How to Choose the Best Heating and Cooling Vocational School Near Guadalupe Arizona
Once you have decided on a career as a heating and cooling specialist, the next action is to locate an HVAC vocational school near Guadalupe AZ. But with so many to choose from, how do you pick the ideal one to obtain the training that you require? Some prospective students will make their choice based solely on the cost of tuition or how near the school is to their residence. Although these are important concerns, they are not the only ones to take into account. Some of the other details 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. Those and other criteria will be addressed in more detail later in this article. But before we explore how to choose an HVAC technical school, let's take a look at what a heating and a/c technician does to become a licensed professional tradesman.
HVAC Degree Schools
There are several options offered for HVAC instruction in a technical or vocational school. You can obtain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Obtaining a certificate will take the lesser amount of time, usually accomplished in as little as 6 months, though some courses are longer. A certificate will train you for most HVAC positions, especially if you are licensed and have certification relevant to the position. The degree programs can provide a competitive advantage in the job market and will furnish more extensive training than the certificate programs. Below is a short summary of each credential offered near Guadalupe Az.
- Certificate. Generally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among beginning residential or commercial HVAC specialists. They furnish a solid foundation of skills for job opportunities within the trade.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program delivers a more comprehensive understanding of heating & cooling systems than the certificate program. Typically requiring two years to complete, a number of degrees feature an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is geared more towards a career in management or even business ownership. Some programs require an Associate Degree, while others are a traditional 4 year program. In addition to being taught how to service and maintain heating and cooling systems, you will also learn how to design them.
Choosing the right credential program will be dependent on what your long term career goals are, along with the time and financial resources that you have to invest. One option is to begin with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after gaining some experience in the trade in Guadalupe AZ, eventually going back to earn 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 Classes Online
Choosing an HVAC program online is one option in obtaining your education and earning a certificate or degree. Most 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 remainder of the classes can be attended on the web, this approach may be a more accessible solution for some Guadalupe AZ students that are short on time. And some online degree programs are cheaper than other traditional alternatives. Even travelling expenses from Guadalupe and study supplies can be minimized, helping to make education more economical. And numerous online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your work or family commitments have left you with limited time to attend classes, perhaps an HVAC online training program will make it easier to fit school into your hectic lifestyle.
HVAC Certification and Licensing
HVAC is an acronym that is widely used in the trade that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC technicians provide services for the installation, maintenance and repair of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are generally required to be licensed, although every state and regional municipality has its own criteria. Attaining professional certification is not compulsory, but an optional means for Guadalupe AZ HVAC specialists to prove that they are highly qualified and experienced in their area of specialization. There are multiple respected certifications within the field that are offered. Following 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 proficiency exam and can be earned in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification offers both a professional and a master specialist credential. 2 years of field experience in addition to passing a comprehensive exam are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have 3 years of experience together with a passing result on the professional level exam. Similar to NATE, certifications are made available in multiple specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is mandatory for technicians that handle refrigerants. There are three types of certification offered, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Because licensing may be required in your area, and you may also desire to earn certification, it's imperative that you choose an HVAC trade school that will prepare you for both. And since you will probably be working with refrigerants, make sure that the program you select readies you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
What to Ask Heating and Cooling Trade Schools
As soon as you have selected the type of degree or certificate that you wish to attain, either online or on campus, you can begin to decrease your list of schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are numerous HVAC trade schools in the Guadalupe AZ area and throughout the United States to choose from. That's why it is extremely important to have a checklist of relevant qualifications when making school comparisons. As earlier mentioned in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will most likely be the initial two factors you will look at. Following are some additional ones that you need to explore before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Numerous HVAC vocational programs in the Guadalupe AZ area have acquired either a regional or a national accreditation. They may attain Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to a specific program, for example HVAC technology. Confirm that the school and program are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting agency, for instance the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping make certain that you obtain an excellent education, it can assist in securing financial assistance or student loans, which are often unavailable for non-accredited schools. Furthermore, many states mandate that the HVAC training course be accredited for it to be approved for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the Heating and Air Conditioning schools you are considering what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage or portion of students who enroll in and complete the course. A low completion rate could signify that students were dissatisfied with the course and quit. It might also mean that the instructors were not competent to train the students. It's also essential that the schools have high 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 can not only affirm that the school has an excellent reputation within the field, but additionally that it has the network of Guadalupe AZ HVAC employers to help graduates acquire apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. Many HVAC trade programs are taught together with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating technical and vocational programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of Heating and Cooling companies or labor unions. Check if the schools you are comparing have referring relationships with local Guadalupe AZ HVAC specialists. An apprenticeship not only provides a rewarding experience by supplying hands-on training, but it also provides employment opportunities and helps to form 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 specialist you are working under regarding what you should be expecting. Otherwise, ask a local Guadalupe AZ HVAC contractor if they can give you some suggestions. Additionally bear in mind that unless you can move, the school needs to be within commuting distance of your Guadalupe AZ home. Remember that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides the added moving costs there might be higher tuition charges compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's desirable that you get as much personalized instruction as possible, which can be difficult in larger classes. Ask if you can monitor some of the classes so that you can see how large they are and experience the interaction between teachers and students. Talk to a few of the students and get their feedback regarding class sizes and instruction. Last, speak to some of the instructors and learn what their level of experience is and what degrees or certifications they have earned.
Flexible Scheduling. Make sure that the class schedules for the programs you are evaluating are flexible enough to handle your needs. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Guadalupe AZ, verify that the programs you are considering offer those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Finally, check out what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, sickness or family emergencies.
Earn Your Heating and Cooling Degree or Certificate
Picking the ideal HVAC training program is a crucial first step toward a rewarding career in the heating & cooling field. As we have discussed in this article, you need to choose an Heating and Cooling technical school and a degree or certificate program that are both accredited and have excellent reputations within the HVAC community. Other features to search for are ample hands-on training and state-of-the-art facilities. You should go to each of the schools personally that you are most interested in to tour the campus and speak with both the faculty and current students. Try to get a feel for the quality of the training and the interaction between them. Additionally, inquire about scheduling choices and if evening or weekend classes are available if needed. And remember to inquire about financial aid and student loan options too. If you ask the proper questions as we have detailed in our checklist for comparing schools, you'll be able to filter your options so that you can make an informed decision. With the appropriate training, hard work and commitment, you can eventually become a licensed HVAC professional in Guadalupe AZ.