How to Enroll In the Right HVAC Certification Class near Yuma Arizona
Once you have come to a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioning technician, the next step is to choose an HVAC vocational school near Yuma AZ. But with so many to select from, how do you decide on the best one to receive the training that you need? Some potential students will make their choice based exclusively on the cost of tuition or how near the school is to their home. While these are significant concerns, they are not the only ones to take into account. A few of the other things that you need to look into are the graduation rates of the HVAC schools, their reputations, and if they are accredited by professional trade organizations. Those and additional benchmarks will be covered in more detail later within this article. But before we examine how to select an HVAC trade school, let's look at what a heating and cooling professional does to become a licensed qualified tradesman.
How to Become an HVAC Pro
HVAC is an acronym that is commonly used in the industry that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC contractors specialize in the installation, repair and maintenance of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are generally mandated to be licensed, however every state and regional municipality has its own prerequisites. Attaining professional certification is not required, but an alternative means for Yuma AZ HVAC technicians to prove that they are highly proficient and accomplished in their area of expertise. There are a number of respected certifications within the field that are available. Following are a few of the important ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally acknowledged certification for HVAC technicians. The certification is achieved by passing a competency examination and can be earned in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification offers 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 three years of experience together with a passing result on the professional level exam. Similar to NATE, certifications are offered in several specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is mandatory for techs that work with refrigerants. There are 3 forms of certification available, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Considering that licensing may be required in your location, and you may also wish to acquire certification, it's important that you enroll in an HVAC technical school that will prepare you for both. And since you will most likely be handling refrigerants, make certain that the school you decide on readies you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.
HVAC Certificate and Degree Classes
There are a number of alternatives available for HVAC training in a trade or technical school. You can attain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Obtaining a certificate will take the least period of time, often achieved in as little as 6 months, however some courses are longer. A certificate will train you for most HVAC positions, particularly if you are licensed and have certification appropriate to the position. The degree programs might provide a competitive edge for securing employment and will furnish more comprehensive training than the certificate programs. Below is a short summary of each option offered near Yuma AZ.
- Certificate. Usually requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among beginning residential or commercial HVAC technicians. They furnish a solid foundation of skills for employment within the industry.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program delivers a more detailed background of heating and cooling systems than the certificate program. Normally requiring 2 years to complete, a number of degrees include an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is geared more for a career in management or even business ownership. Some programs require an Associate Degree, while others are a conventional four year program. In addition to learning how to service and maintain heating and air conditioning systems, you will also learn how to design them.
Choosing the right credential program will be based on what your future career objectives are, together with the time and financial resources that you have to invest. One approach is to start with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after acquiring some experience in the trade in Yuma AZ, later returning to earn a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your approach, make certain to ask the HVAC technician school you are considering about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Schools Online
Choosing an HVAC school online is one approach in attaining your training and earning a certificate or degree. Nearly all schools will call for some attendance on campus to complete practical training. Many also offer internship or work-study programs in addition to or in place of practical lab work. But since the balance of the classes can be attended via the internet, this approach may be a more accessible solution for some Yuma AZ students that are pressed for time. And many online degree programs are cheaper than other on campus choices. Even commuting expenses from Yuma and study materials can be lessened, helping to make schooling more affordable. And numerous 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 online HVAC degree program will make it easier to fit school into your hectic lifestyle.
Questions to Ask HVAC Trade Schools
Once you have selected the type of certificate or degree that you wish to acquire, either on campus or online, you can begin to decrease your selection of schools. As you are probably aware, there are a large number of HVAC trade schools in the Yuma AZ area and across the Country to pick from. That's why it is very important to have a list of key qualifications when making school comparisons. As previously mentioned in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will undoubtedly be the first two aspects you will consider. Following are several additional ones that you should investigate before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. A large number of HVAC trade programs in the Yuma AZ area have acquired either a regional or a national accreditation. They can receive Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to an individual program, for instance HVAC technology. Make certain that the school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency, for instance the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping guarantee that you receive a quality education, it can help in obtaining financial assistance or student loans, which are in many cases not available for non-accredited programs. Additionally, a number of states require that the HVAC training program be accredited in order to qualify for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the HVAC schools you are considering what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students who enroll in and complete the course. A low completion rate could signify that students were disappointed with the program and dropped out. It might also mean that the teachers were not qualified to instruct the students. It's also essential that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader directory of graduates, which can mean more contacts for the school to utilize for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate will not only affirm that the school has a good reputation within the trade, but also that it has the network of Yuma AZ HVAC employers to help students secure apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. Most HVAC training programs are taught along with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating vocational and technical programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of HVAC companies or labor unions. Find out if the schools you are reviewing have working partnerships with local Yuma AZ HVAC companies. An apprenticeship not only offers a valuable experience by supplying practical training, but it also furnishes job opportunities and helps to establish relationships in the area HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Confirm that the school 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 presently in an internship or an apprenticeship, consult with the HVAC specialist you are working under regarding what you should be expecting. If not, ask a local Yuma AZ HVAC contractor 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 Yuma AZ residence. Remember that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation costs there might be increased tuition fees compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's important that you get as much one-on-one training as possible, which can be difficult in larger classes. Ask if you can monitor a few of the classes so that you can see how large they are and experience the interaction between students and instructors. Talk to several of the students and get their feedback regarding class sizes and instruction. Finally, talk to a few of the teachers 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 evaluating are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you are only able to go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Yuma AZ, confirm that the schools you are looking at offer those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, be sure that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Finally, check out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, sickness or family responsibilities.
Earn Your HVAC Training and Certification
Choosing the ideal HVAC school course is a critical first step toward a fulfilling career in the heating and air conditioning field. As we have covered in this article, you should select a Heating and Cooling training program and a certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have excellent reputations within the HVAC trade. Other things to look for are sufficient hands-on training and state-of-the-art facilities. You should visit each of the schools personally that you are most interested in to inspect the campus and talk with both the faculty and current students. Attempt to get a feel for the quality of the training and the interaction between them. In addition, inquire about scheduling options and whether evening or weekend classes are available if needed. And remember to ask about financial aid and student loan options too. If you ask the proper questions as we have detailed in our checklist for evaluating schools, you'll be able to narrow down your choices so that you can make an educated decision. With the appropriate training, hard work and commitment, you can eventually become a licensed HVAC technician in Yuma AZ.