How to Enroll In the Right Heating and Cooling Trade School Near Casa Grande Arizona
Once you have decided on a career as a heating and cooling professional, the next step is to find an HVAC trade school near Casa Grande AZ. But with so many to select from, how do you decide on the ideal one to obtain the training that you require? Some prospective students will make their choice based exclusively on the cost of tuition or how near the school is to their residence. Even though these are necessary factors to consider, they are not the only ones to take into account. Just some of the other factors that you need to look into are the graduation completion 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 in this article. But before we examine how to choose an HVAC trade school, let's take a look at what a heating and a/c technician does to become a licensed skilled tradesman.
HVAC Degree Training Programs
There are a variety of choices available for HVAC training in a technical or vocational school. You can earn a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Acquiring a certificate will take the minimum period of time, typically completed in just six months, although some courses are longer. A certificate will train you for the majority of HVAC positions, particularly if you are licensed and have certification related to the position. The degree programs can provide a competitive advantage in the job market and will deliver more comprehensive training than the certificate programs. Following is a brief summary of each option offered near Casa Grande Az.
- Certificate. Usually requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among beginning commercial or residential HVAC technicians. They provide a strong foundation of skills for job opportunities within the industry.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program delivers a more comprehensive background of heating and a/c systems than the certificate program. Normally requiring 2 years to finish, a number of 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 require an Associate Degree, while others are a standard four year program. In addition to learning how to service and maintain heating and air conditioning systems, you will also study how to design them.
Picking the right credential program will be dependent on what your long term career goals are, along with the time and financial resources that you have to invest. One option is to begin with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after gaining some experience in the field in Casa Grande AZ, subsequently returning to obtain a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your tactic, make sure to ask the HVAC tech school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Classes Online
Choosing an HVAC school online is one possibility to obtaining your education and receiving a degree or certificate. Almost all schools will call for some attendance on campus to take part in hands on training. A number also offer internship or work-study programs in addition to or in place of practical lab work. But since the remainder of the classes can be participated in via the internet, this approach may be a more practical solution for many Casa Grande AZ students that are short on time. And a number of online degree programs are less costly than other on campus alternatives. Even commuting expenses from Casa Grande and study supplies can be reduced, helping to make education more budget-friendly. And numerous online programs are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your job or family commitments have left you with minimal time to attend classes, perhaps an HVAC online training program will make it easier to accommodate school into your hectic schedule.
HVAC Certification and Licensing
HVAC is an acronym that is widely used in the trade that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC contractors specialize in the installation, repair and maintenance of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are generally mandated to be licensed, however every state and local municipality has its own requirements. Obtaining professional certification is not required, but an alternative means for Casa Grande AZ HVAC technicians to prove that they are highly qualified and experienced in their area of expertise. There are many respected certifications within the trade that are available. Below are a few of the important ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally recognized certification for HVAC technicians. The certification is attained by passing a proficiency exam and may 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 in addition to passing a comprehensive examination are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have 3 years of experience along with a passing result on the professional level examination. Similar to NATE, certifications are offered in multiple specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is required for technicians that handle refrigerants. There are 3 forms of certification offered, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Considering that licensing could be mandated in your location, and you may also desire to obtain certification, it's imperative that you choose an HVAC technical school that will prepare you for both. And since you will most likely be handling refrigerants, make certain that the school you pick readies you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.
What to Ask Heating and Cooling Schools
When you have selected the type of degree or certificate that you would like to obtain, either on campus or online, you can start to narrow down your list of schools. As you are certainly aware, there are a large number of HVAC technical schools in the Casa Grande AZ area and across the Country to choose from. That's why it is very important to have a checklist of relevant qualifications when making school comparisons. As previously stated in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will undoubtedly be the initial 2 factors you will consider. Following are some additional ones that you will want to research before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Numerous HVAC technical schools in the Casa Grande AZ area have received either a regional or a national accreditation. They can attain Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to a specific program, for instance HVAC technology. Make certain that the school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency, for example the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping guarantee that you get a quality education, it can assist in acquiring financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently not available for non-accredited schools. Furthermore, many states require that the HVAC training program be accredited for it 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 portion or percentage of students who enroll in and complete the program. A lower completion rate could suggest that students were unhappy with the course and quit. It may also indicate that the instructors were not competent to instruct the students. It's similarly imperative that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive list of alumni, which can produce more contacts for the school to use 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 Casa Grande AZ HVAC employers to help grads secure apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. A large number of HVAC vocational programs are taught in conjunction with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating vocational and technical 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 referring partnerships with local Casa Grande AZ HVAC professionals. An apprenticeship not only provides a valuable experience by supplying practical training, but it also supplies employment opportunities and helps to form relationships in the local 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 on the job. If you are currently in an internship or an apprenticeship, check with the HVAC tech you are working with concerning what you should be expecting. If not, ask a local Casa Grande AZ HVAC contracting company if they can give you some pointers. Additionally keep in mind that unless you are willing to move, the school must be within commuting distance of your Casa Grande AZ residence. Remember that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to moving costs there can be increased tuition charges compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's important that you receive as much personalized training as possible, which can be difficult in larger classes. Ask if you can monitor some of the classes so that you can see how big they are and experience the interaction between students and teachers. Talk to some of the students and get their comments concerning class sizes and instruction. Finally, talk to some of the instructors and find out what their level of experience is and what degrees or certifications they hold.
Flexible Scheduling. Confirm that the class schedules for the programs you are assessing are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Casa Grande AZ, confirm that the schools you are comparing provide those choices. If you can only attend part-time, make sure that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Also, check out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, sickness or family emergencies.
Earn Your HVAC Certificate or Degree
Finding the ideal HVAC school program is a critical beginning toward a rewarding career in the heating and cooling industry. As we have covered in this post, you should select an HVAC vocational school and a degree or certificate program that are both accredited and have outstanding reputations within the HVAC community. Other factors to search for are lots of practical training and modern facilities. You should go to each of the schools personally that you are most interested in to tour the campus and speak with both the current students and faculty. Try to get a feel for the quality of the training and the interaction between them. In addition, ask about scheduling choices and whether or not evening or weekend classes are offered if needed. And don't forget to ask about financial aid and student loan options too. If you ask the right questions as we have laid out in our checklist for evaluating schools, you'll be able to narrow down your choices so that you can make an educated decision. With the right training, hard work and commitment, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC specialist in Casa Grande AZ.