How to Enroll In the Best HVAC Trade School Near Cave Creek Arizona
Once you have decided on a career as a heating and air conditioning technician, the next action is to choose an HVAC trade school near Cave Creek AZ. But with so many to choose from, how do you decide on the best one to get the training that you require? Some prospective students will make their choice based entirely on the price of tuition or how near the school is to their home. Although these are necessary concerns, they are not the only ones to take into account. A few of the other factors that you need to look into are the graduation rates of the HVAC schools, their reputations, and if they are accredited by professional trade organizations. Those and other criteria will be discussed 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 cooling contractor does to become a licensed skilled tradesman.
HVAC Degree Training Programs
There are several alternatives available 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 lesser period of time, typically accomplished in just six months, although some programs are longer. A certificate will train you for the majority of HVAC positions, especially if you are licensed and have certification appropriate to the position. The degree programs can provide a competitive edge in the job market and will deliver more comprehensive training than the certificate programs. Following is a short description of each credential offered near Cave Creek Az.
- Certificate. Normally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among entry level residential or commercial HVAC technicians. They furnish a strong foundation of skills for job opportunities within the industry.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program provides a more exhaustive background of heating and a/c systems than the certificate program. Typically requiring two years to complete, a number of degrees feature an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is suited more towards a career in management or even 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 goals are, as well as the time and financial resources that you have to commit. One option is to start with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after getting some experience in the field in Cave Creek AZ, later returning to acquire a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your strategy, be sure to ask the HVAC technician school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Online Classes
Enrolling in an HVAC school online is one option to attaining your training and receiving a certificate or degree. Most schools will call for some attendance on campus to participate in hands on training. Many also offer internship or work-study programs in addition to or instead of practical lab work. But since the rest of the classes can be attended on the web, this alternative may be a more convenient solution for some Cave Creek AZ students that are short on time. And a number of online degree programs are less expensive than other on campus choices. Even commuting expenses from Cave Creek and study materials can be reduced, helping to make schooling more budget-friendly. And a large number of online programs 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 HVAC online training program will make it less complicated to accommodate school into your active schedule.
Heating and Cooling Licensing and Certification
HVAC is an acronym that is commonly used in the industry that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC technicians provide services for 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, although each state and local municipality has its own criteria. Obtaining professional certification is not mandatory, but an alternative way for Cave Creek AZ HVAC specialists to demonstrate that they are highly qualified and knowledgeable in their area of specialization. There are a number of respected certifications within the trade that are offered. Following are a few of the significant ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally recognized certification for HVAC technicians. The certification is achieved by passing a proficiency exam and can be earned in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification offers both a professional and a master specialist credential. Two years of professional experience together with 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 result on the professional level examination. As with NATE, certifications are provided in several specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is required for technicians that handle refrigerants. There are 3 types of certification available, 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 intend to obtain certification, it's essential that you enroll in an HVAC technical school that will prepare you for both. And since you will more than likely be dealing with refrigerants, make certain that the school you pick readies you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.
What to Ask HVAC Training Programs
When you have chosen the type of degree or certificate that you would like to obtain, either on campus or online, you can start to limit your selection of schools. As you are certainly aware, there are many HVAC technical schools in the Cave Creek AZ area and throughout the United States to pick from. That's why it is essential to have a checklist of important qualifications when making school assessments. As previously mentioned in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will undoubtedly be the first 2 variables you will consider. Following are some additional ones that you need to research before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Numerous HVAC vocational programs in the Cave Creek AZ area have attained either a regional or a national accreditation. They can receive Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to a specific program, such as HVAC technology. Make sure that the program and school are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization, such as the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping make certain that you receive a superior education, it may help in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are in many cases unavailable for non-accredited programs. Additionally, some 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 portion or percentage of students who enroll in and complete the program. A lower completion rate might signify that students were dissatisfied with the course and quit. It may also suggest that the instructors were not competent to train the students. It's similarly imperative that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader list of graduates, which may mean 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 trade, but additionally that it has the network of Cave Creek AZ HVAC employers to help graduates acquire apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. Many HVAC technical programs are taught together with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating vocational and technical schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of HVAC businesses or trade unions. Ask if the schools you are considering have working partnerships with local Cave Creek AZ HVAC professionals. An apprenticeship not only offers a valuable experience by supplying practical training, but it also provides employment opportunities and helps to establish relationships in the local HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make sure that the campus facilities and the tools that you will be instructed on are state-of-the-art and what you will be working with in the field. If you are presently in an internship or an apprenticeship, check with the HVAC technician you are working under concerning what you should be looking for. If not, ask a local Cave Creek AZ HVAC contracting company if they can provide some pointers. Additionally keep in mind that unless you can relocate, the school must be within commuting distance of your Cave Creek AZ residence. Take note that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation costs there may be higher tuition fees compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's important that you get as much one-on-one training as possible, which can be difficult in larger classes. Ask if you can sit in on some of the classes so that you can see how large they are and experience the interaction between teachers and students. Speak with several of the students and get their comments concerning class sizes and instruction. Last, speak to some of the teachers and learn 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 meet your needs. If you are only able to attend classes at night or on weekends near Cave Creek AZ, verify that the schools you are looking at provide those options. If you can only attend part-time, make sure that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Additionally, find out what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, illness or family issues.
Earn Your HVAC Degree or Certificate
Enrolling in the right HVAC training course is an important first step toward a gratifying career in the heating and air conditioning field. As we have covered in this post, you should choose an HVAC vocational school and a degree or certificate program that are both accredited and have exceptional reputations within the HVAC field. Other factors to search for are lots of practical training and state-of-the-art facilities. You should go to each of the schools in person that you are most interested in to inspect 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. Additionally, ask about scheduling options and whether 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 laid out in our checklist for assessing schools, you'll be able to narrow down your choices so that you can make an educated decision. With the appropriate training, hard work and commitment, you can eventually become a licensed HVAC contractor in Cave Creek AZ.