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How to Pick the Right HVAC Certification Class near San Luis Arizona

San Luis Arizona residential A/C condensersNow that you have made a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioner specialist, the next action is to look for an HVAC trade school near San Luis AZ. But with so many to select from, how do you select the ideal one to receive the training that you require? A number of potential students will make their selection based exclusively on the cost of tuition or how close the school is to their residence. Even though these are necessary factors to consider, they are not the only ones to evaluate. Just some of the other factors that you need to research are the graduation completion rates of the HVAC schools, their reputations, and if they are accredited by professional trade organizations. These and additional benchmarks will be covered in more detail later within this article. But before we tackle how to pick an HVAC trade school, let's take a look at what a heating and a/c technician does to become a licensed professional tradesman.

Becoming an HVAC Contractor

San Luis Arizona HVAC Technician repairing air conditioning condenserHVAC is an acronym that is widely used in the business that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC technicians provide services for the installation, maintenance and repair of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are generally mandated to be licensed, although each state and regional municipality has its own criteria. Acquiring professional certification is not compulsory, but an optional means for San Luis AZ HVAC technicians to demonstrate that they are exceptionally qualified and accomplished in their area of specialization. There are several respected certifications within the field that are available. Following are some of the significant ones.

  • North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally acknowledged certification for HVAC techs. The certification is attained by passing a proficiency examination and may be received in one or more specialties.
  • HVAC Excellence. This certification offers both a professional and a master specialist credential. Two years of professional experience as well as passing a comprehensive exam are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have three years of experience as well as a passing result on the professional level exam. As with NATE, certifications are provided in multiple specialties.
  • EPA Section 608. This certification is required for techs that work with refrigerants. There are three forms of certification available, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.

Because licensing might be mandated in your area, and you may also wish to obtain certification, it's important that you enroll in an HVAC vocational school that will train you for both. And since you will more than likely be handling refrigerants, make sure that the school you decide on preps you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.

HVAC Certificate and Degree Courses

San Luis Arizona residential heater

There are a number of options available for HVAC instruction in a vocational or trade school. You can attain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Obtaining a certificate will take the least amount of time, typically accomplished in just 6 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 programs can provide a competitive edge for securing employment and will deliver more comprehensive training than the certificate programs. Following is a brief explanation of each credential offered near San Luis AZ.

  • Certificate. Usually requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among beginning residential or commercial HVAC technicians. They furnish a strong foundation of skills for employment within the industry.
  • Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program supplies a more exhaustive knowledge of heating and cooling systems than the certificate program. Normally taking 2 years to complete, many degrees feature 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 call for an Associate Degree, while others are a conventional 4 year program. In addition to learning how to service and maintain heating and cooling systems, you will also learn how to design them.

Selecting the right credential program will be dependent on what your long term career aspirations are, in addition to the time and money that you have to commit. One possibility is to begin with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after acquiring some experience in the trade in San Luis AZ, later returning to earn a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your tactic, be sure to ask the HVAC technician school you are considering about how their returning student program works.

HVAC Courses Online

Attending an HVAC school online is one option in obtaining your training and receiving a degree or certificate. Almost all schools will call for some attendance on campus to complete practical training. A number 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 via the internet, this alternative may be a more practical solution for some San Luis AZ students that are pressed for time. And a number of online degree programs are cheaper than other traditional alternatives. Even driving expenses from San Luis and study supplies can be lessened, helping to make schooling more budget-friendly. And many online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your work or family commitments have left you with little time to attend classes, maybe an HVAC online training program will make it less complicated to fit school into your busy schedule.

Questions to Ask HVAC Training Classes

San Luis Arizona HVAC tech replacing water heater

When you have picked the type of certificate or degree that you want to acquire, either online or on campus, you can begin to narrow down your selection of schools. As you are certainly aware, there are numerous HVAC technical schools in the San Luis AZ area and across the United States to select from. That's why it is extremely important to have a checklist of relevant qualifiers when making school assessments. As previously mentioned in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will probably be the first 2 variables you will consider. Following are some additional ones that you should explore before enrolling in your school of choice.

Accreditation.  Many HVAC technical programs in the San Luis AZ area have attained either a regional or a national accreditation. They may receive Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to a specific program, for example HVAC technology. Make sure that the school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization, for instance the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping ensure that you obtain an excellent education, it may assist in securing financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently unavailable for non-accredited programs. Also, a number of states require that the HVAC training program be accredited for it to be approved for licensing.

High Completion Rates.  Ask the Heating and Cooling 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 program. A lower completion rate might suggest that students were dissatisfied with the program and quit. It could also suggest that the teachers were not qualified to instruct 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 result in 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 also that it has the network of San Luis AZ HVAC employers to help grads secure apprenticeships or jobs.

Apprenticeship Programs.  A large number of HVAC technical programs are taught in conjunction with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating technical and vocational schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of Heating and Cooling contractors or labor unions. Find out if the schools you are comparing have referring partnerships with local San Luis AZ HVAC contractors. An apprenticeship not only provides a rewarding experience by providing practical training, but it also furnishes job opportunities and helps to build relationships in the regional 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 working with on the job. If you are currently in an internship or an apprenticeship, consult with the HVAC tech you are working with regarding what you should be expecting. If not, ask a local San Luis AZ HVAC contracting company if they can give you some suggestions. 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, in addition to moving costs there can be increased tuition fees compared to in-state residents.

Smaller Classes.   It's important that you get as much individualized instruction as possible, which can be difficult in bigger classes. Ask if you can monitor some of the classes so that you can observe how big they are and experience the interaction between students and teachers. Talk to some of the students and get their feedback regarding class sizes and instruction. Last, speak to some of the teachers and learn what their level of expertise is and what degrees or certifications they have earned.

Flexible Scheduling.  Make sure that the class schedules for the programs you are reviewing are flexible enough to handle 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 reviewing provide those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Finally, ask 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 Trade Schools In Your Area

Get Your Heating and Cooling Certificate or Degree

Selecting the right HVAC school program is a critical beginning toward a rewarding career in the heating & cooling industry. As we have discussed in this article, you need to select a Heating and Cooling training program and a degree or certificate program that are both accredited and have outstanding reputations within the HVAC community. Other things to look for are ample hands-on training and modern facilities. You should go to each of the schools personally that you are most interested in to explore the campus and speak with both the faculty and current students. Try to get a feel for the quality of the instruction and the interaction between them. Additionally, ask about scheduling choices and whether or not evening or weekend classes are available if needed. And remember to ask about financial assistance and student loan options also. If you ask the right questions as we have laid out in our checklist for assessing schools, you'll be able to narrow down your choices so that you can make an educated decision. With the proper training, hard work and dedication, you can eventually become a licensed HVAC technician in San Luis AZ.