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How to Find the Right HVAC Certification Class near Sierra Vista Southeast Arizona

Sierra Vista Southeast Arizona residential A/C condensersOnce you have made a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioner technician, the next step is to locate an HVAC vocational school near Sierra Vista Southeast AZ. But with so many to pick from, how do you pick the ideal one to get the training that you need? A number of prospective students will make their selection based solely on the cost of tuition or how near the school is to their home. While these are necessary concerns, they are not the only ones to investigate. Just some of the other details that you need to investigate are the graduation rates of the HVAC schools, their reputations, and if they are accredited by professional trade organizations. These and additional criteria will be addressed in more detail later within this article. But before we discuss how to choose an HVAC vocational school, let's look at what a heating and air conditioning specialist does to become a licensed skilled tradesman.

Becoming an HVAC Technician

Sierra Vista Southeast Arizona HVAC Tech servicing A/C condenserHVAC 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, repair and maintenance of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are generally mandated to be licensed, although every state and regional municipality has its own requirements. Earning professional certification is not compulsory, but an optional means for Sierra Vista Southeast AZ HVAC techs to establish that they are exceptionally qualified and knowledgeable in their area of specialization. There are many recognized certifications within the industry that are available. Here are some of the important ones.

  • North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally acknowledged certification for HVAC technicians. The certification is attained by passing a proficiency examination and may be acquired in one or more specialties.
  • HVAC Excellence. This certification makes available 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 along with a passing result on the professional level examination. Similar to NATE, certifications are made available in various specialties.
  • EPA Section 608. This certification is mandatory for technicians that work with refrigerants. There are three types of certification offered, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.

Since licensing could be mandated in your area, and you may also desire to obtain certification, it's important that you choose an HVAC technical school that will prepare you for both. And since you will more than likely be handling refrigerants, make sure that the program you select preps you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.

HVAC Degree and Certificate Classes

Sierra Vista Southeast Arizona home heat pump

There are a variety of options available for HVAC training in a trade or technical school. You can attain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Earning a certificate will take the minimum period of time, usually achieved in just six months, although some programs are longer. A certificate will train you for the majority of HVAC positions, particularly if you are licensed and have certification appropriate to the position. The degree training programs can provide a competitive advantage in the job market and will provide more comprehensive training than the certificate programs. Following is a brief explanation of each credential offered near Sierra Vista Southeast AZ.

  • Certificate. Generally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among entry level residential or commercial HVAC professionals. They furnish a solid foundation of skills for job opportunities within the trade.
  • Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program delivers a more comprehensive background of heating and a/c systems than the certificate program. Usually requiring 2 years to complete, a number of degrees include an internship or work-study program.
  • Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is suited 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 mastering 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, as well as the time and money that you have to commit. One approach is to start with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after acquiring some experience in the trade in Sierra Vista Southeast AZ, later returning to acquire a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your strategy, be sure to ask the HVAC technician school you are considering about how their returning student program works.

HVAC Online Courses

Enrolling in an HVAC program online is one possibility to attaining your education and earning a certificate or degree. Most schools will require some attendance on campus to participate in hands on training. Many also provide 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 attended on the web, this approach may be a more convenient solution for many Sierra Vista Southeast AZ students that are short on time. And many online degree programs are more economical than other on campus options. Even travelling expenses from Sierra Vista Southeast and study materials can be minimized, helping to make schooling more budget-friendly. And numerous online programs are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your career or family obligations have left you with limited time to attend classes, perhaps an HVAC online training program will make it more convenient to fit school into your hectic lifestyle.

Questions to Ask HVAC Training Programs

Sierra Vista Southeast Arizona Heating and Cooling tech servicing water heater

When you have selected the type of degree or certificate that you want to obtain, either on campus or online, you can start to limit your selection of schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are a large number of HVAC technical schools in the Sierra Vista Southeast AZ area and throughout the USA to pick from. That's why it is imperative to have a checklist of key qualifiers when making school evaluations. As previously mentioned in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will undoubtedly be the first two aspects you will consider. Following are some additional ones that you should research before enrolling in your school of choice.

Accreditation.  Many HVAC trade programs in the Sierra Vista Southeast AZ area have acquired either a regional or a national accreditation. They may receive Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to a specific program, such as HVAC technology. Verify that the school and program are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization, for instance the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping guarantee that you receive a superior education, it can assist in securing financial aid or student loans, which are often unavailable for non-accredited schools. Additionally, some states require that the HVAC training course be accredited in order to qualify 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 or portion of students who enroll in and complete the program. A lower completion rate may suggest that students were unhappy with the course and dropped out. It might also signify that the teachers 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 broader 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 affirm that the school has a good reputation within the industry, but additionally that it has the network of Sierra Vista Southeast AZ HVAC employers to assist students secure apprenticeships or employment.

Apprenticeship Programs.  Numerous HVAC vocational 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 inside their network of Heating and Cooling contractors or trade unions. Find out if the schools you are reviewing have referring relationships with local Sierra Vista Southeast AZ HVAC professionals. An apprenticeship not only provides a valuable experience by supplying practical training, but it also supplies employment opportunities and helps to build relationships in the local HVAC professional community.

Modern Facilities.  Make sure that the school facilities and the tools that you will be trained on are state-of-the-art and what you will be using on the job. If you are already in an internship or an apprenticeship, check with the HVAC specialist you are working under regarding what you should be expecting. If not, ask a local Sierra Vista Southeast AZ HVAC company if they can give you some pointers. Also bear in mind that unless you are able to relocate, 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, besides the added moving costs there can be increased tuition charges compared to in-state residents.

Smaller Classes.   It's desirable that you get as much individualized 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 several of the students and get their comments concerning class sizes and instruction. Finally, speak to a few of the instructors and learn what their level of experience is and what degrees or certifications they hold.

Flexible Scheduling.  Confirm that the class schedules for the schools you are assessing are flexible enough to handle your needs. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Sierra Vista Southeast AZ, confirm that the schools you are reviewing offer those options. If you can only attend part-time, make sure that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Finally, find out what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, sickness or family responsibilities.

Find Out More About Sierra Vista Southeast HVAC Programs In Your Area

Earn Your Heating and Cooling Training and Certification

Choosing the right HVAC training program is an important beginning toward a fulfilling career in the heating and air conditioning field. As we have discussed in this article, you need to choose 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 lots of practical training and state-of-the-art facilities. You need to go to each of the schools in person that you are most interested in to explore 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. Also, ask about scheduling choices and whether evening or weekend classes are available if needed. And remember to ask about financial assistance and student loan options also. If you ask the right questions as we have outlined in our checklist for assessing 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 eventually become a licensed HVAC professional in Sierra Vista Southeast AZ.