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How to Choose the Right Heating and Cooling School near Yuma Arizona

Yuma Arizona residential A/C condensersNow that you have come to a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioning specialist, the next action is to choose an HVAC vocational school near Yuma AZ. But with so many to pick from, how do you decide on the right one to obtain the training that you require? Some future students will make their decision based entirely on the price of tuition or how close the school is to their home. Even though these are relevant considerations, 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. Those and other benchmarks will be addressed in more detail later in this article. But before we examine how to pick an HVAC technical school, let's take a look at what a heating and air conditioning specialist does to become a licensed professional tradesman.

How to Become an HVAC Contractor

Yuma Arizona Heating and Cooling Contractor inspecting air conditioning condenserHVAC is an acronym that is extensively used in the business that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC techs provide services for the installation, repair and maintenance of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are typically required to be licensed, though each state and local municipality has its own requirements. Obtaining professional certification is not mandatory, but a voluntary way for Yuma AZ HVAC technicians to prove that they are exceptionally qualified and accomplished in their area of expertise. There are several respected certifications within the trade that are available. Here are some of the important ones.

  • North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally recognized certification for HVAC techs. The certification is attained by passing a competency examination and can be acquired in one or more specialties.
  • HVAC Excellence. This certification makes available both a professional and a master specialist credential. 2 years of field experience together with 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. As with NATE, certifications are provided in various specialties.
  • EPA Section 608. This certification is required for technicians that handle refrigerants. There are 3 forms of certification available, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.

Since licensing may be required in your location, and you may also intend to earn certification, it's imperative that you pick an HVAC technical school that will train you for both. And since you will more than likely be dealing with refrigerants, make sure that the program you choose prepares you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.

HVAC Degree and Certificate Schools

Yuma Arizona residential heater

There are a variety of choices offered for HVAC training in a trade or technical school. You can attain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Acquiring a certificate will take the lesser period of time, often achieved in as little as 6 months, however some programs are longer. A certificate will train you for the majority of HVAC positions, especially if you are licensed and have certification applicable to the position. The degree training programs can provide a competitive advantage for securing employment and will provide more in-depth training than the certificate programs. Following is a brief explanation of each option offered near Yuma AZ.

  • Certificate. Usually requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among entry level residential or commercial HVAC technicians. They provide a strong 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. Typically taking two years to finish, many degrees feature an internship or work-study program.
  • Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is geared more for a career in management as well as business ownership. Some programs require an Associate Degree, while others are a traditional four year program. In addition to learning how to service and maintain heating and cooling systems, you will also study how to design them.

Choosing the ideal credential program will be dependent on what your long term career goals are, along with the time and money that you have to invest. One option is to begin with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after acquiring some experience in the trade in Yuma AZ, subsequently going back to obtain a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your tactic, make certain to ask the HVAC technician school you are considering about how their returning student program works.

HVAC Online Training

Attending an HVAC school online is one possibility to getting your education and earning a certificate or degree. Most schools will require some attendance on campus to participate in hands on training. Some also offer internship or work-study programs in addition to or as an alternative to practical lab work. But since the balance of the classes may be attended online, this alternative may be a more convenient solution for many Yuma AZ students that are short on time. And some online degree programs are cheaper than other traditional choices. Even travelling expenses from Yuma and study materials can be minimized, helping to make education more economical. And numerous online programs are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your career or family commitments have left you with minimal time to attend classes, maybe an online HVAC degree program will make it easier to fit school into your active schedule.

What to Ask HVAC Training Programs

Yuma Arizona Heating and Cooling tech replacing water heater

After you have decided on the type of certificate or degree that you would like to obtain, either online or on campus, you can begin to limit your list of schools. As you are probably aware, there are numerous HVAC vocational schools in the Yuma AZ area and across the USA to pick from. That's why it is extremely important to have a checklist of important qualifiers when making school comparisons. As formerly stated in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will probably be the first 2 aspects you will look at. Following are some 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 received either a regional or a national accreditation. They may acquire Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to an individual program, such as HVAC technology. Confirm that the program is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting agency, such as the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping ensure that you receive a quality education, it may help in obtaining financial assistance or student loans, which are often not available for non-accredited programs. Furthermore, many states require that the HVAC training program be accredited in order to qualify for licensing.

High Completion Rates.  Ask the Heating and Cooling schools you are considering what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage or portion of students who enroll in and complete the course. A lower completion rate could indicate that students were disappointed with the course and dropped out. It could also mean that the teachers were not qualified to instruct the students. It's similarly essential that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive directory of graduates, which may mean 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 field, but additionally that it has the network of Yuma AZ HVAC employers to help graduates acquire apprenticeships or jobs.

Apprenticeship Programs.  Many HVAC trade programs are taught along with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating vocational and trade schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of Heating and Cooling contractors or trade unions. Check if the schools you are considering have working partnerships with local Yuma AZ HVAC contractors. An apprenticeship not only offers a valuable experience by furnishing practical training, but it also furnishes employment opportunities and helps to form relationships in the regional HVAC professional community.

Modern Facilities.  Confirm that the campus facilities and the tools that you will be trained on are up-to-date and what you will be using on the job. If you are already in an internship or an apprenticeship, consult with the HVAC specialist you are working with concerning what you should be looking for. If not, ask a local Yuma AZ HVAC contractor if they can provide some suggestions. Additionally bear in mind that unless you can move, the school needs to be within driving distance of your Yuma AZ home. Take note 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 receive as much individualized instruction as possible, which can be challenging in larger classes. Ask if you can sit in on some of the classes so that you can see how large they are and witness first hand the interaction between students and instructors. Talk with a few of the students and get their feedback relating to class sizes and instruction. Finally, speak with a few of the teachers and find out what their level of expertise is and what degrees or certifications they hold.

Flexible Scheduling.  Confirm that the class schedules for the schools you are assessing are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you are only able to attend classes at night or on weekends near Yuma AZ, verify that the programs you are reviewing provide those choices. If you can only attend part-time, be sure that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Also, find out what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, illness or family issues.

Find Out More About Yuma HVAC Training Classes Near You

Get Your Heating and Cooling Certificate or Degree

Choosing the right HVAC school program is a critical beginning toward a fulfilling career in the heating & cooling field. As we have addressed in this article, you should choose a Heating and Cooling training program and a degree or certificate program that are both accredited and have excellent reputations within the HVAC community. Other features to look for are lots of hands-on training and modern facilities. You should check out each of the schools personally that you are most interested in to inspect the campus and speak with both the current students and faculty. Try to get a feel for the quality of the instruction and the interaction between them. Also, inquire about scheduling choices and if 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 right questions as we have outlined in our guidelines for comparing 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 dedication, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC specialist in Yuma AZ.