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How to Pick the Right HVAC Certificate Program near Tanque Verde Arizona

Tanque Verde Arizona home A/C condensersOnce you have decided on a career as a heating and cooling technician, the next step is to choose an HVAC technical school near Tanque Verde AZ. But with so many to pick from, how do you pick the best one to obtain the training that you require? Many future students will make their decision based exclusively on the price of tuition or how close the school is to their home. Although these are important concerns, they are not the only ones to investigate. Some of the other details that you need to research are the graduation completion rates of the HVAC schools, their reputations, and if they are accredited by professional trade organizations. These and additional benchmarks will be discussed in more detail later in this article. But before we tackle how to choose an HVAC technical school, let's take a look at what a heating and air conditioning contractor does to become a licensed professional tradesman.

Becoming an HVAC Contractor

Tanque Verde Arizona HVAC Contractor repairing A/C condenserHVAC is an acronym that is widely used in the business that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC professionals provide services for the installation, maintenance and repair of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are generally required to be licensed, though every state and regional municipality has its own prerequisites. Obtaining professional certification is not compulsory, but an optional way for Tanque Verde AZ HVAC specialists to prove that they are exceptionally qualified and experienced in their area of specialization. There are a number of respected certifications within the trade that are offered. Below are a few of the significant ones.

  • North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally recognized certification for HVAC technicians. The certification is attained by passing a proficiency exam and can be earned in one or more specialties.
  • HVAC Excellence. This certification offers both a professional and a master specialist credential. 2 years of field experience as well as passing a comprehensive exam are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have 3 years of experience along with a passing score on the professional level exam. Similar to NATE, certifications are provided in multiple specialties.
  • EPA Section 608. This certification is necessary for specialists that work with refrigerants. There are 3 forms of certification offered, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.

Considering that licensing might be mandated in your area, and you may also wish to obtain certification, it's essential that you select an HVAC trade school that will prepare you for both. And since you will probably be handling refrigerants, make sure that the school you choose preps you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.

HVAC Degree and Certificate Training Programs

Tanque Verde Arizona residential heating pump

There are several choices available for HVAC instruction in a technical or vocational school. You can earn a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Earning a certificate will take the minimum period of time, often completed in just six months, however some courses are longer. A certificate will qualify you for the majority of HVAC positions, particularly if you are licensed and have certification applicable to the position. The degree programs can provide a competitive edge for securing employment and will provide more in-depth training than the certificate programs. Below is a brief description of each option offered near Tanque Verde AZ.

  • Certificate. Usually requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among beginning residential or commercial HVAC professionals. They provide a solid 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 cooling systems than the certificate program. Normally taking 2 years to finish, many degrees include an internship or work-study program.
  • Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is geared more towards a career in management or even business ownership. Some programs require an Associate Degree, while others are a standard 4 year program. In addition to learning how to service and maintain heating and cooling systems, you will also study how to design them.

Selecting the right credential program will be based on what your future career objectives are, along with the time and financial resources that you have to commit. One option is to start with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after getting some experience in the trade in Tanque Verde AZ, later returning 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 Online Schools

Choosing an HVAC school online is one possibility in obtaining your training and receiving a degree or certificate. Nearly all schools will call for some attendance on campus to participate in practical training. A number also provide internship or work-study programs in addition to or instead of practical lab work. But since the balance of the classes may be participated in via the internet, this approach may be a more accessible solution for some Tanque Verde AZ students that are pressed for time. And a number of online degree programs are less expensive than other on campus options. Even driving expenses from Tanque Verde and study supplies can be reduced, helping to make schooling more economical. And a large number of 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, maybe an HVAC online training program will make it easier to fit school into your hectic schedule.

What to Ask HVAC Certification Courses

Tanque Verde Arizona Heating and Cooling technician installing water heater

When you have selected the type of certificate or degree that you want to obtain, either on campus or online, you can start to narrow down your list of schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are numerous HVAC technical schools in the Tanque Verde AZ area and throughout the United States to pick from. That's why it is essential to have a checklist of relevant qualifications when making school comparisons. As earlier mentioned in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will most likely be the initial 2 aspects you will consider. Following are several additional ones that you need to explore before enrolling in your school of choice.

Accreditation.  A large number of HVAC vocational programs in the Tanque Verde AZ area have acquired either a regional or a national accreditation. They may receive Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to a specific program, such as HVAC technology. Make sure that the program and school are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency, such as the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping ensure that you acquire an excellent education, it may help in acquiring financial assistance or student loans, which are in many cases not available for non-accredited schools. Furthermore, some states mandate that the HVAC training course be accredited for it to be approved for licensing.

High Completion Rates.  Ask the HVAC schools you are reviewing what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students who enroll in and complete the program. A lower completion rate might indicate that students were dissatisfied with the program and quit. It could also suggest that the teachers were not competent to train the students. It's also important that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader directory of alumni, which may mean more contacts for the school to utilize 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 trade, but additionally that it has the network of Tanque Verde AZ HVAC employers to assist students obtain apprenticeships or jobs.

Apprenticeship Programs.  Numerous HVAC training programs are taught together 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 trade unions. Ask if the schools you are considering have referring partnerships with local Tanque Verde AZ HVAC companies. An apprenticeship not only offers a valuable experience by furnishing practical training, but it also supplies job opportunities and helps to form relationships in the area HVAC professional community.

Modern Facilities.  Make certain that the school facilities and the tools that you will be trained on are state-of-the-art and what you will be working with on the job. If you are currently 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 Tanque Verde AZ HVAC company if they can give you some suggestions. Also keep in mind that unless you are willing to move, the school needs to be within commuting distance of your Tanque Verde AZ home. Remember that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation costs there might be increased tuition charges compared to in-state residents.

Smaller Classes.   It's important that you receive as much personalized instruction as possible, which can be difficult in larger classes. Ask if you can monitor some of the classes so that you can observe how big they are and experience the interaction between teachers and students. Talk to a few of the students and get their opinions concerning class sizes and instruction. Last, talk to some of the teachers and learn what their level of expertise is and what certifications or degrees they hold.

Flexible Scheduling.  Verify that the class schedules for the schools you are evaluating are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you are only able to go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Tanque Verde AZ, check that the programs you are looking at offer those choices. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Also, find out what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, sickness or family issues.

Learn More About Tanque Verde Heating and Cooling Training Programs In Your Area

Earn Your HVAC Certificate or Degree

Finding the ideal HVAC training program is an important beginning toward a rewarding career in the heating & cooling field. As we have covered 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 features to search for are lots of practical training and modern facilities. You need to go to each of the schools personally that you are most interested in to tour 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, inquire about scheduling choices and if evening or weekend classes are available if needed. And don't forget to ask 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 filter your options so that you can make an informed decision. With the appropriate training, hard work and dedication, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC contractor in Tanque Verde AZ.