How to Choose the Right Heating and Cooling School near Rio Rico Arizona
Now that you have decided on a career as a heating and air conditioner specialist, the next step is to choose an HVAC trade school near Rio Rico AZ. But with so many to select from, how do you pick the best one to obtain the training that you require? Many prospective students will make their selection based solely on the price of tuition or how close the school is to their home. Even though these are relevant factors to consider, they are not the only ones to investigate. Some of the other factors 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. Those and additional criteria will be addressed in more detail later within this article. But before we discuss how to select an HVAC trade school, let's take a look at what a heating and air conditioning professional does to become a licensed professional tradesman.
Becoming an HVAC Contractor
HVAC is an acronym that is widely used in the industry that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC techs specialize in the installation, maintenance and repair of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are generally required to be licensed, although every state and regional municipality has its own requirements. Earning professional certification is not mandatory, but an alternative means for Rio Rico AZ HVAC technicians to prove that they are exceptionally skilled and experienced in their area of expertise. There are many recognized certifications within the industry that are offered. Below are a few of the important ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally acknowledged certification for HVAC technicians. The certification is achieved by passing a competency examination and may 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 required for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have 3 years of experience along with a passing score on the professional level exam. As with NATE, certifications are offered in multiple specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is mandatory for techs that work with refrigerants. There are 3 forms of certification offered, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Considering that licensing may be required in your area, and you may also desire to earn certification, it's imperative that you select an HVAC trade school that will train you for both. And since you will probably be dealing with refrigerants, make sure that the school you select preps 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 trade school. You can attain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Obtaining a certificate will take the least period of time, typically accomplished in just six months, although some courses are longer. A certificate will train you for most HVAC positions, especially if you are licensed and have certification related to the position. The degree programs may provide a competitive edge for securing employment and will deliver more extensive training than the certificate programs. Below is a brief explanation of each credential offered near Rio Rico AZ.
- Certificate. Normally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among beginning residential or commercial HVAC specialists. They provide a strong foundation of skills for job opportunities within the trade.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program provides a more comprehensive background of heating & cooling systems than the certificate program. Generally requiring two years to complete, some degrees include 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 call for an Associate Degree, while others are a traditional 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.
Picking the right credential program will be dependent on what your future career aspirations are, as well as the time and financial resources 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 field in Rio Rico AZ, subsequently returning to earn a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your tactic, make certain to ask the HVAC tech school you are considering about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Classes Online
Choosing an HVAC school online is one alternative in obtaining your training and receiving a certificate or degree. Almost all schools will call for some attendance on campus to take part in practical training. Many also offer internship or work-study programs in addition to or as an alternative to practical lab work. But since the remainder of the classes may be participated in online, 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 less costly than other on campus alternatives. Even travelling expenses from Rio Rico and study materials can be lessened, helping to make education more economical. And many online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your work or family obligations have left you with little time to attend classes, maybe an online HVAC degree program will make it less complicated to accommodate school into your active schedule.
Questions For HVAC Trade Schools
Once you have decided on the type of certificate or degree that you wish to obtain, either on campus or online, you can begin to decrease your list of schools. As you are certainly aware, there are numerous HVAC trade schools in the Rio Rico AZ area and across the United States to pick from. That's why it is imperative to have a list of relevant qualifiers when making school evaluations. As formerly stated in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will most likely be the first 2 variables you will take into consideration. Following are some additional ones that you need to explore before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Many HVAC trade programs in the Rio Rico AZ area have received either a regional or a national accreditation. They may attain Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to a specific program, for example HVAC technology. Make certain that the program is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization, for instance the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping guarantee that you obtain a quality education, it can help in acquiring financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently unavailable for non-accredited programs. Also, many states mandate that the HVAC training course be accredited for it to be approved for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the Heating and Air Conditioning schools you are looking at what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students who enroll in and finish the course. A low completion rate could indicate that students were unhappy with the course and dropped out. It may also mean that the teachers were not competent to train the students. It's similarly important that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive list of alumni, which can mean more contacts for the school to utilize for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate can not only affirm that the school has a good reputation within the industry, but additionally that it has the network of Rio Rico AZ HVAC employers to help graduates acquire apprenticeships or jobs.
Apprenticeship Programs. Many HVAC training programs are taught along with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating trade and technical programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of Heating and Cooling contractors or labor unions. Find out if the schools you are reviewing have referring relationships with local Rio Rico AZ HVAC specialists. An apprenticeship not only provides a rewarding experience by supplying hands-on training, but it also supplies employment opportunities and helps to establish relationships in the area HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Confirm that the school facilities and the equipment that you will be trained on are up-to-date and what you will be working with on the job. If you are presently in an internship or an apprenticeship, check with the HVAC tech you are working under concerning what you should be expecting. Otherwise, ask a local Rio Rico AZ HVAC contracting company if they can give you some pointers. Additionally bear in mind that unless you are able to move, the school must be within driving distance of your Rio Rico AZ home. Remember that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, in addition to moving costs there can be increased tuition charges compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's important that you receive as much personalized 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 big they are and experience the interaction between students and instructors. Speak with some of the students and get their feedback relating to class sizes and instruction. Finally, talk to some of the teachers and find out what their level of experience is and what certifications or degrees they hold.
Flexible Scheduling. Confirm that the class schedules for the schools you are evaluating are flexible enough to handle your needs. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Rio Rico AZ, check that the schools you are considering provide those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Also, check out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, sickness or family responsibilities.
Find Out More About Rio Rico Heating and Cooling Training In Your Area
Earn Your Heating and Cooling Certificate or Degree
Enrolling in the ideal HVAC training program is a crucial beginning toward a gratifying career in the heating and cooling industry. As we have discussed in this article, you need to choose a Heating and Cooling training program and a certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have excellent reputations within the HVAC field. Other factors to look for are plenty of practical training and modern facilities. You should visit each of the schools personally that you are most interested in to explore the campus and talk with both the current students and faculty. Try 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 available if needed. And remember to ask about financial aid and student loan options also. If you ask the appropriate questions as we have outlined in our checklist for evaluating schools, you'll be able to filter your options so that you can make an educated decision. With the proper training, hard work and commitment, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC specialist in Rio Rico AZ.