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How to Select the Right HVAC College near Sierra Vista Southeast Arizona

Sierra Vista Southeast Arizona residential air conditioning condensersOnce you have decided on a career as a heating and air conditioner professional, the next step is to choose an HVAC trade school near Sierra Vista Southeast AZ. But with so many to select from, how do you pick the right one to receive the training that you need? Some prospective students will make their decision based entirely on the cost of tuition or how close the school is to their home. Although these are significant factors to consider, they are not the only ones to evaluate. Some of the other things 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. Those and additional criteria will be discussed in more detail later within this article. But before we examine how to pick an HVAC vocational school, let's look at what a heating and air conditioning contractor does to become a licensed professional tradesman.

How to Become an HVAC Professional

Sierra Vista Southeast Arizona Heating and Cooling Tech repairing air conditioning condenserHVAC is an acronym that is extensively used in the trade that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC techs specialize in the installation, maintenance and repair of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are typically required to be licensed, although every state and regional municipality has its own requirements. Obtaining professional certification is not mandatory, but an alternative way for Sierra Vista Southeast AZ HVAC technicians to establish that they are highly qualified and accomplished in their area of expertise. There are several respected certifications within the field that are available. Here are a few of the significant ones.

  • North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally acknowledged certification for HVAC technicians. The certification is achieved by passing a proficiency examination and can be acquired 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 exam are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have 3 years of experience together with a passing score on the professional level exam. As with NATE, certifications are provided in various specialties.
  • EPA Section 608. This certification is necessary for techs that handle refrigerants. There are 3 forms of certification obtainable, 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 desire to obtain certification, it's imperative that you pick an HVAC trade school that will prepare you for both. And since you will probably be working with refrigerants, make certain that the school you choose prepares you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.

HVAC Degree Classes

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There are a variety of options offered for HVAC instruction in a trade or technical school. You can attain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Acquiring a certificate will take the lesser amount of time, usually accomplished in just 6 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 can provide a competitive advantage in the job market and will furnish more extensive training than the certificate programs. Following is a short description of each credential offered near Sierra Vista Southeast AZ.

  • Certificate. Generally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among beginning residential or commercial 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 detailed understanding of heating & cooling systems than the certificate program. Normally requiring two years to complete, some degrees incorporate 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 call for an Associate Degree, while others are a traditional four year program. In addition to mastering how to service and maintain heating and air conditioning systems, you will also study how to design them.

Choosing the appropriate credential program will be based on what your long term career objectives are, along 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 acquiring some experience in the field in Sierra Vista Southeast AZ, subsequently going back to acquire a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your strategy, be sure to ask the HVAC tech school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.

HVAC Online Training

Choosing an HVAC school online is one alternative to obtaining your training and receiving a certificate or degree. Nearly all schools will require some attendance on campus to take part in practical training. Many also sponsor internship or work-study programs in addition to or instead of practical lab work. But since the remainder of the classes may be attended via the internet, this alternative may be a more convenient solution for some Sierra Vista Southeast AZ students that are short on time. And many online degree programs are less costly than other on campus choices. Even travelling expenses from Sierra Vista Southeast and study supplies can be minimized, helping to make schooling more affordable. And many online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your work or family obligations have left you with little time to attend classes, perhaps an online HVAC degree program will make it more convenient to fit school into your hectic lifestyle.

Questions to Ask HVAC Certification Classes

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After you have selected the type of degree or certificate that you wish to earn, either online or on campus, you can start to decrease your selection of schools. As you are probably aware, there are many HVAC vocational schools in the Sierra Vista Southeast AZ area and throughout the Country to select from. That's why it is extremely important to have a checklist of important qualifications when making school evaluations. As previously mentioned in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will probably be the first 2 factors you will consider. Following are several additional ones that you should explore before enrolling in your school of choice.

Accreditation.  A large number of HVAC technical schools in the Sierra Vista Southeast AZ area have acquired either a regional or a national accreditation. They can attain Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to an individual program, for example HVAC technology. Confirm that the program and school are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization, which includes the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping ensure that you acquire a superior education, it can help in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are often not available for non-accredited programs. Furthermore, many states mandate that the HVAC training program be accredited in order to qualify 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 program. A low completion rate may suggest that students were unhappy with the course and dropped out. It may also signify that the instructors were not qualified 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 graduates, which can result in more contacts for the school to employ for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate will not only confirm that the school has an excellent reputation within the trade, but also that it has the network of Sierra Vista Southeast AZ HVAC employers to assist students obtain apprenticeships or employment.

Apprenticeship Programs.  Most HVAC trade 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 HVAC businesses or trade unions. Ask if the schools you are comparing have referring partnerships with local Sierra Vista Southeast AZ HVAC professionals. An apprenticeship not only offers a valuable experience by furnishing practical training, but it also supplies job opportunities and helps to build relationships in the regional HVAC professional community.

Modern Facilities.  Confirm that the campus facilities and the equipment that you will be instructed on are up-to-date and what you will be using on the job. If you are currently in an internship or an apprenticeship, check with the HVAC specialist you are working with regarding what you should be looking for. Otherwise, ask a local Sierra Vista Southeast AZ HVAC company if they can provide some tips. Also bear in mind that unless you can move, the school must be within commuting distance of your Sierra Vista Southeast AZ residence. Remember that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation costs there may be higher tuition fees compared to in-state residents.

Smaller Classes.   It's important that you get as much personalized instruction as possible, which can be difficult in larger classes. Ask if you can monitor a couple of the classes so that you can see how big they are and experience the interaction between teachers and students. Speak to a few of the students and get their feedback relating to class sizes and instruction. Finally, speak with some of the teachers and find out what their level of experience is and what certifications or degrees they hold.

Flexible Scheduling.  Verify that the class schedules for the schools you are evaluating are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you are only able to attend classes at night or on weekends near Sierra Vista Southeast AZ, check that the programs you are comparing offer those options. If you can only attend part-time, make certain that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Finally, ask what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, illness or family issues.

Learn More About Sierra Vista Southeast Heating and Cooling Training Classes Near You

Earn Your Heating and Cooling Training and Certification

Enrolling in the right HVAC training program is an important first step toward a fulfilling career in the heating & cooling field. As we have addressed in this article, you should select a Heating and Cooling training program and a degree or certificate program that are both accredited and have excellent reputations within the HVAC profession. Other things to look for are ample hands-on training and modern facilities. You need to check out each of the schools personally 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. Also, inquire about scheduling choices and if evening or weekend classes are available if needed. And don't forget to ask about financial assistance and student loan options as well. If you ask the right questions as we have laid out in our guidelines for comparing schools, you'll be able to narrow down your choices so that you can make an informed decision. With the appropriate training, hard work and commitment, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC technician in Sierra Vista Southeast AZ.