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How to Choose the Right Heating and Cooling Program Near Flagstaff Arizona

Flagstaff Arizona commercial hvac tech repairing furnacesOnce you have made a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioning technician, the next step is to locate an HVAC trade school near Flagstaff AZ. But with so many to pick 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 cost of tuition or how near the school is to their home. Even though these are necessary factors to consider, they are not the only ones to evaluate. Some of the other factors that you need to look into 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 within this article. But before we examine how to pick an HVAC training program, let's take a look at what a heating and cooling specialist does to become a licensed skilled tradesman.

HVAC Degree Courses

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There are a number of alternatives available for HVAC instruction in a trade or technical school. You can earn a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Obtaining a certificate will take the least amount of time, usually completed 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 relevant to the position. The degree programs may provide a competitive advantage in the job market and will furnish more in-depth training than the certificate programs. Following is a brief description of each credential offered near Flagstaff Az.

  • Certificate. Generally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among beginning commercial or residential HVAC specialists. They furnish a solid foundation of skills for employment within the trade.
  • Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program supplies a more extensive understanding of heating and a/c systems than the certificate program. Usually requiring two years to complete, many degrees include 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 require an Associate Degree, while others are a conventional 4 year program. In addition to being taught how to service and maintain heating and air conditioning systems, you will also study how to design them.

Selecting the ideal credential program will be dependent on what your future career aspirations are, together with the time and financial resources that you have to commit. One option is to start with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after gaining some experience in the trade in Flagstaff AZ, subsequently going back to acquire a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your strategy, make certain to ask the HVAC technician school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.

HVAC Training Online

Flagstaff Arizona central heating registerEnrolling in an HVAC program online is one possibility to obtaining your training and earning a degree or certificate. Nearly all schools will call for some attendance on campus to take part in practical training. A number also sponsor internship or work-study programs in addition to or in place of practical lab work. But since the rest of the classes can be attended on the web, this alternative may be a more convenient solution for many Flagstaff AZ students that are pressed for time. And a number of online degree programs are less costly than other on campus choices. Even driving expenses from Flagstaff and study materials may be lessened, helping to make schooling more budget-friendly. And many online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your work or family obligations have left you with minimal time to attend classes, maybe an online HVAC degree program will make it less complicated to accommodate school into your hectic lifestyle.

Heating and Cooling Licensing and Certification

HVAC is an acronym that is commonly used in the business that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC technicians provide services for the installation, maintenance and repair of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are generally mandated to be licensed, although every state and regional municipality has its own prerequisites. Earning professional certification is not required, but an optional means for Flagstaff AZ HVAC techs to prove that they are highly qualified and knowledgeable in their area of expertise. There are many acknowledged certifications within the industry that are available. Here are some of the significant ones.

  • North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally recognized certification for HVAC techs. The certification is attained 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 field experience as well as passing a comprehensive exam are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have three years of experience along with a passing score on the professional level exam. Similar to NATE, certifications are made available in several specialties.
  • EPA Section 608. This certification is mandatory for technicians that work with refrigerants. There are three forms of certification available, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.

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

What to Ask Heating and Cooling Certification Courses

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Once you have picked the type of degree or certificate that you desire to attain, either online or on campus, you can begin to decrease your selection of schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are a large number of HVAC technical schools in the Flagstaff AZ area and all over the United States to choose from. That's why it is very important to have a list of important qualifiers when making school evaluations. As earlier mentioned in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will probably be the first two aspects you will take into consideration. Following are several additional ones that you should explore before enrolling in your school of choice.

Accreditation.  A large number of HVAC trade schools in the Flagstaff AZ area have received either a regional or a national accreditation. They may earn Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to an individual program, for example HVAC technology. Make certain that the program and school are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency, which includes the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping ensure that you get an excellent education, it may help in securing financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently unavailable for non-accredited schools. Furthermore, a number of states require that the HVAC training course be accredited in order to be approved for licensing.

High Completion Rates.  Ask the Heating and Air Conditioning schools you are looking at what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage of students who enroll in and finish the program. A lower completion rate may indicate that students were disappointed with the course and quit. It may also indicate that the teachers were not qualified 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 more extensive list of alumni, which can result in more contacts for the school to use 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 Flagstaff AZ HVAC employers to help students obtain apprenticeships or jobs.

Apprenticeship Programs.  Most HVAC trade programs are taught along with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating vocational and trade schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of HVAC companies or labor unions. Find out if the schools you are considering have working partnerships with local Flagstaff AZ HVAC professionals. An apprenticeship not only provides a valuable experience by supplying practical training, but it also furnishes job opportunities and helps to establish relationships in the local HVAC professional community.

Modern Facilities.  Make sure that the campus facilities and the equipment that you will be instructed 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 tech you are working under concerning what you should be looking for. Otherwise, ask a local Flagstaff AZ HVAC company if they can give you some suggestions. Also keep in mind that unless you are able to move, the school needs to be within commuting distance of your Flagstaff 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 charges compared to in-state residents.

Smaller Classes.   It's important that you get as much individualized instruction as possible, which can be difficult in larger classes. Ask if you can sit in on a couple of the classes so that you can observe how large they are and experience the interaction between instructors and students. Talk with some of the students and get their opinions concerning class sizes and instruction. Last, speak with a few of the instructors and learn what their level of experience is and what degrees or certifications they hold.

Flexible Scheduling.  Confirm that the class schedules for the schools you are assessing are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Flagstaff AZ, verify that the schools you are considering offer those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, be 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, sickness or family emergencies.

Find Out More About Flagstaff HVAC Training Programs

Get Your HVAC Degree or Certificate

Selecting the right HVAC training course is a critical beginning toward a rewarding career in the heating & cooling trade. As we have discussed in this article, you need to choose an HVAC trade school and a certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have exceptional reputations within the HVAC trade. Other factors to search for are ample practical training and state-of-the-art facilities. You need to go to each of the schools in person that you are most interested in to explore the campus and speak with both the faculty and current students. Attempt to get a feel for the quality of the teaching and the interaction between them. Additionally, inquire about scheduling choices and whether night or weekend classes are available if needed. And don't forget to ask about financial aid and student loan options also. If you ask the appropriate questions as we have laid out in our guidelines for assessing schools, you'll be able to narrow down your choices so that you can make an educated decision. With the right training, hard work and commitment, you can eventually become a licensed HVAC technician in Flagstaff AZ.


 

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