How to Enroll In the Right HVAC Certification Course near Sierra Vista Southeast Arizona
Once you have decided on a career as a heating and air conditioner professional, the next step is to find an HVAC trade school near Sierra Vista Southeast AZ. But with so many to pick from, how do you select the right one to obtain the training that you require? Many future students will make their selection based entirely on the price of tuition or how close the school is to their home. While these are necessary concerns, they are not the only ones to take into account. Some of the other details that you need to look into 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 covered in more detail later within this article. But before we explore how to choose an HVAC trade school, let's take a look at what a heating and air conditioning professional does to become a licensed qualified tradesman.
How to Become an HVAC Tech
HVAC is an acronym that is frequently used in the business that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC contractors specialize in the installation, maintenance and repair of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are generally required to be licensed, although every state and regional municipality has its own requirements. Attaining professional certification is not compulsory, but an alternative means for Sierra Vista Southeast AZ HVAC technicians to establish that they are exceptionally qualified and knowledgeable in their area of specialization. There are many recognized certifications within the field that are available. Below are some 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 competency exam and can be earned in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification makes available both a professional and a master specialist credential. Two years of field experience together with passing a comprehensive exam are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have three years of experience along with a passing result on the professional level examination. Similar to NATE, certifications are provided in various specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is necessary for techs that handle refrigerants. There are 3 types of certification available, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Since licensing may be required in your location, and you may also intend to earn certification, it's important that you choose an HVAC vocational school that will train you for both. And since you will more than likely be dealing with refrigerants, make sure that the program you choose readies you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.
HVAC Degree and Certificate Classes
There are several choices offered for HVAC training in a trade or technical school. You can obtain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Acquiring a certificate will take the minimum amount of time, typically achieved in as little as six months, though some courses are longer. A certificate will train you for most HVAC positions, particularly if you are licensed and have certification applicable to the position. The degree programs can provide a competitive edge in the job market and will deliver more in-depth training than the certificate programs. Following is a short explanation of each credential offered near Sierra Vista Southeast AZ.
- Certificate. Usually requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among beginning residential or commercial HVAC technicians. They furnish a solid foundation of skills for employment within the trade.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program delivers a more detailed understanding of heating and cooling systems than the certificate program. Normally taking two years to finish, some 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 as well as business ownership. Some programs require an Associate Degree, while others are a conventional four 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 right credential program will be dependent on what your long term career objectives are, in addition to the time and money that you have to commit. One approach is to begin with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after acquiring some experience in the trade in Sierra Vista Southeast AZ, later returning to earn a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your strategy, make sure to ask the HVAC technician school you are considering about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Classes Online
Enrolling in an HVAC school online is one possibility in obtaining your education and earning a degree or certificate. Nearly all schools will require some attendance on campus to participate in practical training. Many also sponsor internship or work-study programs in addition to or in place of practical lab work. But since the balance of the classes may be attended via the internet, this approach may be a more practical solution for many Sierra Vista Southeast AZ students that are pressed for time. And many online degree programs are more economical than other on campus alternatives. Even travelling expenses from Sierra Vista Southeast and study materials can be lessened, helping to make education more economical. And numerous online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your work or family responsibilities have left you with limited time to attend classes, perhaps an HVAC online training program will make it less complicated to accommodate school into your hectic schedule.
Questions to Ask HVAC Training Programs
After you have decided on the type of degree or certificate that you desire to obtain, either online or on campus, you can start to decrease your selection of schools. As you are certainly aware, there are numerous HVAC trade schools in the Sierra Vista Southeast AZ area and across the USA to pick from. That's why it is imperative to have a checklist of key qualifiers when making school comparisons. As previously stated in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will undoubtedly be the first two factors you will take into consideration. Following are several additional ones that you should research before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. A large number of HVAC trade schools in the Sierra Vista Southeast AZ area have attained either a regional or a national accreditation. They can receive Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to an individual program, for instance HVAC technology. Make sure that the school and program are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency, for example the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping make certain that you get a superior education, it may help in securing financial aid or student loans, which are frequently not available 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 or portion of students who enroll in and complete the course. A lower completion rate could suggest that students were unhappy with the course and dropped out. It may also mean that the teachers were not qualified to train the students. It's similarly important that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader directory of alumni, which may produce more contacts for the school to use for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate will not only confirm that the school has a good reputation within the industry, but also that it has the network of Sierra Vista Southeast AZ HVAC employers to help graduates acquire apprenticeships or jobs.
Apprenticeship Programs. Many HVAC vocational programs are taught together with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating technical and vocational programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of Heating and Cooling companies or labor unions. Ask if the schools you are comparing have referring relationships with local Sierra Vista Southeast AZ HVAC contractors. An apprenticeship not only provides a valuable experience by providing hands-on training, but it also furnishes employment opportunities and helps to build relationships in the area HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make sure that the campus facilities and the equipment that you will be instructed on are state-of-the-art and what you will be using in the field. If you are currently in an internship or an apprenticeship, talk to the HVAC technician 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 tips. Additionally keep in mind that unless you can move, the school needs to be within driving distance of your Sierra Vista Southeast AZ residence. Take note that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides the added moving costs there can be higher tuition fees compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's desirable that you receive as much individualized instruction as possible, which can be challenging in bigger classes. Ask if you can sit in on a few of the classes so that you can observe how large they are and witness first hand the interaction between instructors and students. Talk with some of the students and get their opinions concerning class sizes and instruction. Finally, talk with a few of the instructors and find out what their level of expertise is and what certifications or degrees they have earned.
Flexible Scheduling. Verify that the class schedules for the programs you are evaluating are flexible enough to handle your needs. If you are only able to attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Sierra Vista Southeast AZ, check that the schools you are comparing offer those choices. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Additionally, check out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, illness or family emergencies.
Find Out More About Sierra Vista Southeast HVAC Schools In Your Area
Get Your Heating and Cooling Training and Certification
Finding the right HVAC training program is an important first step toward a rewarding career in the heating & cooling industry. As we have discussed in this article, you need to select a Heating and Cooling training program and a degree or certificate program that are both accredited and have outstanding reputations within the HVAC community. Other things to search for are sufficient practical training and modern facilities. You should check out each of the schools personally that you are most interested in to explore the campus and talk with both the current students and faculty. Attempt to get a feel for the quality of the training and the interaction between them. Also, ask about scheduling choices and whether or not night or weekend classes are available if needed. And remember to inquire about financial assistance and student loan options as well. If you ask the proper questions as we have laid out in our guidelines for evaluating schools, you'll be able to narrow down 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 specialist in Sierra Vista Southeast AZ.