How to Enroll In the Right HVAC Training Program near Rio Rico Arizona
Once you have decided on a career as a heating and air conditioning professional, the next action is to choose an HVAC technical school near Rio Rico AZ. But with so many to select from, how do you select the best one to receive the training that you need? Some prospective students will make their decision based exclusively on the cost of tuition or how close the school is to their residence. Even though these are necessary factors to consider, they are not the only ones to investigate. Just some of the other factors 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 discussed in more detail later within this article. But before we explore how to pick an HVAC trade school, let's take a look at what a heating and air conditioning specialist does to become a licensed qualified tradesman.
Becoming an HVAC Pro
HVAC is an acronym that is widely used in the business that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC contractors provide services for the installation, repair and maintenance of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are generally required to be licensed, though every state and regional municipality has its own prerequisites. Acquiring professional certification is not required, but an optional means for Rio Rico AZ HVAC techs to prove that they are highly qualified and experienced in their area of expertise. There are a number of acknowledged certifications within the industry that are offered. Here are some of the significant ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally recognized certification for HVAC technicians. The certification is earned by passing a proficiency 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 in addition to passing a comprehensive examination are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have 3 years of experience along with a passing score on the professional level exam. As with NATE, certifications are made available in multiple specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is mandatory for technicians that work with refrigerants. There are three forms of certification available, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Considering that licensing might be required in your location, and you may also wish to earn certification, it's essential that you select an HVAC vocational school that will prepare you for both. And since you will more than likely be working with refrigerants, make certain that the school you choose readies you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
HVAC Degree and Certificate Classes
There are a number of choices offered for HVAC instruction in a trade or technical school. You can earn a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Earning a certificate will take the minimum period of time, typically achieved in as little as six months, although some programs are longer. A certificate will qualify you for most HVAC positions, especially if you are licensed and have certification appropriate to the position. The degree programs might provide a competitive edge for securing employment and will deliver more extensive training than the certificate programs. Following is a brief 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 specialists. They furnish a solid foundation of skills for job opportunities within the trade.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program delivers a more comprehensive understanding of heating and a/c systems than the certificate program. Generally taking 2 years to finish, a number of degrees include 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 require an Associate Degree, while others are a traditional 4 year program. In addition to learning how to service and maintain heating and air conditioning systems, you will also study how to design them.
Selecting the ideal credential program will be dependent on what your long term career aspirations are, in addition to the time and money that you have to invest. One approach is to start with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after getting some experience in the trade in Rio Rico AZ, eventually returning to acquire a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your tactic, be sure to ask the HVAC tech school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Online Courses
Enrolling in an HVAC school online is one alternative to getting your education and receiving a degree or certificate. Most schools will require some attendance on campus to complete practical training. A number 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 attended on the web, this option may be a more convenient solution for some Rio Rico AZ students that are pressed for time. And a number of online degree programs are more economical than other traditional alternatives. Even commuting expenses from Rio Rico and study materials can be minimized, helping to make education more affordable. And a large number of online programs are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your job or family commitments have left you with minimal time to attend classes, perhaps an online HVAC degree program will make it easier to accommodate school into your hectic lifestyle.
Questions to Ask HVAC Schools
Once you have chosen the type of degree or certificate that you want to earn, either on campus or online, you can begin to limit your selection of schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are numerous HVAC technical 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 relevant qualifiers when making school assessments. As formerly stated in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will most likely be the initial 2 variables you will look at. Following are several additional ones that you need to research before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Numerous HVAC technical schools in the Rio Rico AZ area have received either a regional or a national accreditation. They may earn Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to a specific program, for example HVAC technology. Make sure that the program 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 make certain that you obtain a quality education, it may assist in acquiring financial assistance or student loans, which are often not available for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of states mandate that the HVAC training program be accredited for it to qualify for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the Heating and Cooling schools you are considering what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage or portion of students who enroll in and complete the program. A low completion rate could signify that students were disappointed with the program and quit. It might also mean that the teachers were not competent to train the students. It's similarly important that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive directory of alumni, which can mean more contacts for the school to employ 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 field, but also that it has the network of Rio Rico AZ HVAC employers to assist students acquire apprenticeships or jobs.
Apprenticeship Programs. Most HVAC technical programs are taught along with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating trade and technical schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of HVAC contractors or labor unions. Check if the schools you are reviewing have referring partnerships with local Rio Rico AZ HVAC specialists. An apprenticeship not only provides a valuable experience by providing hands-on training, but it also provides job opportunities and helps to form relationships in the area HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make sure that the school facilities and the equipment that you will be trained on are state-of-the-art and what you will be working with in the field. If you are currently in an internship or an apprenticeship, talk to the HVAC technician you are working under concerning what you should be expecting. Otherwise, ask a local Rio Rico AZ HVAC company if they can provide some pointers. Also keep in mind that unless you can relocate, the school needs to be within commuting distance of your Rio Rico AZ home. Take note that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, besides the added relocation costs there may be increased tuition fees compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's desirable that you receive as much individualized instruction as possible, which can be difficult in larger classes. Ask if you can monitor a couple of the classes so that you can observe how large they are and experience the interaction between teachers and students. Talk to some of the students and get their feedback regarding class sizes and instruction. Finally, talk to a few of the teachers and learn what their level of expertise is and what certifications or degrees they have earned.
Flexible Scheduling. Make sure that the class schedules for the schools you are reviewing are flexible enough to handle your needs. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Rio Rico AZ, confirm that the programs you are comparing offer those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Also, ask what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, illness or family issues.
Learn More About Rio Rico HVAC Training Programs Near You
Get Your Heating and Cooling Certificate or Degree
Choosing the right HVAC school program is a critical beginning toward a rewarding career in the heating & cooling trade. As we have addressed in this article, you should 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 things to search for are sufficient hands-on training and state-of-the-art facilities. You should go to each of the schools in person that you are most interested in to explore the campus and speak with both the faculty and current students. Attempt to get a feel for the quality of the instruction and the interaction between them. Additionally, inquire about scheduling choices and whether or not night or weekend classes are offered if needed. And don't forget to ask about financial aid and student loan options as well. If you ask the proper questions as we have outlined in our guidelines for assessing schools, you'll be able to filter your choices so that you can make an informed decision. With the proper training, hard work and commitment, you can eventually become a licensed HVAC technician in Rio Rico AZ.