How to Choose the Right HVAC Vocational School Near Catalina Arizona
Once you have come to a decision on a career as a heating and cooling professional, the next action is to look for an HVAC technical school near Catalina AZ. But with so many to select from, how do you choose the right one to get the training that you need? Many prospective students will make their decision based entirely on the price of tuition or how close the school is to their home. Even though these are necessary concerns, they are not the only ones to investigate. Some of the other things 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 other benchmarks will be discussed in more detail later within this article. But before we tackle how to pick an HVAC training program, let's take a look at what a heating and a/c professional does to become a licensed professional tradesman.
HVAC Degree Classes
There are several alternatives offered for HVAC instruction in a trade or technical school. You can earn a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Earning a certificate will take the minimum period of time, typically accomplished in as little as 6 months, though some programs are longer. A certificate will train you for the majority of HVAC positions, especially if you are licensed and have certification relevant to the position. The degree training programs may provide a competitive advantage for securing employment and will deliver more extensive training than the certificate programs. Following is a brief explanation of each option offered near Catalina Az.
- Certificate. Normally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among entry level commercial or residential HVAC technicians. They furnish a solid foundation of skills for employment within the industry.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program delivers a more exhaustive understanding of heating and a/c systems than the certificate program. Normally requiring two years to complete, many degrees include an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is geared more for a career in management or even business ownership. Some programs call for an Associate Degree, while others are a traditional 4 year program. In addition to being taught how to service and maintain heating and cooling systems, you will also study how to design them.
Picking the right credential program will be based on what your future career objectives are, along with the time and financial resources that you have to invest. One option is to start with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after acquiring some experience in the field in Catalina AZ, subsequently returning to obtain a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your tactic, make certain to ask the HVAC tech school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Courses Online
Choosing an HVAC program online is one option to getting your training and earning a degree or certificate. Nearly 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 as an alternative to practical lab work. But since the rest of the classes may be attended via the internet, this option may be a more convenient solution for some Catalina AZ students that are short on time. And some online degree programs are less expensive than other on campus options. Even travelling expenses from Catalina and study materials may be lessened, helping to make schooling more budget-friendly. And a large number of online programs 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 easier to fit school into your busy schedule.
HVAC Licensing and Certification
HVAC is an acronym that is frequently used in the industry that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC professionals specialize in the installation, maintenance and repair of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are generally mandated to be licensed, although every state and local municipality has its own prerequisites. Acquiring professional certification is not mandatory, but an alternative way for Catalina AZ HVAC techs to demonstrate that they are highly qualified and knowledgeable in their area of specialization. There are several recognized certifications within the field that are offered. Here are some of the significant ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally recognized certification for HVAC techs. The certification is achieved by passing a proficiency examination and may be received in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification makes available both a professional and a master specialist credential. 2 years of field experience together with passing a comprehensive exam are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have 3 years of experience together with a passing result on the professional level examination. Similar to NATE, certifications are made available in various specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is required for specialists that handle refrigerants. There are three types of certification obtainable, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Since licensing could be required in your location, and you may also desire to obtain certification, it's essential that you select an HVAC vocational school that will prepare you for both. And since you will more than likely be dealing with refrigerants, make sure that the program you pick preps you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
Questions For HVAC Trade Schools
As soon as you have picked the type of certificate or degree that you desire to attain, either online or on campus, you can begin to narrow down your list of schools. As you are certainly aware, there are a large number of HVAC technical schools in the Catalina AZ area and across the USA to select from. That's why it is very important to have a checklist of important qualifiers when making school assessments. As earlier mentioned in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will probably be the initial 2 factors you will consider. Following are several additional ones that you should investigate before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Many HVAC technical programs in the Catalina AZ area have attained 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 certain that the program and school are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting agency, which includes the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping make certain that you acquire an excellent education, it can help in securing financial aid or student loans, which are often unavailable for non-accredited programs. Furthermore, some states mandate that the HVAC training course be accredited in order to qualify for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the Heating and Cooling schools you are reviewing what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students who enroll in and finish the program. A low completion rate might indicate that students were disappointed with the course and quit. It could also signify that the teachers were not competent to train the students. It's similarly important 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 confirm that the school has a good reputation within the field, but additionally that it has the network of Catalina AZ HVAC employers to help graduates obtain apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. A large number of HVAC vocational programs are taught together with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating vocational and technical schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of HVAC companies or labor unions. Ask if the schools you are considering have working relationships with local Catalina AZ HVAC professionals. An apprenticeship not only provides a valuable experience by providing practical training, but it also provides employment opportunities and helps to build relationships in the local HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make sure that the school facilities and the equipment that you will be trained on are state-of-the-art and what you will be using on the job. If you are presently in an internship or an apprenticeship, check with the HVAC technician you are working with concerning what you should be looking for. If not, ask a local Catalina AZ HVAC contracting company if they can provide some tips. Additionally keep in mind that unless you are able to relocate, the school needs to be within driving distance of your Catalina AZ home. Take note that if you decide to enroll in 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 training as possible, which can be challenging in bigger classes. Ask if you can monitor a few of the classes so that you can see how large they are and experience the interaction between teachers and students. Talk to several of the students and get their feedback relating to class sizes and instruction. Last, talk to some of the instructors and learn what their level of experience is and what certifications or degrees they hold.
Flexible Scheduling. Verify that the class schedules for the programs you are assessing are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Catalina AZ, verify that the schools you are reviewing offer those choices. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, be 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 due to work, sickness or family emergencies.
Earn Your HVAC Certificate or Degree
Picking the right HVAC training program is a critical beginning toward a fulfilling career in the heating and air conditioning industry. As we have covered in this post, you should pick an HVAC trade school and a certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have excellent reputations within the HVAC community. Other things to look for are sufficient hands-on training and modern facilities. You should go to each of the schools in person that you are most interested in to inspect the campus and speak with both the faculty and current students. Attempt to get a feel for the quality of the training and the interaction between them. Also, ask about scheduling choices and whether evening or weekend classes are available if needed. And remember to inquire about financial aid and student loan options also. If you ask the proper questions as we have detailed in our checklist for assessing 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 professional in Catalina AZ.