How to Pick the Right HVAC Program Near Big Park Arizona
Now that you have decided on a career as a heating and air conditioning technician, the next step is to choose an HVAC technical school near Big Park AZ. But with so many to select from, how do you choose the right one to get the training that you require? Many prospective students will make their selection based exclusively on the cost of tuition or how near the school is to their home. Even though these are necessary concerns, they are not the only ones to evaluate. Some of the other factors 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 other benchmarks will be covered in more detail later within this article. But before we tackle how to pick an HVAC vocational school, let's look at what a heating and air conditioning technician does to become a licensed professional tradesman.
HVAC Degree Courses
There are a variety of alternatives offered for HVAC training in a trade or technical school. You can earn a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Acquiring a certificate will take the lesser period of time, often accomplished in just six months, although some courses are longer. A certificate will qualify you for most HVAC positions, especially if you are licensed and have certification applicable to the position. The degree training programs might provide a competitive advantage for securing employment and will deliver more comprehensive training than the certificate programs. Following is a brief summary of each credential offered near Big Park Az.
- Certificate. Generally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among entry level commercial or residential HVAC technicians. They provide a strong foundation of skills for job opportunities within the industry.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program delivers a more exhaustive understanding of heating and a/c systems than the certificate program. Normally taking 2 years to finish, some 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 call for an Associate Degree, while others are a standard four year program. In addition to learning how to service and maintain heating and air conditioning systems, you will also learn how to design them.
Picking the ideal credential program will be based on what your future career aspirations 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 acquiring some experience in the trade in Big Park AZ, subsequently going back to earn a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your approach, make certain to ask the HVAC tech school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Online Classes
Choosing an HVAC school online is one possibility to getting your training and receiving a certificate or degree. Almost all schools will require some attendance on campus to participate in hands on training. Some also sponsor internship or work-study programs in addition to or instead of practical lab work. But since the balance of the classes may be attended on the web, this alternative may be a more convenient solution for many Big Park AZ students that are short on time. And a number of online degree programs are less costly than other traditional alternatives. Even commuting expenses from Big Park and study materials may be reduced, helping to make schooling more budget-friendly. And many online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your career or family obligations have left you with minimal time to attend classes, perhaps an online HVAC degree program will make it more convenient to fit school into your busy schedule.
Heating and Cooling Licensing and Certification
HVAC is an acronym that is commonly used in the business that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC techs specialize in the installation, repair and maintenance of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are typically mandated to be licensed, however every state and local municipality has its own prerequisites. Obtaining professional certification is not required, but a voluntary way for Big Park AZ HVAC technicians to demonstrate that they are exceptionally skilled and experienced in their area of specialization. There are many recognized certifications within the trade that are available. Here are some of the important ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally recognized certification for HVAC technicians. The certification is achieved by passing a proficiency 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 together with passing a comprehensive examination are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have 3 years of experience in addition to a passing result on the professional level examination. Similar to NATE, certifications are made available in multiple specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is mandatory for techs 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.
Considering that licensing could be mandated in your area, and you may also intend to acquire certification, it's essential that you enroll in an HVAC vocational school that will prepare you for both. And since you will most likely be handling refrigerants, make sure that the program you decide on readies you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.
Questions to Ask Heating and Cooling Training Classes
As soon as you have chosen the type of certificate or degree that you would like to earn, either on campus or online, you can start to narrow down your list of schools. As you are probably aware, there are numerous HVAC vocational schools in the Big Park AZ area and across the United States to select from. That's why it is extremely important to have a list of key qualifiers when making school comparisons. As formerly mentioned in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will undoubtedly be the first 2 variables you will consider. Following are several additional ones that you should research before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Numerous HVAC vocational programs in the Big Park AZ area have acquired 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 a specific program, for instance HVAC technology. Verify that the school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization, for example the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping make certain that you receive a quality education, it may assist in obtaining financial assistance or student loans, which are in many cases not available for non-accredited programs. Also, a number of states mandate that the HVAC training program be accredited for it to be approved for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the HVAC schools you are considering what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students who enroll in and complete the course. A low completion rate might suggest that students were disappointed with the course and dropped out. It could also indicate that the instructors were not qualified to instruct the students. It's similarly essential that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive list of alumni, which can produce more contacts for the school to use for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate can not only validate that the school has a good reputation within the trade, but also that it has the network of Big Park AZ HVAC employers to help graduates obtain apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. Most HVAC vocational 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 inside their network of Heating and Cooling contractors or labor unions. Ask if the schools you are comparing have referring partnerships with local Big Park AZ HVAC companies. An apprenticeship not only offers a valuable experience by supplying hands-on training, but it also provides employment opportunities and helps to establish relationships in the local HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make certain that the school facilities and the equipment that you will be trained on are state-of-the-art 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. Otherwise, ask a local Big Park AZ HVAC contracting company if they can provide some pointers. Also keep in mind that unless you can move, the school must be within commuting distance of your Big Park AZ residence. Take note that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation costs there may be increased tuition charges compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's important that you receive as much personalized instruction as possible, which can be difficult in bigger classes. Ask if you can sit in on a couple of the classes so that you can see how big they are and experience the interaction between students and teachers. Speak to several of the students and get their feedback relating to class sizes and instruction. Finally, speak with a few of the teachers and learn what their level of expertise is and what certifications or degrees they have earned.
Flexible Scheduling. Make sure that the class schedules for the schools you are assessing are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you are only able to go to classes at night or on weekends near Big Park AZ, confirm that the schools you are considering offer those options. If you can only attend part-time, be sure that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Also, find out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, sickness or family responsibilities.
Get Your HVAC Degree or Certificate
Finding the right HVAC school program is a crucial first step toward a rewarding career in the heating and cooling field. As we have covered in this post, you need to select an HVAC technical school and a certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have outstanding reputations within the HVAC trade. Other features to look for are lots of practical training and state-of-the-art facilities. You need to visit each of the schools personally 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 teaching and the interaction between them. Additionally, ask about scheduling options and if evening or weekend classes are offered if needed. And remember to inquire about financial assistance and student loan options too. If you ask the proper questions as we have laid out in our checklist for comparing schools, you'll be able to filter your options so that you can make an educated decision. With the right training, hard work and dedication, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC specialist in Big Park AZ.