How to Pick the Right HVAC Training Class near Tucson Arizona
Now that you have decided on a career as a heating and air conditioner professional, the next action is to look for an HVAC trade school near Tucson AZ. But with so many to select from, how do you pick the ideal one to get the training that you need? Many prospective students will make their decision based entirely on the price of tuition or how close the school is to their home. While these are relevant factors to consider, they are not the only ones to evaluate. Some of the other details that you need to investigate are the graduation rates of the HVAC schools, their reputations, and if they are accredited by professional trade organizations. Those and other benchmarks will be discussed in more detail later in this article. But before we discuss how to pick an HVAC vocational school, let's look at what a heating and cooling specialist does to become a licensed qualified tradesman.
Becoming an HVAC Pro
HVAC is an acronym that is commonly used in the trade that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC techs provide services for the installation, repair and maintenance of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are commonly mandated to be licensed, however every state and regional municipality has its own prerequisites. Acquiring professional certification is not compulsory, but an alternative way for Tucson AZ HVAC techs to demonstrate that they are highly qualified and knowledgeable in their area of expertise. There are many acknowledged certifications within the field that are available. Here are some of the significant ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally recognized certification for HVAC techs. The certification is earned by passing a proficiency examination and may be earned in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification makes available both a professional and a master specialist credential. Two years of professional experience as well as passing a comprehensive exam are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have three years of experience together with a passing result on the professional level exam. Similar to NATE, certifications are provided in multiple specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is mandatory for techs that work with refrigerants. There are three forms of certification available, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Because licensing could be mandated in your area, and you may also intend to earn certification, it's imperative that you choose an HVAC trade school that will train you for both. And since you will more than likely be working with refrigerants, make sure that the program you decide on prepares you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
HVAC Certificate and Degree Courses
There are several options available for HVAC instruction in a trade or technical school. You can attain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Earning a certificate will take the least amount of time, usually achieved in just six months, however some courses are longer. A certificate will qualify you for most HVAC positions, especially if you are licensed and have certification relevant to the position. The degree programs might provide a competitive advantage for securing employment and will furnish more in-depth training than the certificate programs. Below is a short summary of each option offered near Tucson AZ.
- Certificate. Normally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among beginning residential or commercial HVAC specialists. They furnish a solid foundation of skills for employment within the trade.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program provides a more extensive understanding of heating & cooling systems than the certificate program. Normally requiring two years to finish, some degrees feature an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is suited more towards a career in management or even business ownership. Some programs require an Associate Degree, while others are a conventional 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.
Picking the appropriate credential program will be dependent on what your future career objectives are, in addition to the time and financial resources that you have to invest. One possibility is to begin with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after acquiring some experience in the trade in Tucson AZ, subsequently returning to obtain a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your approach, be sure to ask the HVAC technician school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Courses Online
Choosing an HVAC school online is one possibility in obtaining your education and earning a degree or certificate. Most schools will call for some attendance on campus to take part in hands on training. A number also provide internship or work-study programs in addition to or as an alternative to practical lab work. But since the balance of the classes can be participated in online, this approach may be a more accessible solution for many Tucson AZ students that are pressed for time. And a number of online degree programs are more economical than other on campus options. Even commuting expenses from Tucson and study materials can be minimized, helping to make schooling more economical. And a large number of online programs are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your career or family commitments have left you with little time to attend classes, maybe an online HVAC degree program will make it easier to accommodate school into your hectic schedule.
Questions to Ask HVAC Certification Classes
After you have picked the type of certificate or degree that you would like to acquire, either on campus or online, you can begin to decrease your list of schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are many HVAC technical schools in the Tucson AZ area and all over the USA to pick 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 first two aspects you will look at. Following are several additional ones that you will want to research before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. A large number of HVAC technical schools in the Tucson AZ area have earned either a regional or a national accreditation. They may earn Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to a specific program, such as HVAC technology. Make certain that the program is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization, for example the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping make certain that you get a quality education, it may assist in obtaining financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently not available for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of states mandate 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 considering what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage of students who enroll in and complete the program. A low completion rate may signify that students were unhappy with the course and dropped out. It may also mean that the instructors were not competent to train the students. It's also imperative that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader list of graduates, which can mean more contacts for the school to employ 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 also that it has the network of Tucson AZ HVAC employers to assist students obtain apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. Numerous HVAC training programs are taught along 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 HVAC businesses or labor unions. Find out if the schools you are comparing have referring relationships with local Tucson AZ HVAC specialists. An apprenticeship not only provides a valuable experience by supplying practical training, but it also supplies job opportunities and helps to establish relationships in the regional HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make certain that the school facilities and the tools that you will be trained on are up-to-date and what you will be working with in the field. If you are currently in an internship or an apprenticeship, talk to the HVAC specialist you are working with regarding what you should be looking for. Otherwise, ask a local Tucson AZ HVAC contracting company if they can give you some suggestions. Additionally keep in mind that unless you can relocate, the school must be within driving distance of your Tucson AZ residence. Take note that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, in addition to moving costs there may be increased tuition charges compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's desirable that you receive as much individualized training as possible, which can be challenging in larger classes. Ask if you can monitor a few of the classes so that you can see how big they are and experience the interaction between instructors and students. Speak with some of the students and get their feedback regarding class sizes and instruction. Finally, speak with some of the teachers and learn what their level of experience is and what degrees or certifications they hold.
Flexible Scheduling. Confirm that the class schedules for the programs you are evaluating are flexible enough to handle your needs. If you are only able to go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Tucson AZ, verify 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 permits part-time enrollment. Additionally, check out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, sickness or family emergencies.
Get Your HVAC Degree and Certification
Choosing the right HVAC school program is a crucial beginning toward a gratifying career in the heating and cooling industry. As we have addressed in this article, you need to pick a Heating and Cooling training program and a degree or certificate program that are both accredited and have outstanding reputations within the HVAC community. Other factors to search for are plenty of hands-on 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 faculty and current students. Attempt to get a feel for the quality of the training and the interaction between them. Also, ask about scheduling options and whether or not night or weekend classes are available if needed. And don't forget to ask about financial aid and student loan options too. If you ask the appropriate questions as we have outlined in our checklist for comparing schools, you'll be able to filter your options 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 Tucson AZ.