How to Enroll In the Right HVAC Program near San Luis Arizona
Once you have decided on a career as a heating and air conditioning technician, the next step is to look for an HVAC vocational school near San Luis AZ. But with so many to pick from, how do you pick the ideal one to receive the training that you require? A number of future students will make their choice based exclusively on the price of tuition or how near the school is to their home. Although these are relevant considerations, they are not the only ones to take into account. Some of the other details 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 benchmarks will be addressed in more detail later in this article. But before we explore how to pick an HVAC technical school, let's take a look at what a heating and air conditioning contractor does to become a licensed professional tradesman.
How to Become an HVAC Contractor
HVAC is an acronym that is extensively used in the trade that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC techs provide services for the installation, repair and maintenance of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are generally required to be licensed, however each state and regional municipality has its own requirements. Acquiring professional certification is not mandatory, but a voluntary means for San Luis AZ HVAC technicians to establish that they are highly qualified and accomplished in their area of specialization. There are several recognized certifications within the industry that are available. Here are a few of the significant ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally acknowledged certification for HVAC techs. The certification is achieved by passing a competency examination 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 in addition to passing a comprehensive examination are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have 3 years of experience together with a passing result on the professional level exam. As with NATE, certifications are made available in various specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is necessary for technicians that work with refrigerants. There are 3 forms of certification offered, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Considering that licensing could be mandated in your location, and you may also intend to obtain certification, it's essential that you select an HVAC trade school that will train you for both. And since you will most likely be working with refrigerants, make certain that the school you select preps you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.
HVAC Degree Training Programs
There are a number of choices offered for HVAC training in a trade or technical 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 completed in just six months, though some courses are longer. A certificate will train you for most HVAC positions, particularly if you are licensed and have certification appropriate to the position. The degree programs may provide a competitive advantage in the job market and will provide more extensive training than the certificate programs. Following is a brief description of each option offered near San Luis AZ.
- Certificate. Usually requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among beginning commercial or residential HVAC professionals. They furnish a solid foundation of skills for job opportunities within the industry.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program provides a more extensive knowledge of heating & cooling systems than the certificate program. Usually requiring two years to complete, a number of 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 or even business ownership. Some programs require an Associate Degree, while others are a traditional 4 year program. In addition to mastering how to service and maintain heating and cooling systems, you will also study how to design them.
Picking the appropriate credential program will be based on what your long term career aspirations are, together with 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 trade in San Luis AZ, later going back to earn a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your tactic, make certain to ask the HVAC technician school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Courses Online
Attending an HVAC program online is one option in attaining your education and receiving a certificate or degree. Almost all schools will call for some attendance on campus to complete hands on training. Some also offer 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 online, this approach may be a more convenient solution for some San Luis AZ students that are pressed for time. And some online degree programs are less expensive than other traditional options. Even commuting expenses from San Luis and study materials may be reduced, helping to make schooling more budget-friendly. And numerous online programs are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your career or family responsibilities have left you with minimal time to attend classes, maybe an online HVAC degree program will make it more convenient to accommodate school into your busy lifestyle.
What to Ask HVAC Schools
After you have picked the type of certificate or degree that you desire to obtain, either online or on campus, you can begin to limit your list of schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are a large number of HVAC vocational schools in the San Luis AZ area and across the United States to select from. That's why it is essential to have a checklist of important qualifications when making school assessments. As formerly mentioned in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will probably be the first two variables you will take into consideration. Following are several additional ones that you should investigate before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. A large number of HVAC trade schools in the San Luis AZ area have attained either a regional or a national accreditation. They can earn Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to a specific program, for instance HVAC technology. Verify that the school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency, for example the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping guarantee that you obtain an excellent education, it can help in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are frequently unavailable for non-accredited programs. Furthermore, a number of states require that the HVAC training program be accredited in order to be approved 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 percentage or portion of students who enroll in and complete the course. A low completion rate could signify that students were dissatisfied with the program and quit. It might also mean that the teachers were not competent to train the students. It's also important that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive list of graduates, which may mean more contacts for the school to use for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate will not only validate that the school has an excellent reputation within the industry, but additionally that it has the network of San Luis AZ HVAC employers to help graduates secure apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. Many HVAC technical programs are taught in conjunction with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating vocational and technical programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program within 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 rewarding experience by providing practical training, but it also furnishes employment opportunities and helps to form relationships in the local HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make certain that the campus facilities and the equipment that you will be trained on are state-of-the-art and what you will be using in the field. If you are presently in an internship or an apprenticeship, talk to the HVAC technician 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 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 enroll in an out-of-state school, in addition to moving costs there may be increased tuition fees compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's important that you get as much one-on-one instruction as possible, which can be difficult in larger classes. Ask if you can sit in on some of the classes so that you can see how big they are and witness first hand the interaction between teachers and students. Talk with several of the students and get their feedback concerning class sizes and instruction. Finally, speak with some of the teachers and learn what their level of expertise is and what degrees or certifications they have earned.
Flexible Scheduling. Confirm that the class schedules for the programs you are assessing are flexible enough to handle your needs. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near San Luis AZ, check that the schools you are looking at provide those options. If you can only attend part-time, make certain that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Additionally, check out what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, sickness or family emergencies.
Earn Your Heating and Cooling Certificate or Degree
Selecting the right HVAC school program is a crucial beginning toward a rewarding career in the heating & cooling trade. As we have discussed 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 trade. Other factors to search for are plenty of hands-on training and state-of-the-art facilities. You need to 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. Attempt to get a feel for the quality of the teaching and the interaction between them. Also, ask about scheduling options and whether or not night or weekend classes are available if needed. And don't forget to ask about financial assistance and student loan options too. If you ask the appropriate 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 educated decision. With the right training, hard work and commitment, you can eventually become a licensed HVAC professional in San Luis AZ.