How to Find the Right HVAC Training Program near Rio Rico Arizona
Once you have decided on a career as a heating and air conditioning specialist, the next step is to look for an HVAC trade school near Rio Rico AZ. But with so many to choose from, how do you decide on the right one to receive the training that you require? A number of future students will make their decision based exclusively on the price of tuition or how close the school is to their home. Even though these are significant considerations, they are not the only ones to investigate. A few of the other details that you need to look into are the graduation rates of the HVAC schools, their reputations, and if they are accredited by professional trade organizations. Those and additional criteria will be covered in more detail later within this article. But before we examine how to choose an HVAC training program, let's look at what a heating and a/c technician does to become a licensed professional tradesman.
How to Become an HVAC Technician
HVAC is an acronym that is commonly used in the trade that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC professionals specialize in the installation, maintenance and repair of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are typically mandated to be licensed, however each state and regional municipality has its own criteria. Obtaining professional certification is not compulsory, but a voluntary means for Rio Rico AZ HVAC techs to prove that they are exceptionally proficient and knowledgeable in their area of expertise. There are a number of recognized certifications within the trade that are offered. Below are some of the significant ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally recognized certification for HVAC techs. The certification is earned by passing a proficiency exam and can be earned in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification makes available 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 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 multiple specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is necessary for technicians that handle refrigerants. There are three forms of certification offered, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Since licensing might be required in your location, and you may also intend to obtain certification, it's important that you enroll in an HVAC vocational school that will prepare you for both. And since you will probably be working with refrigerants, make sure that the program you pick prepares you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
HVAC Certificate and Degree Courses
There are several alternatives offered for HVAC training in a trade or technical 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 accomplished in just six months, though some programs are longer. A certificate will qualify you for most HVAC positions, particularly if you are licensed and have certification relevant to the position. The degree programs may provide a competitive advantage for securing employment and will furnish more extensive training than the certificate programs. Below is a short description of each credential offered near Rio Rico AZ.
- Certificate. Usually requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among entry level commercial or residential HVAC technicians. They furnish a strong foundation of skills for job opportunities within the industry.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program delivers a more detailed background of heating and cooling systems than the certificate program. Typically taking 2 years to complete, some degrees feature an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is tailored more towards a career in management as well as business ownership. Some programs require an Associate Degree, while others are a traditional four year program. In addition to mastering how to service and maintain heating and cooling systems, you will also study how to design them.
Picking the appropriate credential program will be dependent on what your future career aspirations are, together with the time and money that you have to commit. One possibility is to begin with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after acquiring some experience in the field in Rio Rico AZ, later returning to earn a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your strategy, make certain to ask the HVAC tech school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Online Schools
Attending an HVAC school online is one option in obtaining your education and earning a certificate or degree. Nearly 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 balance of the classes can be attended on the web, this option may be a more accessible solution for many Rio Rico AZ students that are short on time. And a number of online degree programs are more economical than other traditional options. Even travelling expenses from Rio Rico and study materials can be minimized, helping to make schooling more budget-friendly. And many online programs are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your career or family responsibilities have left you with minimal time to attend classes, maybe an online HVAC degree program will make it easier to accommodate school into your active lifestyle.
Questions For HVAC Schools
When you have picked the type of certificate or degree that you wish to attain, either online or on campus, you can begin to limit your selection of schools. As you are probably aware, there are many HVAC technical schools in the Rio Rico AZ area and throughout the USA to select from. That's why it is imperative to have a list of key qualifications when making school evaluations. As earlier mentioned in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will undoubtedly be the initial 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 technical schools in the Rio Rico AZ area have acquired either a regional or a national accreditation. They may receive Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to a specific program, for instance HVAC technology. Make sure that the school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization, for instance the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping make certain that you acquire an excellent education, it can assist in securing financial assistance or student loans, which are often unavailable for non-accredited programs. Also, some 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 reviewing 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 disappointed with the program and dropped out. It might also indicate that the teachers were not qualified to instruct the students. It's also imperative that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader directory of graduates, which can mean more contacts for the school to use 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 also that it has the network of Rio Rico AZ HVAC employers to assist students acquire apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. A large number of HVAC training programs are taught in conjunction with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating vocational and trade programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of Heating and Cooling contractors or trade unions. Find out if the schools you are reviewing have working partnerships with local Rio Rico AZ HVAC specialists. An apprenticeship not only offers a valuable experience by providing practical training, but it also supplies job opportunities and helps to establish relationships in the area HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Confirm that the campus facilities and the equipment that you will be trained on are up-to-date and what you will be using in the field. If you are presently in an internship or an apprenticeship, consult with the HVAC specialist you are working under concerning what you should be expecting. Otherwise, ask a local Rio Rico AZ HVAC contractor if they can provide some suggestions. Additionally bear in mind that unless you are able to relocate, the school must be within commuting distance of your Rio Rico AZ home. Take note that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides the added moving costs there may be higher tuition charges compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's desirable that you receive as much personalized instruction as possible, which can be difficult in bigger classes. Ask if you can monitor a few 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 opinions regarding class sizes and instruction. Last, speak to some of the instructors and find out what their level of experience is and what certifications or degrees they have earned.
Flexible Scheduling. Make sure that the class schedules for the programs you are assessing are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Rio Rico AZ, confirm that the programs you are looking at provide those choices. If you can only attend part-time, make certain that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Finally, check out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, illness or family responsibilities.
Earn Your HVAC Training and Certification
Selecting the ideal HVAC school program is a crucial beginning toward a rewarding career in the heating and cooling industry. As we have discussed in this article, you need to pick a Heating and Cooling training program and a certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have exceptional reputations within the HVAC field. Other things to look for are ample hands-on training and modern facilities. You should check out each of the schools personally that you are most interested in to explore the campus and talk with both the current students and faculty. Attempt to get a feel for the quality of the training and the interaction between them. Additionally, inquire about scheduling options and whether or not night or weekend classes are offered if needed. And don't forget to inquire about financial assistance and student loan options as well. If you ask the appropriate questions as we have laid out in our checklist for assessing schools, you'll be able to filter your choices so that you can make an educated decision. With the appropriate training, hard work and commitment, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC professional in Rio Rico AZ.