How to Find the Right Heating and Cooling Program Near Cottonwood Arizona
Once you have come to a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioning professional, the next step is to look for an HVAC technical school near Cottonwood AZ. But with so many to select from, how do you pick the best one to get the training that you need? A number of potential students will make their selection based solely on the price of tuition or how near the school is to their home. While these are relevant concerns, they are not the only ones to evaluate. Just some of the other things that you need to investigate are the graduation rates of the HVAC schools, their reputations, and if they are accredited by professional trade organizations. These and other criteria will be covered in more detail later in this article. But before we explore how to pick an HVAC training program, let's look at what a heating and cooling specialist does to become a licensed skilled tradesman.
HVAC Degree Courses
There are several options available for HVAC instruction in a vocational or trade school. You can earn a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Obtaining a certificate will take the lesser amount of time, typically accomplished in as little as 6 months, however some courses are longer. A certificate will qualify you for most HVAC positions, particularly if you are licensed and have certification appropriate to the position. The degree training programs might provide a competitive edge in the job market and will furnish more comprehensive training than the certificate programs. Following is a brief summary of each credential offered near Cottonwood Az.
- Certificate. Usually requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among beginning residential or commercial HVAC specialists. They provide a solid foundation of skills for job opportunities within the industry.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program delivers a more exhaustive knowledge of heating & cooling systems than the certificate program. Generally taking two years to complete, some degrees include an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is suited more towards 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 mastering how to service and maintain heating and air conditioning 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 commit. One approach is to begin with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after acquiring some experience in the field in Cottonwood AZ, eventually going back to earn a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your strategy, make sure to ask the HVAC tech school you are considering about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Online Courses
Choosing an HVAC program online is one possibility in obtaining your education and receiving a certificate or degree. Almost all schools will call for some attendance on campus to take part in hands on training. Some also offer internship or work-study programs in addition to or in place of practical lab work. But since the balance of the classes may be attended online, this approach may be a more practical solution for many Cottonwood AZ students that are pressed for time. And a number of online degree programs are more economical than other traditional choices. Even travelling expenses from Cottonwood and study supplies may be minimized, helping to make education more affordable. And numerous online programs are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your job or family responsibilities have left you with little time to attend classes, maybe an online HVAC degree program will make it more convenient to accommodate school into your busy schedule.
HVAC Certification and Licensing
HVAC is an acronym that is widely used in the industry that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC technicians specialize in the installation, repair and maintenance of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are typically required to be licensed, however every state and local municipality has its own criteria. Acquiring professional certification is not required, but an optional means for Cottonwood AZ HVAC technicians to prove that they are highly skilled and knowledgeable in their area of expertise. There are several recognized certifications within the trade that are available. Following are a few of the important 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 earned in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification offers both a professional and a master specialist credential. 2 years of professional experience as well as passing a comprehensive examination are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have three years of experience along with a passing result on the professional level exam. As with NATE, certifications are made available in several specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is required for technicians that handle refrigerants. There are three types of certification offered, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Considering that licensing might be mandated in your area, and you may also wish to acquire certification, it's essential that you pick an HVAC vocational school that will prepare you for both. And since you will probably be dealing with refrigerants, make certain that the school you decide on preps you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.
Questions For Heating and Cooling Schools
As soon as you have decided on the type of certificate or degree that you would like to attain, either online or on campus, you can start to narrow down your selection of schools. As you are certainly aware, there are many HVAC trade schools in the Cottonwood AZ area and throughout the USA to pick from. That's why it is very important to have a checklist of relevant qualifications when making school assessments. As earlier mentioned in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will undoubtedly be the first two variables you will take into consideration. Following are some additional ones that you should research before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Numerous HVAC vocational schools in the Cottonwood AZ area have acquired either a regional or a national accreditation. They may acquire Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to an individual program, for example HVAC technology. Make certain that the program and school are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization, which includes the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping make certain that you receive a quality education, it may help in acquiring financial assistance or student loans, which are often not available for non-accredited schools. Furthermore, many states require that the HVAC training program be accredited for it to qualify for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the HVAC schools you are looking at what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage of students who enroll in and finish the program. A low completion rate could indicate that students were dissatisfied with the course and quit. It could also mean that the teachers were not qualified to train 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 can produce 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 an excellent reputation within the trade, but additionally that it has the network of Cottonwood AZ HVAC employers to help students acquire apprenticeships or jobs.
Apprenticeship Programs. Numerous HVAC technical programs are taught together with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating trade and technical schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of HVAC contractors or labor unions. Check if the schools you are comparing have working partnerships with local Cottonwood AZ HVAC specialists. An apprenticeship not only provides a valuable experience by providing hands-on training, but it also provides employment opportunities and helps to establish relationships in the area HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Confirm that the campus facilities and the tools that you will be trained on are up-to-date and what you will be working with on the job. If you are already in an internship or an apprenticeship, check with the HVAC specialist you are working with concerning what you should be expecting. If not, ask a local Cottonwood AZ HVAC contracting company if they can give you some suggestions. Additionally bear in mind that unless you can relocate, the school needs to be within commuting distance of your Cottonwood AZ residence. Remember that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides the added relocation costs there can be increased tuition fees compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's important that you receive as much one-on-one instruction as possible, which can be difficult in larger classes. Ask if you can sit in on some of the classes so that you can see how large they are and witness first hand the interaction between students and teachers. Talk to some of the students and get their feedback concerning class sizes and instruction. Finally, talk with a few of the instructors and learn what their level of expertise is and what certifications or degrees they have earned.
Flexible Scheduling. Make sure that the class schedules for the programs you are assessing are flexible enough to handle your needs. If you are only able to attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Cottonwood AZ, check that the schools you are looking at provide those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, 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 due to work, sickness or family issues.
Get Your Heating and Cooling Degree or Certificate
Finding the ideal HVAC training course is an important first step toward a fulfilling career in the heating and air conditioning trade. As we have covered in this article, you need to select an Heating and Cooling school and a degree or certificate program that are both accredited and have outstanding reputations within the HVAC trade. Other features to look for are sufficient hands-on training and state-of-the-art facilities. You need to visit each of the schools personally that you are most interested in to inspect the campus and talk with both the faculty and current students. Try to get a feel for the quality of the instruction and the interaction between them. Additionally, inquire about scheduling options and whether evening or weekend classes are offered 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 laid out in our checklist for assessing schools, you'll be able to filter 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 professional in Cottonwood AZ.