How to Find the Right HVAC Training Class near Oro Valley Arizona
Once you have decided on a career as a heating and air conditioner professional, the next action is to look for an HVAC vocational school near Oro Valley AZ. But with so many to pick from, how do you decide on the right one to get the training that you need? Some potential students will make their decision based exclusively on the price of tuition or how near the school is to their residence. Although these are important considerations, they are not the only ones to investigate. A few 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 additional benchmarks will be addressed in more detail later within this article. But before we explore how to choose an HVAC training program, let's take a look at what a heating and a/c technician does to become a licensed qualified tradesman.
How to Become an HVAC Contractor
HVAC is an acronym that is commonly used in the business that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC professionals specialize in the installation, repair and maintenance of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are typically required to be licensed, although each state and local municipality has its own criteria. Acquiring professional certification is not mandatory, but an optional means for Oro Valley AZ HVAC techs to establish that they are highly proficient and experienced in their area of specialization. There are many acknowledged certifications within the industry that are available. Following are a few of the important ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally acknowledged certification for HVAC technicians. The certification is earned by passing a competency exam and may be received in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification offers both a professional and a master specialist credential. Two years of professional experience as well as 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 required for techs that work with refrigerants. There are three types of certification available, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Because licensing could be mandated in your location, and you may also desire to acquire certification, it's important that you choose an HVAC vocational school that will train you for both. And since you will most likely be dealing with refrigerants, make sure that the school you select readies you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
HVAC Degree Classes
There are a number of options available for HVAC training in a vocational or trade school. You can attain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Earning a certificate will take the least amount of time, usually achieved in just six months, although some programs are longer. A certificate will qualify you for most HVAC positions, particularly if you are licensed and have certification applicable to the position. The degree programs might provide a competitive edge in the job market and will provide more in-depth training than the certificate programs. Below is a brief summary of each credential offered near Oro Valley AZ.
- Certificate. Normally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among entry level residential or commercial HVAC technicians. They provide a solid foundation of skills for job opportunities within the trade.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program provides a more detailed background of heating and a/c systems than the certificate program. Usually taking 2 years to complete, a number of degrees incorporate an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is geared more towards a career in management or even business ownership. Some programs require an Associate Degree, while others are a conventional four year program. In addition to learning how to service and maintain heating and cooling systems, you will also study how to design them.
Picking the right credential program will be based on what your long term career aspirations are, in addition to the time and financial resources that you have to invest. One approach is to start with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after gaining some experience in the field in Oro Valley AZ, subsequently returning to earn a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your tactic, make sure to ask the HVAC tech school you are considering about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Online Courses
Choosing an HVAC school online is one alternative to obtaining your training and receiving a degree or certificate. Almost all schools will require some attendance on campus to participate in practical training. Many 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 attended on the web, this alternative may be a more convenient solution for some Oro Valley AZ students that are short on time. And a number of online degree programs are cheaper than other on campus options. Even travelling expenses from Oro Valley and study materials may be minimized, helping to make schooling more economical. And numerous online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your career or family commitments have left you with limited time to attend classes, perhaps an online HVAC degree program will make it more convenient to accommodate school into your active schedule.
Questions For HVAC Training Programs
Once you have decided on the type of degree or certificate that you wish to attain, either online or on campus, you can start to limit your selection of schools. As you are probably aware, there are numerous HVAC technical schools in the Oro Valley AZ area and throughout the USA to choose from. That's why it is imperative to have a list of important qualifications when making school assessments. As formerly mentioned in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will most likely be the first two aspects you will take into consideration. Following are some additional ones that you will want to investigate before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. A large number of HVAC vocational schools in the Oro Valley AZ area have acquired either a regional or a national accreditation. They can attain Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to an individual program, such as HVAC technology. Make certain that the program is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting agency, for example the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping guarantee that you obtain a quality education, it can help in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are in many cases unavailable for non-accredited programs. Also, many states require 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 considering what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage or portion 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 may also signify that the instructors were not qualified to instruct the students. It's also essential that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader directory of alumni, which may result in 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 trade, but also that it has the network of Oro Valley AZ HVAC employers to assist graduates acquire apprenticeships or jobs.
Apprenticeship Programs. Most HVAC vocational programs are taught in conjunction with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating trade and technical schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of Heating and Cooling companies or labor unions. Find out if the schools you are comparing have referring partnerships with local Oro Valley AZ HVAC contractors. An apprenticeship not only provides a rewarding experience by providing hands-on training, but it also furnishes employment opportunities and helps to establish relationships in the local HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make certain that the school facilities and the equipment that you will be trained on are state-of-the-art and what you will be using in the field. If you are already in an internship or an apprenticeship, consult with the HVAC specialist you are working with regarding what you should be looking for. Otherwise, ask a local Oro Valley AZ HVAC contractor if they can give you some suggestions. Also keep in mind that unless you are willing to relocate, the school needs to be within driving distance of your Oro Valley AZ residence. Take note that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, besides the added relocation costs there can be increased tuition fees compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's desirable that you receive as much one-on-one instruction as possible, which can be challenging in bigger classes. Ask if you can monitor a couple of the classes so that you can see how large they are and experience the interaction between students and teachers. Speak with a few of the students and get their comments regarding class sizes and instruction. Finally, talk to a few of the teachers and learn what their level of expertise is and what degrees or certifications they have earned.
Flexible Scheduling. Verify that the class schedules for the schools you are assessing are flexible enough to handle your needs. If you are only able to attend classes at night or on weekends near Oro Valley AZ, confirm that the schools you are reviewing provide 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, sickness or family emergencies.
Get Your Heating and Cooling Certificate or Degree
Finding the ideal HVAC school program is an important first step toward a fulfilling career in the heating & cooling field. As we have discussed 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 profession. Other factors to look for are lots of hands-on training and state-of-the-art facilities. You should check out each of the schools personally that you are most interested in to tour the campus and speak with both the current students and faculty. Attempt to get a feel for the quality of the instruction and the interaction between them. Additionally, ask about scheduling choices and whether night or weekend classes are offered if needed. And remember to ask about financial aid and student loan options too. If you ask the proper questions as we have laid out in our checklist for comparing 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 commitment, you can eventually become a licensed HVAC contractor in Oro Valley AZ.