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How to Select the Best HVAC Degree Program Near Florence Arizona

Florence Arizona commercial hvac technician repairing furnacesOnce you have decided on a career as a heating and cooling professional, the next action is to look for an HVAC technical school near Florence AZ. But with so many to select from, how do you choose the best one to receive the training that you need? A number of prospective students will make their selection based exclusively on the price of tuition or how close the school is to their home. Even though these are necessary concerns, they are not the only ones to evaluate. 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. These and additional criteria will be discussed in more detail later within this article. But before we explore how to pick an HVAC vocational school, let's look at what a heating and cooling professional does to become a licensed qualified tradesman.

HVAC Degree and Certificate Schools

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There are a number of choices offered for HVAC training in a technical or vocational school. You can attain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Obtaining a certificate will take the least amount of time, typically completed in just six months, though some programs are longer. A certificate will qualify you for most HVAC positions, especially if you are licensed and have certification applicable to the position. The degree training programs might provide a competitive edge in the job market and will provide more comprehensive training than the certificate programs. Below is a brief description of each credential offered near Florence Az.

  • Certificate. Usually requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among entry level commercial or residential HVAC specialists. They provide a solid foundation of skills for employment within the industry.
  • Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program provides a more exhaustive understanding of heating and cooling systems than the certificate program. Normally requiring 2 years to complete, many degrees feature an internship or work-study program.
  • Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is tailored more for a career in management or even 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 air conditioning systems, you will also learn how to design them.

Selecting the right credential program will be based on what your future career aspirations are, together with the time and financial resources that you have to invest. One approach is to begin with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after getting some experience in the field in Florence AZ, later returning to acquire a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your tactic, be sure to ask the HVAC technician school you are considering about how their returning student program works.

HVAC Online Training

Florence Arizona central heating registerEnrolling in an HVAC program online is one alternative to getting your training and receiving a degree or certificate. Most schools will require some attendance on campus to take part in practical training. Some also provide internship or work-study programs in addition to or instead of practical lab work. But since the balance of the classes can be participated in via the internet, this alternative may be a more accessible solution for some Florence AZ students that are pressed for time. And some online degree programs are less costly than other traditional alternatives. Even commuting expenses from Florence and study materials can be minimized, helping to make education more budget-friendly. And numerous online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your career or family obligations have left you with limited time to attend classes, perhaps an online HVAC degree program will make it more convenient to accommodate school into your hectic lifestyle.

Heating and Cooling Licensing and Certification

HVAC is an acronym that is frequently used in the business that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC techs specialize in the installation, repair and maintenance of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are generally required to be licensed, however each state and regional municipality has its own prerequisites. Attaining professional certification is not compulsory, but an alternative means for Florence AZ HVAC techs to prove that they are exceptionally skilled and accomplished in their area of expertise. There are several recognized certifications within the field that are available. Here are some 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 examination and may be received in one or more specialties.
  • HVAC Excellence. This certification makes available both a professional and a master specialist credential. Two years of field experience together with 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 exam. Similar to NATE, certifications are provided in several specialties.
  • EPA Section 608. This certification is necessary for technicians that handle refrigerants. There are 3 forms of certification obtainable, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.

Since licensing may be required in your area, and you may also intend to acquire certification, it's essential that you pick an HVAC trade school that will prepare you for both. And since you will most likely be handling refrigerants, make sure that the school you decide on prepares you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.

Questions to Ask Heating and Cooling Training Classes

Florence Arizona hvac tech working on water heater

As soon as you have chosen the type of degree or certificate that you want to acquire, either online or on campus, you can begin to decrease your selection of schools. As you are probably aware, there are many HVAC trade schools in the Florence AZ area and throughout the Country to select from. That's why it is very important to have a checklist of important qualifications when making school comparisons. As earlier mentioned in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will probably be the initial 2 factors you will consider. Following are some additional ones that you should research before enrolling in your school of choice.

Accreditation.  Numerous HVAC vocational programs in the Florence AZ area have attained either a regional or a national accreditation. They can earn Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to an individual program, such as HVAC technology. Make sure that the school and program are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting agency, which includes the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping guarantee that you obtain a quality education, it may help in securing financial aid or student loans, which are frequently not available for non-accredited programs. Additionally, some states mandate that the HVAC training course be accredited for it to qualify for licensing.

High Completion Rates.  Ask the Heating and Cooling schools you are considering what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage or portion of students who enroll in and finish the program. A low completion rate may signify that students were dissatisfied with the course and quit. It could also indicate that the teachers were not qualified to instruct the students. It's also essential that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive list of alumni, which may mean more contacts for the school to use 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 also that it has the network of Florence AZ HVAC employers to help grads secure apprenticeships or employment.

Apprenticeship Programs.  Many HVAC trade programs are taught together with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating trade and technical schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of HVAC businesses or labor unions. Ask if the schools you are comparing have referring relationships with local Florence AZ HVAC contractors. An apprenticeship not only offers a valuable experience by furnishing practical training, but it also supplies employment opportunities and helps to establish relationships in the local 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 using in the field. If you are presently in an internship or an apprenticeship, check with the HVAC tech you are working with concerning what you should be looking for. If not, ask a local Florence AZ HVAC contractor if they can provide some tips. Additionally keep in mind that unless you are willing to move, the school must be within driving distance of your Florence AZ residence. Remember that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to moving costs there might be increased tuition fees compared to in-state residents.

Smaller Classes.   It's important that you receive as much individualized instruction as possible, which can be difficult in larger classes. Ask if you can monitor some of the classes so that you can observe how large they are and experience the interaction between students and instructors. Talk with a few of the students and get their feedback relating to class sizes and instruction. Last, talk to some of the teachers and learn what their level of expertise is and what certifications or degrees they have earned.

Flexible Scheduling.  Verify that the class schedules for the programs you are reviewing are flexible enough to handle your needs. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Florence AZ, confirm that the programs you are reviewing offer those options. If you can only attend part-time, make certain that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Also, check out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, illness or family issues.

Learn More About Florence HVAC Trade Schools

Get Your HVAC Degree or Certificate

Finding the right HVAC training course is a crucial beginning toward a gratifying career in the heating & cooling industry. As we have discussed in this article, you should choose an HVAC vocational school and a certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have exceptional reputations within the HVAC trade. Other things to search for are lots of practical training and modern facilities. You need to check out each of the schools personally that you are most interested in to explore the campus and talk with both the current students and faculty. Attempt to get a feel for the quality of the instruction and the interaction between them. Additionally, ask about scheduling options and whether or not evening or weekend classes are available if needed. And remember to inquire about financial assistance and student loan options as well. If you ask the right questions as we have detailed in our guidelines for assessing schools, you'll be able to filter your choices so that you can make an educated decision. With the appropriate training, hard work and commitment, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC professional in Florence AZ.


 

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