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How to Choose the Right HVAC Certificate Program Near Avra Valley Arizona

Avra Valley Arizona commercial hvac technician installing furnacesOnce you have come to a decision on a career as a heating and cooling professional, the next step is to look for an HVAC vocational school near Avra Valley AZ. But with so many to choose from, how do you decide on the right one to receive the training that you require? A number of future students will make their choice based entirely on the price of tuition or how near the school is to their home. Even though these are relevant considerations, they are not the only ones to investigate. Some of the other things that you need to investigate 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 within this article. But before we discuss how to choose an HVAC training program, let's look at what a heating and a/c technician does to become a licensed skilled tradesman.

HVAC Degree and Certificate Schools

Avra Valley Arizona home A/C condensers

There are a number of alternatives available for HVAC training in a trade or technical school. You can earn a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Obtaining a certificate will take the minimum period of time, usually accomplished in as little as 6 months, however some courses are longer. A certificate will qualify you for most HVAC positions, especially if you are licensed and have certification appropriate to the position. The degree training programs might provide a competitive edge for securing employment and will provide more comprehensive training than the certificate programs. Following is a short description of each credential offered near Avra Valley 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 provides a more extensive understanding of heating and a/c systems than the certificate program. Usually requiring two years to complete, some degrees incorporate 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 call for an Associate Degree, while others are a conventional four 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 appropriate credential program will be based on what your long term career objectives are, in addition to the time and money that you have to commit. One possibility is to begin with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after gaining some experience in the trade in Avra Valley AZ, later returning to acquire a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your strategy, make certain to ask the HVAC tech school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.

HVAC Courses Online

Avra Valley Arizona forced air heat registerChoosing an HVAC program online is one alternative in obtaining your education and receiving a certificate or degree. Nearly all schools will require some attendance on campus to participate in hands on training. Many also provide 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 via the internet, this option may be a more practical solution for many Avra Valley AZ students that are short on time. And some online degree programs are less expensive than other traditional options. Even driving expenses from Avra Valley and study materials may be minimized, helping to make schooling more economical. And numerous online programs are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your work or family responsibilities have left you with little time to attend classes, perhaps an online HVAC degree program will make it more convenient to accommodate school into your busy lifestyle.

HVAC Certification and Licensing

HVAC is an acronym that is frequently used in the business that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC contractors specialize in the installation, maintenance and repair of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are generally required to be licensed, however every state and local municipality has its own requirements. Attaining professional certification is not required, but an alternative way for Avra Valley AZ HVAC technicians to prove that they are highly qualified and experienced in their area of expertise. There are multiple respected certifications within the industry that are available. Below are some of the significant ones.

  • North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally recognized certification for HVAC techs. The certification is earned by passing a competency exam and may 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 together with passing a comprehensive examination are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have 3 years of experience along with a passing result on the professional level exam. As with NATE, certifications are offered in multiple specialties.
  • EPA Section 608. This certification is necessary for specialists that work with refrigerants. There are three types of certification obtainable, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.

Considering that licensing could be required in your location, and you may also desire to acquire certification, it's important that you pick an HVAC technical school that will prepare you for both. And since you will most likely be dealing with refrigerants, make sure that the school you choose preps you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.

Questions to Ask Heating and Cooling Training Classes

Avra Valley Arizona hvac technician working on hot water heater

When you have chosen the type of degree or certificate that you would like to acquire, either online or on campus, you can start to narrow down your selection of schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are numerous HVAC vocational schools in the Avra Valley AZ area and all over the United States to pick from. That's why it is very important to have a list of relevant qualifiers when making school comparisons. As formerly mentioned in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will undoubtedly be the first 2 aspects you will look at. Following are some additional ones that you need to investigate before enrolling in your school of choice.

Accreditation.  A large number of HVAC technical schools in the Avra Valley AZ area have acquired either a regional or a national accreditation. They may acquire Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to a specific 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 can help in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are often unavailable for non-accredited programs. Furthermore, some states mandate that the HVAC training course be accredited in order to be approved for licensing.

High Completion Rates.  Ask the Heating and Cooling schools you are looking at what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students who enroll in and finish the program. A low completion rate may indicate that students were disappointed with the course and quit. It could also suggest that the teachers were not qualified to train the students. It's similarly 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 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 trade, but additionally that it has the network of Avra Valley AZ HVAC employers to help grads obtain apprenticeships or jobs.

Apprenticeship Programs.  Many HVAC vocational programs are taught together 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. Find out if the schools you are reviewing have referring partnerships with local Avra Valley AZ HVAC companies. An apprenticeship not only offers a rewarding experience by furnishing practical training, but it also furnishes job opportunities and helps to establish relationships in the local HVAC professional community.

Modern Facilities.  Make certain that the campus facilities and the equipment that you will be trained on are state-of-the-art and what you will be working with in the field. If you are presently in an internship or an apprenticeship, check with the HVAC tech you are working with regarding what you should be expecting. Otherwise, ask a local Avra Valley AZ HVAC contractor if they can give you some suggestions. Also bear in mind that unless you are willing to move, the school needs to be within commuting distance of your Avra Valley AZ home. Remember that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to moving costs there may 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 bigger classes. Ask if you can sit in on a few of the classes so that you can observe how large they are and witness first hand the interaction between students and instructors. Speak with several of the students and get their opinions relating to class sizes and instruction. Last, talk to a few of the teachers and learn what their level of experience is and what degrees or certifications they hold.

Flexible Scheduling.  Confirm that the class schedules for the schools you are reviewing are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Avra Valley AZ, check that the schools you are reviewing provide those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, be sure that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Additionally, check out what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, sickness or family responsibilities.

Learn More About Avra Valley HVAC Training Schools

Get Your HVAC Degree or Certificate

Finding the ideal HVAC training course is a crucial beginning toward a gratifying career in the heating & cooling field. As we have addressed in this article, you should select an HVAC technical school and a certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have exceptional reputations within the HVAC community. Other factors to look for are lots of hands-on training and modern facilities. You need to go to each of the schools in person that you are most interested in to tour 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. In addition, inquire about scheduling choices and whether evening or weekend classes are available if needed. And remember to inquire about financial assistance and student loan options also. If you ask the appropriate questions as we have laid out in our checklist for evaluating schools, you'll be able to filter your options so that you can make an educated decision. With the appropriate training, hard work and dedication, you can eventually become a licensed HVAC specialist in Avra Valley AZ.


 

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