How to Select the Best Heating and Cooling Trade School Near Cave Creek Arizona
Now that you have made a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioning specialist, the next step is to find an HVAC technical school near Cave Creek AZ. But with so many to pick from, how do you select the best one to receive the training that you need? Some potential students will make their choice based solely on the price of tuition or how close the school is to their residence. Although these are necessary considerations, they are not the only ones to take into account. A few of the other things that you need to research 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 addressed in more detail later in this article. But before we tackle how to select an HVAC training program, let's look at what a heating and cooling specialist does to become a licensed qualified tradesman.
HVAC Certificate and Degree Courses
There are several options offered for HVAC training in a technical or vocational school. You can attain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Obtaining a certificate will take the lesser amount of time, often achieved in just six months, though some courses are longer. A certificate will qualify you for the majority of HVAC positions, particularly if you are licensed and have certification related to the position. The degree training programs can provide a competitive edge for securing employment and will furnish more in-depth training than the certificate programs. Following is a brief description of each credential offered near Cave Creek Az.
- Certificate. Usually requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among beginning residential or commercial HVAC technicians. They furnish a solid foundation of skills for job opportunities within the industry.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program provides a more exhaustive understanding of heating and cooling systems than the certificate program. Usually taking 2 years to finish, many degrees feature an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is suited more for a career in management as well as business ownership. Some programs require an Associate Degree, while others are a standard 4 year program. In addition to being taught 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 long term career aspirations are, in addition to 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 field in Cave Creek AZ, subsequently going back to obtain a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your approach, make sure to ask the HVAC technician school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Classes Online
Enrolling in an HVAC school online is one approach in obtaining your education and earning a degree or certificate. Nearly all schools will call for some attendance on campus to complete practical training. A number also provide internship or work-study programs in addition to or as an alternative to practical lab work. But since the rest of the classes can be attended online, this alternative may be a more accessible solution for some Cave Creek AZ students that are pressed for time. And some online degree programs are cheaper than other on campus choices. Even commuting expenses from Cave Creek and study supplies can be lessened, helping to make schooling more budget-friendly. And many online programs are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your career or family obligations have left you with limited time to attend classes, maybe an HVAC online training program will make it more convenient to accommodate 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 technicians provide services for the installation, repair and maintenance of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are generally required to be licensed, although each state and local municipality has its own requirements. Obtaining professional certification is not required, but an optional means for Cave Creek AZ HVAC specialists to demonstrate that they are highly skilled and accomplished in their area of specialization. There are several acknowledged certifications within the industry that are available. Below are some of the important ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally recognized certification for HVAC techs. The certification is achieved by passing a competency exam and may be earned in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification makes available both a professional and a master specialist credential. 2 years of field experience as well as passing a comprehensive examination are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have 3 years of experience together with a passing score on the professional level examination. As with NATE, certifications are offered in various specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is mandatory for technicians that handle refrigerants. There are 3 types of certification obtainable, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Considering that licensing could be mandated in your area, and you may also wish to earn certification, it's imperative that you select an HVAC vocational school that will prepare you for both. And since you will more than likely be dealing with refrigerants, make sure that the program you decide on preps you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.
Questions to Ask HVAC Certification Courses
Once you have picked the type of certificate or degree that you would like to acquire, either online or on campus, you can start to decrease your list of schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are a large number of HVAC trade schools in the Cave Creek AZ area and all over the United States to select from. That's why it is essential to have a list of key qualifications when making school comparisons. As earlier stated in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will undoubtedly be the initial 2 variables you will consider. Following are some additional ones that you will want to investigate before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Numerous HVAC technical schools in the Cave Creek AZ area have attained either a regional or a national accreditation. They may receive Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to a specific program, for instance HVAC technology. Confirm that the program and school are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization, for example the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping guarantee that you get an excellent education, it may help in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are frequently unavailable for non-accredited schools. Additionally, some states mandate that the HVAC training course be accredited for it to qualify for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the Heating and Cooling schools you are reviewing what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage of students who enroll in and finish the program. A lower completion rate could indicate that students were disappointed with the program and dropped out. It could also suggest that the instructors were not competent to instruct the students. It's similarly important that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader directory of alumni, which can result in more contacts for the school to utilize for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate can not only validate that the school has an excellent reputation within the field, but additionally that it has the network of Cave Creek AZ HVAC employers to help students acquire apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. Most 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 companies or labor unions. Check 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 hands-on training, but it also provides job opportunities and helps to form relationships in the area HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make certain that the school facilities and the equipment that you will be instructed on are state-of-the-art and what you will be using on the job. If you are currently in an internship or an apprenticeship, consult with the HVAC technician you are working under concerning what you should be looking for. Otherwise, ask a local Cave Creek AZ HVAC company if they can provide some pointers. Additionally keep in mind that unless you can move, the school must be within commuting distance of your Cave Creek AZ residence. Remember that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides the added moving costs there may be higher tuition charges compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's desirable that you get as much one-on-one instruction as possible, which can be difficult in bigger classes. Ask if you can monitor some of the classes so that you can see how large they are and experience the interaction between students and teachers. Talk with a few of the students and get their feedback relating to class sizes and instruction. Last, speak with a few of the instructors and find out what their level of expertise is and what certifications or degrees they hold.
Flexible Scheduling. Verify that the class schedules for the schools you are assessing are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Cave Creek AZ, confirm that the schools you are considering provide those choices. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, be sure that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Finally, check out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, sickness or family responsibilities.
Get Your Heating and Cooling Degree or Certificate
Picking the ideal HVAC school program is a crucial first step toward a rewarding career in the heating & cooling trade. As we have discussed in this post, you need to select an HVAC vocational school and a degree or certificate program that are both accredited and have exceptional reputations within the HVAC field. Other things to search for are sufficient practical training and state-of-the-art facilities. You need to visit 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. Additionally, inquire about scheduling options and whether night or weekend classes are offered if needed. And remember to ask about financial aid and student loan options as well. If you ask the appropriate questions as we have laid out in our checklist for assessing schools, you'll be able to filter your options so that you can make an educated decision. With the appropriate training, hard work and dedication, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC professional in Cave Creek AZ.