How to Choose the Right Heating and Cooling Degree Program Near Arizona City Arizona
Once you have decided on a career as a heating and air conditioner technician, the next action is to choose an HVAC vocational school near Arizona City AZ. But with so many to select from, how do you select the best one to obtain the training that you require? Some future students will make their choice based solely on the cost of tuition or how near the school is to their home. Although these are necessary factors to consider, they are not the only ones to evaluate. 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 covered in more detail later within this article. But before we discuss how to select an HVAC training program, let's look at what a heating and air conditioning professional does to become a licensed skilled tradesman.
HVAC Certificate and Degree Training Programs
There are a number of choices offered for HVAC instruction in a vocational or trade school. You can attain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Acquiring a certificate will take the minimum period of time, often completed in just six months, although some courses 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 programs may provide a competitive advantage for securing employment and will furnish more in-depth training than the certificate programs. Below is a short explanation of each credential offered near Arizona City Az.
- Certificate. Generally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among beginning commercial or residential HVAC professionals. They furnish a strong foundation of skills for employment within the industry.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program provides a more exhaustive background of heating and cooling systems than the certificate program. Generally taking two years to finish, a number of degrees incorporate an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is tailored more for a career in management as well as business ownership. Some programs require 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 study how to design them.
Choosing the right credential program will be dependent on what your long term career objectives are, as well as the time and financial resources 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 field in Arizona City AZ, eventually returning to acquire a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your strategy, make certain to ask the HVAC technician school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Online Courses
Choosing an HVAC school online is one approach to obtaining your training and earning a certificate or degree. Most schools will call for some attendance on campus to complete hands on training. Some also provide internship or work-study programs in addition to or instead of practical lab work. But since the remainder of the classes can be attended via the internet, this option may be a more practical solution for some Arizona City AZ students that are pressed for time. And a number of online degree programs are cheaper than other traditional choices. Even commuting expenses from Arizona City and study supplies may be minimized, helping to make schooling more economical. And many online programs are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your job or family obligations have left you with little time to attend classes, perhaps an HVAC online training program will make it less complicated to fit school into your busy lifestyle.
HVAC Certification and Licensing
HVAC is an acronym that is widely used in the business that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC contractors provide services for the installation, repair and maintenance of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are typically required to be licensed, however every state and regional municipality has its own prerequisites. Attaining professional certification is not mandatory, but a voluntary way for Arizona City AZ HVAC technicians to prove that they are exceptionally proficient and experienced in their area of specialization. There are a number of respected certifications within the industry 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 attained by passing a competency examination and may be acquired in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification makes available both a professional and a master specialist credential. Two years of professional experience in addition to passing a comprehensive examination are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have 3 years of experience along with a passing score on the professional level exam. As with NATE, certifications are offered in multiple specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is mandatory for technicians that work with refrigerants. There are three types of certification available, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Considering that licensing might be required in your area, and you may also desire to earn certification, it's essential that you pick an HVAC technical school that will prepare you for both. And since you will probably be working with refrigerants, make sure that the program you select prepares you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
Questions to Ask Heating and Cooling Trade Schools
When you have picked the type of degree or certificate that you desire to earn, either on campus or online, you can begin to narrow down your list of schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are many HVAC vocational schools in the Arizona City AZ area and across the USA to pick from. That's why it is very important to have a list of relevant qualifiers when making school comparisons. As formerly stated in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will probably be the first two variables you will consider. Following are several additional ones that you will want to investigate before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Many HVAC trade programs in the Arizona City AZ area have attained either a regional or a national accreditation. They can earn Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to a specific program, for example HVAC technology. Make sure that the program is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization, for instance the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping guarantee that you receive a superior education, it may assist in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are often unavailable for non-accredited programs. Also, a number of 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 considering what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage of students who enroll in and finish the course. A lower completion rate might suggest that students were disappointed with the program and quit. It might also suggest that the instructors were not competent to instruct the students. It's similarly imperative that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive directory of graduates, which can mean more contacts for the school to use for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate will not only affirm that the school has a good reputation within the trade, but also that it has the network of Arizona City AZ HVAC employers to assist graduates secure apprenticeships or jobs.
Apprenticeship Programs. Many HVAC trade programs are taught together with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating technical and vocational programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of HVAC businesses or labor unions. Ask if the schools you are reviewing have working partnerships with local Arizona City AZ HVAC specialists. An apprenticeship not only provides a valuable experience by supplying practical training, but it also provides job opportunities and helps to establish relationships in the area HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Confirm that the school facilities and the equipment that you will be instructed on are state-of-the-art and what you will be using in the field. If you are already in an internship or an apprenticeship, consult with the HVAC tech you are working under concerning what you should be expecting. If not, ask a local Arizona City AZ HVAC company if they can give you some tips. Additionally keep in mind that unless you can move, the school must be within driving distance of your Arizona City AZ home. 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 instruction as possible, which can be difficult in bigger classes. Ask if you can monitor a couple of the classes so that you can observe how big they are and witness first hand the interaction between instructors and students. Speak with some of the students and get their opinions regarding class sizes and instruction. Last, talk to a few of the instructors and find out what their level of experience is and what degrees or certifications they have earned.
Flexible Scheduling. Confirm that the class schedules for the schools you are assessing are flexible enough to handle your needs. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Arizona City AZ, check that the programs you are looking at offer those options. If you can only attend part-time, be sure that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Finally, check out what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, illness or family emergencies.
Earn Your HVAC Degree or Certificate
Picking the right HVAC training course is an important first step toward a gratifying career in the heating and cooling trade. As we have addressed in this post, you need to select an Heating and Cooling vocational school and a degree or certificate program that are both accredited and have excellent reputations within the HVAC field. Other features to search for are sufficient hands-on training and modern facilities. You need to check out each of the schools in person that you are most interested in to explore the campus and speak with both the faculty and current students. Try to get a feel for the quality of the teaching and the interaction between them. Also, ask about scheduling choices and whether or not night or weekend classes are available if needed. And don't forget to inquire about financial aid and student loan options also. If you ask the proper questions as we have laid out in our checklist for evaluating schools, you'll be able to filter your choices so that you can make an educated decision. With the proper training, hard work and dedication, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC specialist in Arizona City AZ.