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How to Choose the Right HVAC School near San Luis Arizona

San Luis Arizona residential A/C condensersNow that you have come to a decision on a career as a heating and cooling technician, the next step is to find an HVAC vocational school near San Luis AZ. But with so many to pick from, how do you pick the ideal one to obtain the training that you require? Many future students will make their selection based exclusively on the price of tuition or how near the school is to their residence. Even though these are important factors to consider, they are not the only ones to evaluate. Some 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. These and additional criteria will be discussed in more detail later within this article. But before we tackle how to select an HVAC trade school, let's look at what a heating and a/c professional does to become a licensed professional tradesman.

How to Become an HVAC Tech

San Luis Arizona HVAC Tech fixing air conditioning condenserHVAC is an acronym that is frequently used in the industry that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC techs specialize in the installation, repair and maintenance of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are generally required to be licensed, although each state and local municipality has its own prerequisites. Attaining professional certification is not mandatory, but an optional means for San Luis AZ HVAC techs to prove that they are exceptionally proficient and experienced in their area of expertise. There are several recognized certifications within the industry that are available. Following 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 exam and can be acquired in one or more specialties.
  • HVAC Excellence. This certification makes available both a professional and a master specialist credential. Two years of professional experience as well as passing a comprehensive exam are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have three years of experience together with a passing score on the professional level exam. As with NATE, certifications are offered in various specialties.
  • EPA Section 608. This certification is required for specialists that handle refrigerants. There are three forms of certification offered, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.

Since licensing may be required in your location, and you may also intend to acquire certification, it's essential that you select an HVAC technical school that will train you for both. And since you will most likely be dealing with refrigerants, make sure that the program you decide on preps you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.

HVAC Certificate and Degree Classes

San Luis Arizona home heating pump

There are a variety of choices available for HVAC training in a technical or trade school. You can attain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Obtaining a certificate will take the least period of time, typically achieved in as little as 6 months, however some courses are longer. A certificate will qualify you for the majority of HVAC positions, especially if you are licensed and have certification related to the position. The degree training programs can provide a competitive edge in the job market and will deliver more in-depth training than the certificate programs. Below is a short description of each option offered near San Luis AZ.

  • Certificate. Normally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among beginning commercial or residential HVAC specialists. They provide a solid foundation of skills for job opportunities within the industry.
  • Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program provides a more comprehensive understanding of heating and cooling systems than the certificate program. Typically taking two years to finish, some degrees feature an internship or work-study program.
  • Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is suited more for a career in management or even 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 cooling systems, you will also learn how to design them.

Choosing the ideal credential program will be dependent on what your future career objectives are, in addition to the time and financial resources that you have to invest. One approach is to start with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after getting some experience in the field 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 Online Courses

Enrolling in an HVAC program online is one possibility in attaining your education and earning a certificate or degree. Nearly all schools will call for some attendance on campus to take part in practical training. Some also sponsor 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 accessible solution for many San Luis AZ students that are pressed for time. And some online degree programs are more economical than other traditional choices. Even driving expenses from San Luis and study supplies can be reduced, helping to make schooling more economical. And numerous online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your career or family commitments have left you with little time to attend classes, perhaps an online HVAC degree program will make it more convenient to accommodate school into your active lifestyle.

Questions For HVAC Schools

San Luis Arizona Heating and Cooling technician repairing water heater

Once you have picked the type of certificate or degree that you would like to acquire, either online or on campus, you can start to limit your list of schools. As you are certainly aware, there are a large number of HVAC trade schools in the San Luis AZ area and throughout the United States to select from. That's why it is essential to have a list of key qualifications when making school evaluations. As previously stated in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will probably be the first two aspects you will take into consideration. Following are several additional ones that you should research before enrolling in your school of choice.

Accreditation.  A large number of HVAC technical schools in the San Luis AZ area have earned either a regional or a national accreditation. They may receive Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to a specific program, for example HVAC technology. Confirm that the program and school are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency, which includes the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping guarantee that you receive a superior education, it may help in obtaining financial assistance or student loans, which are often not available for non-accredited programs. Additionally, many 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 considering what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students who enroll in and complete the course. A low completion rate might signify that students were dissatisfied with the course and quit. It could also mean that the teachers were not qualified to instruct 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 graduates, which can produce more contacts for the school to use for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate will not only affirm that the school has an excellent reputation within the industry, but also that it has the network of San Luis AZ HVAC employers to help graduates obtain apprenticeships or employment.

Apprenticeship Programs.  A large number of HVAC technical programs are taught along with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating trade and vocational programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of Heating and Cooling contractors or trade unions. Find out if the schools you are reviewing have referring relationships with local San Luis AZ HVAC contractors. An apprenticeship not only offers a rewarding experience by furnishing hands-on training, but it also furnishes employment opportunities and helps to build relationships in the area HVAC professional community.

Modern Facilities.  Make certain that the school facilities and the tools that you will be instructed on are state-of-the-art and what you will be using in the field. If you are currently in an internship or an apprenticeship, consult with the HVAC technician you are working under regarding what you should be looking for. Otherwise, ask a local San Luis AZ HVAC contracting company if they can provide some suggestions. Additionally keep in mind that unless you can move, the school needs to be within commuting distance of your San Luis AZ home. Take note that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides the added relocation costs there can be increased tuition charges compared to in-state residents.

Smaller Classes.   It's important that you get as much one-on-one training as possible, which can be difficult in larger classes. Ask if you can monitor a few of the classes so that you can observe how large they are and experience the interaction between instructors and students. Speak with a few of the students and get their opinions concerning class sizes and instruction. Finally, talk with a few 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 meet your needs. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near San Luis AZ, check that the programs you are considering provide those choices. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Also, check out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, sickness or family issues.

Learn More About San Luis HVAC Trade Schools In Your Area

Get Your Heating and Cooling Training and Certification

Choosing the right HVAC school course is an important first step toward a fulfilling 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 degree or certificate program that are both accredited and have exceptional reputations within the HVAC profession. Other features to search for are plenty of hands-on training and state-of-the-art facilities. You need to check out 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. Attempt to get a feel for the quality of the teaching and the interaction between them. In addition, ask about scheduling options and if night or weekend classes are available if needed. And remember to inquire about financial assistance and student loan options as well. If you ask the appropriate questions as we have outlined in our guidelines for comparing schools, you'll be able to filter your choices so that you can make an educated decision. With the right training, hard work and commitment, you can eventually become a licensed HVAC technician in San Luis AZ.