How to Choose the Best HVAC Certificate Program Near Anthem Arizona
Now that you have come to a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioner professional, the next action is to find an HVAC technical school near Anthem AZ. But with so many to select from, how do you select the best one to get the training that you need? Many potential students will make their decision based entirely on the cost of tuition or how close the school is to their residence. Even though these are necessary factors to consider, they are not the only ones to investigate. A few of the other details that you need to research 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 in this article. But before we tackle how to choose an HVAC vocational school, let's take a look at what a heating and cooling professional does to become a licensed professional tradesman.
HVAC Degree Courses
There are a variety of options offered for HVAC training in a vocational or trade school. You can obtain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Earning a certificate will take the lesser period of time, often completed in as little as 6 months, however some courses are longer. A certificate will qualify you for the majority of HVAC positions, particularly if you are licensed and have certification appropriate to the position. The degree programs can provide a competitive advantage for securing employment and will furnish more in-depth training than the certificate programs. Following is a brief summary of each option offered near Anthem Az.
- Certificate. Generally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among beginning residential or commercial HVAC technicians. They provide a strong foundation of skills for employment within the industry.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program provides a more comprehensive knowledge of heating & cooling systems than the certificate program. Typically requiring two years to complete, many degrees incorporate an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is geared more towards a career in management as well as business ownership. Some programs call for an Associate Degree, while others are a standard 4 year program. In addition to mastering how to service and maintain heating and cooling systems, you will also study how to design them.
Selecting the ideal credential program will be dependent on what your long term career aspirations are, along with the time and money that you have to invest. One approach is to begin with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after gaining some experience in the trade in Anthem AZ, later going back to earn a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your tactic, be sure to ask the HVAC technician school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Online Schools
Choosing an HVAC program online is one alternative to obtaining your training and receiving a certificate or degree. Nearly all schools will require some attendance on campus to participate in practical training. A number also provide internship or work-study programs in addition to or instead of practical lab work. But since the remainder of the classes may be attended on the web, this approach may be a more convenient solution for many Anthem AZ students that are short on time. And a number of online degree programs are cheaper than other traditional choices. Even commuting expenses from Anthem and study materials 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 responsibilities have left you with limited time to attend classes, maybe an HVAC online training program will make it less complicated to accommodate school into your busy schedule.
Heating and Cooling Certification and Licensing
HVAC is an acronym that is extensively used in the trade 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 skilled tradesmen, they are typically mandated to be licensed, though each state and local municipality has its own criteria. Acquiring professional certification is not required, but an alternative means for Anthem AZ HVAC technicians to prove that they are exceptionally proficient and knowledgeable in their area of specialization. There are multiple recognized certifications within the trade that are available. Below are some of the significant ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally recognized certification for HVAC technicians. The certification is earned by passing a proficiency exam and can be acquired 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 as well as a passing score on the professional level exam. Similar to NATE, certifications are provided in multiple specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is mandatory for specialists that handle refrigerants. There are three types of certification offered, 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 imperative that you enroll in an HVAC technical school that will train you for both. And since you will more than likely be dealing with refrigerants, make sure that the school you select readies you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.
What to Ask HVAC Trade Schools
Once you have selected the type of degree or certificate that you want to attain, either on campus or online, you can begin to decrease your list of schools. As you are certainly aware, there are numerous HVAC vocational schools in the Anthem AZ area and across the Country to select from. That's why it is essential to have a list of key qualifiers when making school evaluations. As earlier stated in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will undoubtedly be the initial two factors you will look at. Following are some additional ones that you need to investigate before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Numerous HVAC vocational programs in the Anthem AZ area have attained either a regional or a national accreditation. They may receive Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to a specific program, for instance HVAC technology. Verify that the school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting organization, such as the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping make certain that you acquire a quality education, it may assist in securing financial aid or student loans, which are often not available for non-accredited programs. Additionally, many 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 looking at what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students who enroll in and finish the program. A low completion rate might indicate that students were unhappy with the course and dropped out. It might also suggest 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 more extensive directory of graduates, which can result in more contacts for the school to use 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 trade, but also that it has the network of Anthem AZ HVAC employers to assist graduates obtain apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. Numerous HVAC vocational 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. Ask if the schools you are reviewing have working partnerships with local Anthem AZ HVAC specialists. An apprenticeship not only provides a valuable experience by furnishing hands-on training, but it also provides employment opportunities and helps to establish relationships in the regional HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Confirm that the campus facilities and the tools that you will be trained on are up-to-date and what you will be using in the field. If you are already in an internship or an apprenticeship, check with the HVAC technician you are working under regarding what you should be looking for. If not, ask a local Anthem AZ HVAC contractor if they can provide some suggestions. Additionally bear in mind that unless you are willing to move, the school needs to be within commuting distance of your Anthem AZ residence. Remember that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, besides the added relocation costs there can be higher tuition charges compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's important that you receive as much individualized training as possible, which can be difficult in bigger classes. Ask if you can sit in on some of the classes so that you can see how large they are and witness first hand the interaction between students and teachers. Speak to some of the students and get their opinions concerning class sizes and instruction. Finally, speak with some of the teachers and find out what their level of expertise is and what certifications or degrees they have earned.
Flexible Scheduling. Confirm that the class schedules for the programs 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 Anthem AZ, check that the schools you are looking at offer those choices. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, be sure that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Finally, find out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, illness or family responsibilities.
Get Your HVAC Certificate or Degree
Enrolling in the ideal HVAC school program is an important first step toward a rewarding career in the heating and air conditioning field. As we have covered in this post, you should choose an Heating and Cooling school and a certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have exceptional reputations within the HVAC field. Other features to search for are ample hands-on training and modern facilities. You need to visit each of the schools in person that you are most interested in to explore the campus and speak with both the current students and faculty. Try to get a feel for the quality of the teaching and the interaction between them. In addition, inquire about scheduling choices and if evening 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 appropriate questions as we have detailed in our checklist for evaluating schools, you'll be able to narrow down your options so that you can make an informed decision. With the appropriate training, hard work and dedication, you can eventually become a licensed HVAC technician in Anthem AZ.