How to Pick the Right HVAC Degree Program near Vail Colorado
Now that you have decided on a career as a heating and air conditioning professional, the next action is to choose an HVAC trade school near Vail CO. But with so many to choose from, how do you select the right one to obtain the training that you need? A number of prospective students will make their selection based entirely on the cost of tuition or how close the school is to their home. Although these are significant concerns, they are not the only ones to investigate. A few of the other things that you need to investigate 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 addressed in more detail later within this article. But before we examine how to pick an HVAC technical school, let’s look at what a heating and air conditioning technician does to become a licensed professional tradesman.
How to Become an HVAC Technician
HVAC is an acronym that is commonly used in the business that stands for “Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning”. HVAC technicians provide services for the installation, repair and maintenance of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are generally required to be licensed, however every state and regional municipality has its own requirements. Obtaining professional certification is not compulsory, but a voluntary means for Vail CO HVAC technicians to establish that they are exceptionally proficient and knowledgeable in their area of expertise. There are several recognized certifications within the trade that are available. Following are a few of the important ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally acknowledged certification for HVAC techs. The certification is earned by passing a competency exam and can be received in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification makes available both a professional and a master specialist credential. Two years of professional experience as well as passing a comprehensive examination are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have 3 years of experience together with a passing result on the professional level exam. Similar to NATE, certifications are offered in various specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is mandatory for technicians that handle refrigerants. There are three forms of certification obtainable, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Considering that licensing may be required in your location, and you may also wish to acquire certification, it’s important that you choose an HVAC technical school that will prepare you for both. And since you will more than likely be dealing with refrigerants, make certain that the school you decide on readies you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
HVAC Degree Courses
There are a variety of choices offered for HVAC instruction in a technical or trade school. You can attain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor’s Degree. Earning a certificate will take the lesser period of time, often accomplished in just six months, though some programs are longer. A certificate will qualify you for the majority of HVAC positions, especially 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 comprehensive training than the certificate programs. Below is a brief summary of each credential offered near Vail CO.
- Certificate. Usually requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among entry level residential or commercial HVAC professionals. They furnish a strong foundation of skills for employment within the industry.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program delivers a more exhaustive knowledge of heating & cooling systems than the certificate program. Normally requiring 2 years to complete, many degrees include an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor’s Degree. The Bachelor’s Degree in HVAC is tailored more for a career in management or even business ownership. Some programs call for an Associate Degree, while others are a conventional four year program. In addition to learning 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 long term career goals are, together with the time and financial resources that you have to invest. One option is to start with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after gaining some experience in the field in Vail CO, eventually returning to acquire a Bachelor’s Degree. If this is your strategy, be sure to ask the HVAC technician school you are considering about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Schools Online
Enrolling in an HVAC school online is one alternative to attaining your training and receiving a degree or certificate. Most schools will call for some attendance on campus to take part in practical training. A number also provide internship or work-study programs in addition to or as an alternative to practical lab work. But since the rest of the classes may be attended on the web, this approach may be a more accessible solution for many Vail CO students that are short on time. And some online degree programs are more economical than other traditional choices. Even driving expenses from Vail and study materials may be reduced, helping to make education more budget-friendly. And a large number of online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your career or family commitments have left you with limited time to attend classes, maybe an HVAC online training program will make it easier to fit school into your busy schedule.
Questions to Ask HVAC Schools
As soon as you have chosen the type of certificate or degree that you would like to acquire, either online or on campus, you can start to narrow down your list of schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are a large number of HVAC technical schools in the Vail CO area and all over the USA to choose from. That’s why it is very important to have a list of key qualifiers when making school assessments. As formerly mentioned in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will probably be the first 2 variables you will look at. Following are some additional ones that you will want to explore before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. A large number of HVAC vocational programs in the Vail CO 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, for example HVAC technology. Make sure that the program is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization, for instance the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping ensure that you acquire an excellent education, it can assist in obtaining financial assistance or student loans, which are in many cases unavailable for non-accredited programs. Also, some 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 looking at 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 indicate that students were dissatisfied with the course and quit. It may also suggest that the teachers were not competent to instruct the students. It’s also important that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader list of graduates, which can produce more contacts for the school to employ for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate can not only validate that the school has an excellent reputation within the trade, but also that it has the network of Vail CO HVAC employers to help grads secure apprenticeships or jobs.
