How to Select the Right HVAC Certification Course Near Lake Havasu City Arizona
Once you have come to a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioning specialist, the next action is to look for an HVAC technical school near Lake Havasu City AZ. But with so many to choose from, how do you select the ideal one to receive the training that you need? A number of prospective students will make their decision based solely on the price of tuition or how near the school is to their home. While these are relevant considerations, they are not the only ones to take into account. Just some of the other things that you need to research 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 discussed in more detail later within this article. But before we explore how to pick an HVAC training program, let's look at what a heating and cooling specialist does to become a licensed skilled tradesman.
HVAC Degree and Certificate Classes
There are several choices available for HVAC instruction in a technical or trade school. You can obtain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Obtaining a certificate will take the minimum period of time, typically accomplished in as little as six months, though 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 may provide a competitive edge in the job market and will deliver more in-depth training than the certificate programs. Below is a brief summary of each option offered near Lake Havasu City Az.
- Certificate. Usually requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among beginning residential or commercial HVAC professionals. They furnish a strong foundation of skills for job opportunities within the trade.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program supplies a more detailed knowledge of heating & cooling systems than the certificate program. Generally taking two years to complete, many 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 based on what your future career aspirations are, as well as the time and financial resources that you have to commit. One option is to begin with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after getting some experience in the trade in Lake Havasu City AZ, later returning to earn a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your tactic, make certain to ask the HVAC tech school you are considering about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Courses Online
Attending an HVAC school online is one possibility to attaining your training and receiving a certificate or degree. Nearly all schools will require some attendance on campus to participate in hands on training. A number also offer internship or work-study programs in addition to or as an alternative to practical lab work. But since the rest of the classes can be participated in on the web, this option may be a more convenient solution for some Lake Havasu City AZ students that are pressed for time. And many online degree programs are less expensive than other on campus choices. Even commuting expenses from Lake Havasu City and study materials may be reduced, helping to make schooling more affordable. And a large number of 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 HVAC online training program will make it easier to fit school into your hectic schedule.
HVAC Certification and Licensing
HVAC is an acronym that is frequently used in the trade that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC contractors 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 required to be licensed, however each state and regional municipality has its own requirements. Acquiring professional certification is not compulsory, but a voluntary way for Lake Havasu City AZ HVAC specialists to prove that they are exceptionally skilled and accomplished in their area of expertise. There are a number of acknowledged certifications within the field that are offered. Here are a few of the important ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally acknowledged certification for HVAC techs. The certification is attained by passing a competency exam and can be acquired in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification makes available both a professional and a master specialist credential. 2 years of field experience in addition to passing a comprehensive examination are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have three years of experience as well as a passing result on the professional level examination. Similar to NATE, certifications are offered in various specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is required for techs that work with refrigerants. There are 3 forms of certification offered, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Because licensing could be mandated in your area, and you may also wish to earn certification, it's essential that you select an HVAC trade school that will train you for both. And since you will probably be dealing with refrigerants, make sure that the school you decide on readies you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.
Questions For Heating and Cooling Trade Schools
As soon as you have chosen the type of certificate or degree that you desire to earn, either online or on campus, you can start to decrease your list of schools. As you are probably aware, there are a large number of HVAC vocational schools in the Lake Havasu City AZ area and across the United States to select from. That's why it is essential to have a checklist of relevant qualifications when making school evaluations. As earlier mentioned in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will probably be the first 2 factors you will take into consideration. Following are several additional ones that you should explore before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Many HVAC trade schools in the Lake Havasu City AZ area have received either a regional or a national accreditation. They can receive Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to a specific program, for instance HVAC technology. Make certain that the program and school are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency, such as the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping make certain that you get a quality education, it may assist in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are frequently not available for non-accredited programs. Additionally, some states mandate that the HVAC training program be accredited for it to be approved for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the HVAC schools you are considering what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage of students who enroll in and complete the course. A low completion rate may suggest that students were unhappy with the program and dropped out. It might also mean that the teachers were not competent to train the students. It's also imperative that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive directory of alumni, which can produce more contacts for the school to utilize for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate will not only confirm that the school has a good reputation within the trade, but additionally that it has the network of Lake Havasu City AZ HVAC employers to assist grads secure apprenticeships or jobs.
Apprenticeship Programs. A large number of HVAC training programs are taught along 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 HVAC contractors or labor unions. Find out if the schools you are comparing have working relationships with local Lake Havasu City AZ HVAC companies. An apprenticeship not only provides a valuable experience by providing practical training, but it also supplies employment opportunities and helps to form relationships in the regional HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make certain that the campus facilities and the equipment that you will be trained on are state-of-the-art and what you will be working with in the field. If you are currently in an internship or an apprenticeship, check with the HVAC tech you are working under regarding what you should be looking for. If not, ask a local Lake Havasu City AZ HVAC company if they can provide some pointers. Also keep in mind that unless you can move, the school needs to be within driving distance of your Lake Havasu City AZ home. Take note that if you decide to enroll in 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 important that you receive as much individualized training as possible, which can be challenging in larger classes. Ask if you can sit in on a couple of the classes so that you can observe how big they are and experience the interaction between students and teachers. Speak to several of the students and get their comments regarding class sizes and instruction. Finally, speak to a few of the instructors and find out what their level of expertise is and what degrees or certifications they have earned.
Flexible Scheduling. Make sure that the class schedules for the schools you are reviewing are flexible enough to handle your needs. If you are only able to attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Lake Havasu City AZ, confirm that the programs you are comparing provide those options. If you can only attend part-time, make sure that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Also, find out what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, sickness or family emergencies.
Get Your Heating and Cooling Degree or Certificate
Finding the ideal HVAC school program is a crucial beginning toward a rewarding career in the heating and cooling industry. As we have addressed in this article, you should choose an HVAC training program and a certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have exceptional reputations within the HVAC community. Other features to search for are ample practical training and modern facilities. You need to go to each of the schools personally that you are most interested in to inspect 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. Also, inquire about scheduling choices and if night or weekend classes are offered if needed. And remember to ask about financial aid and student loan options also. If you ask the appropriate questions as we have detailed in our checklist 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 Lake Havasu City AZ.