How to Choose the Right Heating and Cooling Degree Program near San Luis Arizona
Once you have made a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioner technician, the next step is to look for an HVAC vocational school near San Luis AZ. But with so many to choose from, how do you pick the right one to receive the training that you need? Some prospective students will make their selection based entirely on the cost of tuition or how close the school is to their home. While these are significant factors to consider, they are not the only ones to investigate. Just some of the other factors that you need to investigate are the graduation completion rates of the HVAC schools, their reputations, and if they are accredited by professional trade organizations. Those and other benchmarks will be discussed in more detail later within this article. But before we explore how to pick an HVAC training program, let's look at what a heating and cooling professional does to become a licensed skilled tradesman.
Becoming an HVAC Pro
HVAC is an acronym that is widely used in the industry that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC professionals specialize in the installation, maintenance and repair of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are typically required to be licensed, however each state and regional municipality has its own prerequisites. Obtaining professional certification is not compulsory, but an optional means for San Luis AZ HVAC technicians to prove that they are highly qualified and experienced in their area of expertise. There are many respected certifications within the trade that are available. Here are a few of the important ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally recognized certification for HVAC technicians. The certification is achieved by passing a proficiency exam and can be earned 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 exam are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have three years of experience in addition to a passing result on the professional level exam. Similar to NATE, certifications are offered in multiple specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is necessary for technicians that handle refrigerants. There are 3 types 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 earn certification, it's important that you enroll in an HVAC trade school that will train you for both. And since you will most likely be working with refrigerants, make certain that the program you decide on prepares you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.
HVAC Certificate and Degree Classes
There are a variety of alternatives offered for HVAC training in a vocational or trade school. You can earn a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Acquiring a certificate will take the lesser amount of time, often achieved in just six months, although some courses are longer. A certificate will qualify you for most HVAC positions, especially if you are licensed and have certification relevant to the position. The degree training programs can provide a competitive edge for securing employment and will furnish more comprehensive training than the certificate programs. Following is a short description 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 specialists. They provide a solid foundation of skills for job opportunities 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 taking 2 years to finish, many degrees include an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is geared more for a career in management as well as business ownership. Some programs call for 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 study how to design them.
Choosing the appropriate credential program will be based on what your future career aspirations are, as well as the time and financial resources that you have to commit. One approach is to start with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after getting some experience in the field in San Luis AZ, eventually going back to acquire a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your approach, make certain to ask the HVAC technician school you are considering about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Online Schools
Attending an HVAC school online is one approach in attaining your education and receiving a degree or certificate. Nearly all schools will call for some attendance on campus to participate in practical training. A number also provide internship or work-study programs in addition to or instead of practical lab work. But since the remainder of the classes can be participated in via the internet, this option may be a more convenient solution for some San Luis AZ students that are short on time. And a number of online degree programs are cheaper than other on campus alternatives. Even driving 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 commitments have left you with limited time to attend classes, maybe an HVAC online training program will make it less complicated to accommodate school into your active schedule.
Questions For HVAC Certification Courses
When you have selected the type of certificate or degree that you wish to obtain, either on campus or online, you can start to narrow down your selection of schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are numerous HVAC vocational schools in the San Luis AZ area and all over the United States to choose from. That's why it is extremely important to have a checklist of relevant qualifications when making school assessments. As previously mentioned in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will most likely be the initial 2 variables you will take into consideration. Following are some additional ones that you should explore before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. A large number of HVAC technical schools in the San Luis AZ area have acquired either a regional or a national accreditation. They can receive Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to an individual program, for example HVAC technology. Make certain that the program is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization, which includes the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping ensure that you get a superior education, it can assist in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are frequently not available for non-accredited schools. Additionally, some states mandate that the HVAC training course be accredited for it to qualify 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 complete the program. A low completion rate may signify that students were disappointed with the course and quit. It may also mean that the instructors were not competent to train the students. It's also imperative that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive 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 confirm that the school has a good reputation within the field, but also that it has the network of San Luis AZ HVAC employers to help grads obtain apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. Many HVAC trade programs are taught in conjunction with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating trade and vocational schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of HVAC businesses or trade unions. Check if the schools you are comparing have working relationships with local San Luis AZ HVAC companies. An apprenticeship not only provides a valuable experience by supplying practical training, but it also supplies employment opportunities and helps to form relationships in the area HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Confirm that the school facilities and the equipment 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, talk to the HVAC tech you are working with concerning what you should be expecting. Otherwise, ask a local San Luis AZ HVAC contractor if they can give you some suggestions. Also bear in mind that unless you can 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 can be increased tuition charges compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's important that you receive as much personalized instruction as possible, which can be difficult in bigger classes. Ask if you can monitor a few of the classes so that you can see how big they are and experience the interaction between students and instructors. Speak to a few of the students and get their opinions concerning class sizes and instruction. Last, speak with some of the instructors and find out what their level of experience is and what certifications or degrees they have earned.
Flexible Scheduling. Confirm that the class schedules for the schools you are assessing are flexible enough to handle your needs. If you are only able to attend classes in the evening or on weekends near San Luis AZ, confirm that the programs you are considering offer those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Also, ask what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, illness or family emergencies.
Get Your Heating and Cooling Degree and Certification
Enrolling in the ideal HVAC school program is a critical beginning toward a gratifying career in the heating & cooling field. As we have covered 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 profession. Other things to search for are plenty of hands-on training and modern facilities. You should visit each of the schools personally that you are most interested in to explore the campus and talk with both the faculty and current students. Attempt to get a feel for the quality of the instruction and the interaction between them. In addition, inquire about scheduling options and whether or not night or weekend classes are offered if needed. And remember to inquire about financial assistance and student loan options as well. If you ask the proper questions as we have detailed in our checklist for evaluating schools, you'll be able to filter your choices so that you can make an informed decision. With the right training, hard work and dedication, you can eventually become a licensed HVAC professional in San Luis AZ.