How to Pick the Right Heating and Cooling Program Near Marana Arizona
Now that you have come to a decision on a career as a heating and cooling specialist, the next step is to locate an HVAC technical school near Marana AZ. But with so many to select from, how do you decide on the right one to receive the training that you require? A number of future students will make their decision based entirely on the cost of tuition or how close the school is to their home. Although these are significant factors to consider, they are not the only ones to evaluate. Just some of the other factors that you need to investigate are the graduation completion rates of the HVAC schools, their reputations, and if they are accredited by professional trade organizations. Those and additional criteria will be discussed in more detail later in this article. But before we explore how to pick an HVAC training program, let's look at what a heating and cooling professional does to become a licensed skilled tradesman.
HVAC Certificate and Degree Classes
There are a variety 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. Earning a certificate will take the lesser period of time, usually achieved in as little as six months, although some courses are longer. A certificate will qualify you for the majority of HVAC positions, particularly if you are licensed and have certification relevant to the position. The degree training programs can provide a competitive edge in the job market and will provide more in-depth training than the certificate programs. Below is a brief summary of each option offered near Marana Az.
- Certificate. Normally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred 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 knowledge of heating and cooling systems than the certificate program. Generally taking 2 years to finish, a number of degrees feature an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is suited more for a career in management or even business ownership. Some programs call for an Associate Degree, while others are a standard 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.
Selecting the appropriate credential program will be based on what your future career aspirations are, together with the time and money that you have to invest. One approach is to start with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after acquiring some experience in the trade in Marana AZ, eventually going back to obtain 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 Online Training
Enrolling in an HVAC program online is one approach in attaining your education and earning a degree or certificate. Almost all schools will require some attendance on campus to participate in practical training. Many also offer internship or work-study programs in addition to or in place of practical lab work. But since the remainder of the classes may be participated in online, this alternative may be a more practical solution for many Marana AZ students that are pressed for time. And a number of online degree programs are less costly than other traditional options. Even driving expenses from Marana and study materials can be lessened, helping to make education more budget-friendly. And many online programs are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your career or family responsibilities have left you with limited time to attend classes, maybe an HVAC online training program will make it more convenient to accommodate school into your active schedule.
HVAC Licensing and Certification
HVAC is an acronym that is widely used in the industry that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC contractors specialize in the installation, repair and maintenance of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are commonly required to be licensed, though each state and local municipality has its own prerequisites. Obtaining professional certification is not required, but an optional means for Marana AZ HVAC technicians to demonstrate that they are exceptionally proficient and knowledgeable in their area of specialization. There are many acknowledged certifications within the industry that are available. Below are some 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 earned in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification offers both a professional and a master specialist credential. Two years of field experience together with passing a comprehensive examination are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have 3 years of experience in addition to a passing result on the professional level examination. Similar to NATE, certifications are provided in various specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is required for specialists that work with refrigerants. There are three types of certification available, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Since licensing could be required in your location, and you may also intend to earn certification, it's essential that you choose an HVAC trade school that will train you for both. And since you will most likely be dealing with refrigerants, make sure that the program you select preps you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.
Questions to Ask HVAC Trade Schools
As soon as you have picked the type of degree or certificate that you desire to earn, either on campus or online, you can begin to decrease your list of schools. As you are certainly aware, there are a large number of HVAC vocational schools in the Marana AZ area and all over the USA to select from. That's why it is imperative to have a list of important qualifiers when making school evaluations. As previously mentioned in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will most likely be the first 2 factors you will consider. Following are some additional ones that you will want to investigate before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Many HVAC vocational programs in the Marana AZ area have acquired either a regional or a national accreditation. They can earn Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to an individual program, such as HVAC technology. Verify that the school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting organization, for instance the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping make certain that you receive an excellent education, it may assist in securing financial assistance or student loans, which are often unavailable for non-accredited programs. Also, some states mandate that the HVAC training program be accredited in order to be approved for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the Heating and Cooling schools you are reviewing what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage or portion of students who enroll in and complete the course. A lower completion rate could suggest that students were dissatisfied with the course and quit. It could also indicate that the instructors 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 broader directory 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 confirm that the school has an excellent reputation within the trade, but also that it has the network of Marana AZ HVAC employers to assist students obtain apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. Many HVAC training programs are taught in conjunction with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating technical and vocational schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of Heating and Cooling companies or trade unions. Ask if the schools you are comparing have working relationships with local Marana AZ HVAC specialists. An apprenticeship not only offers a rewarding experience by supplying practical training, but it also provides employment opportunities and helps to form relationships in the area HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make certain that the campus facilities and the tools that you will be trained on are up-to-date and what you will be working with on the job. If you are currently in an internship or an apprenticeship, consult with the HVAC technician you are working under concerning what you should be looking for. Otherwise, ask a local Marana AZ HVAC contractor if they can provide some suggestions. Additionally keep in mind that unless you can relocate, the school needs to be within driving distance of your Marana AZ residence. Take note that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, besides the added relocation costs there may be higher tuition charges compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's desirable that you receive as much individualized training 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. Speak with several of the students and get their opinions relating to class sizes and instruction. Finally, speak with some of the instructors and learn what their level of expertise is and what certifications or degrees they have earned.
Flexible Scheduling. Make sure that the class schedules for the schools you are evaluating are flexible enough to handle your needs. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Marana AZ, confirm that the schools you are comparing offer those choices. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Finally, find out what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, sickness or family issues.
Get Your Heating and Cooling Degree or Certificate
Finding the ideal HVAC school course is a critical first step toward a fulfilling career in the heating and air conditioning field. As we have covered in this article, you need to select an HVAC training program and a certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have excellent reputations within the HVAC field. Other features to search for are plenty of hands-on training and modern facilities. You should go to each of the schools personally that you are most interested in to inspect the campus and talk with both the current students and faculty. Try to get a feel for the quality of the instruction and the interaction between them. In addition, ask about scheduling options and if night or weekend classes are offered 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 detailed in our checklist for evaluating schools, you'll be able to filter your options so that you can make an informed decision. With the proper training, hard work and dedication, you can eventually become a licensed HVAC specialist in Marana AZ.