How to Enroll In the Right HVAC Certification Course Near Buckeye Arizona
Now that you have decided on a career as a heating and cooling specialist, the next step is to look for an HVAC vocational school near Buckeye AZ. But with so many to choose from, how do you decide on the ideal one to obtain the training that you require? A number of prospective students will make their choice based solely on the price of tuition or how near the school is to their home. Although these are relevant factors to consider, they are not the only ones to take into account. 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. These and additional criteria will be addressed in more detail later in this article. But before we tackle how to select an HVAC trade school, let's look at what a heating and a/c contractor does to become a licensed professional tradesman.
HVAC Degree Training Programs
There are a number of options available for HVAC instruction in a technical or vocational school. You can earn a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Earning a certificate will take the lesser amount of time, often achieved in as little as six months, though some courses are longer. A certificate will qualify you for most HVAC positions, especially if you are licensed and have certification related to the position. The degree programs may provide a competitive advantage in the job market and will provide more comprehensive training than the certificate programs. Following is a brief summary of each credential offered near Buckeye Az.
- Certificate. Generally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among beginning commercial or residential HVAC technicians. They furnish a strong foundation of skills for job opportunities within the trade.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program provides a more exhaustive background of heating and cooling systems than the certificate program. Generally requiring 2 years to complete, many degrees feature 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 four year program. In addition to mastering how to service and maintain heating and cooling systems, you will also learn how to design them.
Choosing the appropriate credential program will be based on what your long term career aspirations are, along with the time and financial resources that you have to commit. One option is to begin with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after getting some experience in the field in Buckeye AZ, later returning to obtain a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your strategy, make certain to ask the HVAC tech school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Online Courses
Choosing an HVAC program online is one alternative to attaining your training and receiving a degree or certificate. Nearly all schools will require some attendance on campus to take part in hands on training. A number also sponsor internship or work-study programs in addition to or instead of practical lab work. But since the balance of the classes can be attended online, this option may be a more accessible solution for many Buckeye AZ students that are short on time. And some online degree programs are less expensive than other traditional options. Even travelling expenses from Buckeye and study materials may be lessened, helping to make schooling more economical. And a large number of online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your work or family responsibilities have left you with minimal time to attend classes, perhaps an online HVAC degree program will make it less complicated to fit school into your busy schedule.
HVAC Certification and Licensing
HVAC is an acronym that is commonly used in the trade that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC contractors provide services for the installation, repair and maintenance of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are commonly required to be licensed, although every state and regional municipality has its own criteria. Acquiring professional certification is not compulsory, but a voluntary means for Buckeye AZ HVAC techs to prove that they are exceptionally proficient and accomplished in their area of expertise. There are several respected 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 achieved by passing a proficiency exam and can 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 exam are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have 3 years of experience along with a passing result on the professional level examination. As with NATE, certifications are offered in multiple specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is necessary for techs that work with refrigerants. There are 3 forms of certification offered, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Because licensing may be mandated in your area, and you may also desire to acquire certification, it's essential that you choose an HVAC trade school that will train 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 examinations.
Questions to Ask HVAC Training Classes
When you have selected the type of degree or certificate that you want to obtain, either on campus or online, you can begin to narrow down your list of schools. As you are certainly aware, there are a large number of HVAC trade schools in the Buckeye AZ area and across the Country to choose from. That's why it is imperative to have a list of key qualifications when making school evaluations. As earlier stated in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will probably be the first 2 factors you will look at. Following are several additional ones that you should research before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. A large number of HVAC trade schools in the Buckeye AZ area have acquired either a regional or a national accreditation. They may attain Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to an individual program, for instance HVAC technology. Verify that the school and program are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization, for instance the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping ensure that you receive an excellent education, it can assist in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are often not available for non-accredited schools. Furthermore, many states mandate that the HVAC training course 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 percentage of students who enroll in and complete the program. A lower completion rate could indicate that students were disappointed with the course and quit. It may also signify that the instructors were not competent to train 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 employ 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 industry, but additionally that it has the network of Buckeye AZ HVAC employers to help graduates secure apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. Many HVAC vocational programs are taught along with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating trade and vocational programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of HVAC companies or trade unions. Check if the schools you are reviewing have referring relationships with local Buckeye AZ HVAC specialists. 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 regional HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make sure that the campus facilities and the tools that you will be trained on are state-of-the-art and what you will be using in the field. If you are presently in an internship or an apprenticeship, talk to the HVAC tech you are working under regarding what you should be expecting. Otherwise, ask a local Buckeye AZ HVAC contracting company if they can provide some suggestions. Also bear in mind that unless you are able to move, the school must be within commuting distance of your Buckeye AZ home. Remember that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to moving costs there may 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 challenging in larger classes. Ask if you can monitor a couple of the classes so that you can see how big they are and experience the interaction between students and teachers. Speak to some of the students and get their opinions relating to class sizes and instruction. Last, speak to a few of the teachers and find out what their level of expertise is and what degrees or certifications they hold.
Flexible Scheduling. Confirm that the class schedules for the schools you are evaluating are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you are only able to go to classes at night or on weekends near Buckeye AZ, verify that the schools you are comparing offer those choices. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Additionally, ask what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, illness or family issues.
Get Your HVAC Certificate or Degree
Finding the right HVAC school program is a crucial first step toward a fulfilling career in the heating and cooling trade. As we have discussed in this post, you should select an HVAC technical school and a degree or certificate program that are both accredited and have excellent reputations within the HVAC profession. Other things to look for are lots of practical training and state-of-the-art facilities. You should check out 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. Attempt to get a feel for the quality of the training and the interaction between them. Also, ask about scheduling options and whether or not night or weekend classes are available if needed. And remember to ask about financial assistance and student loan options too. If you ask the appropriate questions as we have detailed in our guidelines for comparing 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 contractor in Buckeye AZ.