How to Enroll In the Right HVAC Certification Training Near Catalina Foothills Arizona
Now that you have decided on a career as a heating and air conditioning technician, the next action is to choose an HVAC technical school near Catalina Foothills AZ. But with so many to select from, how do you pick the best one to receive the training that you need? Many prospective students will make their selection based entirely on the cost of tuition or how near the school is to their residence. While these are important concerns, they are not the only ones to evaluate. Just some of the other factors that you need to investigate are the graduation completion rates of the HVAC schools, their reputations, and if they are accredited by professional trade organizations. Those and other criteria will be discussed in more detail later within this article. But before we explore how to select an HVAC vocational school, let's look at what a heating and cooling contractor does to become a licensed skilled tradesman.
HVAC Degree Classes
There are a number of options available for HVAC training in a technical or vocational school. You can attain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Obtaining a certificate will take the minimum period of time, typically achieved in as little as 6 months, although some programs are longer. A certificate will train you for most HVAC positions, especially if you are licensed and have certification appropriate to the position. The degree training programs may provide a competitive advantage for securing employment and will provide more extensive training than the certificate programs. Below is a short description of each option offered near Catalina Foothills Az.
- Certificate. Usually requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among entry level residential or commercial HVAC technicians. They furnish a strong foundation of skills for job opportunities within the industry.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program supplies a more detailed background of heating and cooling systems than the certificate program. Typically taking 2 years to complete, many degrees feature 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 require an Associate Degree, while others are a traditional 4 year program. In addition to learning how to service and maintain heating and cooling systems, you will also study how to design them.
Selecting the ideal credential program will be dependent on what your future career goals are, together with the time and financial resources that you have to commit. One approach is to start with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after getting some experience in the field in Catalina Foothills AZ, subsequently going back to acquire a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your approach, make certain to ask the HVAC tech school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Schools Online
Choosing an HVAC program online is one approach to obtaining your education and receiving a degree or certificate. Most schools will require some attendance on campus to take part in hands on training. A number also sponsor internship or work-study programs in addition to or instead of practical lab work. But since the remainder of the classes can be attended via the internet, this option may be a more accessible solution for some Catalina Foothills AZ students that are short on time. And a number of online degree programs are cheaper than other traditional choices. Even commuting expenses from Catalina Foothills and study supplies may be minimized, helping to make education more economical. And many online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your career or family commitments have left you with little time to attend classes, perhaps an online HVAC degree program will make it less complicated to fit school into your hectic lifestyle.
HVAC Certification and Licensing
HVAC is an acronym that is widely used in the business that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC professionals provide services for the installation, repair and maintenance of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are generally required to be licensed, however every state and regional municipality has its own prerequisites. Attaining professional certification is not mandatory, but an optional way for Catalina Foothills AZ HVAC specialists to establish that they are exceptionally proficient and experienced in their area of specialization. There are a number of respected certifications within the industry that are available. Below are some of the important ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally recognized certification for HVAC technicians. The certification is achieved by passing a proficiency examination and can be received in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification makes available both a professional and a master specialist credential. 2 years of professional experience together with passing a comprehensive exam are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have three years of experience along with a passing score on the professional level exam. Similar to NATE, certifications are offered in various specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is mandatory for technicians that work with refrigerants. There are 3 types of certification offered, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Because licensing might be mandated in your area, and you may also wish to acquire certification, it's essential that you enroll in an HVAC technical school that will train you for both. And since you will more than likely be handling refrigerants, make sure that the program you decide on preps you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
Questions For Heating and Cooling Schools
Once you have picked the type of degree or certificate that you wish to earn, either on campus or online, you can start to decrease your list of schools. As you are probably aware, there are numerous HVAC trade schools in the Catalina Foothills AZ area and across the United States to choose 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 first two variables you will look at. Following are some additional ones that you will want to research before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. A large number of HVAC technical programs in the Catalina Foothills AZ area have attained either a regional or a national accreditation. They can receive Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to an individual program, such as HVAC technology. Verify that the program is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting organization, such as the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping make certain that you receive a quality education, it may assist in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are often not available for non-accredited programs. Additionally, some states mandate 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 complete the course. A low completion rate could signify that students were disappointed with the program and dropped out. It might also suggest that the instructors were not competent 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 list of alumni, which can mean more contacts for the school to employ 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 industry, but also that it has the network of Catalina Foothills AZ HVAC employers to assist graduates acquire apprenticeships or jobs.
Apprenticeship Programs. Numerous HVAC training programs are taught together with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating vocational and trade schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of Heating and Cooling companies or labor unions. Ask if the schools you are comparing have working partnerships with local Catalina Foothills AZ HVAC companies. An apprenticeship not only provides a rewarding experience by supplying practical training, but it also furnishes employment opportunities and helps to form relationships in the area HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make sure that the campus facilities and the tools that you will be trained on are state-of-the-art and what you will be using on the job. If you are already in an internship or an apprenticeship, check with the HVAC technician you are working under regarding what you should be looking for. If not, ask a local Catalina Foothills AZ HVAC contractor if they can give you some tips. Also bear in mind that unless you can relocate, the school must be within driving distance of your Catalina Foothills AZ residence. Remember that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides the added relocation costs there might be higher tuition charges compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's desirable that you get as much individualized instruction as possible, which can be difficult in bigger classes. Ask if you can sit in on a couple of the classes so that you can see how big they are and witness first hand the interaction between instructors and students. Talk to several of the students and get their comments relating to class sizes and instruction. Finally, speak to a few of the teachers and find out what their level of experience is and what certifications or degrees they have earned.
Flexible Scheduling. Verify that the class schedules for the programs you are reviewing are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Catalina Foothills AZ, confirm that the schools you are reviewing offer those options. If you can only attend part-time, make sure that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Finally, check out what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, sickness or family issues.
Get Your HVAC Certificate or Degree
Enrolling in the right HVAC training program is a crucial beginning toward a rewarding career in the heating & cooling field. As we have covered in this post, you need to select an Heating and Cooling trade school and a degree or certificate program that are both accredited and have exceptional reputations within the HVAC profession. Other things to look for are plenty of practical training and modern facilities. You need to check out each of the schools in person that you are most interested in to explore the campus and speak with both the faculty and current students. Try to get a feel for the quality of the instruction and the interaction between them. In addition, ask about scheduling choices and if night or weekend classes are offered if needed. And remember to ask about financial assistance and student loan options also. If you ask the proper questions as we have outlined 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 appropriate training, hard work and dedication, you can eventually become a licensed HVAC specialist in Catalina Foothills AZ.