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How to Select the Best HVAC Certification Class Near Avra Valley Arizona

Avra Valley Arizona commercial hvac tech servicing furnacesNow that you have made a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioning professional, the next action is to find an HVAC technical school near Avra Valley AZ. But with so many to select from, how do you choose the right one to obtain the training that you need? A number of future students will make their decision based entirely on the cost of tuition or how close the school is to their residence. Although these are significant factors to consider, they are not the only ones to evaluate. A few of the other details 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 criteria will be covered in more detail later in this article. But before we tackle how to pick an HVAC training program, let's take a look at what a heating and air conditioning professional does to become a licensed professional tradesman.

HVAC Degree Schools

Avra Valley Arizona home A/C condensers

There are a variety of alternatives available for HVAC instruction in a technical or vocational school. You can earn a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Obtaining a certificate will take the least amount of time, often achieved in as little as 6 months, however some programs are longer. A certificate will train you for most HVAC positions, especially if you are licensed and have certification applicable to the position. The degree training programs may provide a competitive edge in the job market and will provide more extensive training than the certificate programs. Following is a short explanation of each option offered near Avra Valley Az.

  • Certificate. Generally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among beginning commercial or residential HVAC technicians. They furnish a solid foundation of skills for job opportunities within the industry.
  • Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program provides a more exhaustive background of heating and a/c systems than the certificate program. Normally requiring two years to complete, many degrees incorporate 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 call for an Associate Degree, while others are a standard four year program. In addition to mastering how to service and maintain heating and air conditioning systems, you will also learn how to design them.

Picking the right credential program will be dependent on what your future career goals are, in addition to the time and money that you have to invest. One approach is to start with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after getting some experience in the trade in Avra Valley AZ, eventually going back to acquire 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

Avra Valley Arizona forced air heat registerAttending an HVAC program online is one possibility to obtaining your education and earning a degree or certificate. Most schools will require some attendance on campus to complete hands on training. Some also sponsor internship or work-study programs in addition to or in place of practical lab work. But since the rest of the classes can be attended online, this option may be a more convenient solution for some Avra Valley AZ students that are pressed for time. And many online degree programs are more economical than other on campus choices. Even driving expenses from Avra Valley and study supplies may be reduced, helping to make schooling more budget-friendly. And numerous online programs are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your career or family obligations have left you with minimal time to attend classes, maybe an HVAC online training program will make it easier to accommodate school into your active lifestyle.

Heating and Cooling Licensing and Certification

HVAC is an acronym that is commonly used in the trade that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC contractors specialize in the installation, maintenance and repair of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are commonly required to be licensed, however each state and regional municipality has its own prerequisites. Acquiring professional certification is not required, but an optional means for Avra Valley AZ HVAC technicians to establish that they are highly proficient and experienced in their area of specialization. There are a number of acknowledged certifications within the trade that are offered. Here are a few of the important ones.

  • North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally acknowledged certification for HVAC techs. The certification is attained 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. 2 years of field experience as well as passing a comprehensive exam are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have 3 years of experience as well as a passing score on the professional level exam. Similar to NATE, certifications are offered in multiple specialties.
  • EPA Section 608. This certification is required for techs that handle refrigerants. There are three forms of certification obtainable, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.

Since licensing may be mandated in your location, and you may also intend to earn certification, it's essential that you select an HVAC trade school that will prepare you for both. And since you will most likely be dealing with refrigerants, make sure that the school you pick preps you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.

Questions to Ask Heating and Cooling Certification Courses

Avra Valley Arizona hvac technician installing hot water heater

When you have picked the type of certificate or degree that you want to obtain, either online or on campus, you can begin to decrease your selection of schools. As you are certainly aware, there are a large number of HVAC technical schools in the Avra Valley AZ area and all over the USA to pick from. That's why it is very important to have a checklist of relevant qualifications when making school comparisons. As formerly stated in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will undoubtedly be the initial two variables you will consider. Following are some additional ones that you will want 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 can earn Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to a specific program, for example HVAC technology. Make sure that the program is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting organization, for example the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping ensure that you obtain a superior education, it may help in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are in many cases unavailable for non-accredited schools. Additionally, many states require that the HVAC training program be accredited in order to be approved for licensing.

High Completion Rates.  Ask the HVAC 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 course. A lower completion rate might indicate that students were disappointed with the course and dropped out. It may also suggest that the teachers were not qualified to train the students. It's also imperative that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive list of graduates, which can result in more contacts for the school to utilize for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate can not only validate that the school has an excellent reputation within the field, but also that it has the network of Avra Valley AZ HVAC employers to help students secure apprenticeships or employment.

Apprenticeship Programs.  Most HVAC training programs are taught together with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating vocational and trade schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of HVAC contractors or trade unions. Ask if the schools you are reviewing have working relationships with local Avra Valley AZ HVAC companies. An apprenticeship not only provides a rewarding experience by furnishing practical training, but it also furnishes employment opportunities and helps to establish relationships in the local HVAC professional community.

Modern Facilities.  Make sure that the campus facilities and the equipment that you will be instructed on are state-of-the-art and what you will be using on the job. If you are currently in an internship or an apprenticeship, consult with the HVAC tech you are working with regarding what you should be looking for. If not, ask a local Avra Valley AZ HVAC company if they can give you some pointers. Also keep in mind that unless you can move, the school needs to be within commuting distance of your Avra Valley AZ residence. Remember that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, besides the added moving costs there can be higher 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 monitor some of the classes so that you can see how large they are and witness first hand the interaction between students and teachers. Speak to several of the students and get their comments regarding class sizes and instruction. Finally, speak to some of the instructors and find out what their level of experience is and what degrees or certifications they hold.

Flexible Scheduling.  Make sure that the class schedules for the programs you are evaluating are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you are only able to go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Avra Valley AZ, confirm that the schools you are comparing offer those choices. If you can only attend part-time, make certain that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Finally, find out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, sickness or family issues.

Learn More About Avra Valley HVAC Trade Schools

Get Your Heating and Cooling Degree or Certificate

Enrolling in the right HVAC school course is a crucial first step toward a gratifying career in the heating and cooling industry. As we have discussed in this post, you need to select an Heating and Cooling school and a certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have exceptional reputations within the HVAC profession. Other factors to look for are sufficient hands-on training and modern facilities. You should check out each of the schools personally that you are most interested in to explore the campus and talk with both the current students and faculty. Try to get a feel for the quality of the instruction and the interaction between them. In addition, inquire about scheduling choices and whether evening or weekend classes are offered if needed. And remember to inquire about financial assistance and student loan options too. 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 educated decision. With the right training, hard work and commitment, you can eventually become a licensed HVAC technician in Avra Valley AZ.


 

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