How to Select the Best HVAC Certification Course Near Douglas Arizona
Now that you have come to a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioning technician, the next step is to find an HVAC vocational school near Douglas AZ. But with so many to pick from, how do you pick the best one to obtain the training that you need? Many prospective students will make their choice based exclusively on the cost of tuition or how close the school is to their residence. Although these are significant factors to consider, they are not the only ones to take into account. Just some of the other details that you need to investigate are the graduation completion rates of the HVAC schools, their reputations, and if they are accredited by professional trade organizations. Those and additional criteria will be discussed in more detail later in this article. But before we examine how to choose an HVAC trade school, let's take a look at what a heating and cooling professional does to become a licensed qualified tradesman.
HVAC Degree Courses
There are several choices available for HVAC instruction in a technical or trade school. You can attain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Acquiring a certificate will take the minimum period of time, typically completed in as little as 6 months, however some programs are longer. A certificate will train you for most HVAC positions, especially if you are licensed and have certification applicable to the position. The degree training programs can provide a competitive advantage in the job market and will furnish more extensive training than the certificate programs. Below is a short description of each option offered near Douglas Az.
- Certificate. Usually requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among entry level residential or commercial HVAC technicians. They provide a solid foundation of skills for employment within the industry.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program supplies a more comprehensive background of heating and a/c systems than the certificate program. Typically taking 2 years to complete, many degrees feature an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is geared more for a career in management or even business ownership. Some programs call for an Associate Degree, while others are a standard four year program. In addition to learning how to service and maintain heating and cooling systems, you will also learn how to design them.
Picking the appropriate credential program will be based on what your future career objectives are, along with the time and financial resources that you have to invest. One possibility is to start with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after gaining some experience in the trade in Douglas AZ, subsequently returning to obtain a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your strategy, make certain to ask the HVAC tech school you are considering about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Online Courses
Attending an HVAC school online is one alternative to attaining your education and receiving a certificate or degree. Nearly all schools will require some attendance on campus to participate in practical training. A number also offer internship or work-study programs in addition to or in place of practical lab work. But since the rest of the classes may be attended online, this alternative may be a more accessible solution for many Douglas AZ students that are pressed for time. And some online degree programs are more economical than other traditional choices. Even commuting expenses from Douglas and study materials may be reduced, 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 obligations have left you with little time to attend classes, maybe an HVAC online training program will make it easier to fit school into your active schedule.
Heating and Cooling Certification and Licensing
HVAC is an acronym that is commonly used in the business that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC professionals specialize in the installation, repair and maintenance of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are typically mandated to be licensed, though every state and regional municipality has its own prerequisites. Attaining professional certification is not compulsory, but a voluntary means for Douglas AZ HVAC specialists to prove that they are highly skilled and accomplished in their area of expertise. There are multiple acknowledged certifications within the industry that are available. Here are a few of the important ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally recognized certification for HVAC techs. The certification is earned by passing a proficiency examination and can be received in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification offers both a professional and a master specialist credential. Two years of professional experience as well as passing a comprehensive exam are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have three years of experience in addition to a passing result on the professional level exam. Similar to NATE, certifications are made available in multiple specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is necessary for technicians that work with refrigerants. There are 3 forms of certification obtainable, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Considering that licensing may be mandated in your location, and you may also intend to obtain certification, it's important that you enroll in an HVAC technical school that will prepare you for both. And since you will more than likely be handling refrigerants, make sure that the school you choose readies you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
Questions to Ask HVAC Certification Classes
After you have chosen the type of degree or certificate that you wish to attain, either online or on campus, you can begin to narrow down your list of schools. As you are certainly aware, there are a large number of HVAC technical schools in the Douglas AZ area and all over the USA to select from. That's why it is essential to have a list of important qualifications when making school evaluations. As formerly stated in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will most likely be the first two factors you will look at. Following are several additional ones that you will want to explore before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Many HVAC technical schools in the Douglas 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 pertains to an individual program, for example HVAC technology. Make sure that the school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency, for instance the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping make certain that you receive an excellent education, it may help in securing financial aid or student loans, which are in many cases not available for non-accredited schools. Also, some states mandate that the HVAC training program 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 complete the program. A lower completion rate might suggest that students were unhappy with the course and dropped out. It could also indicate that the teachers were not competent to train the students. It's similarly essential that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader directory of alumni, 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 affirm that the school has an excellent reputation within the industry, but also that it has the network of Douglas AZ HVAC employers to help grads secure apprenticeships or jobs.
Apprenticeship Programs. Most HVAC trade programs are taught in conjunction with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating trade 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 comparing have working partnerships with local Douglas AZ HVAC contractors. An apprenticeship not only offers a valuable experience by furnishing hands-on training, but it also provides job 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 using on the job. If you are currently in an internship or an apprenticeship, consult with the HVAC specialist you are working with concerning what you should be expecting. If not, ask a local Douglas AZ HVAC contractor if they can give you some tips. Also bear in mind that unless you can move, the school must be within commuting distance of your Douglas AZ residence. Remember that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides the added relocation costs there may be increased tuition fees compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's desirable 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 observe how big they are and experience the interaction between teachers and students. Speak with a few of the students and get their comments regarding class sizes and instruction. Finally, talk to a few of the teachers and learn what their level of expertise is and what certifications or degrees they hold.
Flexible Scheduling. Verify that the class schedules for the programs you are evaluating are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Douglas AZ, verify that the schools you are looking at offer those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Also, find out what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, illness or family issues.
Earn Your Heating and Cooling Certificate or Degree
Selecting the right HVAC training course is a critical first step toward a gratifying career in the heating and cooling industry. As we have covered in this post, you should select an Heating and Cooling school and a certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have exceptional reputations within the HVAC trade. Other factors to look for are sufficient practical training and modern facilities. You need to visit each of the schools in person that you are most interested in to inspect the campus and speak with both the current students and faculty. Try to get a feel for the quality of the training and the interaction between them. Also, ask about scheduling choices and if evening or weekend classes are offered if needed. And don't forget to inquire about financial assistance and student loan options too. If you ask the right questions as we have laid out in our guidelines for assessing schools, you'll be able to narrow down your options so that you can make an informed decision. With the proper training, hard work and dedication, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC contractor in Douglas AZ.