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How to Choose the Right Heating and Cooling Certification Class near Rio Rico Arizona

Rio Rico Arizona home air conditioning condensersOnce you have made a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioner specialist, the next step is to choose an HVAC vocational school near Rio Rico AZ. But with so many to pick from, how do you select the ideal one to get the training that you require? A number of future students will make their choice based solely on the cost of tuition or how near the school is to their residence. Even though these are necessary factors to consider, they are not the only ones to take into account. Just some of the other factors that you need to look into are the graduation completion rates of the HVAC schools, their reputations, and if they are accredited by professional trade organizations. Those and other benchmarks will be discussed in more detail later in this article. But before we examine how to choose an HVAC technical school, let's take a look at what a heating and air conditioning technician does to become a licensed professional tradesman.

Becoming an HVAC Professional

Rio Rico Arizona HVAC Contractor servicing air conditioning condenserHVAC is an acronym that is widely used in the industry that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC techs provide services for the installation, repair and maintenance of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are generally mandated to be licensed, though every state and local municipality has its own requirements. Earning professional certification is not required, but an alternative way for Rio Rico AZ HVAC specialists to establish that they are exceptionally qualified and accomplished in their area of specialization. There are multiple recognized certifications within the field that are offered. Here are a few of the important ones.

  • North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally recognized certification for HVAC technicians. The certification is achieved by passing a proficiency exam and can be received in one or more specialties.
  • HVAC Excellence. This certification makes available both a professional and a master specialist credential. Two years of professional experience together with passing a comprehensive examination are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have three years of experience in addition to a passing score on the professional level examination. Similar to NATE, certifications are offered in various specialties.
  • EPA Section 608. This certification is necessary 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.

Since licensing might be mandated in your location, and you may also wish to earn certification, it's imperative that you enroll in an HVAC vocational school that will prepare you for both. And since you will most likely be working with refrigerants, make certain that the school you decide on preps you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.

HVAC Certificate and Degree Training Programs

Rio Rico Arizona residential heat pump

There are a number of alternatives offered for HVAC training in a vocational or trade school. You can earn a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Earning a certificate will take the minimum amount of time, usually achieved in as little as six months, although some programs are longer. A certificate will train you for most HVAC positions, particularly if you are licensed and have certification applicable to the position. The degree training programs can provide a competitive edge in the job market and will furnish more comprehensive training than the certificate programs. Below is a short description 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 furnish a strong foundation of skills for job opportunities within the industry.
  • Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program delivers a more exhaustive background of heating and a/c systems than the certificate program. Typically requiring 2 years to complete, 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 conventional four year program. In addition to being taught how to service and maintain heating and air conditioning systems, you will also learn how to design them.

Selecting the right credential program will be based on what your long term career objectives are, in addition to the time and money that you have to invest. One approach is to begin with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after gaining some experience in the trade in Rio Rico AZ, eventually going back to acquire a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your strategy, be sure to ask the HVAC technician school you are considering about how their returning student program works.

HVAC Courses Online

Enrolling in an HVAC program online is one option in attaining your education and receiving a degree or certificate. Nearly all schools will call for some attendance on campus to take part in practical training. Some also provide internship or work-study programs in addition to or instead of practical lab work. But since the remainder of the classes can be participated in on the web, this option may be a more convenient solution for some Rio Rico AZ students that are short on time. And some online degree programs are less expensive than other traditional choices. Even travelling expenses from Rio Rico and study materials may be lessened, helping to make schooling more budget-friendly. And a large number of 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, maybe an HVAC online training program will make it less complicated to fit school into your busy lifestyle.

Questions For HVAC Certification Classes

Rio Rico Arizona HVAC tech installing water heater

When you have picked the type of degree or certificate that you wish to obtain, either on campus or online, you can start to limit your list 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 choose from. That's why it is imperative to have a list of key qualifiers when making school assessments. As formerly stated in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will undoubtedly be the first 2 aspects you will look at. Following are some additional ones that you should investigate before enrolling in your school of choice.

Accreditation.  A large number of HVAC trade schools in the Rio Rico AZ area have earned either a regional or a national accreditation. They can earn Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to an individual program, for example HVAC technology. Verify that the program and school are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting organization, which includes the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping guarantee that you receive a superior education, it can assist in obtaining financial assistance or student loans, which are often unavailable for non-accredited schools. Furthermore, some states mandate that the HVAC training program be accredited in order to be approved for licensing.

High Completion Rates.  Ask the HVAC 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 dissatisfied with the course and dropped out. It might also signify that the instructors were not competent to train the students. It's also imperative that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive directory of graduates, which may mean more contacts for the school to employ for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate will not only affirm that the school has a good reputation within the industry, but also that it has the network of Rio Rico AZ HVAC employers to assist grads secure apprenticeships or jobs.

Apprenticeship Programs.  Most HVAC vocational programs are taught in conjunction with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating trade and vocational programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of Heating and Cooling businesses or trade unions. Ask if the schools you are considering have working partnerships with local Rio Rico AZ HVAC specialists. An apprenticeship not only provides a valuable 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 sure that the campus facilities and the tools that you will be trained on are state-of-the-art and what you will be working with on the job. If you are already in an internship or an apprenticeship, consult with the HVAC tech you are working under regarding what you should be looking for. Otherwise, ask a local Rio Rico AZ HVAC contracting company if they can provide some tips. Also bear in mind that unless you are willing to relocate, the school needs to be within driving distance of your Rio Rico AZ residence. Remember that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation costs there might be higher tuition charges compared to in-state residents.

Smaller Classes.   It's desirable that you get as much one-on-one instruction as possible, which can be challenging in larger classes. Ask if you can sit in on some of the classes so that you can observe how big they are and witness first hand the interaction between instructors and students. Speak to a few of the students and get their feedback regarding class sizes and instruction. Last, speak to a few of the teachers and learn what their level of expertise is and what certifications or degrees they hold.

Flexible Scheduling.  Make sure that the class schedules for the schools you are evaluating are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you are only able to go to classes at night or on weekends near Rio Rico AZ, check that the programs you are looking at provide those choices. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, be sure that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Also, ask what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, illness or family issues.

Learn More About Rio Rico HVAC Programs Near You

Earn Your Heating and Cooling Training and Certification

Picking the ideal HVAC school course is a critical beginning toward a rewarding career in the heating and air conditioning trade. As we have addressed 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 exceptional reputations within the HVAC trade. Other features to look for are sufficient practical training and state-of-the-art facilities. You should visit 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. Try to get a feel for the quality of the training and the interaction between them. Additionally, ask about scheduling choices and whether evening or weekend classes are offered if needed. And remember to inquire about financial assistance and student loan options too. If you ask the proper questions as we have outlined in our guidelines for evaluating schools, you'll be able to narrow down your choices so that you can make an educated decision. With the right training, hard work and dedication, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC specialist in Rio Rico AZ.