How to Select the Right Heating and Cooling Degree Program near Yuma Arizona
Once you have decided on a career as a heating and cooling technician, the next action is to locate an HVAC vocational school near Yuma AZ. But with so many to select from, how do you decide on the right one to obtain the training that you require? A number of future students will make their choice based exclusively on the price of tuition or how near the school is to their residence. While these are important factors to consider, they are not the only ones to evaluate. Just 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. These and additional criteria will be covered in more detail later in this article. But before we examine how to pick an HVAC trade school, let's take a look at what a heating and cooling contractor does to become a licensed qualified tradesman.
How to Become an HVAC Pro
HVAC is an acronym that is frequently used in the business that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC techs provide services for the installation, maintenance and repair of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are generally mandated to be licensed, however every state and regional municipality has its own criteria. Attaining professional certification is not mandatory, but an alternative means for Yuma AZ HVAC techs to establish that they are exceptionally proficient and knowledgeable in their area of specialization. There are a number of recognized certifications within the trade that are available. Following are a few of the significant ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally acknowledged certification for HVAC techs. The certification is achieved by passing a competency examination and can be received in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification makes available both a professional and a master specialist credential. Two years of field experience as well as passing a comprehensive exam are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have 3 years of experience together with a passing result on the professional level exam. Similar to NATE, certifications are provided in various specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is necessary for technicians that work with refrigerants. There are 3 types of certification obtainable, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Considering that licensing could be mandated in your location, and you may also wish to obtain certification, it's imperative that you pick an HVAC technical school that will train you for both. And since you will probably be handling refrigerants, make certain that the school you decide on prepares you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.
HVAC Certificate and Degree Schools
There are a variety of choices available for HVAC instruction in a vocational or trade school. You can attain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Obtaining a certificate will take the least amount of time, often completed in as little as 6 months, however some programs are longer. A certificate will train you for most 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 furnish more extensive training than the certificate programs. Below is a brief summary of each credential offered near Yuma AZ.
- Certificate. Normally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among entry level residential or commercial HVAC technicians. They furnish a solid foundation of skills for job opportunities within the industry.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program supplies a more comprehensive background of heating and a/c systems than the certificate program. Generally taking two years to complete, many degrees incorporate an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is tailored more towards a career in management or even business ownership. Some programs require an Associate Degree, while others are a traditional 4 year program. In addition to being taught how to service and maintain heating and cooling systems, you will also study how to design them.
Selecting the appropriate credential program will be based on what your long term career objectives are, as well as the time and financial resources that you have to commit. One option is to start with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after acquiring some experience in the field in Yuma AZ, eventually returning to earn a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your strategy, make certain to ask the HVAC technician school you are considering about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Online Schools
Enrolling in an HVAC school online is one approach to obtaining your training and receiving a certificate or degree. Most schools will call for some attendance on campus to take part in practical training. A number also sponsor internship or work-study programs in addition to or instead of practical lab work. But since the remainder of the classes can be attended online, this approach may be a more convenient solution for some Yuma AZ students that are short on time. And a number of online degree programs are cheaper than other traditional options. Even commuting expenses from Yuma and study supplies may be lessened, helping to make education more affordable. And many online programs are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your work or family obligations have left you with little 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 Classes
Once you have selected the type of degree or certificate that you wish to attain, either online or on campus, you can start to limit your list of schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are a large number of HVAC technical schools in the Yuma AZ area and across the USA to pick from. That's why it is extremely important to have a list of relevant qualifiers when making school assessments. As earlier stated in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will most likely be the initial 2 factors you will consider. Following are some additional ones that you should explore before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Many HVAC vocational schools in the Yuma AZ area have attained either a regional or a national accreditation. They may receive Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to an individual program, for example HVAC technology. Verify 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 ensure that you receive a superior education, it may assist in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are frequently unavailable for non-accredited programs. Furthermore, some states require that the HVAC training course be accredited for it to qualify for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the HVAC schools you are considering what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage of students who enroll in and finish the course. A low completion rate might signify that students were dissatisfied with the program and dropped out. It might also indicate that the instructors were not competent to instruct the students. It's also imperative that the schools have higher 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 confirm that the school has an excellent reputation within the industry, but additionally that it has the network of Yuma AZ HVAC employers to help graduates acquire apprenticeships or jobs.
Apprenticeship Programs. Many HVAC technical programs are taught along with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating trade and vocational programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of Heating and Cooling companies or labor unions. Ask if the schools you are considering have referring relationships with local Yuma AZ HVAC professionals. An apprenticeship not only offers a rewarding experience by furnishing hands-on training, but it also supplies job opportunities and helps to establish relationships in the local HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make certain that the school facilities and the equipment that you will be instructed on are state-of-the-art and what you will be working with on the job. If you are presently in an internship or an apprenticeship, talk to the HVAC specialist you are working under concerning what you should be expecting. Otherwise, ask a local Yuma AZ HVAC company if they can provide some pointers. Also bear in mind that unless you can move, the school needs to be within driving distance of your Yuma AZ residence. Take note that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, besides the added relocation costs there may be higher tuition fees compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's important that you receive as much one-on-one instruction as possible, which can be challenging in larger classes. Ask if you can sit in on a few of the classes so that you can observe how large they are and witness first hand the interaction between teachers and students. Speak with some of the students and get their opinions regarding class sizes and instruction. Last, speak to some of the instructors and learn what their level of expertise is and what degrees or certifications they hold.
Flexible Scheduling. Confirm that the class schedules for the programs you are assessing are flexible enough to handle your needs. If you are only able to go to classes at night or on weekends near Yuma AZ, verify that the programs you are looking at offer those options. If you can only attend part-time, make sure that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Finally, check out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, sickness or family emergencies.
Get Your HVAC Degree and Certification
Finding the ideal HVAC training program is a critical first step toward a gratifying career in the heating and air conditioning field. 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 trade. Other things to look for are ample practical training and modern facilities. You need to visit 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 instruction and the interaction between them. Also, inquire about scheduling choices and whether or not evening or weekend classes are available if needed. And don't forget to inquire about financial aid and student loan options too. If you ask the right questions as we have outlined in our guidelines for comparing schools, you'll be able to filter your options so that you can make an informed decision. With the proper training, hard work and commitment, you can eventually become a licensed HVAC professional in Yuma AZ.