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How to Select the Right Heating and Cooling Training Class Near Catalina Arizona

Catalina Arizona commercial hvac technician installing furnacesNow that you have made a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioning professional, the next action is to look for an HVAC technical school near Catalina AZ. But with so many to pick from, how do you pick the ideal one to receive the training that you require? A number of prospective students will make their choice based entirely on the price of tuition or how close the school is to their home. Although these are important concerns, they are not the only ones to investigate. Just some of the other factors 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. Those and other benchmarks will be addressed in more detail later within this article. But before we explore how to choose an HVAC training program, let's look at what a heating and cooling contractor does to become a licensed professional tradesman.

HVAC Degree Classes

Catalina Arizona home A/C condensers

There are several options offered for HVAC training in a trade or technical school. You can obtain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Obtaining a certificate will take the lesser amount of time, usually accomplished in as little as 6 months, however some courses 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 advantage for securing employment and will provide more in-depth training than the certificate programs. Below is a short explanation of each option offered near Catalina Az.

  • Certificate. Normally 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 industry.
  • Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program delivers a more extensive knowledge of heating and a/c systems than the certificate program. Typically taking 2 years to complete, some degrees include an internship or work-study program.
  • Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is tailored more for a career in management as well as business ownership. Some programs call for an Associate Degree, while others are a standard four year program. In addition to being taught how to service and maintain heating and cooling systems, you will also study how to design them.

Selecting the appropriate credential program will be dependent on what your future career goals are, as well as 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 Catalina AZ, eventually returning to earn a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your approach, be sure to ask the HVAC technician school you are considering about how their returning student program works.

HVAC Courses Online

Catalina Arizona central heating registerChoosing an HVAC school online is one possibility to getting your training and earning a degree or certificate. Almost all schools will require some attendance on campus to complete hands on training. Many also sponsor internship or work-study programs in addition to or instead of practical lab work. But since the rest of the classes can be attended on the web, this alternative may be a more practical solution for some Catalina AZ students that are pressed for time. And many online degree programs are more economical than other on campus choices. Even driving expenses from Catalina and study supplies can be minimized, helping to make education more budget-friendly. And numerous online programs are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your work or family obligations have left you with little time to attend classes, maybe an HVAC online training program will make it easier to accommodate school into your active lifestyle.

Heating and Cooling Certification and Licensing

HVAC is an acronym that is frequently used in the business that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC techs specialize in the installation, maintenance and repair of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are generally required to be licensed, though every state and local municipality has its own criteria. Attaining professional certification is not compulsory, but an alternative way for Catalina AZ HVAC specialists to establish that they are highly qualified and knowledgeable in their area of specialization. There are many respected certifications within the industry that are available. Below are a few of the important ones.

  • North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally recognized certification for HVAC techs. The certification is attained by passing a competency exam and can be acquired in one or more specialties.
  • HVAC Excellence. This certification offers both a professional and a master specialist credential. 2 years of professional experience in addition to passing a comprehensive examination are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have 3 years of experience as well as a passing score on the professional level examination. As with NATE, certifications are provided in various specialties.
  • EPA Section 608. This certification is necessary for specialists 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 might be mandated in your area, and you may also wish to earn certification, it's imperative that you enroll in an HVAC vocational school that will prepare you for both. And since you will probably be handling refrigerants, make certain that the school you pick prepares you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.

What to Ask Heating and Cooling Training Classes

Catalina Arizona hvac tech working on hot water heater

After you have picked the type of degree or certificate that you would like to obtain, either on campus or online, you can begin to decrease your list of schools. As you are probably aware, there are numerous HVAC vocational schools in the Catalina AZ area and across the USA to choose from. That's why it is essential to have a list of relevant qualifiers when making school evaluations. As previously stated in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will undoubtedly be the initial two aspects you will take into consideration. Following are some additional ones that you should explore before enrolling in your school of choice.

Accreditation.  Many HVAC technical schools in the Catalina AZ area have attained either a regional or a national accreditation. They can acquire Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to an individual program, for instance HVAC technology. Verify that the school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting organization, for example the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping guarantee that you obtain a superior education, it can help in securing financial aid or student loans, which are frequently unavailable for non-accredited programs. Furthermore, some states require that the HVAC training program be accredited for it 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 complete the course. A low completion rate may signify that students were disappointed with the program and dropped out. It could also suggest that the teachers were not qualified to instruct the students. It's also essential that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive list of alumni, which may mean more contacts for the school to use 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 trade, but additionally that it has the network of Catalina AZ HVAC employers to help students acquire apprenticeships or jobs.

Apprenticeship Programs.  Numerous 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 working partnerships with local Catalina AZ HVAC companies. An apprenticeship not only offers a valuable experience by supplying practical training, but it also furnishes job opportunities and helps to form relationships in the regional HVAC professional community.

Modern Facilities.  Confirm that the campus facilities and the tools 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, talk to the HVAC specialist you are working with regarding what you should be looking for. If not, ask a local Catalina AZ HVAC contractor if they can provide some suggestions. Also keep in mind that unless you are willing to relocate, the school needs to be within driving distance of your Catalina AZ home. Remember that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides the added relocation costs there may be higher tuition charges compared to in-state residents.

Smaller Classes.   It's important that you receive as much individualized instruction as possible, which can be difficult in bigger classes. Ask if you can monitor a few of the classes so that you can see how large they are and witness first hand the interaction between students and instructors. Talk with a few of the students and get their comments regarding class sizes and instruction. Last, speak with a few of the teachers and find out what their level of experience is and what certifications or degrees they have earned.

Flexible Scheduling.  Confirm that the class schedules for the schools you are assessing are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Catalina AZ, check that the schools you are looking at offer those options. If you can only attend part-time, make certain that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Finally, ask what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, sickness or family emergencies.

Learn More About Catalina HVAC Training Courses

Earn Your Heating and Cooling Degree or Certificate

Choosing the right HVAC training program is an important first step toward a fulfilling career in the heating and air conditioning field. As we have covered in this article, you need to select an Heating and Cooling technical school and a certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have exceptional reputations within the HVAC field. Other features to look for are plenty of hands-on training and state-of-the-art facilities. You should go to each of the schools in person that you are most interested in to explore the campus and talk with both the current students and faculty. Attempt to get a feel for the quality of the training and the interaction between them. Also, ask about scheduling options and whether or not night or weekend classes are available if needed. And don't forget to ask about financial aid and student loan options as well. If you ask the right questions as we have detailed in our guidelines for comparing schools, you'll be able to narrow down 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 specialist in Catalina AZ.


 

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