How to Choose the Right Heating and Cooling School near Rio Rico Arizona
Now that you have made a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioner professional, the next step is to look for an HVAC technical school near Rio Rico AZ. But with so many to choose from, how do you choose the ideal one to get the training that you need? Many future students will make their selection based entirely on the price of tuition or how close the school is to their home. Even though these are necessary concerns, they are not the only ones to take into account. Just some of the other details that you need to investigate are the graduation rates of the HVAC schools, their reputations, and if they are accredited by professional trade organizations. These and additional criteria will be covered in more detail later in this article. But before we tackle how to choose an HVAC technical school, let's take a look at what a heating and cooling professional does to become a licensed skilled tradesman.
How to Become an HVAC Technician
HVAC is an acronym that is frequently used in the trade that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC professionals provide services for the installation, repair and maintenance of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are commonly required to be licensed, however every state and local municipality has its own criteria. Acquiring professional certification is not mandatory, but a voluntary means for Rio Rico AZ HVAC technicians to establish that they are highly skilled and accomplished in their area of specialization. There are a number of recognized certifications within the field that are offered. Below are some of the significant ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally acknowledged certification for HVAC techs. The certification is earned by passing a competency exam and may 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 as well as passing a comprehensive exam are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have three years of experience in addition to a passing result on the professional level examination. As with NATE, certifications are provided in several specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is necessary for specialists that handle refrigerants. There are 3 forms of certification offered, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Considering that licensing might be required in your area, and you may also wish to obtain certification, it's important that you choose an HVAC trade school that will prepare you for both. And since you will more than likely be working with refrigerants, make sure that the school you choose readies you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.
HVAC Degree and Certificate Classes
There are several choices available for HVAC instruction in a technical or vocational school. You can obtain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Acquiring a certificate will take the lesser period of time, often accomplished in as little as 6 months, though some courses are longer. A certificate will qualify you for most HVAC positions, particularly if you are licensed and have certification appropriate to the position. The degree training programs can provide a competitive edge in the job market and will provide more extensive training than the certificate programs. Below is a brief explanation of each credential offered near Rio Rico AZ.
- Certificate. Usually requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among beginning residential or commercial HVAC technicians. They provide a solid foundation of skills for employment within the industry.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program provides a more exhaustive background of heating & cooling systems than the certificate program. Normally requiring 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 suited more towards 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 being taught how to service and maintain heating and cooling systems, you will also learn how to design them.
Selecting the ideal credential program will be based on what your long term career aspirations are, together with the time and financial resources that you have to invest. One approach is to begin with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after getting some experience in the field in Rio Rico AZ, later going back to earn a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your approach, make sure to ask the HVAC technician school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Online Training
Enrolling in an HVAC program online is one possibility to obtaining your training and receiving a degree or certificate. Nearly all schools will call for some attendance on campus to complete hands on training. Many also sponsor internship or work-study programs in addition to or in place of practical lab work. But since the balance of the classes may be participated in on the web, this option may be a more practical solution for many Rio Rico AZ students that are pressed for time. And a number of online degree programs are cheaper than other traditional options. Even commuting expenses from Rio Rico and study supplies can be reduced, helping to make education more affordable. And numerous online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your career or family obligations have left you with little time to attend classes, maybe an HVAC online training program will make it more convenient to accommodate school into your hectic schedule.
Questions For HVAC Certification Classes
Once you have chosen the type of degree or certificate that you would like to attain, either online or on campus, you can start to limit your selection of schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are many HVAC vocational schools in the Rio Rico AZ area and all over the Country to pick from. That's why it is imperative to have a checklist of key qualifiers when making school comparisons. As earlier stated in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will undoubtedly be the initial two factors you will look at. Following are several additional ones that you should explore before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. A large number of HVAC trade schools in the Rio Rico 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, for instance HVAC technology. Make certain that the school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting agency, such as the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping make certain that you obtain an excellent education, it may help in securing financial aid or student loans, which are in many cases unavailable for non-accredited programs. Furthermore, a number of states mandate that the HVAC training program be accredited in order to qualify for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the HVAC schools you are looking at what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage or portion of students who enroll in and complete the program. A lower completion rate might signify that students were disappointed with the course and quit. It may also mean 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 list of alumni, which may result in more contacts for the school to use 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 Rio Rico AZ HVAC employers to help grads obtain apprenticeships or jobs.
Apprenticeship Programs. A large number of HVAC training programs are taught along with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating technical and vocational schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of Heating and Cooling companies or trade unions. Check if the schools you are considering have referring relationships with local Rio Rico AZ HVAC specialists. An apprenticeship not only provides a valuable experience by furnishing practical training, but it also provides employment opportunities and helps to build relationships in the regional HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make sure that the campus facilities and the tools that you will be trained on are state-of-the-art and what you will be using on the job. If you are currently in an internship or an apprenticeship, check with the HVAC tech you are working with regarding what you should be expecting. If not, ask a local Rio Rico AZ HVAC company if they can provide some suggestions. Also bear in mind that unless you can move, the school must be within commuting distance of your Rio Rico AZ home. Remember that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation costs there can be increased tuition charges compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's important that you receive as much one-on-one instruction as possible, which can be difficult in larger classes. Ask if you can sit in on some of the classes so that you can observe how large they are and experience the interaction between students and instructors. Talk with several of the students and get their opinions regarding class sizes and instruction. Last, talk with some of the teachers and find out what their level of experience is and what degrees or certifications they hold.
Flexible Scheduling. Verify that the class schedules for the programs you are assessing are flexible enough to handle your needs. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Rio Rico AZ, verify that the programs you are considering provide those options. If you can only attend part-time, make certain that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Also, ask what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, sickness or family issues.
Earn Your HVAC Degree and Certification
Choosing the right HVAC training course is a crucial first step toward a fulfilling career in the heating & cooling field. As we have covered in this article, you should select a Heating and Cooling training program and a certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have outstanding reputations within the HVAC community. Other features to search for are sufficient practical 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 teaching and the interaction between them. In addition, inquire about scheduling options and if night or weekend classes are available if needed. And don't forget to ask about financial assistance and student loan options also. If you ask the proper questions as we have outlined in our checklist for comparing schools, you'll be able to filter your options so that you can make an educated decision. With the appropriate training, hard work and commitment, you can eventually become a licensed HVAC professional in Rio Rico AZ.