How to Pick the Right HVAC Certificate Program near Sahuarita Arizona
Once you have come to a decision on a career as a heating and cooling technician, the next action is to look for an HVAC trade school near Sahuarita AZ. But with so many to choose from, how do you select the right one to get the training that you need? Many potential students will make their selection based solely on the cost of tuition or how close the school is to their home. Although these are necessary considerations, they are not the only ones to investigate. 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 addressed in more detail later in this article. But before we tackle how to choose an HVAC trade school, let's look at what a heating and a/c contractor does to become a licensed skilled tradesman.
Becoming an HVAC Pro
HVAC is an acronym that is widely used in the industry that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC techs specialize in the installation, repair and maintenance of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are commonly required to be licensed, although every state and local municipality has its own criteria. Acquiring professional certification is not mandatory, but an optional way for Sahuarita AZ HVAC specialists to demonstrate that they are highly qualified and experienced in their area of specialization. There are multiple respected certifications within the industry that are offered. Following are a few 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 exam and can be acquired in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification offers both a professional and a master specialist credential. Two years of field experience together with passing a comprehensive examination are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have three years of experience together 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 specialists that work with refrigerants. There are three forms of certification obtainable, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Since licensing may be mandated in your area, and you may also wish to earn certification, it's essential that you pick an HVAC vocational school that will train you for both. And since you will probably be working with refrigerants, make certain that the school you decide on prepares you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
HVAC Degree Classes
There are a number of alternatives available for HVAC training in a technical or trade school. You can earn a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Earning a certificate will take the least amount of time, typically accomplished in just six months, however some programs are longer. A certificate will qualify you for the majority of HVAC positions, particularly if you are licensed and have certification appropriate to the position. The degree programs may provide a competitive edge for securing employment and will deliver more comprehensive training than the certificate programs. Following is a short summary of each credential offered near Sahuarita AZ.
- Certificate. Normally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among beginning commercial or residential HVAC technicians. They furnish a strong foundation of skills for employment within the trade.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program supplies a more exhaustive understanding of heating and a/c 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 towards a career in management or even business ownership. Some programs require an Associate Degree, while others are a conventional 4 year program. In addition to mastering how to service and maintain heating and air conditioning systems, you will also study how to design them.
Picking the ideal credential program will be dependent on what your future career goals are, in addition to the time and financial resources that you have to invest. One approach is to begin with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after acquiring some experience in the trade in Sahuarita AZ, subsequently returning to earn a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your approach, make certain to ask the HVAC tech school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Online Training
Choosing an HVAC school online is one possibility to getting your education and earning a degree or certificate. Most schools will require some attendance on campus to participate in hands on training. Some also sponsor internship or work-study programs in addition to or instead of practical lab work. But since the rest of the classes may be attended on the web, this alternative may be a more convenient solution for some Sahuarita AZ students that are short on time. And many online degree programs are less expensive than other on campus options. Even commuting expenses from Sahuarita and study supplies can be lessened, helping to make schooling more economical. And numerous online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your job or family responsibilities have left you with limited time to attend classes, perhaps an online HVAC degree program will make it easier to accommodate school into your active schedule.
Questions For HVAC Certification Classes
When you have selected the type of degree or certificate that you wish to attain, either online or on campus, you can begin to decrease your list of schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are many HVAC technical schools in the Sahuarita AZ area and all over the Country to select from. That's why it is imperative to have a list of important qualifications when making school comparisons. As earlier mentioned in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will probably be the initial two factors you will consider. Following are several additional ones that you need to investigate before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Many HVAC trade schools in the Sahuarita AZ area have received either a regional or a national accreditation. They may attain Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to a specific program, such as HVAC technology. Confirm that the school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting organization, such as the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping make certain that you acquire an excellent education, it may help in securing financial aid or student loans, which are often unavailable for non-accredited programs. Additionally, some states require that the HVAC training program be accredited for it to qualify for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the HVAC schools you are reviewing what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students who enroll in and complete the program. A low completion rate could suggest that students were dissatisfied with the course and quit. It could also indicate that the instructors were not competent to train the students. It's also important that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader list 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 validate that the school has a good reputation within the field, but also that it has the network of Sahuarita AZ HVAC employers to help students secure apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. A large number of HVAC trade programs are taught along with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating vocational and trade programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of Heating and Cooling businesses or trade unions. Ask if the schools you are considering have referring partnerships with local Sahuarita AZ HVAC specialists. An apprenticeship not only offers a rewarding experience by supplying practical training, but it also provides employment opportunities and helps to form relationships in the local HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make sure that the school 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 currently in an internship or an apprenticeship, talk to the HVAC specialist you are working with concerning what you should be looking for. Otherwise, ask a local Sahuarita AZ HVAC contracting company if they can give you some tips. Additionally keep in mind that unless you can relocate, the school must be within commuting distance of your Sahuarita AZ residence. Remember that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation costs there might be higher tuition fees compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's important that you get as much one-on-one instruction as possible, which can be challenging in larger classes. Ask if you can monitor a couple of the classes so that you can observe how big they are and experience the interaction between teachers and students. Speak with a few of the students and get their opinions concerning class sizes and instruction. Last, speak to some of the instructors and learn what their level of experience is and what degrees or certifications they have earned.
Flexible Scheduling. Verify that the class schedules for the schools you are evaluating are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Sahuarita AZ, check that the schools you are looking at provide those choices. If you can only attend part-time, be sure that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Finally, find out what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, illness or family issues.
Get Your HVAC Degree and Certification
Picking the ideal HVAC training course is a crucial first step toward a gratifying career in the heating & cooling field. As we have covered in this article, you should pick a Heating and Cooling training program and a degree or certificate program that are both accredited and have exceptional reputations within the HVAC community. Other things to search for are plenty of hands-on training and modern facilities. You need to visit each of the schools personally that you are most interested in to tour the campus and speak with both the faculty and current students. Attempt to get a feel for the quality of the training and the interaction between them. Additionally, inquire about scheduling choices and if night or weekend classes are offered if needed. And remember to ask about financial aid and student loan options too. If you ask the right questions as we have laid out in our checklist for comparing schools, you'll be able to filter your options so that you can make an informed decision. With the appropriate training, hard work and commitment, you can eventually become a licensed HVAC professional in Sahuarita AZ.