How to Choose the Right Heating and Cooling Certification Course near Sahuarita Arizona
Once you have come to a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioner professional, the next action is to locate an HVAC trade school near Sahuarita AZ. But with so many to pick from, how do you decide on the best one to get the training that you need? Many potential students will make their choice based solely on the price of tuition or how close the school is to their home. Although these are important factors to consider, they are not the only ones to take into account. 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. These and other criteria will be discussed in more detail later in this article. But before we discuss how to pick an HVAC technical school, let's look at what a heating and air conditioning specialist does to become a licensed qualified tradesman.
How to Become an HVAC Technician
HVAC is an acronym that is commonly used in the business that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC technicians specialize in the installation, repair and maintenance of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are typically required to be licensed, however each state and local municipality has its own criteria. Obtaining professional certification is not compulsory, but a voluntary way for Sahuarita AZ HVAC techs to establish that they are exceptionally qualified and knowledgeable in their area of specialization. There are a number of acknowledged certifications within the field that are available. Here are a few of the important 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 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 professional experience as well as passing a comprehensive exam are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have 3 years of experience along with a passing score on the professional level examination. As with NATE, certifications are made available in several specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is required for specialists that work with refrigerants. There are three types of certification available, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Since licensing may be mandated in your location, and you may also wish to acquire certification, it's imperative that you select an HVAC vocational school that will train you for both. And since you will most likely be handling refrigerants, make sure that the program you select prepares you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
HVAC Degree and Certificate Schools
There are a number of options available for HVAC training in a technical or vocational school. You can attain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Acquiring a certificate will take the least amount of time, usually accomplished in as little as 6 months, although some programs are longer. A certificate will train you for the majority of HVAC positions, especially if you are licensed and have certification applicable to the position. The degree programs can provide a competitive advantage for securing employment and will provide more in-depth training than the certificate programs. Following is a brief summary of each option offered near Sahuarita AZ.
- Certificate. Normally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among entry level commercial or residential HVAC specialists. They furnish a strong foundation of skills for employment within the industry.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program provides a more extensive understanding of heating & cooling systems than the certificate program. Typically requiring 2 years to complete, a number of degrees incorporate an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is tailored more towards a career in management as well as business ownership. Some programs require an Associate Degree, while others are a traditional 4 year program. In addition to learning how to service and maintain heating and air conditioning systems, you will also study how to design them.
Selecting the ideal credential program will be based on what your future career objectives are, along with the time and financial resources that you have to commit. One possibility is to start with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after gaining some experience in the trade in Sahuarita AZ, later going back to earn a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your approach, be sure to ask the HVAC tech school you are considering about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Online Training
Attending an HVAC school online is one approach to getting your education and receiving a certificate or degree. Nearly all schools will require some attendance on campus to complete practical training. A number also offer internship or work-study programs in addition to or instead of practical lab work. But since the remainder of the classes may be attended online, this option may be a more convenient solution for some Sahuarita AZ students that are pressed for time. And some online degree programs are cheaper than other traditional choices. Even commuting expenses from Sahuarita and study supplies can be minimized, helping to make education more economical. And a large number of online programs are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your work or family responsibilities have left you with limited time to attend classes, perhaps an HVAC online training program will make it easier to accommodate school into your hectic schedule.
What to Ask HVAC Certification Courses
As soon as you have selected the type of certificate or degree that you wish to acquire, either on campus or online, you can begin to narrow down your list of schools. As you are probably aware, there are numerous HVAC technical schools in the Sahuarita AZ area and across the Country to pick from. That's why it is extremely important to have a list of important qualifiers when making school evaluations. As earlier stated in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will most likely be the initial 2 variables you will look at. Following are several additional ones that you need to investigate before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. A large number of HVAC trade schools in the Sahuarita AZ area have attained either a regional or a national accreditation. They may earn Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to a specific program, such as HVAC technology. Make sure that the program is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting organization, which includes the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping make certain that you receive a quality education, it can assist in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are frequently unavailable for non-accredited programs. Furthermore, some states require 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 looking at 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 indicate that students were disappointed with the course and quit. It could also suggest that the teachers were not competent to train the students. It's similarly imperative that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive directory of alumni, which may result in more contacts for the school to employ for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate can not only affirm that the school has an excellent reputation within the field, but also that it has the network of Sahuarita AZ HVAC employers to help grads acquire apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. Most HVAC technical programs are taught in conjunction with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating trade and vocational schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of Heating and Cooling contractors or labor unions. Ask if the schools you are reviewing have referring relationships with local Sahuarita AZ HVAC contractors. An apprenticeship not only provides a rewarding experience by supplying practical training, but it also furnishes job opportunities and helps to form relationships in the regional HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make certain 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 in the field. If you are already in an internship or an apprenticeship, talk to the HVAC specialist you are working under regarding what you should be expecting. Otherwise, ask a local Sahuarita AZ HVAC contractor if they can provide some suggestions. Also keep in mind that unless you are able to move, the school must be within driving distance of your Sahuarita AZ home. Take note that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to moving costs there can be increased tuition fees compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's important that you receive as much individualized training as possible, which can be challenging in larger classes. Ask if you can monitor a few of the classes so that you can see how large they are and experience the interaction between teachers and students. Talk to several of the students and get their comments regarding class sizes and instruction. Finally, speak with a few of the teachers and learn what their level of experience is and what degrees or certifications they hold.
Flexible Scheduling. Make sure that the class schedules for the schools you are assessing are flexible enough to handle your needs. If you are only able to attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Sahuarita AZ, verify that the programs you are reviewing provide those choices. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Also, ask what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, sickness or family issues.
Get Your Heating and Cooling Training and Certification
Choosing the ideal HVAC school course is an important first step toward a rewarding career in the heating and air conditioning trade. As we have discussed in this article, you need to pick a Heating and Cooling training program and a degree or certificate program that are both accredited and have excellent reputations within the HVAC community. Other factors to search for are ample practical training and modern facilities. You should go to each of the schools personally that you are most interested in to inspect 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. In addition, inquire about scheduling choices and whether night or weekend classes are available if needed. And remember to ask about financial aid and student loan options also. If you ask the appropriate questions as we have laid out in our guidelines for evaluating schools, you'll be able to narrow down your choices so that you can make an informed decision. With the proper training, hard work and commitment, you can eventually become a licensed HVAC technician in Sahuarita AZ.