How to Pick the Right HVAC Certification Training near Tucson Arizona
Once you have made a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioning technician, the next action is to look for an HVAC technical school near Tucson AZ. But with so many to select from, how do you choose the ideal one to get the training that you need? Many future students will make their selection based solely on the cost of tuition or how close the school is to their residence. Although these are necessary 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. These and other benchmarks will be covered in more detail later in this article. But before we discuss how to choose an HVAC trade school, let's look at what a heating and cooling contractor does to become a licensed skilled tradesman.
Becoming an HVAC Pro
HVAC is an acronym that is widely used in the industry 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 typically mandated to be licensed, however every state and regional municipality has its own criteria. Earning professional certification is not required, but a voluntary means for Tucson AZ HVAC specialists to establish that they are highly qualified and accomplished in their area of expertise. There are many respected certifications within the field that are available. Following are a few of the significant ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally acknowledged certification for HVAC technicians. 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. 2 years of professional experience as well as passing a comprehensive exam are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have three years of experience as well as a passing result on the professional level examination. As with NATE, certifications are made available in several specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is mandatory for techs that work with refrigerants. There are 3 types of certification available, 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 desire to acquire certification, it's essential that you enroll in an HVAC vocational school that will prepare you for both. And since you will most likely be working with refrigerants, make certain that the school you pick preps you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.
HVAC Certificate and Degree Classes
There are a number of choices available for HVAC instruction in a vocational or trade school. You can obtain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Earning a certificate will take the least period of time, usually achieved in just six months, although some courses are longer. A certificate will qualify you for the majority of HVAC positions, especially if you are licensed and have certification relevant to the position. The degree programs may provide a competitive advantage for securing employment and will furnish more extensive training than the certificate programs. Below is a short explanation of each option offered near Tucson AZ.
- Certificate. Normally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among beginning commercial or residential HVAC specialists. They furnish a strong foundation of skills for job opportunities within the trade.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program delivers a more exhaustive understanding of heating & cooling systems than the certificate program. Generally requiring 2 years to finish, a number of degrees incorporate 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 call for an Associate Degree, while others are a traditional 4 year program. In addition to learning how to service and maintain heating and cooling 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 money 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 returning to earn a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your strategy, be sure to ask the HVAC technician school you are considering about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Classes Online
Attending an HVAC school online is one alternative to getting your education and earning a certificate or degree. Nearly all schools will call for some attendance on campus to take part in hands on training. A number also sponsor internship or work-study programs in addition to or as an alternative to practical lab work. But since the remainder of the classes can be participated in via the internet, this alternative may be a more convenient solution for many Tucson AZ students that are short on time. And some online degree programs are cheaper than other traditional alternatives. Even driving expenses from Tucson and study supplies can be reduced, helping to make schooling more economical. And many online programs are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your career or family commitments have left you with minimal time to attend classes, perhaps an online HVAC degree program will make it more convenient to accommodate school into your busy lifestyle.
What to Ask HVAC Training Programs
When you have decided on the type of certificate or degree that you wish to attain, either online or on campus, you can begin to decrease your list of schools. As you are certainly aware, there are a large number of HVAC trade schools in the Tucson AZ area and all over the United States to pick from. That's why it is imperative to have a checklist of important qualifiers when making school assessments. As earlier mentioned in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will most likely be the first two aspects you will consider. Following are some additional ones that you need to explore before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. A large number of HVAC technical programs in the Tucson AZ area have earned either a regional or a national accreditation. They can earn Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to a specific program, for instance HVAC technology. Make sure that the school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting agency, such as the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping ensure that you receive a quality education, it can assist in securing financial assistance or student loans, which are in many cases unavailable for non-accredited schools. Furthermore, some states mandate that the HVAC training course be accredited in order to qualify for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the Heating and Cooling schools you are considering what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage or portion of students who enroll in and complete the program. A lower completion rate may suggest that students were unhappy with the course and dropped out. It might also indicate that the teachers were not competent to instruct 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 alumni, which may 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 industry, but additionally that it has the network of Tucson AZ HVAC employers to help students acquire apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. Most HVAC trade programs are taught together with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating trade and technical programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of Heating and Cooling companies or labor unions. Find out if the schools you are reviewing have referring partnerships with local Tucson AZ HVAC contractors. An apprenticeship not only offers a valuable experience by providing hands-on training, but it also furnishes job opportunities and helps to form relationships in the area HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make sure that the school facilities and the tools that you will be trained on are state-of-the-art and what you will be using in the field. If you are presently in an internship or an apprenticeship, check with the HVAC technician you are working with regarding what you should be expecting. Otherwise, ask a local Tucson AZ HVAC contractor if they can give you some suggestions. Additionally bear in mind that unless you can move, the school needs to be within commuting distance of your Tucson AZ residence. Take note that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation costs there may be higher 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 bigger classes. Ask if you can monitor a few of the classes so that you can see how big they are and witness first hand the interaction between students and teachers. Talk with a few of the students and get their feedback regarding class sizes and instruction. Finally, speak to some of the instructors and find out what their level of experience is and what degrees or certifications they have earned.
Flexible Scheduling. Confirm that the class schedules for the schools you are evaluating are flexible enough to handle your needs. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Tucson AZ, verify that the programs you are comparing provide those options. If you can only attend part-time, make sure that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Also, find out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, illness or family issues.
Get Your HVAC Degree and Certification
Enrolling in the right HVAC training course is a critical beginning toward a rewarding 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 excellent reputations within the HVAC profession. Other features to search for are plenty of practical training and state-of-the-art facilities. You should go to each of the schools personally that you are most interested in to inspect the campus and talk with both the current students and faculty. Attempt to get a feel for the quality of the teaching and the interaction between them. Also, inquire about scheduling options and whether night or weekend classes are offered if needed. And don't forget to ask about financial assistance and student loan options too. If you ask the appropriate questions as we have outlined in our guidelines for evaluating schools, you'll be able to narrow down your options so that you can make an informed decision. With the right training, hard work and commitment, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC specialist in Tucson AZ.