How to Pick the Right Heating and Cooling Degree Program near Sahuarita Arizona
Now that you have decided on a career as a heating and cooling professional, the next action is to locate an HVAC vocational school near Sahuarita AZ. But with so many to choose from, how do you pick the ideal one to receive the training that you require? Many future students will make their decision based entirely on the cost 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 take into account. Some of the other things that you need to look into are the graduation 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 examine how to select an HVAC training program, let's take a look at what a heating and air conditioning specialist does to become a licensed professional tradesman.
Becoming an HVAC Technician
HVAC is an acronym that is extensively 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, hot water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are commonly mandated to be licensed, though each state and local municipality has its own prerequisites. Acquiring professional certification is not compulsory, but a voluntary way for Sahuarita AZ HVAC techs to prove that they are highly skilled and knowledgeable in their area of expertise. There are a number of respected certifications within the trade that are offered. Here are some of the significant ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally recognized certification for HVAC techs. The certification is attained by passing a competency examination and may 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 as well as passing a comprehensive examination are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have three years of experience as well as a passing score on the professional level examination. As with NATE, certifications are provided in multiple specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is mandatory for technicians that handle refrigerants. There are three forms of certification obtainable, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Considering that licensing may be required in your location, and you may also desire to acquire certification, it's important that you pick an HVAC trade school that will prepare you for both. And since you will more than likely be handling refrigerants, make sure that the program you pick prepares you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
HVAC Degree and Certificate Classes
There are several options available for HVAC training in a vocational or trade school. You can obtain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Acquiring a certificate will take the least period of time, typically accomplished in just six months, though some courses are longer. A certificate will train you for the majority of HVAC positions, particularly if you are licensed and have certification applicable to the position. The degree programs can provide a competitive edge in the job market and will provide more extensive training than the certificate programs. Below is a short summary of each credential offered near Sahuarita AZ.
- Certificate. Usually requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among entry level residential or commercial HVAC professionals. They furnish a strong foundation of skills for job opportunities within the industry.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program delivers a more comprehensive understanding of heating and a/c systems than the certificate program. Normally requiring two years to complete, a number of 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 call for an Associate Degree, while others are a standard four year program. In addition to learning 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 dependent on what your long term career aspirations are, along with the time and financial resources that you have to invest. One possibility is to begin with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after gaining some experience in the trade in Sahuarita AZ, later going back to obtain a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your strategy, be sure to ask the HVAC technician school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Schools Online
Attending an HVAC school online is one possibility in obtaining your training and receiving a certificate or degree. Almost all schools will require some attendance on campus to participate in practical training. Some also sponsor internship or work-study programs in addition to or in place of practical lab work. But since the rest of the classes can be participated in on the web, this option may be a more practical solution for many Sahuarita AZ students that are short on time. And some online degree programs are less costly than other traditional options. Even travelling expenses from Sahuarita and study supplies can be reduced, helping to make education more budget-friendly. And many 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, maybe an HVAC online training program will make it more convenient to fit school into your active schedule.
Questions For HVAC Certification Courses
After you have selected the type of certificate or degree that you desire to obtain, either on campus or online, you can begin to decrease your selection of schools. As you are certainly aware, there are numerous HVAC trade schools in the Sahuarita AZ area and throughout the USA to select from. That's why it is extremely important to have a list of relevant qualifications when making school assessments. As formerly mentioned in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will most likely be the first two factors you will look at. Following are some additional ones that you need to investigate before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. A large number of HVAC technical programs in the Sahuarita AZ area have earned either a regional or a national accreditation. They can acquire Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to a specific program, for example HVAC technology. Make sure that the school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting agency, which includes the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping make certain that you get 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 qualify 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 or portion of students who enroll in and complete the program. A lower completion rate might signify that students were dissatisfied with the course and dropped out. It may also signify that the teachers were not competent to train the students. It's also essential that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive list of graduates, which can result in more contacts for the school to employ for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate will 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 acquire apprenticeships or jobs.
Apprenticeship Programs. Numerous HVAC technical programs are taught along with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating technical and vocational programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of HVAC businesses or labor unions. Find out if the schools you are considering have referring relationships with local Sahuarita AZ HVAC companies. An apprenticeship not only offers a valuable experience by furnishing hands-on training, but it also provides employment opportunities and helps to form relationships in the area HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make sure that the campus facilities and the equipment 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, talk to the HVAC tech you are working with concerning what you should be expecting. Otherwise, ask a local Sahuarita AZ HVAC contracting company if they can provide some tips. Additionally keep in mind that unless you can relocate, the school needs to be within commuting distance of your Sahuarita AZ home. Remember that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, besides the added moving costs there may be higher tuition charges compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's important that you receive as much individualized instruction as possible, which can be difficult in larger classes. Ask if you can sit in on some of the classes so that you can see how big they are and witness first hand the interaction between instructors and students. Speak to a few of the students and get their comments concerning class sizes and instruction. Finally, speak to a few of the teachers and find out what their level of expertise is and what degrees or certifications they have earned.
Flexible Scheduling. Make sure that the class schedules for the programs you are reviewing are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you are only able to go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Sahuarita AZ, confirm that the programs you are considering offer those choices. If you can only attend part-time, make sure that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Additionally, ask what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, sickness or family emergencies.
Get Your HVAC Certificate or Degree
Selecting the ideal HVAC school course is a critical beginning toward a rewarding career in the heating & cooling trade. As we have addressed in this article, you need to pick a Heating and Cooling training program and a certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have exceptional reputations within the HVAC community. Other features to look for are sufficient 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 speak 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 whether or not night or weekend classes are offered if needed. And don't forget to ask about financial assistance and student loan options as well. If you ask the right questions as we have outlined in our checklist for evaluating schools, you'll be able to filter your choices so that you can make an informed decision. With the right training, hard work and commitment, you can eventually become a licensed HVAC specialist in Sahuarita AZ.