How to Select the Best HVAC Trade School Near El Mirage Arizona
Now that you have made a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioning specialist, the next step is to choose an HVAC technical school near El Mirage AZ. But with so many to pick from, how do you decide on the right one to receive the training that you need? Many prospective students will make their selection based entirely on the price of tuition or how close the school is to their residence. Although these are relevant factors to consider, they are not the only ones to evaluate. Just some of the other details 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 additional benchmarks will be addressed in more detail later in this article. But before we discuss how to pick an HVAC technical school, let's look at what a heating and air conditioning technician does to become a licensed qualified tradesman.
HVAC Degree Schools
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. Obtaining a certificate will take the minimum amount of time, usually achieved in as little as six months, though some courses are longer. A certificate will qualify you for the majority of HVAC positions, especially if you are licensed and have certification appropriate to the position. The degree training programs can provide a competitive advantage in the job market and will provide more comprehensive training than the certificate programs. Following is a short summary of each credential offered near El Mirage Az.
- Certificate. Usually requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular 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 provides a more comprehensive knowledge of heating and a/c systems than the certificate program. Usually taking two 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 or even business ownership. Some programs call for an Associate Degree, while others are a traditional 4 year program. In addition to learning how to service and maintain heating and air conditioning systems, you will also study how to design them.
Choosing the right credential program will be dependent on what your future career objectives are, as well as the time and money that you have to invest. One possibility is to begin with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after gaining some experience in the trade in El Mirage AZ, eventually returning to earn a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your tactic, make sure to ask the HVAC technician school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Online Schools
Choosing an HVAC school online is one possibility to getting your training and receiving a degree or certificate. Nearly all schools will call for some attendance on campus to participate in hands on training. A number also offer internship or work-study programs in addition to or as an alternative to practical lab work. But since the balance of the classes can be participated in via the internet, this approach may be a more accessible solution for many El Mirage AZ students that are short on time. And many online degree programs are cheaper than other on campus options. Even driving expenses from El Mirage and study materials may be reduced, helping to make schooling more economical. And numerous online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your work or family commitments have left you with minimal time to attend classes, perhaps an online HVAC degree program will make it easier to accommodate school into your active lifestyle.
HVAC Certification and Licensing
HVAC is an acronym that is commonly used in the industry that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC techs specialize in the installation, repair and maintenance of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are generally required to be licensed, although every state and local municipality has its own prerequisites. Earning professional certification is not required, but an optional way for El Mirage AZ HVAC technicians to demonstrate that they are exceptionally skilled and knowledgeable in their area of specialization. There are multiple recognized certifications within the field that are available. Below are some of the significant ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally acknowledged certification for HVAC techs. The certification is achieved by passing a competency exam and can be acquired in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification offers both a professional and a master specialist credential. Two years of professional experience as well as passing a comprehensive examination are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have 3 years of experience in addition to a passing score on the professional level exam. Similar to NATE, certifications are made available in several specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is necessary for techs that work with refrigerants. There are 3 forms of certification obtainable, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Because licensing might be mandated in your area, and you may also desire to earn certification, it's important that you enroll in an HVAC technical school that will train you for both. And since you will probably be handling refrigerants, make sure that the program you choose prepares you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
Questions For Heating and Cooling Training Classes
When you have selected the type of degree or certificate that you would like to obtain, either on campus or online, you can begin to limit your list of schools. As you are certainly aware, there are numerous HVAC vocational schools in the El Mirage AZ area and across the Country to select 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, location and tuition will undoubtedly be the first two variables you will look at. Following are several additional ones that you need to investigate before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Numerous HVAC trade programs in the El Mirage AZ area have acquired either a regional or a national accreditation. They can attain Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to an individual program, for instance HVAC technology. Verify that the program and school are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency, such as the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping make certain that you obtain a quality education, it can assist in obtaining financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently unavailable for non-accredited programs. Furthermore, some states mandate that the HVAC training program be accredited in order to qualify for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the HVAC schools you are reviewing what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage of students who enroll in and finish the course. A low completion rate could signify that students were unhappy with the program and quit. It could also indicate that the teachers were not qualified to instruct the students. It's similarly imperative that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader directory of alumni, which may result in more contacts for the school to utilize for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate can not only confirm that the school has an excellent reputation within the field, but also that it has the network of El Mirage AZ HVAC employers to assist graduates acquire apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. A large number of HVAC vocational programs are taught in conjunction with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating trade and technical schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of Heating and Cooling businesses or trade unions. Ask if the schools you are comparing have referring relationships with local El Mirage AZ HVAC contractors. An apprenticeship not only provides a valuable experience by providing hands-on training, but it also supplies employment opportunities and helps to build relationships in the local HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Confirm that the school facilities and the tools that you will be instructed on are state-of-the-art and what you will be using in the field. If you are already in an internship or an apprenticeship, consult with the HVAC technician you are working with regarding what you should be looking for. Otherwise, ask a local El Mirage AZ HVAC company if they can give you some suggestions. Additionally bear in mind that unless you are willing to relocate, the school must be within driving distance of your El Mirage AZ home. Take note that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, besides the added moving costs there might be increased tuition charges compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's desirable that you receive as much one-on-one training as possible, which can be challenging in larger classes. Ask if you can monitor a few of the classes so that you can see how large they are and witness first hand the interaction between teachers and students. Speak with a few of the students and get their feedback relating to class sizes and instruction. Last, speak with some of the teachers and find out what their level of experience 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 attend classes in the evening or on weekends near El Mirage AZ, check that the schools you are looking at offer those choices. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Also, check out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, sickness or family emergencies.
Get Your HVAC Certificate or Degree
Selecting the ideal HVAC training program is a critical beginning toward a fulfilling career in the heating and cooling field. As we have addressed in this article, you need to choose an Heating and Cooling trade 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 lots of practical training and state-of-the-art facilities. You should visit each of the schools in person that you are most interested in to inspect the campus and speak with both the faculty and current students. Attempt to get a feel for the quality of the training and the interaction between them. Additionally, inquire about scheduling options and whether or not evening or weekend classes are offered 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 choices so that you can make an informed decision. With the proper training, hard work and commitment, you can eventually become a licensed HVAC professional in El Mirage AZ.