limited time to attend classes, perhaps an online HVAC degree program will make it easier to accommodate school into your active schedule.
Questions to Ask HVAC Training Classes
Once you have picked the type of certificate or degree that you wish to obtain, either on campus or online, you can start to decrease your selection of schools. As you are probably aware, there are many HVAC vocational schools in the Oro Valley AZ area and across the USA to pick from. That's why it is imperative to have a checklist of relevant qualifiers when making school assessments. As previously stated in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will most likely be the initial 2 aspects you will take into consideration. Following are several additional ones that you should investigate before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Many HVAC technical schools in the Oro Valley AZ area have received either a regional or a national accreditation. They can earn Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to a specific program, for example HVAC technology. Make certain that the school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization, such as the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping ensure that you acquire a superior education, it can assist in acquiring financial assistance or student loans, which are often not available 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 complete the program. A lower completion rate may suggest that students were unhappy with the program and quit. It may also mean that the teachers were not qualified to train the students. It's also important that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader directory of alumni, which can result in more contacts for the school to use for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate will not only confirm that the school has an excellent reputation within the field, but additionally that it has the network of Oro Valley AZ HVAC employers to assist graduates secure apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. Numerous HVAC training programs are taught together with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating vocational and trade programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of HVAC contractors or trade unions. Find out if the schools you are comparing have working relationships with local Oro Valley AZ HVAC contractors. An apprenticeship not only offers a valuable experience by furnishing hands-on training, but it also furnishes job opportunities and helps to build relationships in the local HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Confirm that the campus facilities and the tools that you will be instructed on are up-to-date and what you will be using on the job. If you are already in an internship or an apprenticeship, check with the HVAC specialist you are working under regarding what you should be looking for. Otherwise, ask a local Oro Valley AZ HVAC company if they can give you some pointers. Also bear in mind that unless you can move, the school needs to be within driving distance of your Oro Valley AZ residence. Remember that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides the added relocation costs there might be increased tuition charges compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's desirable that you receive as much personalized training as possible, which can be challenging in larger classes. Ask if you can sit in on a couple of the classes so that you can see how large they are and witness first hand the interaction between students and teachers. Speak to some of the students and get their comments relating to 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. Make sure that the class schedules for the programs you are assessing are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you are only able to attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Oro Valley AZ, confirm that the schools you are comparing offer those options. If you can only attend part-time, be sure that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Finally, ask what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, illness or family responsibilities.
Earn Your Heating and Cooling Degree and Certification
Enrolling in the right HVAC school program is a crucial beginning toward a gratifying career in the heating and cooling field. As we have addressed in this article, you should pick a Heating and Cooling training program and a certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have outstanding reputations within the HVAC field. Other factors to look for are sufficient hands-on training and modern facilities. You should go to each of the schools personally 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 training and the interaction between them. Additionally, inquire about scheduling options and whether night or weekend classes are available if needed. And remember to inquire about financial assistance and student loan options as well. If you ask the right questions as we have detailed in our checklist for evaluating schools, you'll be able to narrow down your choices so that you can make an educated decision. With the right training, hard work and dedication, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC professional in Oro Valley AZ.