How to Choose the Right HVAC Program near Sahuarita Arizona
Once you have made a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioner specialist, the next step is to look for an HVAC technical 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 require? Some future students will make their choice based exclusively on the price of tuition or how close the school is to their home. Although these are significant concerns, they are not the only ones to evaluate. A few of the other things 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 additional criteria will be discussed in more detail later within this article. But before we discuss how to pick an HVAC vocational school, let's take a look at what a heating and air conditioning contractor does to become a licensed professional tradesman.
How to Become an HVAC Contractor
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 air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are generally required to be licensed, though every state and regional municipality has its own prerequisites. Attaining professional certification is not required, but a voluntary means for Sahuarita AZ HVAC specialists to establish that they are exceptionally skilled and knowledgeable in their area of expertise. There are a number of acknowledged certifications within the trade that are available. Following are some of the significant ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally acknowledged certification for HVAC technicians. The certification is achieved by passing a proficiency examination and can be received in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification offers both a professional and a master specialist credential. Two years of field experience in addition to passing a comprehensive examination are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have 3 years of experience in addition to a passing score on the professional level examination. Similar to NATE, certifications are made available in several specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is mandatory for technicians that handle refrigerants. There are 3 types of certification obtainable, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Because licensing may be mandated in your area, and you may also wish to obtain certification, it's essential that you choose an HVAC technical school that will prepare you for both. And since you will most likely be dealing with refrigerants, make certain that the school you choose readies you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.
HVAC Degree and Certificate Courses
There are several alternatives offered for HVAC instruction in a trade or technical school. You can obtain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Acquiring a certificate will take the least period of time, usually accomplished in just six months, although some courses are longer. A certificate will train you for most HVAC positions, particularly if you are licensed and have certification related to the position. The degree programs can provide a competitive advantage for securing employment and will furnish more extensive training than the certificate programs. Below is a short explanation of each credential offered near Sahuarita AZ.
- Certificate. Normally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among beginning 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 provides a more detailed understanding of heating and cooling systems than the certificate program. Normally requiring two years to finish, 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 standard four year program. In addition to being taught how to service and maintain heating and cooling systems, you will also study how to design them.
Picking the appropriate credential program will be based on what your long term career aspirations are, in addition to the time and financial resources that you have to invest. One option is to begin with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after gaining some experience in the field in Sahuarita AZ, subsequently returning to earn a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your tactic, make sure to ask the HVAC tech school you are considering about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Online Classes
Attending an HVAC school online is one option in obtaining your training and receiving a degree or certificate. Most schools will require some attendance on campus to participate in practical training. Some also offer internship or work-study programs in addition to or instead of practical lab work. But since the balance of the classes can be participated in on the web, this approach may be a more convenient solution for many Sahuarita AZ students that are pressed for time. And many online degree programs are less expensive than other traditional choices. Even driving expenses from Sahuarita and study materials may be minimized, helping to make education more affordable. And many online programs are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your job or family responsibilities have left you with minimal time to attend classes, maybe an HVAC online training program will make it easier to accommodate school into your active lifestyle.
What to Ask HVAC Trade Schools
Once you have decided on the type of certificate or degree that you want to attain, either online or on campus, you can start to decrease your selection of schools. As you are probably aware, there are many HVAC technical schools in the Sahuarita AZ area and all over the Country to choose from. That's why it is imperative to have a list of important qualifiers when making school comparisons. As previously stated in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will undoubtedly be the initial 2 variables you will take into consideration. Following are some additional ones that you need to explore before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. A large number of HVAC technical programs in the Sahuarita AZ area have attained either a regional or a national accreditation. They can acquire Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to a specific program, for instance HVAC technology. Verify that the school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency, for example the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping ensure that you receive an excellent education, it can assist in acquiring financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently not available for non-accredited programs. Furthermore, many states mandate that the HVAC training program be accredited for it to qualify for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the Heating and Cooling schools you are looking at what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage or portion of students who enroll in and complete the program. A low completion rate may signify that students were unhappy with the program and quit. It may also mean that the instructors were not competent to train the students. It's similarly important that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive directory of alumni, which can produce more contacts for the school to utilize 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 jobs.
Apprenticeship Programs. A large number of HVAC technical programs are taught together with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating trade and technical programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of HVAC companies or trade unions. Check if the schools you are considering have referring partnerships with local Sahuarita AZ HVAC specialists. An apprenticeship not only provides a valuable experience by furnishing practical training, but it also furnishes job opportunities and helps to establish relationships in the regional HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make sure that the campus facilities and the equipment that you will be instructed on are up-to-date and what you will be working with on the job. If you are presently in an internship or an apprenticeship, check with the HVAC tech you are working under regarding what you should be looking for. If not, ask a local Sahuarita AZ HVAC contracting company if they can provide some pointers. Additionally keep in mind that unless you are willing to move, the school must be within commuting distance of your Sahuarita AZ home. Remember that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides the added relocation costs there can be higher tuition charges compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's important that you get as much individualized training as possible, which can be challenging in larger classes. Ask if you can sit in on a few of the classes so that you can see how large they are and experience the interaction between instructors and students. Speak to some of the students and get their opinions regarding class sizes and instruction. Last, speak with some of the instructors and find out what their level of experience is and what degrees or certifications they hold.
Flexible Scheduling. Confirm that the class schedules for the schools you are assessing are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you are only able to attend classes at night or on weekends near Sahuarita AZ, verify that the schools you are reviewing provide 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, illness or family responsibilities.
Find Out More About Sahuarita HVAC Training In Your Area
Get Your HVAC Degree and Certification
Selecting the ideal HVAC school course is a crucial first step toward a fulfilling career in the heating and cooling trade. As we have covered in this article, you should choose 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 hands-on training and modern facilities. You should check out each of the schools personally that you are most interested in to tour the campus and speak with both the current students and faculty. Try to get a feel for the quality of the training and the interaction between them. In addition, ask about scheduling choices and whether or not evening or weekend classes are available if needed. And don't forget to ask about financial aid and student loan options as well. If you ask the appropriate questions as we have outlined in our guidelines for assessing schools, you'll be able to narrow down your choices so that you can make an educated decision. With the appropriate training, hard work and dedication, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC contractor in Sahuarita AZ.