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How to Select the Right HVAC School near Yuma Arizona

Yuma Arizona residential A/C condensersOnce you have come to a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioner professional, the next step is to locate an HVAC trade school near Yuma AZ. But with so many to select from, how do you choose the best one to get the training that you require? A number of prospective students will make their decision based exclusively on the price of tuition or how near the school is to their residence. Even though these are relevant factors to consider, they are not the only ones to investigate. Some of the other factors that you need to research are the graduation completion rates of the HVAC schools, their reputations, and if they are accredited by professional trade organizations. These and additional criteria will be addressed in more detail later in this article. But before we explore how to select an HVAC trade school, let's look at what a heating and a/c technician does to become a licensed skilled tradesman.

How to Become an HVAC Tech

Yuma Arizona HVAC Contractor servicing air conditioning condenserHVAC is an acronym that is frequently used in the industry that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC technicians provide services for the installation, maintenance and repair of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are typically mandated to be licensed, although every state and local municipality has its own prerequisites. Earning professional certification is not required, but a voluntary way for Yuma AZ HVAC techs to establish that they are exceptionally proficient and knowledgeable in their area of specialization. There are many respected certifications within the field that are available. Below are a few of the significant ones.

  • North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally recognized certification for HVAC techs. The certification is attained by passing a competency exam 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 required for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have 3 years of experience along with a passing score on the professional level exam. Similar to NATE, certifications are offered in multiple specialties.
  • EPA Section 608. This certification is necessary for techs that handle refrigerants. There are 3 forms of certification obtainable, 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 intend to earn certification, it's imperative that you choose an HVAC technical school that will prepare you for both. And since you will most likely be dealing with refrigerants, make sure that the program you pick prepares you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.

HVAC Degree and Certificate Courses

Yuma Arizona residential heating pump

There are several options offered for HVAC instruction in a technical or trade school. You can earn a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Obtaining a certificate will take the lesser amount of time, often accomplished in just 6 months, although 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 training programs might provide a competitive advantage in the job market and will deliver more comprehensive training than the certificate programs. Below is a short description of each option offered near Yuma AZ.

  • Certificate. Normally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among beginning residential or commercial HVAC professionals. They furnish a solid foundation of skills for job opportunities within the industry.
  • Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program supplies a more exhaustive understanding of heating & cooling systems than the certificate program. Normally requiring 2 years to finish, 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 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.

Picking the ideal credential program will be dependent on what your future career goals are, together with the time and financial resources that you have to invest. One option is to start with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after getting some experience in the trade in Yuma AZ, eventually going back 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 Online Training

Choosing an HVAC program online is one alternative in attaining your education and earning a degree or certificate. Almost all schools will require some attendance on campus to participate in hands on training. Some also provide internship or work-study programs in addition to or instead of practical lab work. But since the balance of the classes can be attended on the web, this option may be a more practical solution for many Yuma AZ students that are short on time. And some online degree programs are more economical than other on campus choices. Even commuting expenses from Yuma and study materials may be lessened, helping to make schooling more economical. And many online programs are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your career or family obligations have left you with little time to attend classes, perhaps an online HVAC degree program will make it easier to fit school into your active schedule.

Questions to Ask HVAC Trade Schools

Yuma Arizona Heating and Cooling technician replacing water heater

When you have selected the type of certificate or degree that you wish to attain, either on campus or online, you can start to narrow down your selection of schools. As you are probably aware, there are numerous HVAC trade schools in the Yuma AZ area and all over the USA to select from. That's why it is imperative to have a list of important qualifications when making school evaluations. As formerly stated in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will undoubtedly be the first two aspects you will take into consideration. Following are some additional ones that you should research before enrolling in your school of choice.

Accreditation.  Many HVAC trade programs in the Yuma AZ area have acquired 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 an individual program, such as HVAC technology. Make sure that the school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency, which includes the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping make certain that you obtain a quality education, it can assist in securing financial aid or student loans, which are frequently not available for non-accredited schools. Additionally, some states mandate that the HVAC training program 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 or portion of students who enroll in and finish the course. A low completion rate could signify that students were dissatisfied with the course and dropped out. It could 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 more extensive directory of alumni, which may mean more contacts for the school to utilize 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 trade, but also that it has the network of Yuma AZ HVAC employers to help grads acquire apprenticeships or jobs.

Apprenticeship Programs.  A large number of HVAC vocational programs are taught together with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating vocational and trade schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of HVAC companies or trade unions. Ask if the schools you are reviewing have referring partnerships with local Yuma AZ HVAC contractors. An apprenticeship not only offers a rewarding experience by supplying practical training, but it also supplies employment opportunities and helps to establish relationships in the regional HVAC professional community.

Modern Facilities.  Confirm that the school facilities and the equipment that you will be instructed on are up-to-date and what you will be using in the field. If you are already in an internship or an apprenticeship, check with the HVAC tech you are working with regarding what you should be expecting. If not, ask a local Yuma AZ HVAC contractor if they can give you some pointers. Additionally keep in mind that unless you can move, the school must be within commuting distance of your Yuma AZ residence. Remember that if you decide to attend 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 important that you get as much one-on-one training as possible, which can be challenging in larger classes. Ask if you can sit in on a couple of the classes so that you can observe how large they are and experience the interaction between students and teachers. Talk to some of the students and get their comments concerning class sizes and instruction. Last, talk to a few of the teachers and find out what their level of expertise is and what certifications or degrees they hold.

Flexible Scheduling.  Make sure that the class schedules for the schools you are evaluating are flexible enough to handle your needs. If you are only able to attend classes at night or on weekends near Yuma AZ, check that the schools you are considering provide those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, be sure that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Finally, check out what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, illness or family emergencies.

Learn More About Yuma HVAC Schools In Your Area

Earn Your Heating and Cooling Certificate or Degree

Selecting the right HVAC school course is a crucial first step toward a fulfilling career in the heating & cooling 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 excellent reputations within the HVAC profession. Other things to look for are sufficient hands-on training and modern facilities. You should visit 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, ask about scheduling options and if night or weekend classes are available if needed. And don't forget to ask about financial aid and student loan options as well. If you ask the right questions as we have laid out in our guidelines for assessing schools, you'll be able to filter your choices so that you can make an informed decision. With the appropriate training, hard work and commitment, you can eventually become a licensed HVAC specialist in Yuma AZ.