How to Choose the Right HVAC School Near Corona De Tucson Arizona
Now that you have made a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioning technician, the next step is to find an HVAC technical school near Corona De Tucson AZ. But with so many to choose from, how do you choose the right one to get the training that you need? A number of potential students will make their choice based entirely on the cost of tuition or how near the school is to their residence. While these are important considerations, they are not the only ones to investigate. Just some of the other details that you need to research are the graduation rates of the HVAC schools, their reputations, and if they are accredited by professional trade organizations. Those and additional benchmarks will be addressed in more detail later in this article. But before we discuss how to pick an HVAC technical school, let's look at what a heating and a/c contractor does to become a licensed skilled tradesman.
HVAC Degree and Certificate Courses
There are several options available for HVAC instruction in a vocational or trade 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 completed in as little as 6 months, however 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 advantage for securing employment and will furnish more in-depth training than the certificate programs. Below is a brief explanation of each option offered near Corona De Tucson Az.
- Certificate. Usually requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among entry level residential or commercial HVAC technicians. They furnish a solid foundation of skills for job opportunities within the industry.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program provides a more comprehensive knowledge of heating and a/c systems than the certificate program. Generally taking two years to complete, some degrees feature 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 conventional 4 year program. In addition to being taught how to service and maintain heating and air conditioning systems, you will also learn how to design them.
Selecting the right credential program will be dependent on what your long term career aspirations are, as well as the time and money that you have to commit. One possibility is to begin with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after gaining some experience in the trade in Corona De Tucson AZ, eventually going back to earn a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your tactic, be sure to ask the HVAC technician school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Online Training
Choosing an HVAC program online is one option in obtaining your education and earning a certificate or degree. Almost all schools will call for some attendance on campus to participate in hands on training. A number also sponsor internship or work-study programs in addition to or in place of practical lab work. But since the rest of the classes may be participated in via the internet, this alternative may be a more accessible solution for some Corona De Tucson AZ students that are pressed for time. And some online degree programs are less costly than other on campus choices. Even driving expenses from Corona De Tucson and study supplies may be lessened, helping to make education more affordable. And numerous online programs are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your career or family obligations have left you with little time to attend classes, perhaps an online HVAC degree program will make it more convenient to accommodate school into your active lifestyle.
Heating and Cooling Licensing and Certification
HVAC is an acronym that is commonly used in the trade that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC technicians provide services for the installation, repair and maintenance of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are generally mandated to be licensed, however every state and regional municipality has its own criteria. Attaining professional certification is not mandatory, but a voluntary way for Corona De Tucson AZ HVAC technicians to prove that they are highly skilled and accomplished in their area of expertise. There are multiple acknowledged certifications within the trade that are offered. Following are a few of the significant ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally recognized certification for HVAC techs. The certification is attained by passing a proficiency exam and can 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 as well as passing a comprehensive exam are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have three years of experience as well as a passing score on the professional level exam. As with NATE, certifications are offered in various specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is necessary for technicians that handle refrigerants. There are three types of certification obtainable, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Because licensing could be mandated in your location, and you may also intend to obtain certification, it's essential that you enroll in an HVAC trade school that will train you for both. And since you will probably be handling refrigerants, make certain that the program you decide on preps you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
Questions to Ask Heating and Cooling Certification Classes
As soon as you have selected the type of certificate or degree that you want to earn, either on campus or online, you can begin to decrease your selection of schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are a large number of HVAC trade schools in the Corona De Tucson AZ area and throughout the USA to choose from. That's why it is extremely important to have a checklist of important qualifications when making school comparisons. As formerly stated in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will probably be the first 2 aspects you will consider. Following are several additional ones that you need to research before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Many HVAC trade schools in the Corona De Tucson AZ area have earned either a regional or a national accreditation. They may acquire Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to an individual program, such as HVAC technology. Confirm that the program 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 ensure that you obtain a superior education, it may assist in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are often unavailable for non-accredited schools. Additionally, many states require that the HVAC training course be accredited in order to be approved for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the Heating and Air Conditioning schools you are looking at what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage of students who enroll in and complete the course. A lower completion rate might signify that students were dissatisfied with the course and quit. It may also mean that the teachers were not competent to instruct 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 graduates, which may result in more contacts for the school to utilize for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate will not only validate that the school has an excellent reputation within the industry, but also that it has the network of Corona De Tucson AZ HVAC employers to help graduates acquire apprenticeships or jobs.
Apprenticeship Programs. Numerous HVAC trade 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 HVAC companies or labor unions. Find out if the schools you are reviewing have referring relationships with local Corona De Tucson AZ HVAC companies. An apprenticeship not only offers a valuable experience by furnishing hands-on training, but it also furnishes job opportunities and helps to build relationships in the local HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make certain that the school facilities and the equipment that you will be trained on are state-of-the-art and what you will be working with in the field. 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 Corona De Tucson AZ HVAC company if they can give you some suggestions. Also keep in mind that unless you are willing to move, the school must be within driving distance of your Corona De Tucson AZ residence. Take note that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, besides the added relocation costs there may be increased tuition fees compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's desirable that you get as much one-on-one training as possible, which can be challenging in larger classes. Ask if you can monitor a couple of the classes so that you can observe how large they are and experience the interaction between teachers and students. Talk with several of the students and get their opinions regarding class sizes and instruction. Finally, talk with some of the instructors and find out what their level of expertise is and what degrees or certifications they hold.
Flexible Scheduling. Confirm that the class schedules for the programs you are evaluating are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Corona De Tucson AZ, check that the schools you are comparing offer those options. If you can only attend part-time, be sure that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Additionally, ask what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, sickness or family issues.
Earn Your Heating and Cooling Degree or Certificate
Picking the right HVAC training program is a crucial first step toward a fulfilling career in the heating & cooling trade. As we have covered in this article, you should pick an Heating and Cooling technical school and a certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have outstanding reputations within the HVAC community. Other factors to search for are lots of hands-on training and modern facilities. You need to go to each of the schools in person that you are most interested in to inspect the campus and talk with both the current students and faculty. Try to get a feel for the quality of the teaching and the interaction between them. In addition, ask about scheduling options and whether or not evening or weekend classes are available if needed. And don't forget to ask about financial assistance and student loan options as well. If you ask the appropriate questions as we have detailed in our checklist for evaluating schools, you'll be able to filter your options so that you can make an informed decision. With the appropriate training, hard work and commitment, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC professional in Corona De Tucson AZ.