How to Select the Right HVAC Training Class near Tucson Arizona
Once you have made a decision on a career as a heating and cooling technician, the next step is to locate an HVAC vocational school near Tucson AZ. But with so many to choose from, how do you choose the ideal one to get the training that you need? Some future students will make their choice based solely on the price of tuition or how near the school is to their residence. Although these are significant concerns, they are not the only ones to take into account. A few of the other factors that you need to look into are the graduation completion rates of the HVAC schools, their reputations, and if they are accredited by professional trade organizations. Those and other criteria will be addressed in more detail later within this article. But before we tackle how to choose an HVAC technical school, let's look at what a heating and cooling specialist does to become a licensed qualified tradesman.
Becoming an HVAC Tech
HVAC is an acronym that is frequently used in the business that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC professionals specialize in the installation, maintenance and repair of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are commonly required to be licensed, although each state and local municipality has its own criteria. Attaining professional certification is not mandatory, but a voluntary way for Tucson AZ HVAC specialists to prove that they are exceptionally qualified and accomplished in their area of expertise. There are multiple acknowledged certifications within the industry that are available. Following are a few of the important ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally recognized certification for HVAC technicians. The certification is achieved 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 together with passing a comprehensive exam are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have 3 years of experience along with a passing result on the professional level examination. Similar to NATE, certifications are provided in several specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is mandatory for technicians that handle refrigerants. There are 3 types of certification obtainable, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Considering that licensing could be required in your area, and you may also wish to obtain certification, it's imperative that you enroll in an HVAC trade school that will prepare you for both. And since you will more than likely be dealing with refrigerants, make sure that the school you pick prepares you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
HVAC Degree Classes
There are a number of alternatives offered for HVAC training in a trade or technical school. You can earn a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Acquiring a certificate will take the minimum period of time, typically achieved in as little as 6 months, though some courses are longer. A certificate will train you for the majority of HVAC positions, especially 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 extensive training than the certificate programs. Following is a brief summary of each option offered near Tucson AZ.
- Certificate. Generally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among entry level commercial or residential HVAC specialists. They provide a solid foundation of skills for job opportunities within the industry.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program provides a more extensive knowledge of heating and cooling systems than the certificate program. Usually taking two years to complete, a number of degrees feature an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is geared more for a career in management as well as business ownership. Some programs require an Associate Degree, while others are a traditional four year program. In addition to mastering how to service and maintain heating and air conditioning systems, you will also learn how to design them.
Selecting the ideal credential program will be dependent on what your future career aspirations are, in addition to the time and financial resources that you have to invest. One option is to begin with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after gaining some experience in the field in Tucson AZ, eventually going back to obtain a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your strategy, be sure to ask the HVAC tech school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Classes Online
Enrolling in an HVAC school online is one alternative to getting your education and receiving a degree or certificate. Most schools will require some attendance on campus to take part in practical training. A number also offer internship or work-study programs in addition to or in place of practical lab work. But since the rest of the classes can be participated in on the web, this option may be a more accessible solution for many Tucson AZ students that are short on time. And a number of online degree programs are cheaper than other traditional choices. Even commuting expenses from Tucson and study materials can be lessened, helping to make education more economical. And many online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your job or family commitments have left you with minimal time to attend classes, maybe an online HVAC degree program will make it less complicated to fit school into your hectic lifestyle.
What to Ask HVAC Training Classes
As soon as you have picked the type of certificate or degree that you desire to obtain, either on campus or online, you can start to limit your selection of schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are many HVAC vocational schools in the Tucson AZ area and across the USA to choose from. That's why it is essential to have a checklist of relevant qualifications when making school assessments. As formerly mentioned in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will probably be the initial two variables you will take into consideration. Following are some additional ones that you need to explore before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Many HVAC vocational schools in the Tucson AZ area have attained either a regional or a national accreditation. They can attain Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to an individual program, for instance HVAC technology. Make certain that the program is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization, which includes the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping make certain that you receive a superior education, it may help in obtaining financial assistance or student loans, which are in many cases unavailable for non-accredited programs. Also, many states require that the HVAC training program be accredited in order 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 finish the course. A low completion rate might indicate that students were dissatisfied with the program and dropped out. It might also signify that the instructors were not qualified to instruct the students. It's also important that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader list of graduates, which can produce more contacts for the school to employ for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate will not only affirm that the school has an excellent reputation within the trade, but additionally that it has the network of Tucson AZ HVAC employers to help students secure apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. A large number of HVAC training programs are taught along with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating technical and vocational programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of Heating and Cooling contractors or labor unions. Check if the schools you are comparing have referring partnerships with local Tucson AZ HVAC contractors. An apprenticeship not only offers a rewarding experience by supplying hands-on training, but it also supplies employment opportunities and helps to build relationships in the area HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make sure that the campus facilities and the tools that you will be trained on are up-to-date and what you will be working with on the job. If you are currently in an internship or an apprenticeship, talk to the HVAC technician you are working with concerning what you should be expecting. Otherwise, ask a local Tucson AZ HVAC company if they can provide some pointers. Additionally keep in mind that unless you are able to move, the school needs to be within commuting distance of your Tucson AZ home. Take note that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, besides the added moving costs there might be increased tuition charges compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's important that you get as much one-on-one instruction as possible, which can be challenging in larger classes. Ask if you can monitor a couple of the classes so that you can see how large they are and witness first hand the interaction between students and instructors. Speak to some of the students and get their comments relating to class sizes and instruction. Finally, talk to a few of the instructors and learn what their level of expertise is and what certifications or degrees they hold.
Flexible Scheduling. Make sure that the class schedules for the schools you are reviewing are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Tucson AZ, confirm that the programs you are reviewing 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, find out what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, sickness or family emergencies.
Earn Your Heating and Cooling Training and Certification
Picking the right HVAC school course is a crucial first step toward a gratifying career in the heating and air conditioning trade. As we have covered in this article, you need to choose a Heating and Cooling training program and a degree or certificate program that are both accredited and have excellent reputations within the HVAC community. Other factors to look for are lots of hands-on training and state-of-the-art facilities. You need to go to each of the schools personally that you are most interested in to explore the campus and speak with both the current students and faculty. Attempt to get a feel for the quality of the training and the interaction between them. Additionally, inquire about scheduling options and if night or weekend classes are offered if needed. And don't forget to inquire about financial aid and student loan options as well. If you ask the appropriate questions as we have outlined 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 dedication, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC technician in Tucson AZ.