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How to Enroll In the Right Heating and Cooling Training Program near Sierra Vista Southeast Arizona

Sierra Vista Southeast Arizona home air conditioning condensersNow that you have made a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioner professional, the next step is to locate an HVAC trade school near Sierra Vista Southeast AZ. But with so many to select from, how do you choose the right one to get the training that you require? A number of future students will make their decision based solely on the cost of tuition or how close the school is to their home. While these are significant factors to consider, they are not the only ones to take into account. Just some of the other things 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 other criteria will be addressed in more detail later in this article. But before we tackle how to select an HVAC training program, let's look at what a heating and a/c professional does to become a licensed skilled tradesman.

Becoming an HVAC Pro

Sierra Vista Southeast Arizona HVAC Technician servicing A/C condenserHVAC is an acronym that is extensively used in the trade that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC professionals specialize in the installation, maintenance and repair of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are typically mandated to be licensed, although each state and regional municipality has its own requirements. Obtaining professional certification is not compulsory, but an alternative way for Sierra Vista Southeast AZ HVAC techs to demonstrate that they are exceptionally skilled and knowledgeable in their area of expertise. There are multiple recognized certifications within the industry that are offered. 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 earned by passing a competency exam and can be received 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 examination are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have 3 years of experience as well as a passing result on the professional level exam. Similar to 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 obtainable, one for small appliances, and the other 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 imperative that you select an HVAC technical school that will train you for both. And since you will probably be working with refrigerants, make certain that the program you choose prepares you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.

HVAC Degree Training Programs

Sierra Vista Southeast Arizona home heat pump

There are a variety of choices offered for HVAC training in a vocational or trade school. You can attain 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, although some courses are longer. A certificate will qualify you for most HVAC positions, particularly if you are licensed and have certification related to the position. The degree training programs may provide a competitive advantage for securing employment and will furnish more comprehensive training than the certificate programs. Following is a brief summary of each credential offered near Sierra Vista Southeast AZ.

  • Certificate. Usually requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among beginning commercial or residential HVAC specialists. They furnish a strong foundation of skills for job opportunities 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. Generally requiring 2 years to finish, some degrees feature 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 call for an Associate Degree, while others are a conventional 4 year program. In addition to mastering how to service and maintain heating and cooling systems, you will also study how to design them.

Choosing the appropriate credential program will be based on what your long term career aspirations are, together with the time and money that you have to commit. One possibility is to begin with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after acquiring some experience in the field in Sierra Vista Southeast AZ, later going back to obtain a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your approach, be sure to ask the HVAC tech school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.

HVAC Schools Online

Attending an HVAC school online is one alternative to obtaining your training and receiving a certificate or degree. Almost all schools will call for some attendance on campus to participate in hands on 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 can be participated in via the internet, this approach may be a more accessible solution for some Sierra Vista Southeast AZ students that are short on time. And a number of online degree programs are cheaper than other traditional alternatives. Even travelling expenses from Sierra Vista Southeast and study supplies may be minimized, helping to make education more economical. And many online schools 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 HVAC online training program will make it easier to accommodate school into your busy schedule.

Questions to Ask HVAC Certification Courses

Sierra Vista Southeast Arizona Heating and Cooling tech installing water heater

When you have decided on the type of degree or certificate that you want to obtain, either on campus or online, you can begin to limit your list of schools. As you are certainly aware, there are many HVAC technical schools in the Sierra Vista Southeast AZ area and all over the Country to select from. That's why it is very important to have a list of key qualifiers when making school comparisons. As previously mentioned in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will undoubtedly be the first two factors you will consider. Following are several additional ones that you will want to investigate before enrolling in your school of choice.

Accreditation.  Numerous HVAC trade programs in the Sierra Vista Southeast AZ area have earned either a regional or a national accreditation. They can acquire Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to a specific program, for example HVAC technology. Verify that the program is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency, which includes the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping ensure that you receive an excellent education, it can assist in securing financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently unavailable for non-accredited schools. Furthermore, many states mandate that the HVAC training program be accredited for it to be approved for licensing.

High Completion Rates.  Ask the HVAC schools you are looking at what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students who enroll in and complete the program. A low completion rate may indicate that students were unhappy with the course and quit. It may also indicate that the instructors were not qualified to train the students. It's similarly essential that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader directory of graduates, which may mean more contacts for the school to use for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate can not only validate 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 help grads obtain apprenticeships or employment.

Apprenticeship Programs.  Many HVAC training programs are taught together with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating vocational and trade programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of Heating and Cooling contractors or labor unions. Check if the schools you are considering have referring partnerships with local Sierra Vista Southeast AZ HVAC professionals. An apprenticeship not only offers a rewarding experience by providing practical training, but it also supplies job opportunities and helps to build relationships in the local HVAC professional community.

Modern Facilities.  Make sure that the campus facilities and the equipment that you will be trained on are up-to-date and what you will be using on the job. If you are currently in an internship or an apprenticeship, talk to the HVAC tech you are working under regarding what you should be looking for. If not, ask a local Sierra Vista Southeast AZ HVAC contracting company if they can give you some pointers. Additionally bear in mind that unless you are willing to relocate, the school needs to be within driving 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 may be increased tuition charges compared to in-state residents.

Smaller Classes.   It's important that you get as much personalized training as possible, which can be challenging in bigger classes. Ask if you can monitor a few of the classes so that you can observe how big they are and experience the interaction between teachers and students. Talk to several of the students and get their comments relating to class sizes and instruction. Finally, speak with a few of the teachers and learn what their level of expertise is and what degrees or certifications they hold.

Flexible Scheduling.  Confirm that the class schedules for the programs you are assessing are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you are only able to go to classes at night or on weekends near Sierra Vista Southeast AZ, check that the schools you are considering provide those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Also, find out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, illness or family responsibilities.

Find Out More About Sierra Vista Southeast HVAC Training Classes Near You

Get Your Heating and Cooling Training and Certification

Picking the ideal HVAC training course is an important first step toward a rewarding career in the heating and cooling industry. As we have addressed in this article, you should pick a Heating and Cooling training program and a certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have outstanding reputations within the HVAC profession. Other features to search for are lots of 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 speak with both the current students and faculty. Try to get a feel for the quality of the teaching and the interaction between them. Also, inquire about scheduling choices and if night or weekend classes are offered 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 outlined in our checklist for assessing schools, you'll be able to filter your choices so that you can make an educated decision. With the proper training, hard work and commitment, you can eventually become a licensed HVAC specialist in Sierra Vista Southeast AZ.