How to Enroll In the Right HVAC School near Sierra Vista Southeast Arizona
Now that you have made a decision on a career as a heating and cooling technician, the next step is to choose an HVAC vocational school near Sierra Vista Southeast AZ. But with so many to pick from, how do you pick the ideal one to obtain the training that you require? Many future students will make their choice based exclusively on the cost of tuition or how close the school is to their home. Even though these are relevant factors to consider, they are not the only ones to evaluate. Some of the other details that you need to research are the graduation 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 tackle how to choose an HVAC trade school, let's take a look at what a heating and cooling technician does to become a licensed professional tradesman.
Becoming an HVAC Contractor
HVAC is an acronym that is extensively used in the industry 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 commonly required to be licensed, though every state and local municipality has its own prerequisites. Acquiring professional certification is not required, but a voluntary way for Sierra Vista Southeast AZ HVAC techs to demonstrate that they are exceptionally proficient and accomplished in their area of specialization. There are several respected certifications within the industry that are offered. Following are a few of the important ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally acknowledged certification for HVAC techs. The certification is earned by passing a competency examination and can be earned in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification offers both a professional and a master specialist credential. Two years of professional experience as well as passing a comprehensive exam are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have 3 years of experience as well as a passing result on the professional level examination. As with NATE, certifications are offered in multiple specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is necessary for technicians that work with refrigerants. There are three types of certification obtainable, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Because licensing could be mandated in your location, and you may also desire to earn certification, it's important that you enroll in an HVAC vocational school that will prepare you for both. And since you will probably be working with refrigerants, make sure that the school you decide on prepares you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
HVAC Degree Classes
There are several choices available for HVAC training in a technical or trade school. You can obtain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Earning a certificate will take the lesser period 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 appropriate to the position. The degree training programs may provide a competitive advantage for securing employment and will furnish more in-depth training than the certificate programs. Following is a brief description of each option offered near Sierra Vista Southeast AZ.
- Certificate. Normally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among entry level 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 supplies a more extensive knowledge of heating and a/c systems than the certificate program. Normally taking two years to finish, 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 as well as business ownership. Some programs call for an Associate Degree, while others are a standard 4 year program. In addition to being taught how to service and maintain heating and air conditioning systems, you will also study how to design them.
Selecting the ideal credential program will be based on what your future career goals are, together with the time and financial resources that you have to invest. One approach is to start with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after gaining some experience in the trade in Sierra Vista Southeast AZ, eventually going back to obtain a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your strategy, make certain to ask the HVAC tech school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Training Online
Choosing an HVAC school online is one alternative in obtaining your education and earning a degree or certificate. Almost all schools will require some attendance on campus to take part in hands on training. Some also provide internship or work-study programs in addition to or instead of practical lab work. But since the remainder of the classes may be participated in online, this option may be a more accessible solution for many Sierra Vista Southeast AZ students that are pressed for time. And some online degree programs are less expensive than other on campus options. Even driving expenses from Sierra Vista Southeast and study supplies can be minimized, helping to make education more economical. And numerous online programs are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your job or family responsibilities have left you with minimal time to attend classes, perhaps an HVAC online training program will make it less complicated to accommodate school into your hectic schedule.
Questions For HVAC Training Classes
As soon as you have chosen the type of degree or certificate that you would like to acquire, either online or on campus, you can begin to limit your selection of schools. As you are certainly aware, there are many HVAC vocational schools in the Sierra Vista Southeast AZ area and all over the Country to select from. That's why it is essential to have a list of relevant qualifiers when making school comparisons. As previously mentioned in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will probably be the initial two variables you will look at. Following are several additional ones that you should research before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Many HVAC vocational schools in the Sierra Vista Southeast AZ area have attained either a regional or a national accreditation. They can attain Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to an individual program, for example HVAC technology. Confirm that the school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting organization, for example the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping guarantee that you acquire a quality education, it may assist in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are in many cases not available for non-accredited programs. Furthermore, many states mandate that the HVAC training course be accredited for it to be approved for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the Heating and Cooling schools you are reviewing what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage or portion of students who enroll in and finish the course. A lower completion rate might signify that students were disappointed with the course and quit. It could also signify that the teachers were not qualified to train the students. It's similarly essential that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive directory of alumni, which may produce more contacts for the school to employ for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate can not only affirm that the school has an excellent reputation within the industry, but also that it has the network of Sierra Vista Southeast AZ HVAC employers to assist graduates acquire apprenticeships or jobs.
Apprenticeship Programs. Most HVAC trade programs are taught in conjunction with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating trade and vocational programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of HVAC businesses or labor unions. Check if the schools you are reviewing have working relationships with local Sierra Vista Southeast AZ HVAC contractors. An apprenticeship not only provides a rewarding experience by furnishing practical training, but it also furnishes employment opportunities and helps to form relationships in the local HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Confirm that the school facilities and the equipment that you will be trained on are up-to-date and what you will be using in the field. If you are currently in an internship or an apprenticeship, consult with the HVAC technician you are working with regarding what you should be expecting. Otherwise, ask a local Sierra Vista Southeast AZ HVAC contracting company if they can give you some pointers. Also bear in mind that unless you are able to move, the school must be within commuting distance of your Sierra Vista Southeast AZ home. Remember that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, in addition to moving costs there might be increased tuition charges compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's important that you get as much personalized instruction as possible, which can be challenging in bigger classes. Ask if you can sit in on some of the classes so that you can observe how large they are and experience the interaction between students and teachers. Speak to some of the students and get their comments relating to class sizes and instruction. Last, talk with a few of the instructors and find out what their level of experience is and what certifications or degrees they hold.
Flexible Scheduling. Make sure that the class schedules for the programs you are assessing are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Sierra Vista Southeast AZ, confirm that the programs you are comparing offer those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain 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.
Earn Your HVAC Degree and Certification
Choosing the right HVAC school course is a crucial beginning toward a fulfilling career in the heating and cooling field. As we have addressed in this article, you should choose a Heating and Cooling training program and a degree or certificate program that are both accredited and have outstanding reputations within the HVAC profession. Other factors to look for are sufficient practical training and state-of-the-art facilities. You need to check out each of the schools personally that you are most interested in to tour the campus and speak with both the current students and faculty. Attempt to get a feel for the quality of the teaching and the interaction between them. Additionally, inquire about scheduling options and if night 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 detailed in our guidelines 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 technician in Sierra Vista Southeast AZ.