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How to Select the Right Heating and Cooling Certification Class Near Coolidge Arizona

Coolidge Arizona commercial hvac tech installing furnacesNow that you have come to a decision on a career as a heating and cooling specialist, the next step is to choose an HVAC technical school near Coolidge AZ. But with so many to choose from, how do you pick the best one to receive the training that you need? Many future students will make their selection based solely on the cost of tuition or how near the school is to their home. Although these are important factors to consider, they are not the only ones to take into account. 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. These and additional criteria will be covered in more detail later in this article. But before we tackle how to select 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

Coolidge Arizona residential A/C condensers

There are a number of 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 period of time, often accomplished in just 6 months, although some courses are longer. A certificate will qualify 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 edge in the job market and will deliver more extensive training than the certificate programs. Below is a brief summary of each option offered near Coolidge Az.

  • Certificate. Generally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among beginning commercial or residential HVAC specialists. They provide a strong foundation of skills for employment within the industry.
  • Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program supplies a more detailed understanding of heating and cooling systems than the certificate program. Normally requiring 2 years to finish, a number of degrees include an internship or work-study program.
  • Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is geared more towards a career in management as well as business ownership. Some programs call for an Associate Degree, while others are a traditional four year program. In addition to learning 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 long term career goals are, as well as the time and money 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 trade in Coolidge AZ, eventually returning to acquire a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your tactic, be sure to ask the HVAC tech school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.

HVAC Online Training

Coolidge Arizona forced air heat registerAttending an HVAC program online is one approach in getting your education and earning a certificate or degree. Most schools will require some attendance on campus to participate in hands on training. Some also provide internship or work-study programs in addition to or instead of practical lab work. But since the remainder of the classes may be participated in on the web, this alternative may be a more practical solution for some Coolidge AZ students that are short on time. And some online degree programs are less costly than other on campus alternatives. Even driving expenses from Coolidge and study supplies can be reduced, helping to make schooling more economical. And a large number of 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, maybe an HVAC online training program will make it less complicated to fit school into your busy schedule.

Heating and Cooling Certification and Licensing

HVAC is an acronym that is widely used in the industry that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC professionals provide services for the installation, repair and maintenance of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are commonly mandated to be licensed, although every state and regional municipality has its own criteria. Earning professional certification is not required, but an optional means for Coolidge AZ HVAC specialists to demonstrate that they are exceptionally skilled and experienced in their area of specialization. There are many respected certifications within the trade that are available. Below are a few of the significant ones.

  • North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally recognized certification for HVAC technicians. The certification is earned by passing a competency exam and can be received in one or more specialties.
  • HVAC Excellence. This certification offers both a professional and a master specialist credential. Two years of professional experience together with passing a comprehensive examination are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have three years of experience as well as a passing result on the professional level examination. As with NATE, certifications are made available in various specialties.
  • EPA Section 608. This certification is required for technicians that work with refrigerants. There are three forms of certification available, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.

Because licensing may be mandated in your location, and you may also desire to acquire certification, it's important that you choose an HVAC technical school that will train you for both. And since you will probably be working with refrigerants, make certain that the school you choose readies you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.

Questions to Ask Heating and Cooling Training Programs

Coolidge Arizona hvac contractor repairing hot water heater

As soon as you have chosen the type of degree or certificate that you desire to attain, either on campus or online, you can start to limit your list of schools. As you are probably aware, there are numerous HVAC vocational schools in the Coolidge AZ area and throughout the United States to pick from. That's why it is very important to have a checklist of important qualifications when making school comparisons. As formerly mentioned in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will most likely be the initial 2 variables you will look at. Following are several additional ones that you need to investigate before enrolling in your school of choice.

Accreditation.  Numerous HVAC trade schools in the Coolidge AZ area have acquired either a regional or a national accreditation. They may receive Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to an individual program, such as HVAC technology. Make certain that the school and program are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting organization, such as the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping make certain that you receive a quality education, it may assist in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are often unavailable for non-accredited programs. Furthermore, a number of states require that the HVAC training program be accredited in order to qualify 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 lower completion rate might suggest that students were unhappy with the program and dropped out. It may also suggest 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 broader directory of alumni, which can mean more contacts for the school to utilize for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate can not only affirm that the school has a good reputation within the industry, but also that it has the network of Coolidge AZ HVAC employers to assist graduates obtain apprenticeships or jobs.

Apprenticeship Programs.  A large number of HVAC training 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 inside their network of Heating and Cooling businesses or labor unions. Check if the schools you are considering have referring partnerships with local Coolidge AZ HVAC professionals. An apprenticeship not only offers a rewarding experience by providing practical training, but it also provides employment opportunities and helps to establish 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 currently in an internship or an apprenticeship, check with the HVAC specialist you are working under regarding what you should be looking for. If not, ask a local Coolidge AZ HVAC contractor if they can provide some pointers. Also keep in mind that unless you can move, the school must be within commuting distance of your Coolidge AZ home. Remember that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, in addition to moving costs there may be increased tuition fees compared to in-state residents.

Smaller Classes.   It's desirable that you get as much individualized instruction as possible, which can be challenging in larger classes. Ask if you can sit in on a few of the classes so that you can observe how large they are and witness first hand the interaction between instructors and students. Speak to some of the students and get their opinions concerning class sizes and instruction. Finally, speak with some of the instructors and find out what their level of expertise is and what certifications or degrees they hold.

Flexible Scheduling.  Make sure that the class schedules for the programs you are reviewing are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you are only able to go to classes at night or on weekends near Coolidge AZ, verify that the programs you are comparing offer those options. If you can only attend part-time, make certain that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Additionally, ask what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, sickness or family responsibilities.

Find Out More About Coolidge HVAC Trade Schools

Earn Your HVAC Degree or Certificate

Enrolling in the right HVAC school course is a critical beginning toward a fulfilling career in the heating and air conditioning industry. As we have discussed in this article, you need to select an HVAC 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 plenty of practical training and state-of-the-art facilities. You need to visit 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 teaching and the interaction between them. Additionally, inquire about scheduling options and if evening or weekend classes are available if needed. And remember to ask about financial aid and student loan options as well. If you ask the proper questions as we have detailed in our guidelines for evaluating schools, you'll be able to narrow down your options so that you can make an educated decision. With the appropriate training, hard work and commitment, you can eventually become a licensed HVAC technician in Coolidge AZ.


 

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