How to Enroll In the Right Heating and Cooling Certification Class near Yuma Arizona
Once you have come to a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioner professional, the next step is to choose an HVAC vocational school near Yuma AZ. But with so many to select from, how do you select the best one to obtain the training that you need? Some potential students will make their decision based exclusively on the cost of tuition or how close the school is to their residence. Even though these are necessary concerns, they are not the only ones to investigate. 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 criteria will be discussed in more detail later within this article. But before we discuss how to pick an HVAC vocational school, let's look at what a heating and air conditioning technician does to become a licensed qualified tradesman.
How to Become an HVAC Specialist
HVAC is an acronym that is widely used in the industry that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC technicians specialize in 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, although every state and regional municipality has its own requirements. Earning professional certification is not mandatory, but a voluntary way for Yuma AZ HVAC techs to establish that they are exceptionally skilled and accomplished in their area of specialization. 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 technicians. The certification is earned by passing a competency exam 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 as well as passing a comprehensive exam are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have 3 years of experience in addition to a passing result on the professional level examination. Similar to NATE, certifications are provided in multiple specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is required for technicians that handle refrigerants. There are three forms of certification available, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Since licensing could be required in your location, and you may also intend to acquire certification, it's imperative that you pick an HVAC technical school that will prepare you for both. And since you will most likely be dealing with refrigerants, make certain that the program you pick prepares you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.
HVAC Degree and Certificate Schools
There are a number of alternatives offered 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 six months, although some courses are longer. A certificate will qualify you for most HVAC positions, especially if you are licensed and have certification related to the position. The degree programs may provide a competitive edge for securing employment and will deliver more extensive training than the certificate programs. Below is a brief summary of each credential offered near Yuma AZ.
- Certificate. Usually requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among entry level commercial or residential HVAC specialists. They provide a solid foundation of skills for job opportunities within the trade.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program provides a more detailed knowledge of heating and a/c systems than the certificate program. Generally taking 2 years to complete, a number of degrees feature an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is geared more towards a career in management as well as business ownership. Some programs require an Associate Degree, while others are a conventional 4 year program. In addition to being taught how to service and maintain heating and air conditioning systems, you will also learn how to design them.
Picking the appropriate credential program will be based on what your future career objectives are, along with the time and financial resources that you have to commit. One approach is to start with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after getting some experience in the trade in Yuma AZ, subsequently returning to earn a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your tactic, be sure to ask the HVAC tech school you are considering about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Online Courses
Choosing an HVAC program online is one possibility to attaining your training and receiving a certificate or degree. Almost all schools will call for some attendance on campus to take part in practical training. A number also provide internship or work-study programs in addition to or as an alternative to practical lab work. But since the rest of the classes may be attended via the internet, this approach may be a more practical solution for some Yuma AZ students that are pressed for time. And many online degree programs are cheaper than other traditional choices. Even driving expenses from Yuma and study materials may be minimized, helping to make education more affordable. And many online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your career or family commitments have left you with limited time to attend classes, maybe an HVAC online training program will make it easier to fit school into your hectic lifestyle.
Questions to Ask HVAC Schools
When you have picked the type of certificate or degree that you want to attain, either online or on campus, you can begin to narrow down your list of schools. As you are certainly aware, there are numerous HVAC vocational schools in the Yuma AZ area and across the Country to select from. That's why it is extremely important to have a list of key qualifiers when making school comparisons. As earlier mentioned in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will undoubtedly be the initial two variables you will take into consideration. Following are some additional ones that you need to research before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Numerous HVAC technical programs in the Yuma AZ area have received either a regional or a national accreditation. They may receive Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to a specific program, for instance HVAC technology. Verify that the program and school are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency, for instance the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping guarantee that you receive an excellent education, it may help in securing financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently not available for non-accredited programs. Furthermore, a number of states mandate that the HVAC training program be accredited for it to be approved for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the Heating and Air Conditioning schools you are looking at what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage or portion of students who enroll in and finish the course. A lower completion rate might signify that students were disappointed with the program and quit. It might also signify that the instructors were not competent to train the students. It's similarly important that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive list of alumni, which may result in more contacts for the school to utilize for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate will not only confirm that the school has an excellent reputation within the trade, but additionally that it has the network of Yuma AZ HVAC employers to help grads obtain apprenticeships or jobs.
Apprenticeship Programs. Most HVAC vocational programs are taught along with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating technical and vocational programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of Heating and Cooling contractors or labor unions. Ask if the schools you are considering have working partnerships with local Yuma AZ HVAC specialists. An apprenticeship not only provides a rewarding experience by providing practical training, but it also provides job opportunities and helps to build relationships in the local HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Confirm that the campus facilities and the equipment that you will be trained on are state-of-the-art and what you will be using in the field. If you are presently in an internship or an apprenticeship, check with the HVAC specialist you are working under concerning what you should be looking for. If not, ask a local Yuma AZ HVAC contractor if they can give you some suggestions. Also keep in mind that unless you are willing to relocate, the school must be within commuting distance of your Yuma AZ home. Remember that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, in addition to moving costs there can be higher tuition charges compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's important that you receive as much one-on-one instruction as possible, which can be challenging in larger classes. Ask if you can monitor a few of the classes so that you can see how large they are and witness first hand the interaction between instructors and students. Talk to some of the students and get their opinions relating to class sizes and instruction. Last, talk to some of the instructors and find out what their level of expertise is and what degrees or certifications they have earned.
Flexible Scheduling. Make sure that the class schedules for the programs you are reviewing are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Yuma AZ, verify that the schools you are comparing offer those options. If you can only attend part-time, make sure that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Finally, ask what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, sickness or family issues.
Earn Your HVAC Training and Certification
Selecting the ideal HVAC training program is a critical first step toward a gratifying career in the heating & cooling trade. As we have addressed in this article, you need to choose a Heating and Cooling training program and a certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have outstanding reputations within the HVAC trade. Other factors to look for are plenty of practical training and state-of-the-art facilities. You need to go to 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 teaching and the interaction between them. Also, inquire about scheduling options and whether night or weekend classes are offered if needed. And don't forget to ask about financial aid and student loan options as well. If you ask the proper questions as we have detailed in our guidelines for comparing schools, you'll be able to filter your options so that you can make an informed decision. With the right training, hard work and dedication, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC technician in Yuma AZ.