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How to Select the Best HVAC Certificate Program Near Douglas Arizona

Douglas Arizona commercial hvac tech installing furnacesOnce you have made a decision on a career as a heating and cooling specialist, the next step is to choose an HVAC trade school near Douglas AZ. But with so many to select from, how do you choose the best one to receive the training that you require? Many prospective students will make their decision based solely on the price of tuition or how near the school is to their residence. Even though these are significant considerations, they are not the only ones to take into account. A few of the other factors that you need to investigate are the graduation rates of the HVAC schools, their reputations, and if they are accredited by professional trade organizations. Those and other benchmarks will be covered in more detail later in this article. But before we discuss how to select an HVAC vocational school, let's look at what a heating and cooling professional does to become a licensed qualified tradesman.

HVAC Certificate and Degree Training Programs

Douglas Arizona residential A/C condensers

There are several choices offered for HVAC training 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, usually completed in just 6 months, however some courses are longer. A certificate will train you for the majority of HVAC positions, especially if you are licensed and have certification relevant to the position. The degree programs may provide a competitive edge for securing employment and will furnish more in-depth training than the certificate programs. Following is a brief summary of each credential offered near Douglas Az.

  • Certificate. Usually requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among beginning 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 delivers a more extensive background of heating and cooling systems than the certificate program. Typically taking two years to finish, many degrees feature an internship or work-study program.
  • Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is tailored more towards a career in management or even business ownership. Some programs require an Associate Degree, while others are a conventional 4 year program. In addition to mastering how to service and maintain heating and air conditioning systems, you will also learn how to design them.

Choosing the right credential program will be dependent on what your long term career objectives are, as well as the time and money that you have to invest. One approach is to start with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after gaining some experience in the field in Douglas AZ, subsequently going back to acquire a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your tactic, make sure to ask the HVAC technician school you are considering about how their returning student program works.

HVAC Classes Online

Douglas Arizona central heating registerEnrolling in an HVAC school online is one option in obtaining your training and receiving a certificate or degree. Nearly all schools will require some attendance on campus to complete practical training. Some also offer internship or work-study programs in addition to or instead of practical lab work. But since the balance of the classes may be participated in via the internet, this alternative may be a more convenient solution for some Douglas AZ students that are pressed for time. And many online degree programs are more economical than other traditional alternatives. Even driving expenses from Douglas and study supplies may be lessened, helping to make schooling more affordable. And many online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your career or family commitments have left you with minimal time to attend classes, perhaps an online HVAC degree program will make it easier to fit school into your hectic lifestyle.

HVAC Certification and Licensing

HVAC is an acronym that is frequently used in the industry that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC technicians specialize in the installation, maintenance and repair of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot 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. Earning professional certification is not mandatory, but a voluntary way for Douglas AZ HVAC technicians to prove that they are exceptionally qualified and accomplished in their area of specialization. There are many respected certifications within the industry that are offered. Below are a few of the significant ones.

  • North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally recognized certification for HVAC techs. The certification is earned by passing a competency examination and can be earned in one or more specialties.
  • HVAC Excellence. This certification makes available both a professional and a master specialist credential. 2 years of professional experience together with passing a comprehensive exam are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have three years of experience as well as a passing result on the professional level examination. As with NATE, certifications are made available in multiple 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 additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.

Since licensing could be required in your area, and you may also intend to acquire certification, it's imperative that you pick an HVAC technical school that will prepare you for both. And since you will most likely be working with refrigerants, make sure that the program you pick readies you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.

What to Ask HVAC Certification Classes

Douglas Arizona hvac technician working on hot water heater

Once you have selected the type of degree or certificate that you would like to obtain, either on campus or online, you can begin to narrow down your list of schools. As you are probably aware, there are a large number of HVAC trade schools in the Douglas AZ area and throughout the Country to choose from. That's why it is very important to have a list of relevant qualifiers when making school assessments. As earlier mentioned in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will most likely be the initial two aspects you will take into consideration. Following are several additional ones that you should investigate before enrolling in your school of choice.

Accreditation.  Many HVAC technical programs in the Douglas AZ area have earned either a regional or a national accreditation. They may acquire Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to a specific program, for example HVAC technology. Make sure that the school and program are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting organization, which includes the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping guarantee that you acquire a quality education, it can assist in securing financial assistance or student loans, which are often unavailable for non-accredited schools. Furthermore, some states mandate that the HVAC training course be accredited in order to qualify for licensing.

High Completion Rates.  Ask the Heating and Air Conditioning 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 program. A lower completion rate might signify that students were disappointed with the course and dropped out. It might also mean that the instructors were not qualified to instruct the students. It's also important that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader list of alumni, which may result in more contacts for the school to employ for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate can not only confirm that the school has an excellent reputation within the industry, but additionally that it has the network of Douglas AZ HVAC employers to assist grads secure apprenticeships or employment.

Apprenticeship Programs.  Many HVAC training programs are taught in conjunction with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating trade and technical schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of HVAC businesses or labor unions. Ask if the schools you are comparing have working partnerships with local Douglas AZ HVAC companies. An apprenticeship not only offers a rewarding experience by furnishing hands-on training, but it also provides employment opportunities and helps to form relationships in the regional HVAC professional community.

Modern Facilities.  Confirm that the campus facilities and the equipment that you will be instructed on are up-to-date and what you will be using in the field. If you are currently in an internship or an apprenticeship, check with the HVAC specialist you are working under regarding what you should be looking for. If not, ask a local Douglas AZ HVAC contractor if they can provide some pointers. Also bear in mind that unless you are able to move, the school must be within driving distance of your Douglas AZ home. Remember that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to moving costs there can be higher tuition charges compared to in-state residents.

Smaller Classes.   It's desirable that you receive as much individualized training as possible, which can be difficult in larger classes. Ask if you can monitor a couple of the classes so that you can observe how big they are and experience the interaction between students and instructors. Speak 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 experience is and what certifications or degrees they have earned.

Flexible Scheduling.  Confirm that the class schedules for the programs you are evaluating are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you are only able to go to classes at night or on weekends near Douglas AZ, check that the schools you are reviewing provide those choices. If you can only attend part-time, make sure that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Finally, check out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, sickness or family emergencies.

Find Out More About Douglas HVAC Trade Schools

Earn Your Heating and Cooling Certificate or Degree

Choosing the right HVAC school course is an important first step toward a rewarding career in the heating and air conditioning trade. As we have covered in this article, you should select an HVAC technical school and a certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have excellent reputations within the HVAC field. Other features to search for are ample practical training and state-of-the-art facilities. You should 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. Additionally, ask about scheduling options and whether or not night or weekend classes are available 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 guidelines for assessing schools, you'll be able to narrow down your options so that you can make an educated decision. With the right training, hard work and dedication, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC specialist in Douglas AZ.


 

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