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How to Select the Right HVAC Certification Training near San Luis Arizona

San Luis Arizona residential A/C condensersNow that you have decided on a career as a heating and air conditioner technician, the next step is to choose an HVAC technical school near San Luis AZ. But with so many to select from, how do you select the ideal one to obtain the training that you need? Some prospective students will make their decision based solely 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. Just some of the other factors 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. These and other criteria will be discussed in more detail later within this article. But before we explore how to pick an HVAC technical school, let's look at what a heating and a/c professional does to become a licensed qualified tradesman.

Becoming an HVAC Pro

San Luis Arizona Heating and Cooling Contractor fixing air conditioning condenserHVAC is an acronym that is commonly used in the trade that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC techs specialize in the installation, repair and maintenance of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are typically mandated to be licensed, though each state and local municipality has its own criteria. Attaining professional certification is not required, but an optional means for San Luis AZ HVAC technicians to demonstrate that they are exceptionally proficient and accomplished in their area of specialization. There are several recognized 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. 2 years of professional experience as well as passing a comprehensive examination 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. Similar to NATE, certifications are made available in multiple specialties.
  • EPA Section 608. This certification is required for techs that work with refrigerants. There are 3 types of certification offered, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.

Since licensing could be required in your location, and you may also desire to earn certification, it's important that you enroll in an HVAC trade school that will train you for both. And since you will more than likely be working with refrigerants, make certain that the school you select prepares you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.

HVAC Certificate and Degree Courses

San Luis Arizona residential heater

There are several alternatives offered for HVAC training in a trade or technical school. You can attain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Earning a certificate will take the lesser period of time, typically completed in just six months, although some programs are longer. A certificate will qualify you for most HVAC positions, particularly if you are licensed and have certification applicable to the position. The degree training programs may provide a competitive advantage for securing employment and will furnish more comprehensive training than the certificate programs. Below is a brief explanation of each option offered near San Luis AZ.

  • Certificate. Usually requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among entry level residential or commercial HVAC specialists. They furnish a strong foundation of skills for employment within the industry.
  • Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program supplies a more detailed understanding of heating and cooling systems than the certificate program. Normally taking 2 years to finish, many degrees include an internship or work-study program.
  • Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is suited more for a career in management as well as business ownership. Some programs require an Associate Degree, while others are a conventional 4 year program. In addition to being taught how to service and maintain heating and cooling systems, you will also study how to design them.

Selecting the appropriate credential program will be based on what your future career aspirations are, as well as the time and money that you have to invest. One approach is to begin with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after gaining some experience in the field in San Luis AZ, eventually returning to obtain a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your strategy, make certain to ask the HVAC tech school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.

HVAC Training Online

Enrolling in an HVAC school online is one option in getting your education and earning a certificate or degree. Most schools will require some attendance on campus to take part in hands on 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 on the web, this option may be a more convenient solution for many San Luis AZ students that are short on time. And many online degree programs are more economical than other on campus alternatives. Even travelling expenses from San Luis and study supplies can be minimized, helping to make education more economical. And numerous online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your job or family commitments have left you with limited time to attend classes, perhaps an HVAC online training program will make it more convenient to accommodate school into your busy schedule.

Questions For HVAC Trade Schools

San Luis Arizona Heating and Cooling contractor installing water heater

Once you have selected the type of certificate or degree that you would like to acquire, either on campus or online, you can begin to limit your selection of schools. As you are probably aware, there are many HVAC technical schools in the San Luis AZ area and all over the United States to pick from. That's why it is extremely important to have a checklist of key qualifiers when making school assessments. As formerly mentioned in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will undoubtedly be the first two aspects you will look at. Following are some additional ones that you should explore before enrolling in your school of choice.

Accreditation.  Many HVAC vocational programs in the San Luis AZ area have attained either a regional or a national accreditation. They can attain Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to an individual program, for instance HVAC technology. Confirm that the school and program are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency, for instance the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping ensure that you get a quality education, it may assist in acquiring financial assistance or student loans, which are often not available for non-accredited schools. Furthermore, some states require that the HVAC training course 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 portion or percentage of students who enroll in and complete the course. A lower completion rate could suggest that students were disappointed with the course and dropped out. It could also suggest that the instructors were not qualified to instruct the students. It's similarly imperative that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader directory of alumni, which can mean 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 a good reputation within the trade, but additionally that it has the network of San Luis AZ HVAC employers to assist grads obtain apprenticeships or jobs.

Apprenticeship Programs.  A large number of HVAC technical programs are taught together with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating trade and technical programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of Heating and Cooling businesses or trade unions. Find out if the schools you are reviewing have referring partnerships with local San Luis AZ HVAC contractors. An apprenticeship not only provides a valuable experience by providing practical training, but it also furnishes employment opportunities and helps to form 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 up-to-date and what you will be working with in the field. If you are already in an internship or an apprenticeship, check with the HVAC technician you are working under regarding what you should be expecting. If not, ask a local San Luis AZ HVAC contracting company if they can provide some tips. Also keep in mind that unless you are willing to relocate, the school needs to be within driving distance of your San Luis AZ residence. Take note that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, besides the added moving costs there may be increased tuition charges compared to in-state residents.

Smaller Classes.   It's desirable that you get as much personalized instruction as possible, which can be challenging in larger classes. Ask if you can sit in on a couple of the classes so that you can see how big they are and experience the interaction between students and teachers. Speak with several of the students and get their feedback concerning class sizes and instruction. Last, talk with some of the instructors and learn what their level of expertise is and what degrees or certifications they hold.

Flexible Scheduling.  Verify that the class schedules for the schools you are evaluating are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near San Luis AZ, confirm that the programs you are looking at provide those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Also, check out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, sickness or family emergencies.

Learn More About San Luis Heating and Cooling Programs In Your Area

Get Your Heating and Cooling Degree and Certification

Picking the right HVAC training program is a crucial beginning toward a gratifying career in the heating and air conditioning field. As we have addressed in this article, you should select a Heating and Cooling training program and a certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have excellent reputations within the HVAC profession. Other features to search for are plenty of practical training and state-of-the-art facilities. You should check out each of the schools personally that you are most interested in to inspect the campus and talk with both the faculty and current students. Attempt to get a feel for the quality of the teaching and the interaction between them. In addition, ask about scheduling options and whether night or weekend classes are offered if needed. And don't forget to inquire about financial assistance and student loan options also. If you ask the right questions as we have laid out in our checklist for evaluating schools, you'll be able to narrow down your options so that you can make an informed decision. With the proper training, hard work and commitment, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC contractor in San Luis AZ.