How to Select the Right HVAC Training Class near San Luis Arizona
Now that you have come to a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioner technician, the next step is to locate an HVAC technical school near San Luis AZ. But with so many to select from, how do you select the best one to receive the training that you need? Some future students will make their decision based exclusively on the cost of tuition or how close the school is to their residence. Even though these are relevant concerns, they are not the only ones to take into account. 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. These and additional criteria will be covered in more detail later within this article. But before we discuss how to pick an HVAC trade school, let's look at what a heating and a/c contractor does to become a licensed professional tradesman.
How to Become an HVAC Tech
HVAC is an acronym that is extensively used in the industry that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC professionals specialize in the installation, repair and maintenance of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are generally mandated to be licensed, although every state and local municipality has its own criteria. Earning professional certification is not mandatory, but an optional means for San Luis AZ HVAC specialists to establish that they are highly proficient and knowledgeable in their area of specialization. There are a number of acknowledged certifications within the industry that are available. Below are a few of the significant ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally recognized certification for HVAC technicians. The certification is earned by passing a proficiency examination 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 field 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 result on the professional level examination. As with NATE, certifications are provided in several specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is necessary for techs that handle refrigerants. There are three forms of certification offered, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Because licensing might be required in your area, and you may also desire to obtain certification, it's imperative that you pick an HVAC technical school that will train you for both. And since you will probably be handling refrigerants, make certain that the school you choose readies you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
HVAC Certificate and Degree Courses
There are several options offered for HVAC instruction in a technical or trade school. You can obtain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Obtaining a certificate will take the minimum period of time, often achieved in as little as 6 months, although some courses are longer. A certificate will qualify you for most HVAC positions, especially if you are licensed and have certification appropriate to the position. The degree programs may provide a competitive edge for securing employment and will furnish more extensive training than the certificate programs. Following is a short summary of each option offered near San Luis AZ.
- Certificate. Usually requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among entry level commercial or residential HVAC technicians. They provide a strong foundation of skills for job opportunities within the trade.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program provides a more comprehensive background of heating and cooling systems than the certificate program. Normally taking two years to complete, many 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 or even business ownership. Some programs call for an Associate Degree, while others are a standard four year program. In addition to being taught how to service and maintain heating and air conditioning systems, you will also learn how to design them.
Selecting the ideal credential program will be based on what your long term career aspirations are, along with the time and financial resources that you have to invest. One possibility is to begin with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after gaining some experience in the field in San Luis AZ, subsequently returning to acquire a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your approach, make sure to ask the HVAC technician school you are considering about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Online Schools
Attending an HVAC program online is one approach to attaining your training and receiving a certificate or degree. Most schools will call for some attendance on campus to complete hands on training. Some also sponsor 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 alternative may be a more practical solution for some San Luis AZ students that are short on time. And many online degree programs are cheaper than other traditional choices. Even travelling expenses from San Luis and study supplies may be reduced, helping to make education more budget-friendly. And a large number of online programs are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your work or family responsibilities have left you with little time to attend classes, maybe an online HVAC degree program will make it less complicated to fit school into your busy lifestyle.
Questions to Ask HVAC Trade Schools
Once you have selected the type of degree or certificate that you want to acquire, either on campus or online, you can start to decrease your list of schools. As you are certainly aware, there are many HVAC technical schools in the San Luis AZ area and across the Country to select from. That's why it is very important to have a list of important qualifications when making school evaluations. As earlier mentioned in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will probably be the first two variables you will look at. Following are several additional ones that you should explore before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Numerous HVAC technical programs in the San Luis AZ area have earned either a regional or a national accreditation. They may attain Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to a specific program, such as HVAC technology. Verify that the program is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency, for example the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping ensure that you obtain a superior education, it can assist in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are in many cases unavailable for non-accredited schools. Also, many 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 looking at what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage of students who enroll in and complete the course. A low completion rate might suggest that students were dissatisfied with the program and dropped out. It may also suggest that the teachers were not competent to train the students. It's also important that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader list of graduates, which can mean more contacts for the school to use for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate can not only affirm that the school has an excellent reputation within the field, but additionally that it has the network of San Luis AZ HVAC employers to help graduates secure apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. Numerous HVAC technical programs are taught along with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating vocational and trade programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of HVAC companies or labor unions. Ask if the schools you are comparing have referring partnerships with local San Luis AZ HVAC specialists. 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. Make certain that the campus facilities and the equipment that you will be instructed on are state-of-the-art and what you will be using on the job. If you are presently in an internship or an apprenticeship, check with the HVAC tech you are working with concerning what you should be looking for. If not, ask a local San Luis AZ HVAC contractor if they can provide some suggestions. Additionally bear in mind that unless you are willing to move, the school needs to be within commuting 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 can be higher tuition fees compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's important that you receive as much personalized instruction as possible, which can be challenging in larger 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 instructors. Talk to a few of the students and get their opinions relating to class sizes and instruction. Finally, talk with some of the teachers and learn what their level of experience 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 fulfill your needs. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near San Luis AZ, confirm that the schools you are considering provide those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, be sure that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Additionally, ask what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, illness or family emergencies.
Earn Your HVAC Degree and Certification
Enrolling in the right HVAC school program is an important first step toward a fulfilling career in the heating & cooling trade. As we have discussed 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 community. Other features to look for are plenty of practical training and modern facilities. You should go to each of the schools personally that you are most interested in to inspect the campus and talk with both the faculty and current students. Try to get a feel for the quality of the instruction and the interaction between them. In addition, inquire about scheduling options and whether night or weekend classes are available if needed. And don't forget to ask about financial assistance and student loan options also. If you ask the proper questions as we have laid out in our guidelines for comparing schools, you'll be able to filter 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 specialist in San Luis AZ.