How to Pick the Best HVAC Training Program Near Fortuna Foothills Arizona
Once you have come to a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioning technician, the next step is to locate an HVAC vocational school near Fortuna Foothills AZ. But with so many to choose from, how do you pick the right one to get the training that you need? Some prospective students will make their selection based solely on the price of tuition or how near the school is to their residence. Although these are important factors to consider, they are not the only ones to investigate. A few of the other things that you need to look into are the graduation rates of the HVAC schools, their reputations, and if they are accredited by professional trade organizations. These and other benchmarks will be discussed in more detail later in this article. But before we explore how to choose an HVAC training program, let's look at what a heating and air conditioning professional does to become a licensed skilled tradesman.
HVAC Degree Courses
There are a variety of options available for HVAC training 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 period of time, usually achieved in as little as 6 months, however some courses are longer. A certificate will train you for the majority of HVAC positions, particularly if you are licensed and have certification related to the position. The degree programs may provide a competitive advantage in the job market and will furnish more extensive training than the certificate programs. Following is a brief description of each credential offered near Fortuna Foothills Az.
- Certificate. Normally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among beginning residential or commercial HVAC specialists. They provide a strong foundation of skills for employment within the trade.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program delivers a more exhaustive background of heating & cooling systems than the certificate program. Typically taking 2 years to complete, many degrees include 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 require an Associate Degree, while others are a standard 4 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 goals are, along with the time and money that you have to commit. One possibility is to begin with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after getting some experience in the trade in Fortuna Foothills AZ, later going back to obtain a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your approach, make sure to ask the HVAC tech school you are considering about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Online Training
Attending an HVAC school online is one approach to obtaining your education and receiving a degree or certificate. Most schools will call for some attendance on campus to complete practical training. Many also sponsor internship or work-study programs in addition to or in place of practical lab work. But since the remainder of the classes can be participated in on the web, this option may be a more accessible solution for some Fortuna Foothills AZ students that are short on time. And some online degree programs are less expensive than other traditional options. Even commuting expenses from Fortuna Foothills and study materials can be minimized, helping to make schooling more affordable. And numerous online programs are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your career or family responsibilities have left you with minimal time to attend classes, perhaps an online HVAC degree program will make it less complicated to fit school into your busy schedule.
HVAC Licensing and Certification
HVAC is an acronym that is extensively used in the trade that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC contractors provide services for the installation, maintenance and repair of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are typically required to be licensed, although every state and local municipality has its own prerequisites. Earning professional certification is not mandatory, but a voluntary way for Fortuna Foothills AZ HVAC techs to establish that they are exceptionally qualified and accomplished in their area of specialization. There are multiple acknowledged certifications within the field that are available. Below are a few of the significant ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally recognized certification for HVAC technicians. The certification is earned by passing a proficiency examination and may be acquired in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification offers both a professional and a master specialist credential. Two years of professional experience in addition to passing a comprehensive exam are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have 3 years of experience together with a passing result on the professional level exam. As with NATE, certifications are provided in several specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is mandatory for technicians 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.
Since licensing may be mandated in your location, and you may also desire to earn certification, it's essential that you choose an HVAC trade school that will prepare you for both. And since you will probably be handling refrigerants, make sure that the school you select prepares you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.
Questions For HVAC Certification Classes
When you have decided on the type of degree or certificate that you want to earn, either on campus or online, you can start to narrow down your list of schools. As you are probably aware, there are numerous HVAC trade schools in the Fortuna Foothills AZ area and all over the Country to choose from. That's why it is very important to have a checklist of important qualifiers when making school comparisons. As earlier stated in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will most likely be the first two factors you will consider. Following are some additional ones that you will want to explore before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Many HVAC technical schools in the Fortuna Foothills AZ area have attained either a regional or a national accreditation. They may acquire Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to an individual program, such as HVAC technology. Verify that the program is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting agency, for example the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping make certain that you get an excellent education, it may help in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are often not available for non-accredited programs. Furthermore, many 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 reviewing what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage of students who enroll in and complete the program. A lower completion rate might signify that students were unhappy with the course and dropped out. It could also signify 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 more extensive list of alumni, which can mean 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 Fortuna Foothills AZ HVAC employers to help students obtain apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. Most HVAC trade programs are taught in conjunction with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating vocational and technical schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of HVAC contractors or trade unions. Find out if the schools you are considering have working partnerships with local Fortuna Foothills AZ HVAC companies. An apprenticeship not only offers a valuable experience by providing hands-on training, but it also furnishes job opportunities and helps to build relationships in the local HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make certain that the campus facilities and the tools that you will be instructed on are up-to-date and what you will be working with in the field. If you are currently in an internship or an apprenticeship, talk to the HVAC tech you are working with regarding what you should be expecting. Otherwise, ask a local Fortuna Foothills AZ HVAC contractor if they can give you some suggestions. Also bear in mind that unless you are able to move, the school needs to be within driving distance of your Fortuna Foothills AZ home. Take note that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation costs there might be increased tuition charges compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's desirable that you receive as much individualized training as possible, which can be challenging in larger classes. Ask if you can sit in on a few of the classes so that you can observe how large they are and experience the interaction between teachers and students. Talk with several of the students and get their opinions concerning class sizes and instruction. Last, speak to some 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 reviewing are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Fortuna Foothills AZ, verify that the schools you are comparing offer those choices. If you can only attend part-time, make certain that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Additionally, ask what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, sickness or family issues.
Earn Your HVAC Certificate or Degree
Finding the right HVAC school program is a critical first step toward a fulfilling career in the heating & cooling field. As we have discussed in this article, you should select an Heating and Cooling school and a certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have outstanding reputations within the HVAC profession. Other things to search for are sufficient practical training and state-of-the-art facilities. You should visit each of the schools personally that you are most interested in to inspect the campus and speak with both the faculty and current students. Try to get a feel for the quality of the teaching and the interaction between them. Also, ask about scheduling options and whether or not night or weekend classes are offered if needed. And remember to ask about financial assistance and student loan options as well. If you ask the appropriate questions as we have laid out in our checklist for comparing 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 commitment, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC professional in Fortuna Foothills AZ.