How to Find the Right Heating and Cooling Certification Training near San Luis Arizona
Now that you have decided on a career as a heating and air conditioning specialist, the next step is to look for an HVAC trade school near San Luis AZ. But with so many to pick from, how do you choose the best one to receive the training that you require? A number of potential students will make their selection based solely on the price of tuition or how near the school is to their home. Although these are necessary factors to consider, they are not the only ones to investigate. Just 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. Those and additional criteria will be addressed in more detail later within this article. But before we discuss how to choose an HVAC technical school, let's take a look at what a heating and a/c contractor does to become a licensed professional tradesman.
Becoming an HVAC Specialist
HVAC is an acronym that is widely used in the trade that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC contractors provide services for the installation, maintenance and repair of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are commonly required to be licensed, though each state and regional municipality has its own requirements. Earning professional certification is not mandatory, but an optional means for San Luis AZ HVAC technicians to demonstrate that they are exceptionally qualified and experienced in their area of expertise. There are multiple recognized certifications within the trade that are offered. Following 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 proficiency exam and may be earned in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification offers both a professional and a master specialist credential. Two years of professional experience together with passing a comprehensive exam are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have 3 years of experience as well as a passing result on the professional level exam. Similar to NATE, certifications are made available in several specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is mandatory for specialists that work with refrigerants. There are three forms of certification available, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Because licensing may be required in your area, and you may also desire to obtain certification, it's important that you pick an HVAC trade school that will train you for both. And since you will more than likely be working with refrigerants, make sure that the program you decide on prepares you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.
HVAC Certificate and Degree Schools
There are a number of alternatives offered for HVAC training in a technical or vocational school. You can earn a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Obtaining a certificate will take the lesser period of time, often completed in as little as 6 months, though some courses are longer. A certificate will train you for the majority of HVAC positions, particularly if you are licensed and have certification applicable to the position. The degree programs may provide a competitive advantage in the job market and will provide more in-depth training than the certificate programs. Following is a brief description of each credential offered near San Luis AZ.
- Certificate. Normally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among beginning 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 exhaustive background of heating & cooling systems than the certificate program. Usually requiring 2 years to finish, a number of degrees incorporate 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 call for an Associate Degree, while others are a traditional four year program. In addition to being taught how to service and maintain heating and air conditioning systems, you will also study how to design them.
Selecting the right credential program will be based on what your long term career aspirations are, as well as the time and money that you have to commit. One option is to begin with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after acquiring some experience in the field in San Luis AZ, later going back to obtain a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your tactic, make certain to ask the HVAC tech school you are considering about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Online Classes
Enrolling in an HVAC school online is one alternative to getting your training and earning a degree or certificate. Nearly all schools will require some attendance on campus to complete practical training. Some also provide internship or work-study programs in addition to or instead of practical lab work. But since the rest of the classes may be attended on the web, this approach may be a more convenient solution for some San Luis AZ students that are pressed for time. And a number of online degree programs are less costly than other traditional choices. Even commuting expenses from San Luis and study supplies can be lessened, helping to make schooling more affordable. And many online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your work or family responsibilities have left you with little time to attend classes, perhaps an HVAC online training program will make it less complicated to accommodate school into your active lifestyle.
What to Ask HVAC Training Classes
Once you have selected the type of certificate or degree that you would like to obtain, either online or on campus, you can start to decrease your list of schools. As you are probably aware, there are numerous HVAC technical schools in the San Luis AZ area and across the Country to select from. That's why it is imperative to have a list of key qualifications when making school comparisons. As previously mentioned in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will undoubtedly be the initial 2 aspects you will take into consideration. Following are several additional ones that you will want to explore before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. A large number of HVAC vocational programs in the San Luis AZ area have received either a regional or a national accreditation. They can attain Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to a specific program, for instance HVAC technology. Confirm that the program and school are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting organization, such as the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping ensure that you acquire an excellent education, it can help in securing financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently unavailable for non-accredited schools. Furthermore, some states require that the HVAC training program be accredited in order to be approved for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the HVAC schools you are considering what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students who enroll in and finish the course. A low completion rate might suggest that students were dissatisfied with the program and dropped out. It might also mean that the teachers were not qualified to instruct the students. It's similarly essential 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 use 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 trade, but also that it has the network of San Luis AZ HVAC employers to help graduates obtain apprenticeships or jobs.
Apprenticeship Programs. A large number of HVAC vocational programs are taught in conjunction with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating trade and technical schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of Heating and Cooling companies or labor unions. Check if the schools you are reviewing have referring partnerships with local San Luis AZ HVAC specialists. An apprenticeship not only provides a valuable experience by providing practical training, but it also supplies employment opportunities and helps to build relationships in the local HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Confirm 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 currently in an internship or an apprenticeship, check with the HVAC tech you are working with concerning what you should be looking for. Otherwise, ask a local San Luis AZ HVAC contractor if they can provide some suggestions. Also keep in mind that unless you are able to relocate, the school needs to be within driving distance of your San Luis AZ residence. Remember that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation costs there may be increased tuition charges compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's desirable that you get as much individualized training as possible, which can be challenging in bigger classes. Ask if you can monitor some of the classes so that you can see how big they are and witness first hand the interaction between students and teachers. Speak to several of the students and get their comments relating to class sizes and instruction. Last, speak with some of the teachers and learn what their level of experience 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 are only able to attend classes in the evening or on weekends near San Luis AZ, check that the programs you are reviewing provide those options. If you can only attend part-time, make certain that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Finally, ask what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, sickness or family emergencies.
Earn Your HVAC Training and Certification
Enrolling in the ideal HVAC training course is an important first step 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 degree or certificate program that are both accredited and have exceptional reputations within the HVAC community. Other things to search for are sufficient 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 current students and faculty. Try to get a feel for the quality of the teaching and the interaction between them. In addition, inquire about scheduling options and whether or not night or weekend classes are offered if needed. And don't forget to ask about financial aid and student loan options also. If you ask the proper questions as we have outlined in our checklist for evaluating schools, you'll be able to narrow down your choices so that you can make an informed decision. With the right training, hard work and commitment, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC professional in San Luis AZ.