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How to Find the Right Heating and Cooling Program near Yuma Arizona

Yuma Arizona home A/C condensersNow that you have decided on a career as a heating and air conditioning specialist, the next step is to choose an HVAC vocational school near Yuma AZ. But with so many to choose from, how do you pick the best one to get the training that you require? Many future students will make their selection based exclusively on the price of tuition or how near the school is to their residence. Even though these are significant concerns, they are not the only ones to take into account. Some of the other details that you need to investigate are the graduation completion rates of the HVAC schools, their reputations, and if they are accredited by professional trade organizations. These and other criteria will be discussed in more detail later within this article. But before we tackle how to choose an HVAC vocational school, let's look at what a heating and cooling professional does to become a licensed skilled tradesman.

Becoming an HVAC Professional

Yuma Arizona Heating and Cooling Technician fixing air conditioning condenserHVAC is an acronym that is extensively used in the trade that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC technicians specialize in the installation, maintenance and repair of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are commonly required to be licensed, however every state and local municipality has its own criteria. Attaining professional certification is not required, but an optional way for Yuma AZ HVAC techs to establish that they are highly proficient and experienced in their area of specialization. There are a number of respected certifications within the trade that are available. Below 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 proficiency exam and can be received in one or more specialties.
  • HVAC Excellence. This certification offers both a professional and a master specialist credential. 2 years of field experience together with passing a comprehensive examination are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have three years of experience along with a passing result on the professional level exam. As with NATE, certifications are made available in multiple specialties.
  • EPA Section 608. This certification is required for specialists 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 intend to acquire certification, it's essential that you select an HVAC technical school that will prepare you for both. And since you will most likely be working with refrigerants, make certain that the program you decide on readies you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.

HVAC Degree and Certificate Classes

Yuma Arizona residential heater

There are a variety of alternatives available for HVAC instruction in a vocational or trade school. You can obtain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Acquiring a certificate will take the minimum period of time, typically accomplished in just 6 months, however some programs are longer. A certificate will train you for most 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 provide more comprehensive training than the certificate programs. Following is a short description of each option offered near Yuma AZ.

  • Certificate. Usually 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 job opportunities within the trade.
  • Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program delivers a more detailed understanding of heating and cooling systems than the certificate program. Generally requiring 2 years to complete, many degrees feature an internship or work-study program.
  • Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is tailored more towards a career in management as well as business ownership. Some programs require 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 study how to design them.

Picking 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 approach is to start with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after acquiring some experience in the field in Yuma AZ, later returning to earn a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your approach, make sure to ask the HVAC technician school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.

HVAC Online Training

Enrolling in an HVAC school online is one approach in attaining your training and earning a degree or certificate. Nearly all schools will require some attendance on campus to participate in hands on training. Many also sponsor internship or work-study programs in addition to or in place of practical lab work. But since the rest of the classes may be participated in via the internet, this option may be a more accessible solution for many Yuma AZ students that are pressed for time. And a number of online degree programs are less costly than other traditional choices. Even travelling expenses from Yuma and study supplies may be reduced, helping to make schooling more budget-friendly. And numerous online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your career or family responsibilities have left you with limited time to attend classes, perhaps an online HVAC degree program will make it less complicated to accommodate school into your busy lifestyle.

What to Ask HVAC Training Programs

Yuma Arizona HVAC technician installing water heater

After you have selected the type of degree or certificate that you would like to acquire, either on campus or online, you can begin to decrease your selection of schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are numerous HVAC trade schools in the Yuma AZ area and throughout the USA to choose from. That's why it is essential to have a list of key qualifiers when making school comparisons. As formerly stated in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will undoubtedly be the first two aspects you will look at. Following are some additional ones that you should research before enrolling in your school of choice.

Accreditation.  Numerous HVAC technical schools in the Yuma AZ area have attained either a regional or a national accreditation. They may acquire Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to a specific program, for instance HVAC technology. Make sure that the school and program are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency, which includes the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping guarantee that you get an excellent education, it can assist in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are in many cases unavailable for non-accredited programs. Also, many states mandate that the HVAC training program be accredited for it to be approved 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 program. A low completion rate could signify that students were dissatisfied with the course and quit. It could also mean that the instructors were not competent to instruct the students. It's similarly imperative that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive directory of graduates, which may produce more contacts for the school to employ for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate can not only confirm that the school has a good reputation within the industry, but additionally that it has the network of Yuma AZ HVAC employers to help graduates secure apprenticeships or employment.

Apprenticeship Programs.  Many HVAC training programs are taught together with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating trade and vocational programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of HVAC contractors or trade unions. Check if the schools you are comparing have working relationships with local Yuma AZ HVAC companies. An apprenticeship not only offers a valuable experience by providing hands-on training, but it also furnishes employment opportunities and helps to build relationships in the regional HVAC professional community.

Modern Facilities.  Confirm that the school facilities and the equipment that you will be instructed on are state-of-the-art and what you will be using 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 looking for. Otherwise, ask a local Yuma AZ HVAC contracting company if they can provide some tips. Also bear in mind that unless you are willing to relocate, the school needs to be within commuting distance of your Yuma AZ residence. Take note that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation costs there can be higher tuition charges compared to in-state residents.

Smaller Classes.   It's desirable that you receive as much one-on-one training as possible, which can be difficult in bigger classes. Ask if you can monitor a couple of the classes so that you can observe how big they are and experience the interaction between students and instructors. Talk with some of the students and get their comments concerning class sizes and instruction. Last, speak with some of the teachers and learn what their level of experience is and what certifications or degrees they have earned.

Flexible Scheduling.  Verify that the class schedules for the schools you are evaluating are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Yuma AZ, check that the programs you are reviewing provide those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, be sure that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Additionally, ask what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, sickness or family emergencies.

Learn More About Yuma HVAC Programs In Your Area

Get Your HVAC Training and Certification

Finding the ideal HVAC school program is a critical beginning toward a fulfilling career in the heating & cooling field. As we have discussed in this article, you should select a Heating and Cooling training program and a certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have exceptional reputations within the HVAC trade. Other things to search for are lots of practical training and state-of-the-art facilities. You need to check out each of the schools in person that you are most interested in to inspect 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 choices and whether night or weekend classes are available if needed. And remember to inquire about financial aid and student loan options also. If you ask the right questions as we have outlined in our checklist for comparing schools, you'll be able to filter your choices so that you can make an educated decision. With the right training, hard work and commitment, you can eventually become a licensed HVAC contractor in Yuma AZ.