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How to Pick the Right HVAC Training Class near Sierra Vista Southeast Arizona

Sierra Vista Southeast Arizona home air conditioning condensersNow that you have come to a decision on a career as a heating and cooling professional, the next action is to look for an HVAC vocational school near Sierra Vista Southeast AZ. But with so many to select from, how do you select the right one to obtain the training that you need? Many prospective students will make their selection based entirely on the cost of tuition or how near the school is to their residence. Even though these are relevant factors to consider, they are not the only ones to investigate. 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 benchmarks will be covered in more detail later in this article. But before we examine how to pick an HVAC technical school, let's take a look at what a heating and cooling specialist does to become a licensed skilled tradesman.

How to Become an HVAC Tech

Sierra Vista Southeast Arizona Heating and Cooling Technician fixing A/C condenserHVAC is an acronym that is commonly used in the industry that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC techs provide services for the installation, maintenance and repair of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are commonly required to be licensed, though each state and regional municipality has its own criteria. Acquiring professional certification is not mandatory, but a voluntary way for Sierra Vista Southeast AZ HVAC techs to establish that they are highly qualified and experienced in their area of specialization. There are a number of recognized certifications within the field that are available. Following are some of the significant ones.

  • North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally acknowledged certification for HVAC techs. The certification is earned by passing a proficiency examination and can be earned in one or more specialties.
  • HVAC Excellence. This certification makes available both a professional and a master specialist credential. 2 years of professional experience as well as passing a comprehensive examination are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have three years of experience along with a passing result on the professional level exam. Similar to NATE, certifications are provided in several specialties.
  • EPA Section 608. This certification is mandatory for techs that handle refrigerants. There are three types of certification obtainable, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.

Since licensing could be required in your location, and you may also intend to earn certification, it's essential that you choose an HVAC vocational school that will train you for both. And since you will most likely be dealing with refrigerants, make certain that the program you choose preps you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.

HVAC Degree Training Programs

Sierra Vista Southeast Arizona home heater

There are several choices offered for HVAC training in a technical or trade school. You can earn a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Acquiring a certificate will take the least amount of time, typically accomplished in as little as 6 months, however some courses are longer. A certificate will train you for the majority of HVAC positions, especially if you are licensed and have certification relevant to the position. The degree programs might provide a competitive edge for securing employment and will furnish more in-depth training than the certificate programs. Below is a short summary 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 technicians. They furnish a solid foundation of skills for employment within the industry.
  • Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program provides a more detailed understanding of heating and 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 suited more for a career in management or even business ownership. Some programs call for an Associate Degree, while others are a standard 4 year program. In addition to learning how to service and maintain heating and air conditioning systems, you will also learn how to design them.

Choosing the ideal credential program will be based on what your long term career goals are, as well as the time and financial resources that you have to invest. One approach is to begin with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after acquiring some experience in the trade in Sierra Vista Southeast AZ, subsequently returning to obtain a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your approach, make sure to ask the HVAC tech school you are considering about how their returning student program works.

HVAC Schools Online

Choosing an HVAC school online is one possibility in obtaining your education and receiving a certificate or degree. Almost all schools will call for some attendance on campus to complete hands on training. Some also provide internship or work-study programs in addition to or in place of practical lab work. But since the balance of the classes may be participated in on the web, this option may be a more practical solution for many Sierra Vista Southeast AZ students that are short on time. And many online degree programs are less expensive than other traditional options. Even driving expenses from Sierra Vista Southeast and study supplies can be minimized, helping to make education more budget-friendly. And numerous online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your job or family commitments have left you with limited time to attend classes, perhaps an online HVAC degree program will make it more convenient to fit school into your busy schedule.

Questions to Ask HVAC Trade Schools

Sierra Vista Southeast Arizona HVAC tech installing water heater

As soon as you have picked the type of certificate or degree that you desire to earn, either online or on campus, you can start to narrow down your selection of schools. As you are probably aware, there are numerous HVAC vocational schools in the Sierra Vista Southeast AZ area and all over the USA to choose from. That's why it is extremely important to have a list of relevant qualifiers when making school evaluations. As previously mentioned in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will probably be the initial 2 factors you will consider. Following are some additional ones that you need to explore before enrolling in your school of choice.

Accreditation.  Numerous HVAC trade schools 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 overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to a specific program, for example HVAC technology. Verify that the school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization, such as the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping ensure that you acquire an excellent education, it can help in acquiring financial assistance or student loans, which are often unavailable for non-accredited schools. Furthermore, some states require that the HVAC training program be accredited for it to be approved for licensing.

High Completion Rates.  Ask the Heating and Air Conditioning schools you are reviewing what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage of students who enroll in and complete the course. A lower completion rate may indicate that students were unhappy with the course and quit. It could also signify that the teachers were not qualified to instruct the students. It's similarly imperative that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader directory of alumni, which may result in more contacts for the school to utilize for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate can not only confirm that the school has an excellent reputation within the industry, but additionally that it has the network of Sierra Vista Southeast AZ HVAC employers to help graduates secure apprenticeships or employment.

Apprenticeship Programs.  A large number of HVAC trade programs are taught together with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating trade and vocational schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of Heating and Cooling companies or trade unions. Check if the schools you are comparing have referring relationships with local Sierra Vista Southeast AZ HVAC specialists. An apprenticeship not only provides a rewarding experience by furnishing hands-on training, but it also supplies employment opportunities and helps to establish relationships in the regional HVAC professional community.

Modern Facilities.  Make sure that the school facilities and the equipment that you will be trained on are state-of-the-art and what you will be using in the field. If you are already in an internship or an apprenticeship, talk to the HVAC tech you are working with regarding what you should be looking for. If not, ask a local Sierra Vista Southeast AZ HVAC contractor if they can provide some pointers. Additionally keep in mind that unless you are able to move, the school must be within commuting distance of your Sierra Vista Southeast AZ home. Take note that if you decide to attend 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 personalized training as possible, which can be difficult in bigger classes. Ask if you can sit in on a couple of the classes so that you can see how big they are and witness first hand the interaction between students and instructors. Talk with some of the students and get their comments concerning class sizes and instruction. Last, talk with some of the teachers and find out what their level of expertise is and what degrees or certifications they hold.

Flexible Scheduling.  Verify that the class schedules for the programs you are reviewing are flexible enough to handle your needs. If you can only attend 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 certain that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Additionally, find out what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, sickness or family issues.

Learn More About Sierra Vista Southeast Heating and Cooling Programs Near You

Get Your Heating and Cooling Degree and Certification

Selecting the ideal HVAC school course is an important first step toward a rewarding career in the heating and cooling trade. As we have addressed in this article, you need to pick a Heating and Cooling training program and a certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have outstanding reputations within the HVAC field. Other factors to search for are lots of practical training and modern facilities. You need to check out each of the schools personally that you are most interested in to inspect the campus and speak with both the current students and faculty. Try to get a feel for the quality of the training and the interaction between them. In addition, ask about scheduling options and if night or weekend classes are offered if needed. And don't forget to inquire about financial assistance and student loan options also. If you ask the appropriate questions as we have detailed in our checklist for comparing schools, you'll be able to filter your choices so that you can make an informed decision. With the appropriate training, hard work and dedication, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC technician in Sierra Vista Southeast AZ.