How to Pick the Right Heating and Cooling College near Yuma Arizona
Once you have come to a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioner professional, the next action is to look for an HVAC trade school near Yuma AZ. But with so many to select from, how do you choose the best one to obtain the training that you require? Many prospective students will make their choice based solely on the cost of tuition or how near the school is to their home. Although these are important concerns, they are not the only ones to evaluate. Just some 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 other criteria will be covered in more detail later in this article. But before we examine how to choose an HVAC trade school, let's look at what a heating and a/c professional does to become a licensed skilled tradesman.
How to Become an HVAC Technician
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, water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are commonly mandated to be licensed, however every state and regional municipality has its own criteria. Attaining professional certification is not required, but an optional way for Yuma AZ HVAC technicians to demonstrate that they are exceptionally qualified and experienced in their area of expertise. There are many respected certifications within the industry that are available. Following are a few of the important ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally acknowledged certification for HVAC techs. The certification is earned by passing a proficiency exam and may be acquired 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 examination are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have 3 years of experience together with a passing score on the professional level examination. As with NATE, certifications are provided in several specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is mandatory for specialists that work with refrigerants. There are 3 forms of certification obtainable, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Because licensing could be required in your location, and you may also desire to earn certification, it's imperative that you select an HVAC trade school that will train you for both. And since you will probably be working with refrigerants, make certain that the program you select readies you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.
HVAC Degree Training Programs
There are a number of options offered for HVAC training 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 lesser period of time, typically completed in just six months, although some programs are longer. A certificate will qualify you for most HVAC positions, particularly if you are licensed and have certification applicable to the position. The degree programs might provide a competitive edge for securing employment and will provide more comprehensive training than the certificate programs. Following is a brief explanation of each credential offered near Yuma AZ.
- Certificate. Generally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among beginning residential or commercial HVAC specialists. They furnish a strong foundation of skills for employment within the trade.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program supplies a more comprehensive knowledge of heating and a/c systems than the certificate program. Generally requiring two years to complete, some degrees incorporate 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 study how to design them.
Picking the ideal credential program will be based on what your future career goals are, together with the time and money that you have to commit. One option is to begin with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after acquiring some experience in the trade in Yuma AZ, eventually going back to earn a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your tactic, be sure to ask the HVAC tech school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Online Training
Attending an HVAC school online is one alternative in obtaining your training and receiving a degree or certificate. Most schools will require some attendance on campus to complete practical 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 can be attended on the web, this option may be a more practical solution for some Yuma AZ students that are short on time. And a number of online degree programs are less expensive than other traditional options. Even commuting expenses from Yuma and study materials may be minimized, helping to make schooling more economical. And a large number of online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your job or family responsibilities have left you with limited time to attend classes, maybe an online HVAC degree program will make it easier to accommodate school into your active schedule.
Questions to Ask HVAC Certification Courses
As soon as you have picked the type of degree or certificate that you desire to acquire, either online or on campus, you can start to decrease your selection of schools. As you are certainly aware, there are many HVAC vocational schools in the Yuma AZ area and throughout the Country to pick from. That's why it is essential to have a checklist of relevant qualifiers when making school comparisons. As earlier stated in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will most likely be the first two variables you will take into consideration. Following are some additional ones that you will want to explore before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. A large number of HVAC trade schools in the Yuma AZ area have received either a regional or a national accreditation. They may acquire Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to an individual program, for example HVAC technology. Make sure that the school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization, for instance the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping make certain that you obtain a quality education, it may help in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are frequently not available for non-accredited schools. Additionally, many states require that the HVAC training course be accredited in order to be approved for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the Heating and Air Conditioning schools you are reviewing what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage of students who enroll in and complete the program. A lower completion rate could signify that students were unhappy with the course and dropped out. It could also mean that the instructors were not competent to train the students. It's also essential that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive directory of alumni, which may produce more contacts for the school to use for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate will not only validate that the school has a good reputation within the industry, but also that it has the network of Yuma AZ HVAC employers to assist students secure apprenticeships or jobs.
Apprenticeship Programs. Most HVAC technical programs are taught along with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating technical and vocational schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of Heating and Cooling companies or trade unions. Find out if the schools you are comparing have working partnerships with local Yuma AZ HVAC contractors. An apprenticeship not only offers a valuable experience by supplying hands-on training, but it also supplies job opportunities and helps to form relationships in the area HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Confirm that the campus facilities and the tools that you will be trained on are state-of-the-art and what you will be working with in the field. If you are currently in an internship or an apprenticeship, consult with the HVAC technician you are working under regarding what you should be expecting. Otherwise, ask a local Yuma AZ HVAC company if they can give you some suggestions. Also keep in mind that unless you can relocate, the school needs to be within driving distance of your Yuma AZ residence. Remember that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, besides the added moving costs there might be increased tuition charges compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's important that you get as much personalized training as possible, which can be difficult in bigger classes. Ask if you can monitor a couple of the classes so that you can see how large they are and witness first hand the interaction between students and instructors. Talk with several of the students and get their feedback regarding class sizes and instruction. Finally, talk with a few of the teachers and learn what their level of experience is and what degrees or certifications they have earned.
Flexible Scheduling. Make sure that the class schedules for the schools you are assessing are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Yuma AZ, check that the schools you are considering provide those choices. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, be sure that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Finally, find out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, sickness or family issues.
Get Your HVAC Training and Certification
Choosing the ideal HVAC training course is an important beginning toward a rewarding career in the heating and air conditioning industry. As we have discussed in this article, you should select a Heating and Cooling training program and a degree or certificate program that are both accredited and have outstanding reputations within the HVAC trade. Other things to look for are sufficient hands-on training and modern facilities. You need to check out each of the schools in person 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 options and whether night or weekend classes are available if needed. And don't forget to inquire about financial aid and student loan options as well. If you ask the appropriate questions as we have outlined in our guidelines for assessing schools, you'll be able to filter your options so that you can make an educated decision. With the proper training, hard work and commitment, you can eventually become a licensed HVAC professional in Yuma AZ.