How to Select the Right Heating and Cooling Certification Course near San Luis Arizona
Once you have come to a decision on a career as a heating and cooling professional, the next step is to look for an HVAC trade school near San Luis AZ. But with so many to choose from, how do you decide on the right one to receive the training that you require? Many future students will make their choice based solely on the price of tuition or how close the school is to their residence. While these are significant factors to consider, they are not the only ones to take into account. Just some of the other details that you need to research are the graduation rates of the HVAC schools, their reputations, and if they are accredited by professional trade organizations. These and other benchmarks will be discussed in more detail later in this article. But before we tackle how to pick an HVAC vocational school, let's take a look at what a heating and air conditioning specialist does to become a licensed skilled tradesman.
How to Become an HVAC Pro
HVAC is an acronym that is extensively used in the industry that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC professionals provide services for the installation, maintenance and repair of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are generally required to be licensed, although every state and regional municipality has its own criteria. Obtaining professional certification is not compulsory, but an optional way for San Luis AZ HVAC specialists to establish that they are highly skilled and accomplished in their area of expertise. There are multiple respected certifications within the field that are available. Below are a few 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 can be earned in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification makes available both a professional and a master specialist credential. 2 years of professional experience together with passing a comprehensive exam are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have three years of experience as well as a passing score on the professional level examination. As with NATE, certifications are offered in various specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is mandatory for specialists that handle refrigerants. There are 3 forms of certification obtainable, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Because licensing might be mandated in your location, and you may also intend to acquire certification, it's imperative that you enroll in an HVAC technical school that will prepare you for both. And since you will probably be working with refrigerants, make certain that the program you decide on preps you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.
HVAC Degree and Certificate Training Programs
There are a variety of choices available for HVAC training in a vocational or trade school. You can earn a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Obtaining a certificate will take the lesser amount of time, often achieved in as little as 6 months, however some courses are longer. A certificate will qualify you for most HVAC positions, particularly if you are licensed and have certification related to the position. The degree training programs might provide a competitive advantage for securing employment and will deliver more extensive training than the certificate programs. Following is a short summary of each credential offered near San Luis AZ.
- Certificate. Generally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among entry level commercial or residential HVAC professionals. They provide a solid foundation of skills for job opportunities within the trade.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program supplies a more extensive knowledge of heating & cooling systems than the certificate program. Usually requiring 2 years to complete, many degrees include an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is geared more towards a career in management as well as business ownership. Some programs require an Associate Degree, while others are a conventional four year program. In addition to mastering how to service and maintain heating and cooling systems, you will also learn how to design them.
Choosing the ideal credential program will be based on what your future career aspirations are, along with the time and financial resources that you have to invest. One possibility is to start with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after gaining some experience in the trade in San Luis AZ, subsequently returning 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 Schools Online
Attending an HVAC program online is one alternative in getting your education and receiving a certificate or degree. Nearly all schools will require some attendance on campus to take part in hands on training. Many also provide internship or work-study programs in addition to or in place of practical lab work. But since the rest of the classes can be attended on the web, this alternative may be a more convenient solution for many San Luis AZ students that are short on time. And many online degree programs are less costly than other on campus choices. Even commuting expenses from San Luis and study materials may be lessened, helping to make schooling more economical. And numerous online programs are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your career or family obligations have left you with minimal time to attend classes, maybe an HVAC online training program will make it easier to fit school into your active schedule.
Questions to Ask HVAC Certification Courses
When you have decided on the type of degree or certificate that you wish to acquire, either on campus or online, you can begin to decrease your list of schools. As you are certainly aware, there are numerous HVAC vocational schools in the San Luis AZ area and throughout the Country to select from. That's why it is essential to have a checklist of relevant qualifications when making school comparisons. As previously stated in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will probably be the initial two variables you will look at. Following are several additional ones that you should research before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. A large number of HVAC vocational programs in the San Luis AZ area have acquired either a regional or a national accreditation. They can receive Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to a specific program, for example HVAC technology. Verify 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 ensure that you acquire an excellent education, it may assist in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are frequently unavailable for non-accredited schools. Furthermore, some states mandate that the HVAC training course be accredited for it to qualify for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the HVAC schools you are looking at what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage of students who enroll in and finish the program. A lower completion rate might suggest that students were disappointed with the course and dropped out. It may also indicate that the instructors were not qualified 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 may produce more contacts for the school to employ for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate can not only confirm that the school has a good reputation within the trade, but also that it has the network of San Luis AZ HVAC employers to help graduates secure apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. Numerous HVAC training programs are taught along with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating vocational and technical schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of HVAC businesses or labor unions. Ask if the schools you are considering have working relationships with local San Luis AZ HVAC companies. An apprenticeship not only offers a valuable experience by furnishing hands-on training, but it also furnishes job opportunities and helps to establish relationships in the area HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make sure that the school facilities and the tools that you will be instructed 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, consult with the HVAC tech you are working under regarding what you should be expecting. If not, ask a local San Luis AZ HVAC contractor if they can give you some pointers. Additionally keep in mind that unless you are able to move, the school must be within commuting distance of your San Luis AZ residence. Take note that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, in addition to moving costs there may be increased tuition fees compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's desirable that you get as much one-on-one training as possible, which can be difficult 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 witness first hand the interaction between students and instructors. Talk with a few of the students and get their opinions concerning class sizes and instruction. Finally, talk with some of the instructors and learn 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 fulfill your needs. If you are only able to go to classes at night or on weekends near San Luis AZ, check that the schools you are looking at offer those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Additionally, check out what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, sickness or family emergencies.
Find Out More About San Luis Heating and Cooling Training Classes In Your Area
Earn Your HVAC Certificate or Degree
Enrolling in the ideal HVAC school course is an important beginning toward a fulfilling career in the heating & cooling trade. As we have addressed in this article, you should pick a Heating and Cooling training program and a certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have outstanding reputations within the HVAC profession. Other things to search for are plenty of hands-on training and state-of-the-art facilities. You should go to each of the schools in person that you are most interested in to tour the campus and talk 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 or not evening or weekend classes are available if needed. And don't forget to inquire about financial assistance and student loan options as well. If you ask the right questions as we have outlined in our checklist for assessing schools, you'll be able to narrow down your options so that you can make an educated decision. With the right training, hard work and dedication, you can eventually become a licensed HVAC specialist in San Luis AZ.