How to Choose an HVAC Training Class near Central Arizona
Once you have made a decision on a career as a heating and cooling professional, the next action is to locate an HVAC technical school near Central AZ. But with so many to select from, how do you select the best one to get the training that you require? Some prospective students will make their selection based exclusively on the price of tuition or how close the school is to their home. While these are important concerns, they are not the only ones to evaluate. Some of the other things that you need to look into are the graduation completion rates of the HVAC schools, their reputations, and if they are accredited by professional trade organizations. Those and additional benchmarks will be covered in more detail later within this article. But before we explore how to pick an HVAC trade school, let’s take a look at what a heating and a/c contractor does to become a licensed professional tradesman.
Becoming an HVAC Tech in Central AZ
HVAC is an acronym that is frequently used in the industry that stands for “Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning”. HVAC techs provide services for the installation, maintenance and repair of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are typically required to be licensed, though each state and regional municipality has its own criteria. Obtaining professional certification is not mandatory, but an optional way for Central AZ HVAC technicians to prove that they are highly skilled and accomplished in their area of expertise. 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 proficiency examination and can be earned 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 exam are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have 3 years of experience along with a passing score on the professional level examination. As with NATE, certifications are offered in several specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is necessary for technicians that handle refrigerants. There are three forms of certification available, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Because licensing may be mandated in your area, and you may also intend to earn certification, it’s important that you enroll in an HVAC trade school that will prepare you for both. And since you will more than likely be working with refrigerants, make certain that the program you decide on preps you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.
HVAC Degree and Certificate Courses
There are a variety of options available for HVAC training in a vocational or trade school. You can earn a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor’s Degree. Earning a certificate will take the minimum period of time, often accomplished in just 6 months, however some programs are longer. A certificate will train you for most HVAC positions, particularly if you are licensed and have certification applicable to the position. The degree training programs might provide a competitive advantage in the job market and will provide more extensive training than the certificate programs. Following is a brief explanation of each credential offered near Central AZ.
- Certificate. Usually requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among beginning residential or commercial HVAC professionals. They furnish a strong 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. Normally taking two years to finish, some 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 call for an Associate Degree, while others are a traditional four year program. In addition to mastering how to service and maintain heating and air conditioning systems, you will also learn how to design them.
Selecting the ideal credential program will be dependent on what your long term career aspirations are, as well as the time and money that you have to invest. One approach is to begin with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after gaining some experience in the field in Central AZ, eventually going back to obtain a Bachelor’s Degree. If this is your strategy, make sure to ask the HVAC tech school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Online Courses
Choosing an HVAC school online is one approach in getting your training and earning a certificate or degree. Nearly all schools will require some attendance on campus to complete hands on training. A number also sponsor internship or work-study programs in addition to or in place of practical lab work. But since the rest of the classes can be attended on the web, this approach may be a more practical solution for many Central AZ students that are pressed for time. And a number of online degree programs are cheaper than other traditional choices. Even travelling expenses from Central and study supplies can be minimized, helping to make education more affordable. And numerous online programs are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your work or family commitments have left you with minimal time to attend classes, perhaps an HVAC online training program will make it more convenient to accommodate school into your busy schedule.
Questions For HVAC Trade Schools near Central AZ
As soon as you have decided on the type of certificate or degree that you want to acquire, either online or on campus, you can begin to decrease your list of schools. As you are probably aware, there are a large number of HVAC vocational schools in the Central AZ area and across the USA to select from. That’s why it is very important to have a list of relevant qualifiers when making school assessments. As earlier mentioned in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will most likely be the initial two variables you will take into consideration. Following are some additional ones that you should investigate before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. A large number of HVAC trade schools in the Central AZ area have acquired either a regional or a national accreditation. They can attain Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school’s programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to an individual program, such as HVAC technology. Confirm that the program is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency, for instance the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping guarantee that you acquire an excellent education, it may assist in securing financial aid or student loans, which are often unavailable for non-accredited programs. Additionally, a number of states require that the HVAC training course be accredited for it to qualify 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 finish the course. A lower completion rate may indicate that students were dissatisfied with the program and quit. It could also mean that the teachers were not competent to instruct the students. It’s also imperative that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader list 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 affirm that the school has an excellent reputation within the field, but also that it has the network of Central AZ HVAC employers to assist grads obtain apprenticeships or jobs.
