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How to Pick the Best Heating and Cooling Program Near Cottonwood Arizona

Cottonwood Arizona commercial hvac technician repairing furnacesOnce you have decided on a career as a heating and air conditioner professional, the next action is to choose an HVAC trade school near Cottonwood AZ. But with so many to select from, how do you pick the ideal one to obtain the training that you need? A number of future students will make their selection based exclusively on the cost of tuition or how near the school is to their home. Even though these are important concerns, they are not the only ones to take into account. Some of the other details 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 additional criteria will be addressed in more detail later in this article. But before we discuss how to choose an HVAC technical school, let's look at what a heating and air conditioning contractor does to become a licensed qualified tradesman.

HVAC Degree Training Programs

Cottonwood Arizona residential air conditioning condensers

There are a variety of choices available for HVAC instruction in a technical or trade school. You can attain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Obtaining a certificate will take the minimum amount of time, typically achieved in just six months, however some programs are longer. A certificate will qualify you for the majority of HVAC positions, particularly if you are licensed and have certification related to the position. The degree training programs might provide a competitive edge in the job market and will deliver more extensive training than the certificate programs. Following is a brief description of each option offered near Cottonwood Az.

  • Certificate. Generally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among entry level commercial or residential HVAC professionals. They provide a strong foundation of skills for employment within the industry.
  • Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program delivers a more comprehensive understanding of heating and a/c systems than the certificate program. Normally requiring two years to complete, some degrees incorporate an internship or work-study program.
  • Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is tailored more towards a career in management as well as business ownership. Some programs call for an Associate Degree, while others are a traditional 4 year program. In addition to learning how to service and maintain heating and cooling systems, you will also learn how to design them.

Selecting the appropriate credential program will be dependent on what your future career aspirations are, in addition to the time and financial resources that you have to invest. One approach is to begin with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after acquiring some experience in the trade in Cottonwood AZ, subsequently going back to obtain a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your tactic, make sure to ask the HVAC tech school you are considering about how their returning student program works.

HVAC Online Courses

Cottonwood Arizona forced air heat registerAttending an HVAC program online is one possibility in obtaining your training and receiving a certificate or degree. Most schools will require some attendance on campus to complete practical training. Many also sponsor internship or work-study programs in addition to or instead of practical lab work. But since the balance of the classes can be attended on the web, this option may be a more convenient solution for many Cottonwood AZ students that are short on time. And a number of online degree programs are less expensive than other on campus alternatives. Even travelling expenses from Cottonwood and study supplies may be lessened, helping to make education more economical. And many online programs are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your career or family responsibilities have left you with limited time to attend classes, perhaps an HVAC online training program will make it more convenient to fit school into your busy lifestyle.

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 technicians provide services for the installation, maintenance and repair of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are typically mandated to be licensed, though each state and regional municipality has its own requirements. Attaining professional certification is not compulsory, but a voluntary means for Cottonwood AZ HVAC techs to prove that they are exceptionally qualified and knowledgeable in their area of expertise. There are multiple acknowledged certifications within the field that are offered. Here are a few of the important ones.

  • North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally acknowledged certification for HVAC technicians. The certification is attained by passing a competency exam and can be acquired in one or more specialties.
  • HVAC Excellence. This certification makes available both a professional and a master specialist credential. Two years of professional experience in addition to passing a comprehensive examination are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have three years of experience in addition to a passing result on the professional level examination. As with NATE, certifications are made available in various specialties.
  • EPA Section 608. This certification is necessary for specialists that work with refrigerants. There are 3 forms of certification available, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.

Considering that licensing might be required in your area, and you may also wish to obtain certification, it's essential that you enroll in an HVAC trade school that will train you for both. And since you will most likely be dealing with refrigerants, make certain that the school you choose prepares you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.

Questions to Ask HVAC Trade Schools

Cottonwood Arizona hvac tech installing water heater

When you have picked the type of certificate or degree that you wish to attain, either on campus or online, you can start to decrease your selection of schools. As you are probably aware, there are many HVAC vocational schools in the Cottonwood AZ area and across the Country to pick from. That's why it is very important to have a list of important qualifiers when making school assessments. As previously mentioned in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will undoubtedly be the first two factors you will take into consideration. Following are some additional ones that you need to explore before enrolling in your school of choice.

Accreditation.  A large number of HVAC technical schools in the Cottonwood AZ area have attained either a regional or a national accreditation. They can attain Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to an individual program, for example HVAC technology. Make sure that the program and school are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting organization, which includes the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping guarantee that you receive a superior education, it may assist in securing financial aid or student loans, which are frequently not available for non-accredited programs. Also, some states mandate that the HVAC training course be accredited for it to be approved for licensing.

High Completion Rates.  Ask the Heating and Cooling schools you are considering 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 may suggest that students were unhappy with the program and dropped out. It might also signify that the instructors were not competent to train the students. It's also imperative that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive list of graduates, which can mean more contacts for the school to utilize for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate will not only confirm that the school has a good reputation within the trade, but also that it has the network of Cottonwood AZ HVAC employers to assist graduates acquire apprenticeships or employment.

Apprenticeship Programs.  Numerous HVAC technical programs are taught in conjunction 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 trade unions. Check if the schools you are comparing have working relationships with local Cottonwood AZ HVAC contractors. An apprenticeship not only provides a rewarding experience by providing practical training, but it also furnishes employment opportunities and helps to establish 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 on the job. If you are presently in an internship or an apprenticeship, consult with the HVAC technician you are working under regarding what you should be looking for. If not, ask a local Cottonwood AZ HVAC company if they can provide some pointers. Additionally keep in mind that unless you are willing to relocate, the school needs to be within commuting distance of your Cottonwood AZ home. Take note that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation costs there might be increased tuition fees compared to in-state residents.

Smaller Classes.   It's important that you receive as much one-on-one training 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 big they are and witness first hand the interaction between students and instructors. Talk with some of the students and get their comments regarding class sizes and instruction. Last, speak with some of the teachers and learn what their level of expertise is and what degrees or certifications they have earned.

Flexible Scheduling.  Make sure that the class schedules for the programs you are assessing are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you are only able to attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Cottonwood AZ, verify that the programs you are reviewing provide those choices. If you can only attend part-time, make sure that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Finally, find out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, sickness or family responsibilities.

Learn More About Cottonwood HVAC Training Schools

Earn Your Heating and Cooling Degree or Certificate

Enrolling in the right HVAC school course is an important beginning toward a fulfilling career in the heating & cooling field. As we have addressed in this article, you need to select an HVAC training program and a certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have outstanding reputations within the HVAC community. Other factors to look for are plenty of hands-on training and state-of-the-art facilities. You need to visit each of the schools in person that you are most interested in to tour the campus and talk with both the faculty and current students. Try to get a feel for the quality of the teaching and the interaction between them. Additionally, ask about scheduling options and whether or not evening or weekend classes are offered 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 educated decision. With the appropriate training, hard work and dedication, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC professional in Cottonwood AZ.


 

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