How to Find the Right Heating and Cooling Training Program near San Luis Arizona
Now that you have made a decision on a career as a heating and cooling professional, the next step is to look for an HVAC trade school near San Luis AZ. But with so many to select from, how do you choose the right one to receive the training that you require? Some potential students will make their choice based solely on the cost of tuition or how close the school is to their home. Although these are significant considerations, they are not the only ones to evaluate. Just some of the other things 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 additional criteria will be addressed in more detail later in this article. But before we explore how to choose an HVAC trade school, let's look at what a heating and a/c technician does to become a licensed qualified tradesman.
How to Become an HVAC Contractor
HVAC is an acronym that is frequently used in the trade that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC professionals provide services for the installation, maintenance and repair of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are commonly required to be licensed, although each state and regional municipality has its own requirements. Acquiring professional certification is not mandatory, but an optional way for San Luis AZ HVAC techs to prove that they are highly qualified and experienced in their area of expertise. There are multiple respected certifications within the field that are available. Following are a few of the significant ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally acknowledged certification for HVAC technicians. The certification is attained by passing a competency examination and can be acquired in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification makes available both a professional and a master specialist credential. 2 years of field experience as well as passing a comprehensive exam are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have 3 years of experience together with a passing result on the professional level examination. As with NATE, certifications are offered in several specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is mandatory for technicians that handle 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 location, and you may also intend to obtain certification, it's imperative that you enroll in an HVAC vocational school that will train you for both. And since you will most likely be dealing with refrigerants, make certain that the school you choose readies you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
HVAC Degree Courses
There are a number of alternatives offered for HVAC training in a technical or trade school. You can earn a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Obtaining a certificate will take the least period of time, often completed in as little as 6 months, though some programs 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 programs may provide a competitive edge for securing employment and will provide more extensive training than the certificate programs. Following is a brief summary of each option offered near San Luis AZ.
- Certificate. Generally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among entry level residential or commercial HVAC technicians. They furnish a strong foundation of skills for employment within the trade.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program supplies a more extensive knowledge of heating and a/c systems than the certificate program. Typically taking two years to finish, many degrees incorporate an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is suited more for a career in management or even business ownership. Some programs require 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 learn how to design them.
Picking the right credential program will be based on what your future career aspirations are, together with the time and money 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 field in San Luis AZ, later returning to earn a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your approach, make certain to ask the HVAC tech school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Classes Online
Attending an HVAC school online is one possibility to attaining your education and earning a degree or certificate. Nearly all schools will require some attendance on campus to complete hands on training. Some also sponsor internship or work-study programs in addition to or in place of practical lab work. But since the remainder of the classes can be attended online, this alternative may be a more accessible solution for many San Luis AZ students that are pressed for time. And many online degree programs are cheaper than other traditional options. Even commuting expenses from San Luis and study materials may be minimized, helping to make education more economical. And a large number of online programs are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your career or family commitments have left you with little time to attend classes, maybe an online HVAC degree program will make it more convenient to fit school into your hectic schedule.
What to Ask HVAC Certification Courses
When you have picked the type of certificate or degree that you want to attain, either on campus or online, you can start to narrow down your selection of schools. As you are probably aware, there are many HVAC trade schools in the San Luis AZ area and throughout the Country to pick from. That's why it is very important to have a checklist of relevant qualifications when making school assessments. As previously stated 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 will want to explore before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Numerous HVAC vocational schools in the San Luis AZ area have attained either a regional or a national accreditation. They may acquire Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to an individual program, such as HVAC technology. Make sure that the school and program are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting organization, for instance the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping guarantee that you obtain a superior education, it can assist in acquiring financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently unavailable for non-accredited programs. Additionally, many states mandate 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 of students who enroll in and finish the program. A lower completion rate might indicate that students were disappointed with the course and quit. It may also indicate that the instructors 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 more extensive directory of alumni, which may mean more contacts for the school to employ for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate can not only validate 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 students secure apprenticeships or jobs.
Apprenticeship Programs. Most HVAC technical programs are taught together with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating technical and vocational programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of HVAC businesses or labor unions. Ask if the schools you are comparing have working relationships with local San Luis AZ HVAC contractors. An apprenticeship not only provides a rewarding experience by supplying practical training, but it also supplies job opportunities and helps to build relationships in the regional HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make certain that the school facilities and the equipment that you will be trained on are up-to-date and what you will be working with on the job. If you are already in an internship or an apprenticeship, talk to the HVAC technician you are working under concerning what you should be looking for. Otherwise, ask a local San Luis AZ HVAC company if they can provide some suggestions. Also bear in mind that unless you can relocate, the school must be within driving distance of your San Luis AZ home. Remember that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, besides the added relocation costs there might be higher tuition charges 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 bigger classes. Ask if you can monitor a couple of the classes so that you can see how large they are and experience the interaction between students and instructors. Talk with several of the students and get their feedback concerning class sizes and instruction. Finally, speak with some of the instructors and learn what their level of experience is and what degrees or certifications they hold.
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 attend classes in the evening or on weekends near San Luis AZ, verify that the programs you are comparing offer those choices. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Also, check out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, illness or family issues.
Get Your HVAC Training and Certification
Choosing the ideal HVAC training program is an important beginning toward a gratifying career in the heating and air conditioning field. As we have discussed in this article, you need to select a Heating and Cooling training program and a certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have outstanding reputations within the HVAC community. Other factors to look for are ample practical training and state-of-the-art facilities. You need to visit 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 training and the interaction between them. Additionally, ask about scheduling choices and if evening or weekend classes are offered if needed. And remember to ask about financial aid and student loan options also. If you ask the proper questions as we have outlined 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 appropriate training, hard work and dedication, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC technician in San Luis AZ.