Apprenticeship Programs. A large number of HVAC technical programs are taught together with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating technical and vocational programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of HVAC businesses or trade unions. Check if the schools you are reviewing have working partnerships with local Central AZ HVAC professionals. An apprenticeship not only provides a rewarding experience by providing hands-on training, but it also provides job opportunities and helps to build relationships in the regional HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make sure that the campus facilities and the tools that you will be instructed on are up-to-date and what you will be working with on the job. If you are already in an internship or an apprenticeship, check with the HVAC technician you are working with concerning what you should be expecting. Otherwise, ask a local Central AZ HVAC contractor if they can provide some tips. Additionally keep in mind that unless you can move, the school must be within driving distance of your Central AZ home. Take note that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides the added moving costs there might be increased tuition charges compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It’s important that you get as much personalized instruction as possible, which can be challenging in bigger classes. Ask if you can sit in on some of the classes so that you can observe how large they are and witness first hand the interaction between students and teachers. Speak with some of the students and get their opinions concerning class sizes and instruction. Last, speak to some of the instructors and learn what their level of experience is and what certifications or degrees they have earned.
Flexible Scheduling. Verify that the class schedules for the programs you are evaluating are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Central AZ, confirm that the programs you are comparing offer those options. If you can only attend part-time, make certain that the school you select allows 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.
Attending HVAC School near Central AZ?
Central is at 32°52′13″N 109°47′35″W / 32.87028°N 109.79306°W / 32.87028; -109.79306, at an elevation of approximately 2900 feet above sea level. From this location just south of the Gila River within the Upper Gila Valley, Mount Graham of the Pinaleño (Pinaleno Mountains) range dominates the southern skyline.
Central was first homesteaded by the Cluff family in 1880. The Cluffs extended the Central Canal to their lands on the eastern side of Central. Later settlers extended the canal west and north. In 1883 construction began on a one-room white rock building to be used as a church meeting house and school house. By 1884 twenty families, including Cluff, Norton, Shurtz, Bigler, and Webster households resided in Central. In 1978 the streets were named after these early Mormon pioneers. In December 1883 the Central Ward of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints was organized and Joseph Cluff was ordained the first bishop. A new red brick church was built in 1885. It was the first regular meeting house built in this part of Arizona and was also the first home of the LDS Academy from December 1890 to May 1891. A plaque east of Hwy 70 on Central Road commemorates the original home of the St. Joseph Stake Academy that later moved to Thatcher and became Eastern Arizona College.
In 1894, LDS Church historian Andrew Jensen reported on the Central Ward: "Thirty-five families or 178 souls, constitute the Mormon population, and there are only two other families in the district. Central excels in point of large orchards, extensive alfalfa fields and good grain. The meeting house is the only public building in the settlement, in which there is also a small store and a post office. There are a number of fine and comfortable private residences, built mostly of brick and adobe."
Select the Right HVAC Trade School near Central AZ
Picking the ideal HVAC training program is a crucial first step toward a fulfilling career in the heating and air conditioning industry. As we have addressed in this post, you need to select a vocational school and a degree or certificate program that are both accredited and have outstanding reputations within the HVAC field. Other things to look for are ample practical training and state-of-the-art facilities. You should visit each of the schools in person 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 offered if needed. And remember to inquire about financial assistance and student loan options too. If you ask the right questions as we have laid out in our guidelines for assessing schools, you’ll be able to narrow down your options so that you can make an informed decision. With the proper training, hard work and commitment, you can eventually become a licensed HVAC technician in Central AZ.
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