How to Choose the Right HVAC Training Class near Rio Rico Arizona
Now that you have made a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioning professional, the next action is to look for 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 require? Some potential students will make their selection based entirely on the price of tuition or how near the school is to their home. While these are necessary factors to consider, they are not the only ones to investigate. Some of the other things 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. These and additional criteria will be covered in more detail later within this article. But before we examine how to pick an HVAC training program, let's look at what a heating and cooling contractor does to become a licensed skilled tradesman.
Becoming an HVAC Specialist
HVAC is an acronym that is widely used in the trade that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC technicians specialize in the installation, maintenance and repair of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are typically required to be licensed, however every state and local municipality has its own requirements. Earning professional certification is not mandatory, but an alternative way for Rio Rico AZ HVAC technicians to demonstrate that they are exceptionally skilled and knowledgeable in their area of specialization. There are several recognized certifications within the industry that are offered. Following are a few of the important ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally recognized certification for HVAC technicians. The certification is earned by passing a competency exam and can be received 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 needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have 3 years of experience together with a passing result on the professional level exam. As with NATE, certifications are provided in several specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is required for specialists that handle refrigerants. There are 3 forms of certification obtainable, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Considering that licensing could be required in your location, and you may also desire to obtain certification, it's imperative that you enroll in an HVAC vocational school that will prepare you for both. And since you will probably be dealing with refrigerants, make sure that the school you pick preps you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
HVAC Certificate and Degree Courses
There are a number of alternatives available for HVAC instruction in a technical or vocational school. You can attain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Earning a certificate will take the lesser amount of time, usually achieved in as little as six months, however some courses are longer. A certificate will qualify you for most HVAC positions, especially if you are licensed and have certification related to the position. The degree programs might provide a competitive advantage in the job market and will deliver more in-depth training than the certificate programs. Following is a short summary of each credential offered near Rio Rico AZ.
- Certificate. Generally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among beginning commercial or residential HVAC specialists. They furnish a solid foundation of skills for employment within the trade.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program delivers a more exhaustive background of heating & cooling systems than the certificate program. Generally requiring two years to finish, many degrees feature an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is suited more for a career in management or even business ownership. Some programs require an Associate Degree, while others are a standard 4 year program. In addition to being taught how to service and maintain heating and air conditioning systems, you will also study how to design them.
Choosing the right credential program will be based on what your future career objectives are, along with the time and money that you have to invest. One option 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 acquire 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 Classes
Enrolling in an HVAC program online is one alternative in attaining your training and earning a degree or certificate. Almost all schools will require some attendance on campus to complete practical training. Some also provide internship or work-study programs in addition to or in place of practical lab work. But since the remainder of the classes may be participated in via the internet, this approach may be a more accessible solution for some Rio Rico AZ students that are pressed for time. And a number of online degree programs are more economical than other on campus choices. Even driving expenses from Rio Rico and study supplies can be minimized, helping to make schooling more affordable. And many online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your career or family responsibilities have left you with limited time to attend classes, perhaps an HVAC online training program will make it more convenient to accommodate school into your busy lifestyle.
What to Ask HVAC Schools
After you have picked the type of certificate or degree that you would like to obtain, either online or on campus, you can begin to narrow down your list of schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are numerous HVAC technical schools in the Rio Rico AZ area and throughout the United States to pick from. That's why it is essential to have a list of important qualifications when making school evaluations. As formerly stated in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will undoubtedly be the first 2 variables you will look at. Following are several additional ones that you should investigate before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Many HVAC vocational schools in the Rio Rico AZ area have received either a regional or a national accreditation. They can acquire Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to a specific 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. Along with helping ensure that you get an excellent education, it may help in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are frequently not available for non-accredited schools. Also, many states mandate that the HVAC training course be accredited in order to be approved for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the Heating and Air Conditioning schools you are considering what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage of students who enroll in and complete the program. A lower completion rate may signify that students were dissatisfied with the course and dropped out. It might also indicate that the teachers were not competent to instruct the students. It's similarly imperative that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader 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 can not only validate that the school has an excellent reputation within the industry, but also that it has the network of Rio Rico AZ HVAC employers to assist students 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 trade and technical programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of Heating and Cooling companies or labor unions. Ask if the schools you are considering have working partnerships with local Rio Rico AZ HVAC companies. An apprenticeship not only provides a valuable experience by supplying hands-on training, but it also furnishes job opportunities and helps to form relationships in the regional HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make certain that the school facilities and the equipment that you will be trained on are state-of-the-art and what you will be using in the field. If you are presently in an internship or an apprenticeship, check with the HVAC tech you are working with regarding what you should be looking for. If not, ask a local Rio Rico AZ HVAC contracting company if they can provide some tips. Additionally keep in mind that unless you are willing to relocate, the school must be within driving distance of your Rio Rico AZ residence. Take note that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation costs there can be increased tuition fees compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's desirable that you get as much personalized training 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 witness first hand the interaction between students and teachers. Talk to several of the students and get their opinions concerning class sizes and instruction. Last, talk to some of the teachers and learn what their level of experience is and what degrees or certifications they hold.
Flexible Scheduling. Verify that the class schedules for the schools you are reviewing are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you are only able to go to classes at night or on weekends near Rio Rico AZ, confirm that the schools you are comparing provide those choices. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Additionally, ask what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, sickness or family responsibilities.
Earn Your HVAC Degree and Certification
Finding the right HVAC school program is a critical first step toward a gratifying career in the heating & cooling field. As we have discussed in this article, you should 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 search for are lots of practical training and modern facilities. You need to go to each of the schools in person 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 teaching and the interaction between them. Also, ask about scheduling options and if evening or weekend classes are available if needed. And remember to inquire about financial assistance and student loan options as well. If you ask the right questions as we have laid out in our guidelines for assessing 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 technician in Rio Rico AZ.