How to Enroll In the Best HVAC School Near Apache Junction Arizona
Once you have come to a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioner technician, the next step is to choose an HVAC vocational school near Apache Junction AZ. But with so many to select from, how do you decide on the ideal one to get the training that you require? Many prospective students will make their selection based solely on the price of tuition or how close the school is to their residence. Although these are significant concerns, they are not the only ones to investigate. A few of the other details 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 covered 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 a/c professional does to become a licensed qualified tradesman.
HVAC Degree Classes
There are several options available for HVAC instruction in a technical or trade school. You can earn a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Obtaining a certificate will take the least amount of time, usually achieved in just 6 months, although some courses are longer. A certificate will train you for most HVAC positions, especially if you are licensed and have certification relevant to the position. The degree programs may provide a competitive advantage in the job market and will deliver more in-depth training than the certificate programs. Following is a short summary of each credential offered near Apache Junction Az.
- Certificate. Normally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among entry level 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 provides a more extensive background of heating and cooling systems than the certificate program. Usually taking two years to finish, a number of degrees include 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 mastering how to service and maintain heating and cooling systems, you will also learn how to design them.
Picking the appropriate credential program will be dependent on what your long term career objectives are, in addition to the time and financial resources 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 Apache Junction AZ, subsequently returning to acquire a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your tactic, make sure to ask the HVAC tech school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Training Online
Enrolling in an HVAC school online is one possibility in attaining your education and earning a certificate or degree. Nearly all schools will call for some attendance on campus to complete practical training. Many also offer internship or work-study programs in addition to or instead of practical lab work. But since the balance of the classes can be attended via the internet, this alternative may be a more accessible solution for many Apache Junction AZ students that are pressed for time. And some online degree programs are less expensive than other traditional options. Even driving expenses from Apache Junction and study supplies can be reduced, helping to make education more economical. And many online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your job or family commitments have left you with limited time to attend classes, maybe an online HVAC degree program will make it more convenient to accommodate school into your active lifestyle.
Heating and Cooling Certification and Licensing
HVAC is an acronym that is extensively used in the industry that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC professionals specialize in the installation, repair and maintenance of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are typically mandated to be licensed, although each state and regional municipality has its own requirements. Acquiring professional certification is not required, but an alternative way for Apache Junction AZ HVAC techs to demonstrate that they are exceptionally skilled and accomplished in their area of specialization. There are a number of acknowledged certifications within the industry that are offered. Here are a few 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 examination and can be acquired in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification offers both a professional and a master specialist credential. Two years of field experience in addition to passing a comprehensive exam are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have three years of experience along with a passing result on the professional level exam. As with NATE, certifications are made available in multiple specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is mandatory for technicians that work with refrigerants. There are 3 types of certification obtainable, 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 wish to earn certification, it's essential that you enroll in an HVAC vocational school that will prepare you for both. And since you will more than likely be working with refrigerants, make sure that the school you choose readies you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.
What to Ask HVAC Certification Courses
As soon as you have chosen the type of certificate or degree that you want to attain, either on campus or online, you can start to decrease your selection of schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are numerous HVAC vocational schools in the Apache Junction AZ area and all over the Country to pick from. That's why it is very important to have a checklist of key qualifications when making school evaluations. As earlier mentioned in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will most likely be the first two variables you will take into consideration. Following are several additional ones that you will want to research before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Many HVAC technical schools in the Apache Junction AZ area have received either a regional or a national accreditation. They may attain Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to an individual program, such as HVAC technology. Confirm that the school and program are 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 receive a superior education, it can assist in acquiring financial assistance or student loans, which are in many cases not available for non-accredited programs. Additionally, many states require 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 or portion of students who enroll in and complete the course. A lower completion rate could signify that students were dissatisfied with the program and quit. It could also indicate that the instructors were not competent to train the students. It's also important that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader directory of graduates, which may mean more contacts for the school to utilize for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate can not only confirm that the school has a good reputation within the field, but additionally that it has the network of Apache Junction AZ HVAC employers to assist grads acquire apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. Numerous HVAC technical programs are taught along with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating vocational and trade schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of Heating and Cooling contractors or trade unions. Check if the schools you are considering have working partnerships with local Apache Junction AZ HVAC specialists. An apprenticeship not only offers a valuable experience by furnishing hands-on training, but it also furnishes employment opportunities and helps to form relationships in the local HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make certain that the campus facilities and the equipment that you will be trained on are up-to-date and what you will be using on the job. If you are already in an internship or an apprenticeship, consult with the HVAC specialist you are working with concerning what you should be looking for. If not, ask a local Apache Junction AZ HVAC contractor if they can provide some suggestions. Additionally keep in mind that unless you are able to relocate, the school must be within commuting distance of your Apache Junction AZ home. Remember that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation costs there can be higher tuition fees compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's desirable that you receive as much one-on-one training as possible, which can be difficult in larger classes. Ask if you can sit in on a few of the classes so that you can observe how large they are and experience the interaction between instructors and students. Talk with several of the students and get their comments regarding class sizes and instruction. Finally, speak with a few of the instructors and find out what their level of experience is and what certifications or degrees they have earned.
Flexible Scheduling. Verify that the class schedules for the schools you are reviewing are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Apache Junction AZ, verify that the programs you are looking at offer those choices. If you can only attend part-time, be sure that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Finally, find out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, illness or family issues.
Get Your Heating and Cooling Certificate or Degree
Picking the right HVAC training program is a critical first step toward a gratifying career in the heating and air conditioning field. As we have covered in this post, you should pick an HVAC technical school and a degree or certificate program that are both accredited and have outstanding reputations within the HVAC community. Other things to look for are sufficient 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. Attempt to get a feel for the quality of the training and the interaction between them. Also, ask about scheduling options and if evening or weekend classes are available if needed. And don't forget to inquire about financial aid and student loan options as well. If you ask the proper questions as we have detailed in our checklist for evaluating schools, you'll be able to filter your choices so that you can make an informed decision. With the right training, hard work and dedication, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC professional in Apache Junction AZ.