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How to Pick the Right HVAC Vocational School Near Cottonwood Arizona

Cottonwood Arizona commercial hvac tech repairing furnacesNow that you have made a decision on a career as a heating and cooling specialist, 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 ideal one to get the training that you need? Many prospective students will make their choice based entirely on the cost of tuition or how close the school is to their home. Even though these are necessary considerations, they are not the only ones to investigate. Just some of the other things that you need to research are the graduation completion rates of the HVAC schools, their reputations, and if they are accredited by professional trade organizations. These and other benchmarks will be addressed in more detail later in this article. But before we examine how to select an HVAC technical school, let's look at what a heating and a/c professional does to become a licensed professional tradesman.

HVAC Degree and Certificate Training Programs

Cottonwood Arizona residential A/C condensers

There are a variety of alternatives offered for HVAC training in a technical or trade school. You can earn a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Earning a certificate will take the minimum period of time, often achieved in just 6 months, however some courses are longer. A certificate will qualify you for the majority of HVAC positions, especially if you are licensed and have certification applicable to the position. The degree training programs can provide a competitive advantage for securing employment and will provide more extensive training than the certificate programs. Below is a short description of each option offered near Cottonwood Az.

  • Certificate. Normally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among entry level commercial or residential HVAC professionals. They provide a solid foundation of skills for employment within the trade.
  • Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program provides a more comprehensive knowledge of heating and cooling systems than the certificate program. Generally requiring two years to complete, some degrees feature an internship or work-study program.
  • Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is suited more towards a career in management as well as business ownership. Some programs call for 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 learn how to design them.

Choosing the appropriate credential program will be based on what your future career goals are, together with the time and money that you have to commit. One option is to begin with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after acquiring some experience in the field in Cottonwood AZ, eventually returning to acquire a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your approach, make sure to ask the HVAC tech school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.

HVAC Online Classes

Cottonwood Arizona forced air heat registerChoosing 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 take part in 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 participated in online, this option may be a more convenient solution for some Cottonwood AZ students that are short on time. And many online degree programs are less expensive than other on campus alternatives. Even travelling expenses from Cottonwood and study materials may be minimized, helping to make education more affordable. And a large number of online programs are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your career or family responsibilities 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.

HVAC Certification and Licensing

HVAC is an acronym that is widely used in the trade that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC professionals specialize in the installation, maintenance and repair of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are generally mandated to be licensed, however every state and regional municipality has its own prerequisites. Attaining professional certification is not required, but an optional means for Cottonwood AZ HVAC specialists to prove that they are exceptionally skilled and knowledgeable in their area of expertise. There are many respected certifications within the trade that are offered. Below are a few of the important ones.

  • North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally acknowledged certification for HVAC technicians. The certification is earned by passing a proficiency examination 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 3 years of experience together with a passing score on the professional level exam. Similar to NATE, certifications are offered in various specialties.
  • EPA Section 608. This certification is required for techs that work with refrigerants. There are 3 forms of certification available, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.

Because licensing might be required in your location, and you may also intend to obtain certification, it's important that you choose an HVAC trade school that will prepare you for both. And since you will most likely be dealing with refrigerants, make certain that the school you select prepares you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.

What to Ask HVAC Certification Classes

Cottonwood Arizona hvac contractor working on water heater

When you have selected the type of certificate or degree that you wish to obtain, either on campus or online, you can begin to narrow down your selection of schools. As you are certainly aware, there are numerous HVAC technical schools in the Cottonwood AZ area and across the USA to pick from. That's why it is essential to have a checklist of relevant qualifications when making school assessments. As previously stated in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will probably be the first 2 variables you will consider. Following are several additional ones that you need to investigate before enrolling in your school of choice.

Accreditation.  Many HVAC trade schools in the Cottonwood 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 relates to a specific program, for example HVAC technology. Make certain that the program and school are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency, such as the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping guarantee that you acquire a quality education, it may help in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are in many cases not available for non-accredited schools. Additionally, some states mandate that the HVAC training course be accredited in order to qualify for licensing.

High Completion Rates.  Ask the Heating and Cooling schools you are reviewing what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage or portion of students who enroll in and finish the course. A lower completion rate may signify that students were disappointed with the course and dropped out. It may also indicate that the teachers were not competent 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 directory of graduates, which may mean more contacts for the school to employ 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 trade, but additionally that it has the network of Cottonwood AZ HVAC employers to help students secure apprenticeships or jobs.

Apprenticeship Programs.  Many HVAC trade programs are taught along 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 Heating and Cooling businesses or trade unions. Find out if the schools you are considering have referring relationships with local Cottonwood AZ HVAC specialists. An apprenticeship not only offers a valuable experience by furnishing practical training, but it also furnishes job opportunities and helps to form relationships in the regional HVAC professional community.

Modern Facilities.  Make sure that the campus 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 already in an internship or an apprenticeship, consult with the HVAC tech you are working with regarding what you should be expecting. If not, ask a local Cottonwood AZ HVAC contracting company if they can provide some suggestions. Additionally keep in mind that unless you are able to move, the school must 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 moving costs there might be higher tuition fees compared to in-state residents.

Smaller Classes.   It's important that you get as much one-on-one training as possible, which can be difficult in bigger classes. Ask if you can sit in on a couple of the classes so that you can see how large they are and experience the interaction between students and teachers. Talk to several of the students and get their feedback regarding class sizes and instruction. Last, talk with a few 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 assessing are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Cottonwood AZ, verify that the programs you are reviewing offer those choices. If you can only attend part-time, make sure that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Also, check out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, illness or family emergencies.

Learn More About Cottonwood HVAC Training Schools

Get Your Heating and Cooling Degree or Certificate

Enrolling in the ideal HVAC training program is a crucial beginning toward a fulfilling career in the heating and air conditioning field. As we have covered in this post, you should choose an HVAC vocational school and a certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have excellent reputations within the HVAC community. Other features to look for are plenty of hands-on training and state-of-the-art facilities. You should go to each of the schools personally 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 training and the interaction between them. In addition, ask about scheduling options and if evening or weekend classes are available if needed. And don't forget to ask about financial assistance and student loan options also. If you ask the proper questions as we have detailed in our guidelines for assessing schools, you'll be able to filter your options so that you can make an informed decision. With the right training, hard work and commitment, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC specialist in Cottonwood AZ.


 

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