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How to Select the Right HVAC Degree Program Near Cottonwood Arizona

Cottonwood Arizona commercial hvac contractor servicing furnacesNow that you have decided on a career as a heating and air conditioning technician, the next step is to choose an HVAC vocational school near Cottonwood AZ. But with so many to pick from, how do you select the best one to get the training that you require? Many prospective students will make their decision based entirely on the price of tuition or how near the school is to their residence. While these are important factors to consider, they are not the only ones to investigate. Some of the other things 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 criteria will be addressed in more detail later in this article. But before we explore how to select an HVAC training program, let's look at what a heating and a/c technician does to become a licensed professional tradesman.

HVAC Certificate and Degree Classes

Cottonwood Arizona home air conditioning condensers

There are a number of alternatives offered for HVAC training in a vocational or trade school. You can earn a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Acquiring a certificate will take the least amount of time, typically completed in as little as six months, however some courses are longer. A certificate will qualify you for the majority of HVAC positions, particularly if you are licensed and have certification appropriate to the position. The degree programs might provide a competitive advantage in the job market and will deliver more in-depth training than the certificate programs. Following is a brief explanation of each credential offered near Cottonwood Az.

  • Certificate. Usually requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among entry level commercial or residential HVAC professionals. They provide a strong foundation of skills for employment within the trade.
  • Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program provides a more exhaustive background of heating & cooling systems than the certificate program. Usually requiring two years to finish, some degrees feature 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 require an Associate Degree, while others are a conventional 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 future career objectives are, together with the time and financial resources that you have to commit. One possibility is to start with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after gaining some experience in the trade in Cottonwood AZ, later going back to acquire a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your tactic, be sure to ask the HVAC tech school you are considering about how their returning student program works.

HVAC Schools Online

Cottonwood Arizona forced air heat registerEnrolling in an HVAC program online is one possibility to obtaining your education and earning a degree or certificate. Almost all schools will require some attendance on campus to complete practical training. A number also offer internship or work-study programs in addition to or as an alternative to practical lab work. But since the balance of the classes may be attended on the web, this option may be a more accessible solution for many Cottonwood AZ students that are short on time. And a number of online degree programs are less expensive than other traditional choices. Even driving expenses from Cottonwood and study supplies can be reduced, helping to make education more economical. And numerous 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 online HVAC degree program will make it less complicated to accommodate school into your active lifestyle.

HVAC Certification and Licensing

HVAC is an acronym that is extensively used in the trade that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC professionals provide services for the installation, maintenance and repair 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 requirements. Earning professional certification is not required, but an optional way for Cottonwood AZ HVAC specialists to prove that they are highly proficient and experienced in their area of specialization. There are many respected certifications within the industry that are offered. Below are a few of the important ones.

  • North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally recognized certification for HVAC technicians. The certification is achieved 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. Two years of field experience as well as passing a comprehensive exam are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have 3 years of experience together with a passing score on the professional level examination. Similar to NATE, certifications are provided in several specialties.
  • EPA Section 608. This certification is mandatory for specialists that handle refrigerants. There are 3 types of certification available, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.

Considering that licensing might be required in your location, and you may also desire to acquire certification, it's essential that you select 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 decide on readies you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.

Questions to Ask Heating and Cooling Schools

Cottonwood Arizona hvac tech working on water heater

Once you have chosen the type of degree or certificate that you wish to obtain, either on campus or online, you can start to decrease your list of schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are many HVAC trade schools in the Cottonwood AZ area and across the USA to select from. That's why it is imperative to have a checklist of key qualifications when making school assessments. As formerly stated in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will probably be the first two factors you will look at. Following are some additional ones that you should research before enrolling in your school of choice.

Accreditation.  Many HVAC vocational schools in the Cottonwood AZ area have earned either a regional or a national accreditation. They can attain Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to a specific program, for example HVAC technology. Verify that the school and program are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting organization, for instance the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping make certain that you obtain a superior education, it can assist in securing financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently unavailable for non-accredited programs. Furthermore, some states require that the HVAC training course be accredited in order to be approved 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 course. A low completion rate might indicate that students were disappointed with the course and quit. It could also mean that the instructors were not competent to instruct the students. It's similarly essential that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader list of alumni, which may mean more contacts for the school to employ for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate can not only validate that the school has a good reputation within the trade, but additionally that it has the network of Cottonwood AZ HVAC employers to help graduates acquire apprenticeships or employment.

Apprenticeship Programs.  Numerous HVAC training programs are taught along with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating vocational and trade programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of HVAC companies or trade unions. Ask if the schools you are reviewing have working partnerships with local Cottonwood AZ HVAC contractors. An apprenticeship not only provides a valuable experience by providing practical training, but it also provides job opportunities and helps to form relationships in the area HVAC professional community.

Modern Facilities.  Confirm that the school facilities and the equipment 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, consult with the HVAC tech you are working with concerning what you should be looking for. If not, ask a local Cottonwood AZ HVAC contracting company if they can provide some pointers. Additionally keep in mind that unless you are able to relocate, the school must be within commuting distance of your Cottonwood AZ home. Remember that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides the added relocation costs there may be higher 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 bigger classes. Ask if you can monitor some of the classes so that you can see how big they are and witness first hand the interaction between students and teachers. Speak to several of the students and get their opinions 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.  Confirm that the class schedules for the programs you are evaluating are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you are only able to go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Cottonwood AZ, check that the programs you are comparing provide those choices. If you can only attend part-time, make certain that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Finally, find out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, sickness or family emergencies.

Learn More About Cottonwood HVAC Trade Schools

Earn Your Heating and Cooling Degree or Certificate

Enrolling in the ideal HVAC training program is a critical beginning toward a fulfilling career in the heating & cooling field. As we have discussed in this post, you should select an HVAC technical school and a certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have exceptional reputations within the HVAC community. Other features to look for are ample practical training and state-of-the-art facilities. You should 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. Attempt to get a feel for the quality of the instruction and the interaction between them. Also, ask about scheduling options and whether or not night 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 appropriate questions as we have detailed in our checklist for comparing schools, you'll be able to filter your choices so that you can make an informed decision. With the proper training, hard work and commitment, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC professional in Cottonwood AZ.


 

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