Apprenticeship Programs. Many HVAC training programs are taught along with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating vocational and trade programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of Heating and Cooling companies or labor unions. Check if the schools you are reviewing have working relationships with local Vail CO HVAC companies. An apprenticeship not only provides a valuable experience by furnishing practical training, but it also supplies employment opportunities and helps to build relationships in the local HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make certain that the school facilities and the equipment that you will be instructed on are up-to-date and what you will be using on the job. If you are already in an internship or an apprenticeship, check with the HVAC technician you are working with regarding what you should be looking for. If not, ask a local Vail CO HVAC contracting company if they can give you some suggestions. Also keep in mind that unless you can move, the school needs to be within commuting distance of your Vail CO residence. Take note that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides the added relocation costs there may be increased tuition fees compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It’s important that you receive as much individualized 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 see how big they are and witness first hand the interaction between instructors and students. Talk to some of the students and get their opinions relating to class sizes and instruction. Last, talk with some of the instructors and learn what their level of expertise is and what certifications or degrees they have earned.
Flexible Scheduling. Verify that the class schedules for the schools you are assessing are flexible enough to handle your needs. If you are only able to go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Vail CO, check that the schools you are reviewing offer those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, be sure that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Finally, ask what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, sickness or family emergencies.
Considering an HVAC School near Vail CO?
Perhaps you are considering enrolling in an HVAC training program in the Vail Colorado area. If so, you may find the following background information about the location of your new school campus both interesting and informative.
Vail is a Home Rule Municipality in Eagle County, Colorado, United States. The population of the town was 5,305 in 2010. The town, home to Vail Ski Resort, the largest ski mountain in Colorado, is known for its hotels, dining, and for the numerous events the city hosts annually, such as the Vail Film Festival and Bravo! Vail.
Vail was incorporated in 1966, four years after the opening of Vail Ski Resort. The ski area was founded by Pete Seibert and local rancher Earl Eaton in 1962, at the base of Vail Pass. The pass was named after Charles Vail, the highway engineer who routed U.S. Highway 6 through the Eagle Valley in 1940, which eventually became Interstate 70. Seibert, a New England native, served in the U.S. Army's 10th Mountain Division during World War II, which trained at Camp Hale, 14 miles south of Vail between Red Cliff and Leadville. He was wounded in Italy at the Battle of Riva Ridge but went on to become a professional skier after he recovered.
Seibert, with other former members of the 10th Mountain Division, returned to Colorado after World War II with the intention of opening a ski resort. During training for ski troopers at Camp Hale, he bivouacked on Vail Mountain and identified it as an ideal ski mountain. In the early 1960s, Seibert got funds from a group of Colorado investors, including Jack Tweedy, and with Earl Eaton bought a ranch at the base of the mountain and eventually incorporated as Vail Associates. As plans continued for a new ski resort, Seibert hired Morrie Shepard as Vail's first ski school director. Shortly after, Shepard recruited Rod Slifer from Aspen to be assistant ski school director. Slifer also became the only real estate broker in the early years of Vail and would later be the broker in the transaction that allowed Vail to buy a ranch, now known as the world-famous Beaver Creek.
Associate Degree in HVAC Vail CO
Enrolling in the right HVAC training program is a critical beginning toward a fulfilling career in the heating and cooling trade. You originally came to this website because you wanted more information regarding Associate Degree in HVAC. However, as we have discussed in this article, you need to pick an Heating and Cooling training program and a certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have exceptional reputations within the HVAC community. Other factors to search for are lots of practical training and state-of-the-art facilities. You should visit each of the schools in person that you are most interested in to tour the campus and speak with both the current students and faculty. Try to get a feel for the quality of the instruction and the interaction between them. Additionally, ask about scheduling choices and if night or weekend classes are offered if needed. And don’t forget to inquire about financial assistance and student loan options too. If you ask the right questions as we have outlined in our guidelines for evaluating 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 Vail CO.
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