How to Select the Right HVAC Certificate Program Near El Mirage Arizona
Now that you have made a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioner technician, the next step is to find an HVAC trade school near El Mirage AZ. But with so many to select from, how do you choose the ideal one to obtain 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 home. Even though these are relevant concerns, they are not the only ones to evaluate. Some 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 in this article. But before we explore how to select an HVAC technical school, let's look at what a heating and air conditioning technician does to become a licensed professional tradesman.
HVAC Certificate and Degree Courses
There are several alternatives available for HVAC training in a technical or trade school. You can obtain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Earning a certificate will take the least period of time, often achieved in just six months, though some programs are longer. A certificate will train you for most HVAC positions, especially if you are licensed and have certification applicable to the position. The degree training programs can provide a competitive edge in the job market and will provide more in-depth training than the certificate programs. Below is a short summary of each credential offered near El Mirage Az.
- Certificate. Generally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among beginning commercial or residential HVAC professionals. They furnish a strong foundation of skills for job opportunities within the industry.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program delivers a more extensive understanding of heating and a/c systems than the certificate program. Generally taking two years to finish, some degrees include an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is tailored more for a career in management or even 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 study how to design them.
Selecting the right credential program will be based on what your future career aspirations are, as well as the time and money that you have to invest. One possibility is to start with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after getting some experience in the field in El Mirage AZ, later returning to acquire a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your tactic, make certain to ask the HVAC tech school you are considering about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Online Courses
Enrolling in an HVAC program online is one approach to getting your training and receiving a certificate or degree. 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 in place of practical lab work. But since the remainder of the classes may be participated in on the web, this approach may be a more accessible solution for many El Mirage AZ students that are pressed for time. And many online degree programs are more economical than other traditional alternatives. Even commuting expenses from El Mirage and study supplies can be minimized, helping to make schooling more affordable. And a large number of online programs are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your job or family responsibilities have left you with limited time to attend classes, perhaps an HVAC online training program will make it less complicated to accommodate school into your active lifestyle.
Heating and Cooling Certification and Licensing
HVAC is an acronym that is extensively used in the business that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC professionals provide services for the installation, maintenance and repair of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are generally required to be licensed, though every state and regional municipality has its own criteria. Attaining professional certification is not compulsory, but an alternative means for El Mirage AZ HVAC technicians to establish that they are highly proficient and knowledgeable in their area of specialization. There are several respected certifications within the industry that are available. Here are a few of the important ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally recognized certification for HVAC technicians. The certification is attained by passing a proficiency examination and can be received in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification makes available both a professional and a master specialist credential. Two years of field experience in addition to passing a comprehensive examination are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have three years of experience as well as a passing result on the professional level exam. Similar to NATE, certifications are provided in several specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is necessary for specialists that handle refrigerants. There are 3 types of certification offered, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Since licensing might be mandated in your location, and you may also wish to acquire certification, it's essential that you select an HVAC technical school that will prepare you for both. And since you will probably be working with refrigerants, make certain that the school you decide on preps you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
What to Ask HVAC Certification Courses
When you have picked the type of certificate or degree that you desire to obtain, either on campus or online, you can start to narrow down your selection of schools. As you are probably aware, there are numerous HVAC vocational schools in the El Mirage AZ area and throughout the USA to pick from. That's why it is essential to have a list of important qualifiers when making school evaluations. As previously stated in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will most likely be the first two aspects you will look at. Following are several additional ones that you should explore before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Numerous HVAC technical schools in the El Mirage AZ area have attained either a regional or a national accreditation. They may attain Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to an individual program, for example HVAC technology. Verify that the program and school are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization, such as the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping ensure that you obtain a quality education, it may assist in obtaining financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently unavailable for non-accredited programs. Also, some states require that the HVAC training course be accredited in order to be approved for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the Heating and Cooling schools you are looking at what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students who enroll in and finish the program. A low completion rate could signify that students were dissatisfied with the program and dropped out. It may also signify that the instructors were not qualified to train the students. It's also important that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader directory 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 validate that the school has an excellent reputation within the field, but also that it has the network of El Mirage AZ HVAC employers to help students obtain apprenticeships or jobs.
Apprenticeship Programs. Many HVAC training programs are taught in conjunction with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating trade and technical programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of HVAC contractors or trade unions. Find out if the schools you are comparing have working relationships with local El Mirage AZ HVAC companies. An apprenticeship not only provides a rewarding experience by providing practical training, but it also furnishes employment opportunities and helps to establish relationships in the regional HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make certain that the school 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 already in an internship or an apprenticeship, check with the HVAC specialist you are working with regarding what you should be looking for. Otherwise, ask a local El Mirage AZ HVAC contractor if they can give you some tips. Additionally bear in mind that unless you are willing to move, the school must be within driving distance of your El Mirage AZ residence. Take note that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides the added relocation costs there can be increased 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 challenging in bigger classes. Ask if you can sit in on a few of the classes so that you can see how big they are and experience the interaction between students and instructors. Talk with some of the students and get their comments concerning class sizes and instruction. Last, speak to a few of the instructors and learn what their level of experience is and what certifications or degrees they hold.
Flexible Scheduling. Confirm that the class schedules for the schools you are reviewing are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you are only able to go to classes in the evening or on weekends near El Mirage AZ, verify that the programs you are looking at offer those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, be sure that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Additionally, check out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, sickness or family emergencies.
Earn Your HVAC Degree or Certificate
Enrolling in the right HVAC training course is an important beginning toward a gratifying career in the heating and cooling trade. As we have addressed in this article, you need to choose an HVAC technical school and a degree or certificate program that are both accredited and have excellent reputations within the HVAC community. Other features to look for are sufficient hands-on training and state-of-the-art facilities. You should visit each of the schools in person that you are most interested in to tour the campus and speak with both the faculty and current students. Try to get a feel for the quality of the training and the interaction between them. In addition, ask about scheduling options and whether evening or weekend classes are available if needed. And remember to ask about financial aid and student loan options also. If you ask the proper questions as we have detailed in our checklist for comparing schools, you'll be able to narrow down your options so that you can make an informed decision. With the right training, hard work and dedication, you can eventually become a licensed HVAC technician in El Mirage AZ.