How to Enroll In the Right Heating and Cooling Certification Class near Sahuarita Arizona
Once you have decided on a career as a heating and air conditioner specialist, the next step is to choose an HVAC trade school near Sahuarita AZ. But with so many to choose from, how do you choose the right one to obtain the training that you need? Many potential students will make their selection based entirely on the price of tuition or how close the school is to their home. Although these are necessary considerations, they are not the only ones to take into account. Just some of the other details that you need to investigate 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 discussed in more detail later in this article. But before we examine how to select an HVAC vocational school, let's look at what a heating and cooling contractor does to become a licensed skilled tradesman.
How to Become an HVAC Contractor
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, repair and maintenance of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are commonly mandated to be licensed, however each state and regional municipality has its own criteria. Obtaining professional certification is not compulsory, but a voluntary way for Sahuarita AZ HVAC technicians to demonstrate that they are exceptionally qualified and accomplished in their area of specialization. There are many respected certifications within the field that are available. Following are some 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 acquired in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification offers both a professional and a master specialist credential. 2 years of field experience together with passing a comprehensive exam are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have 3 years of experience together with a passing score on the professional level exam. As with NATE, certifications are made available in various specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is mandatory for technicians that work with refrigerants. There are three types of certification obtainable, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Since licensing may be required in your area, and you may also intend to acquire certification, it's important that you pick an HVAC vocational school that will prepare you for both. And since you will probably be dealing with refrigerants, make sure that the program you decide on readies you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
HVAC Certificate and Degree Training Programs
There are a variety of choices offered for HVAC instruction in a vocational or trade school. You can earn a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Obtaining a certificate will take the minimum period of time, often completed in as little as six months, however some programs are longer. A certificate will train you for most HVAC positions, especially if you are licensed and have certification relevant to the position. The degree training programs can provide a competitive advantage in the job market and will deliver more comprehensive training than the certificate programs. Following is a brief description of each credential offered near Sahuarita AZ.
- Certificate. Usually requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among entry level commercial or residential HVAC specialists. They furnish a strong foundation of skills for job opportunities within the trade.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program delivers a more detailed knowledge of heating and a/c systems than the certificate program. Normally requiring 2 years to complete, many degrees include an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is tailored more for 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 air conditioning systems, you will also learn how to design them.
Picking the ideal credential program will be based on what your future career aspirations are, as well as the time and money that you have to commit. One option is to start with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after gaining some experience in the trade in Sahuarita AZ, later returning to earn a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your tactic, make sure to ask the HVAC technician school you are considering about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Courses Online
Enrolling in an HVAC school online is one alternative in obtaining your education and earning a certificate or degree. Nearly all schools will require some attendance on campus to take part in hands on training. Some also sponsor internship or work-study programs in addition to or in place of practical lab work. But since the balance of the classes may be attended on the web, this alternative may be a more practical solution for many Sahuarita AZ students that are pressed for time. And some online degree programs are less costly than other traditional alternatives. Even travelling expenses from Sahuarita and study supplies may be lessened, helping to make education more economical. And numerous online programs are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your career or family obligations have left you with limited time to attend classes, maybe an online HVAC degree program will make it more convenient to accommodate school into your busy schedule.
What to Ask HVAC Certification Classes
As soon as you have decided on the type of degree or certificate that you wish to acquire, either on campus or online, you can start to decrease your selection of schools. As you are probably aware, there are a large number of HVAC vocational schools in the Sahuarita AZ area and all over the United States to select from. That's why it is essential to have a list of relevant qualifications when making school evaluations. As earlier mentioned in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will probably be the first two variables you will consider. Following are some additional ones that you should explore before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Numerous HVAC vocational programs in the Sahuarita AZ area have acquired 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 a specific program, such as HVAC technology. Make certain that the program and school are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting agency, for instance the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping make certain that you receive an excellent education, it can assist in acquiring financial assistance or student loans, which are often not available for non-accredited programs. Also, many states mandate that the HVAC training program be accredited for it to be approved for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the Heating and Air Conditioning schools you are reviewing what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage or portion of students who enroll in and finish the program. A lower completion rate could signify that students were unhappy with the course and quit. It may also mean that the instructors were not qualified to instruct the students. It's similarly essential that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader list of graduates, which may produce 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 a good reputation within the industry, but also that it has the network of Sahuarita AZ HVAC employers to help graduates secure apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. A large number of HVAC vocational programs are taught along with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating vocational and trade schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of Heating and Cooling contractors or labor unions. Ask if the schools you are reviewing have working partnerships with local Sahuarita AZ HVAC contractors. An apprenticeship not only provides a rewarding experience by supplying hands-on training, but it also provides job opportunities and helps to build relationships in the area HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make certain that the campus facilities and the tools 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, talk to the HVAC tech you are working with regarding what you should be expecting. Otherwise, ask a local Sahuarita AZ HVAC contracting company if they can give you some suggestions. Additionally keep in mind that unless you can move, the school needs to be within driving distance of your Sahuarita AZ residence. Remember that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, besides the added relocation costs there can be increased tuition fees compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's important that you get as much one-on-one training as possible, which can be difficult in bigger classes. Ask if you can sit in on a few of the classes so that you can see how big they are and experience the interaction between students and teachers. Talk to a few of the students and get their comments concerning class sizes and instruction. Last, talk with a few of the teachers and learn what their level of expertise is and what degrees or certifications they have earned.
Flexible Scheduling. Confirm 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 Sahuarita AZ, confirm that the schools you are reviewing provide those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Additionally, find out what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, illness or family responsibilities.
Earn Your HVAC Certificate or Degree
Picking the right HVAC school course is a critical beginning toward a gratifying career in the heating and cooling field. As we have covered in this article, you should select a Heating and Cooling training program and a certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have exceptional reputations within the HVAC profession. Other factors to look for are sufficient hands-on training and modern facilities. You should visit each of the schools personally that you are most interested in to tour the campus and talk with both the faculty and current students. Try to get a feel for the quality of the teaching and the interaction between them. Also, ask about scheduling choices and if night or weekend classes are offered if needed. And don't forget to inquire about financial assistance and student loan options too. If you ask the appropriate questions as we have laid out in our checklist for assessing schools, you'll be able to narrow down your options so that you can make an informed decision. With the proper training, hard work and commitment, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC specialist in Sahuarita AZ.