How to Find the Best Heating and Cooling Training Program Near Avra Valley Arizona
Now that you have come to a decision on a career as a heating and cooling professional, the next action is to find an HVAC vocational school near Avra Valley AZ. But with so many to pick from, how do you decide on the best one to receive the training that you require? Many potential students will make their selection based exclusively on the price of tuition or how close the school is to their home. Although these are necessary factors to consider, they are not the only ones to investigate. 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. These and additional benchmarks will be covered in more detail later within this article. But before we discuss how to choose an HVAC vocational school, let's look at what a heating and cooling professional does to become a licensed skilled tradesman.
HVAC Degree and Certificate Schools
There are a number of options available for HVAC instruction in a vocational or trade school. You can earn a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Earning a certificate will take the lesser period of time, usually accomplished in just six months, however some programs 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 programs may provide a competitive advantage in the job market and will provide more comprehensive training than the certificate programs. Following is a brief summary of each credential offered near Avra Valley Az.
- Certificate. Normally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among entry level commercial or residential 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 comprehensive knowledge of heating & cooling systems than the certificate program. Normally taking two 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 towards a career in management or even business ownership. Some programs require an Associate Degree, while others are a conventional four year program. In addition to mastering how to service and maintain heating and air conditioning systems, you will also study how to design them.
Choosing the right credential program will be based on what your future career aspirations are, together with the time and money that you have to invest. One approach is to begin with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after getting some experience in the field in Avra Valley AZ, later returning to acquire a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your strategy, make sure to ask the HVAC tech school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Online Courses
Choosing an HVAC program online is one approach in attaining your training and earning a certificate or degree. Nearly all schools will call for some attendance on campus to participate in hands on training. Some also sponsor internship or work-study programs in addition to or in place of practical lab work. But since the balance of the classes may be participated in via the internet, this approach may be a more convenient solution for some Avra Valley AZ students that are short on time. And some online degree programs are less expensive than other traditional options. Even travelling expenses from Avra Valley and study materials may be minimized, helping to make education more economical. And a large number of online programs are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your job or family commitments have left you with limited time to attend classes, maybe an online HVAC degree program will make it more convenient to accommodate school into your hectic lifestyle.
Heating and Cooling Licensing and Certification
HVAC is an acronym that is widely used in the business that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC contractors provide services for the installation, repair and maintenance of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are typically mandated to be licensed, however each state and regional municipality has its own criteria. Acquiring professional certification is not compulsory, but an optional means for Avra Valley AZ HVAC technicians to establish that they are exceptionally proficient and experienced in their area of expertise. There are multiple respected certifications within the industry that are available. Here are some 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 competency examination and may be received in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification offers both a professional and a master specialist credential. Two years of field experience together with passing a comprehensive exam are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have three years of experience along with a passing score on the professional level exam. Similar to NATE, certifications are provided in various specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is mandatory for technicians that handle refrigerants. There are three forms of certification available, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Since licensing may be required in your location, and you may also wish to acquire certification, it's imperative that you select an HVAC vocational school that will train you for both. And since you will most likely be handling refrigerants, make sure that the program you choose prepares you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
What to Ask Heating and Cooling Training Programs
As soon as you have chosen the type of certificate or degree that you want to acquire, either online or on campus, you can begin to decrease your list of schools. As you are probably aware, there are many HVAC vocational schools in the Avra Valley AZ area and all over the USA to choose from. That's why it is imperative to have a list of key qualifications when making school evaluations. As formerly stated in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will probably be the first two variables you will look at. Following are several additional ones that you should explore before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Many HVAC vocational programs in the Avra Valley AZ area have earned either a regional or a national accreditation. They can receive Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to a specific program, such as HVAC technology. Make sure that the program and school are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization, which includes the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping ensure that you acquire a superior education, it can help in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are in many cases not available for non-accredited programs. Additionally, many states mandate that the HVAC training course be accredited for it to be approved for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the Heating and Cooling schools you are reviewing what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage of students who enroll in and complete the course. A lower completion rate could indicate that students were unhappy with the course and quit. It may also suggest that the instructors were not qualified to train the students. It's also important that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader directory 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 affirm that the school has a good reputation within the field, but also that it has the network of Avra Valley AZ HVAC employers to help students acquire apprenticeships or jobs.
Apprenticeship Programs. A large number of HVAC technical programs are taught together with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating trade and vocational schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of Heating and Cooling companies or labor unions. Find out if the schools you are comparing have working partnerships with local Avra Valley AZ HVAC professionals. An apprenticeship not only offers a valuable experience by furnishing hands-on training, but it also provides job opportunities and helps to form relationships in the regional HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Confirm that the school facilities and the equipment that you will be instructed on are state-of-the-art and what you will be using in the field. If you are already in an internship or an apprenticeship, talk to the HVAC tech you are working with regarding what you should be looking for. If not, ask a local Avra Valley AZ HVAC contracting company if they can give you some suggestions. Also bear in mind that unless you are able to move, the school needs to be within driving distance of your Avra Valley AZ home. Remember that if you decide to attend 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 desirable that you receive as much personalized instruction as possible, which can be challenging in bigger classes. Ask if you can monitor some of the classes so that you can see how large they are and witness first hand the interaction between instructors and students. Speak with several of the students and get their feedback concerning class sizes and instruction. Last, speak with a few of the instructors and find out what their level of expertise is and what certifications or degrees they hold.
Flexible Scheduling. Verify that the class schedules for the schools you are assessing are flexible enough to handle your needs. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Avra Valley AZ, check that the schools you are looking at offer those choices. If you can only attend part-time, be sure that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Additionally, find out what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, illness or family issues.
Earn Your HVAC Certificate or Degree
Picking the ideal HVAC training program is an important first step toward a gratifying career in the heating and cooling trade. As we have addressed in this article, you need to choose an Heating and Cooling school and a certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have excellent reputations within the HVAC field. Other features 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. Try to get a feel for the quality of the teaching and the interaction between them. In addition, inquire about scheduling options and whether or not night or weekend classes are available if needed. And don't forget to inquire about financial aid and student loan options too. If you ask the appropriate questions as we have laid out in our checklist for evaluating schools, you'll be able to filter your choices so that you can make an informed decision. With the right training, hard work and dedication, you can eventually become a licensed HVAC technician in Avra Valley AZ.