How to Select the Right Heating and Cooling Certification Course near Sahuarita Arizona
Once you have decided on a career as a heating and air conditioner professional, the next action is to locate an HVAC vocational school near Sahuarita AZ. But with so many to pick from, how do you pick the best one to obtain the training that you require? Many future students will make their decision based exclusively on the price of tuition or how close the school is to their home. Although these are necessary concerns, they are not the only ones to evaluate. Just some of the other factors 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. Those and other criteria will be addressed in more detail later in this article. But before we tackle how to choose an HVAC trade school, let's take a look at what a heating and a/c professional does to become a licensed skilled tradesman.
How to Become an HVAC Specialist
HVAC is an acronym that is widely used in the business that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC technicians provide services for the installation, maintenance and repair of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are typically mandated to be licensed, though each state and regional municipality has its own prerequisites. Acquiring professional certification is not compulsory, but a voluntary means for Sahuarita AZ HVAC technicians to demonstrate that they are highly skilled and accomplished in their area of expertise. There are a number of respected certifications within the industry that are offered. Following are a few of the significant ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally acknowledged certification for HVAC techs. The certification is achieved by passing a proficiency examination and can be acquired in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification offers both a professional and a master specialist credential. 2 years of professional experience as well as passing a comprehensive exam are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have 3 years of experience along with a passing score on the professional level exam. Similar to NATE, certifications are offered in multiple specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is mandatory for techs that handle refrigerants. There are three types of certification obtainable, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Since licensing might be required in your area, and you may also intend to earn certification, it's essential that you pick an HVAC trade school that will train you for both. And since you will most likely be working with refrigerants, make sure that the program you select preps you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
HVAC Degree and Certificate Training Programs
There are several choices offered for HVAC training in a technical or vocational school. You can obtain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Earning a certificate will take the minimum period of time, usually accomplished in just 6 months, although some programs are longer. A certificate will train you for most HVAC positions, particularly if you are licensed and have certification appropriate to the position. The degree training programs might provide a competitive edge in the job market and will provide more extensive training than the certificate programs. Following is a brief description of each option offered near Sahuarita AZ.
- Certificate. Generally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among beginning residential or commercial HVAC professionals. They furnish a strong foundation of skills for employment within the industry.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program provides a more comprehensive background of heating and a/c systems than the certificate program. Usually requiring two years to finish, many degrees incorporate 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 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 appropriate credential program will be based on what your long term career goals are, in addition to the time and financial resources that you have to commit. One option is to start with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after gaining some experience in the field in Sahuarita AZ, subsequently going back to obtain a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your tactic, be sure to ask the HVAC tech school you are considering about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Online Classes
Enrolling in an HVAC program online is one alternative to obtaining your training and receiving a degree or certificate. Nearly all schools will require some attendance on campus to participate in practical training. Many also offer internship or work-study programs in addition to or as an alternative to practical lab work. But since the balance of the classes may be participated in via the internet, this alternative may be a more accessible solution for many Sahuarita AZ students that are pressed for time. And a number of online degree programs are less costly than other traditional options. Even commuting expenses from Sahuarita and study materials may be reduced, helping to make schooling more budget-friendly. And many online programs are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your job or family obligations have left you with limited time to attend classes, perhaps an online HVAC degree program will make it more convenient to fit school into your hectic lifestyle.
Questions For HVAC Certification Courses
Once you have chosen the type of certificate or degree that you desire to earn, either on campus or online, you can start to decrease your list of schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are a large number of HVAC vocational schools in the Sahuarita AZ area and across the United States to pick from. That's why it is extremely important to have a list of important qualifiers when making school assessments. As previously stated in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will most likely be the initial 2 factors you will take into consideration. Following are some additional ones that you need to research before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Numerous HVAC technical programs in the Sahuarita AZ area have earned either a regional or a national accreditation. They can receive 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 recognized accrediting agency, which includes the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping ensure that you obtain a superior education, it may assist in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are often unavailable for non-accredited schools. Furthermore, a number of 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 of students who enroll in and finish the course. A lower completion rate might indicate that students were disappointed with the course and dropped out. It might also signify that the teachers were not qualified to instruct the students. It's similarly important that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive list of alumni, which may produce more contacts for the school to employ for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate will not only confirm that the school has an excellent 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. Numerous HVAC trade programs are taught together with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating vocational and trade programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of Heating and Cooling contractors or trade unions. Find out if the schools you are comparing have working partnerships with local Sahuarita AZ HVAC professionals. An apprenticeship not only offers a valuable experience by supplying practical training, but it also provides employment opportunities and helps to build relationships in the regional HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make certain that the school facilities and the tools that you will be instructed on are state-of-the-art and what you will be using in the field. If you are already in an internship or an apprenticeship, check with the HVAC tech you are working under regarding what you should be looking for. Otherwise, ask a local Sahuarita AZ HVAC company if they can provide some pointers. Additionally bear in mind that unless you can move, the school must be within driving distance of your Sahuarita AZ residence. Remember that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to moving costs there can be increased tuition charges compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's important that you get as much one-on-one training as possible, which can be challenging in bigger classes. Ask if you can monitor some of the classes so that you can observe how big they are and experience the interaction between teachers and students. Speak to a few of the students and get their comments regarding class sizes and instruction. Last, talk to some of the teachers and learn what their level of expertise is and what degrees or certifications they have earned.
Flexible Scheduling. Verify that the class schedules for the programs you are assessing 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 considering offer those choices. If you can only attend part-time, be sure that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Also, find out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, sickness or family responsibilities.
Get Your HVAC Degree and Certification
Picking the ideal HVAC training course is an important beginning toward a rewarding career in the heating and 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 trade. Other factors to look for are plenty of practical training and state-of-the-art facilities. You need to visit each of the schools in person that you are most interested in to inspect the campus and speak with both the faculty and current students. Try to get a feel for the quality of the teaching and the interaction between them. Additionally, inquire about scheduling choices and whether evening or weekend classes are offered if needed. And don't forget to inquire about financial aid and student loan options also. If you ask the proper questions as we have outlined in our checklist for comparing schools, you'll be able to narrow down your choices so that you can make an informed decision. With the appropriate training, hard work and dedication, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC professional in Sahuarita AZ.