How to Select the Best Heating and Cooling Vocational School Near Flagstaff Arizona
Now that you have decided on a career as a heating and cooling professional, the next action is to locate an HVAC technical school near Flagstaff AZ. But with so many to select from, how do you choose the right one to obtain the training that you require? Many prospective students will make their choice based solely on the price of tuition or how close the school is to their residence. While these are important considerations, they are not the only ones to evaluate. Just some of the other factors 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 benchmarks will be addressed in more detail later within this article. But before we examine how to select an HVAC training program, let's take a look at what a heating and cooling technician does to become a licensed qualified tradesman.
HVAC Certificate and Degree Courses
There are several choices offered for HVAC instruction in a technical or trade school. You can earn a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Obtaining a certificate will take the least amount of time, often completed in just six months, however some programs are longer. A certificate will qualify you for most HVAC positions, particularly if you are licensed and have certification applicable to the position. The degree programs might provide a competitive advantage in the job market and will deliver more comprehensive training than the certificate programs. Following is a brief summary of each credential offered near Flagstaff Az.
- Certificate. Generally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among beginning 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 supplies a more comprehensive knowledge of heating and cooling systems than the certificate program. Usually taking 2 years to finish, some degrees feature an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is tailored more towards a career in management as well as business ownership. Some programs call for an Associate Degree, while others are a traditional four 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.
Choosing the ideal credential program will be based on what your long term career aspirations are, together with the time and financial resources that you have to invest. One possibility is to begin with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after getting some experience in the field in Flagstaff AZ, subsequently going back to earn a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your approach, make certain to ask the HVAC technician school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Online Classes
Attending an HVAC program online is one possibility to getting your training and earning a degree or certificate. Almost all schools will call for some attendance on campus to complete practical training. Many also sponsor internship or work-study programs in addition to or in place of practical lab work. But since the remainder of the classes can be participated in via the internet, this alternative may be a more practical solution for many Flagstaff AZ students that are short on time. And some online degree programs are less expensive than other traditional choices. Even travelling expenses from Flagstaff and study materials may be lessened, helping to make schooling more affordable. And a large number of online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your job or family commitments have left you with little time to attend classes, maybe an HVAC online training program will make it easier to accommodate school into your hectic schedule.
Heating and Cooling Licensing and Certification
HVAC is an acronym that is extensively used in the industry that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC technicians specialize in the installation, repair and maintenance of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are typically required to be licensed, however every state and regional municipality has its own requirements. Earning professional certification is not compulsory, but an optional means for Flagstaff AZ HVAC technicians to establish that they are highly skilled and experienced in their area of expertise. There are multiple recognized certifications within the field that are offered. Here are some of the important ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally acknowledged certification for HVAC technicians. The certification is earned by passing a competency exam and can be acquired in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification makes available both a professional and a master specialist credential. 2 years of professional experience in addition to passing a comprehensive exam are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have three years of experience together with a passing result on the professional level examination. As with NATE, certifications are provided in multiple specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is required for specialists that work with refrigerants. There are three forms of certification obtainable, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Since licensing may be required in your area, and you may also intend to obtain certification, it's essential that you enroll in an HVAC trade school that will prepare you for both. And since you will most likely be working with refrigerants, make certain that the program you decide on preps you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.
What to Ask HVAC Certification Classes
As soon as you have chosen the type of certificate or degree that you wish to earn, either on campus or online, you can begin to decrease your selection of schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are numerous HVAC technical schools in the Flagstaff AZ area and across the Country to pick from. That's why it is essential to have a list of relevant qualifications when making school comparisons. As previously stated in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will probably be the first 2 aspects you will consider. Following are several additional ones that you will want to research before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. A large number of HVAC vocational programs in the Flagstaff AZ area have received either a regional or a national accreditation. They can receive Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to an individual program, such as HVAC technology. Make sure that the school and program are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting agency, which includes the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping guarantee that you receive an excellent education, it can assist in obtaining financial assistance or student loans, which are in many cases unavailable for non-accredited schools. Additionally, some states require that the HVAC training course be accredited for it to qualify for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the HVAC schools you are considering what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage of students who enroll in and finish the program. A lower completion rate may suggest that students were dissatisfied with the program and dropped out. It could also indicate that the instructors were not qualified to instruct the students. It's similarly imperative that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader directory of graduates, which can result in 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 industry, but additionally that it has the network of Flagstaff AZ HVAC employers to assist graduates secure apprenticeships or jobs.
Apprenticeship Programs. A large number of HVAC technical programs are taught together with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating technical and vocational programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of HVAC contractors or trade unions. Ask if the schools you are considering have working partnerships with local Flagstaff AZ HVAC professionals. An apprenticeship not only offers a rewarding experience by supplying practical training, but it also provides job opportunities and helps to establish relationships in the regional HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Confirm that the school facilities and the equipment that you will be trained on are up-to-date and what you will be using on the job. If you are already in an internship or an apprenticeship, talk to the HVAC tech you are working under regarding what you should be looking for. If not, ask a local Flagstaff AZ HVAC contracting company if they can give you some tips. Additionally keep in mind that unless you are willing to move, the school needs to be within driving distance of your Flagstaff AZ home. Remember that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, in addition to moving costs there may be increased tuition fees 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 bigger classes. Ask if you can sit in on a couple of the classes so that you can observe how large they are and experience the interaction between teachers and students. Speak to some of the students and get their comments concerning class sizes and instruction. Finally, talk to some of the teachers and find out what their level of experience is and what degrees or certifications they have earned.
Flexible Scheduling. Verify that the class schedules for the programs you are evaluating are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you are only able to attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Flagstaff AZ, check that the programs you are reviewing provide those options. 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 policy is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, illness or family issues.
Earn Your HVAC Degree or Certificate
Picking the ideal HVAC school course is a critical beginning toward a fulfilling career in the heating and cooling field. As we have addressed in this post, you need to select an HVAC trade school and a degree or certificate program that are both accredited and have excellent reputations within the HVAC trade. Other factors to search for are sufficient practical training and state-of-the-art facilities. You should go to each of the schools personally that you are most interested in to inspect the campus and speak with both the faculty and current students. Try to get a feel for the quality of the instruction and the interaction between them. In addition, ask about scheduling choices and whether night or weekend classes are offered if needed. And don't forget to inquire about financial aid and student loan options also. If you ask the right questions as we have laid out in our checklist for comparing schools, you'll be able to narrow down your options so that you can make an educated decision. With the proper training, hard work and commitment, you can eventually become a licensed HVAC technician in Flagstaff AZ.