How to Find the Best HVAC Vocational School Near El Mirage Arizona
Once you have made a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioner specialist, the next step is to choose an HVAC vocational school near El Mirage AZ. But with so many to select from, how do you choose the ideal one to receive the training that you require? Some potential students will make their choice based solely on the price of tuition or how near the school is to their home. Although these are important concerns, they are not the only ones to investigate. A few of the other factors that you need to investigate 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 choose an HVAC training program, let's take a look at what a heating and a/c professional does to become a licensed skilled tradesman.
HVAC Certificate and Degree Training Programs
There are several choices available for HVAC training in a technical or trade school. You can attain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Acquiring a certificate will take the least amount of time, typically accomplished in as little as 6 months, however 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 advantage in the job market and will furnish more comprehensive training than the certificate programs. Following is a short summary of each option offered near El Mirage Az.
- Certificate. Normally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among beginning commercial or residential HVAC professionals. They provide a solid foundation of skills for employment within the trade.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program delivers a more detailed understanding of heating and a/c systems than the certificate program. Normally taking 2 years to finish, some 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 require an Associate Degree, while others are a conventional four year program. In addition to learning how to service and maintain heating and cooling systems, you will also learn how to design them.
Picking the appropriate credential program will be based on what your long term career objectives are, as well as the time and financial resources that you have to invest. One option is to start with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after acquiring some experience in the field in El Mirage AZ, later returning to earn a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your strategy, make sure to ask the HVAC tech school you are considering about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Courses Online
Enrolling in an HVAC school online is one alternative in obtaining your education and earning a certificate or degree. Most schools will require some attendance on campus to complete practical training. A number also offer internship or work-study programs in addition to or instead of practical lab work. But since the remainder of the classes can be attended via the internet, this option may be a more accessible solution for many El Mirage AZ students that are pressed for time. And many online degree programs are cheaper than other on campus options. Even driving expenses from El Mirage and study materials may be lessened, helping to make education more affordable. And many online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your work or family commitments 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 busy schedule.
Heating and Cooling Certification and Licensing
HVAC is an acronym that is widely used in the trade that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC contractors provide services for the installation, maintenance and repair of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are typically mandated to be licensed, however each state and local municipality has its own requirements. Acquiring professional certification is not mandatory, but an alternative way for El Mirage AZ HVAC technicians to prove that they are highly skilled and experienced in their area of expertise. There are multiple respected certifications within the field that are available. Following are some of the significant ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally recognized certification for HVAC techs. The certification is attained by passing a competency exam and can be earned in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification makes available both a professional and a master specialist credential. 2 years of professional experience as well as passing a comprehensive exam are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have three years of experience in addition to a passing score on the professional level exam. Similar to NATE, certifications are made available in multiple specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is necessary for techs that handle refrigerants. There are 3 forms of certification offered, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Considering that licensing could be required in your location, and you may also wish to obtain certification, it's imperative that you pick an HVAC technical school that will prepare you for both. And since you will most likely be handling refrigerants, make certain that the school you select preps you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
Questions to Ask HVAC Schools
Once you have chosen the type of certificate or degree that you wish to attain, either online or on campus, you can begin to limit your selection of schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are numerous HVAC technical schools in the El Mirage AZ area and throughout the USA to choose from. That's why it is extremely important to have a checklist of key qualifications when making school comparisons. As formerly mentioned in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will most likely be the initial 2 aspects you will take into consideration. Following are several additional ones that you need to investigate before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. A large number of HVAC technical schools in the El Mirage AZ area have acquired either a regional or a national accreditation. They may acquire Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to an individual program, such as HVAC technology. Confirm that the program is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting organization, for instance the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping make certain that you receive a superior education, it may help in acquiring financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently not available for non-accredited programs. Also, some states mandate that the HVAC training course be accredited for it to qualify for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the HVAC schools you are looking at what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage or portion of students who enroll in and finish the course. A lower completion rate may suggest that students were unhappy with the course and quit. It might also suggest that the instructors were not competent to instruct the students. It's also essential that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader directory of alumni, which can produce more contacts for the school to use for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate will not only affirm that the school has an excellent reputation within the industry, but additionally that it has the network of El Mirage AZ HVAC employers to assist grads acquire apprenticeships or jobs.
Apprenticeship Programs. Numerous HVAC trade programs are taught together with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating technical and vocational programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of HVAC contractors or labor unions. Check if the schools you are comparing have working partnerships with local El Mirage AZ HVAC companies. An apprenticeship not only offers a valuable experience by furnishing practical training, but it also provides job opportunities and helps to build relationships in the local HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make certain that the school facilities and the tools that you will be instructed on are up-to-date and what you will be working with in the field. If you are presently in an internship or an apprenticeship, talk to the HVAC specialist you are working with regarding what you should be expecting. Otherwise, ask a local El Mirage AZ HVAC contractor if they can provide some suggestions. Additionally keep in mind that unless you are able to relocate, the school needs to be within commuting distance of your El Mirage AZ home. Remember that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation costs there might be higher tuition fees compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's important that you receive as much personalized 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 witness first hand the interaction between teachers and students. Speak with some of the students and get their comments regarding class sizes and instruction. Finally, speak with a few of the teachers and find out what their level of experience is and what certifications or degrees they hold.
Flexible Scheduling. Make sure that the class schedules for the schools you are assessing are flexible enough to handle your needs. If you are only able to go to classes in the evening or on weekends near El Mirage AZ, check that the programs you are comparing provide those choices. If you can only attend part-time, make sure that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Also, find out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, illness or family issues.
Earn Your HVAC Certificate or Degree
Finding the ideal HVAC training program is an important beginning toward a rewarding career in the heating and air conditioning industry. As we have discussed in this post, you need to pick an HVAC vocational school and a degree or certificate program that are both accredited and have exceptional reputations within the HVAC trade. Other factors to look for are ample hands-on training and modern facilities. You need to visit each of the schools personally 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 teaching and the interaction between them. Also, inquire about scheduling choices and whether or not night or weekend classes are offered if needed. And remember to inquire about financial aid and student loan options also. If you ask the right questions as we have laid out 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 eventually become a licensed HVAC specialist in El Mirage AZ.