How to Choose the Best HVAC Certificate Program Near Fountain Hills Arizona
Once you have come to a decision on a career as a heating and cooling specialist, the next action is to choose an HVAC trade school near Fountain Hills AZ. But with so many to choose from, how do you decide on the best one to obtain the training that you need? A number of prospective students will make their choice based exclusively on the cost of tuition or how near the school is to their home. Although these are relevant factors to consider, they are not the only ones to evaluate. A few of the other details that you need to look into are the graduation completion rates of the HVAC schools, their reputations, and if they are accredited by professional trade organizations. Those and additional criteria will be discussed in more detail later within this article. But before we explore how to select an HVAC training program, let's look at what a heating and a/c technician does to become a licensed skilled tradesman.
HVAC Degree and Certificate Courses
There are several options offered for HVAC instruction in a vocational or trade school. You can attain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Earning a certificate will take the least amount of time, usually achieved in as little as six months, however some courses are longer. A certificate will qualify you for the majority of HVAC positions, particularly if you are licensed and have certification applicable to the position. The degree training programs might provide a competitive edge for securing employment and will deliver more in-depth training than the certificate programs. Below is a brief description of each option offered near Fountain Hills Az.
- Certificate. Normally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among beginning commercial or residential HVAC specialists. They provide a strong foundation of skills for employment 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. Generally taking two years to finish, many degrees incorporate 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 require 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 learn how to design them.
Selecting the ideal credential program will be dependent on what your long term career goals are, together with the time and financial resources that you have to commit. One approach is to begin with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after getting some experience in the field in Fountain Hills AZ, subsequently returning to earn a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your tactic, be sure to ask the HVAC tech school you are considering about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Schools Online
Enrolling in an HVAC program online is one option in attaining your training and earning a certificate or degree. Almost all schools will call for some attendance on campus to take part in hands on training. Some also offer internship or work-study programs in addition to or in place of practical lab work. But since the balance of the classes may be participated in online, this approach may be a more practical solution for many Fountain Hills AZ students that are short on time. And many online degree programs are less costly than other on campus options. Even commuting expenses from Fountain Hills and study supplies may be reduced, helping to make education more budget-friendly. And numerous online programs are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your career or family commitments have left you with little time to attend classes, maybe an HVAC online training program will make it less complicated to fit school into your hectic lifestyle.
Heating and Cooling Licensing and Certification
HVAC is an acronym that is commonly used in the industry that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC contractors provide services for the installation, repair and maintenance of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are commonly required to be licensed, although each state and regional municipality has its own criteria. Attaining professional certification is not required, but a voluntary means for Fountain Hills AZ HVAC technicians to establish that they are exceptionally proficient and knowledgeable in their area of expertise. There are several recognized certifications within the field that are offered. Below are some of the important ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally acknowledged certification for HVAC techs. The certification is achieved by passing a proficiency exam and may be received in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification makes available both a professional and a master specialist credential. Two years of professional experience as well as passing a comprehensive exam 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 examination. Similar to NATE, certifications are provided in various specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is required for specialists that work with refrigerants. There are three types of certification obtainable, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Considering that licensing may be mandated in your location, and you may also desire to obtain certification, it's important that you select an HVAC trade school that will train you for both. And since you will probably be dealing with refrigerants, make sure that the program you select readies you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
What to Ask HVAC Training Classes
When you have picked the type of certificate or degree that you desire to attain, either on campus or online, you can begin to decrease your selection of schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are a large number of HVAC vocational schools in the Fountain Hills AZ area and throughout the Country to choose from. That's why it is imperative to have a list of relevant qualifications when making school assessments. As formerly mentioned in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will probably be the initial 2 factors you will take into consideration. Following are some additional ones that you will want to research before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Many HVAC trade schools in the Fountain Hills AZ area have acquired either a regional or a national accreditation. They can acquire Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates 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, for instance the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping guarantee that you get an excellent education, it may assist in securing financial assistance or student loans, which are often not available for non-accredited programs. Also, a number of states require that the HVAC training course be accredited for it to qualify 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 percentage or portion of students who enroll in and finish the program. A low completion rate could suggest that students were dissatisfied with the program and dropped out. It might also mean that the instructors were not competent to train the students. It's also essential that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive list of alumni, which can mean 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 a good reputation within the field, but additionally that it has the network of Fountain Hills AZ HVAC employers to help students obtain apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. Numerous HVAC trade programs are taught along with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating trade and vocational schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of Heating and Cooling companies or labor unions. Check if the schools you are reviewing have working partnerships with local Fountain Hills AZ HVAC professionals. An apprenticeship not only offers a rewarding experience by supplying practical training, but it also provides job opportunities and helps to build 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 in the field. If you are presently in an internship or an apprenticeship, talk to the HVAC technician you are working with concerning what you should be expecting. Otherwise, ask a local Fountain Hills AZ HVAC contractor if they can provide some suggestions. Additionally bear in mind that unless you can relocate, the school must be within driving distance of your Fountain Hills AZ home. Take note that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides the added relocation costs there can be higher tuition charges compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's important that you get as much individualized training as possible, which can be difficult in bigger classes. Ask if you can sit in on a few of the classes so that you can see how large they are and witness first hand the interaction between students and instructors. Speak to several of the students and get their feedback concerning class sizes and instruction. Last, talk to some of the teachers 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 handle your needs. If you are only able to go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Fountain Hills AZ, verify that the programs you are reviewing offer those choices. If you can only attend part-time, be sure that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Also, find out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, illness or family responsibilities.
Get Your Heating and Cooling Degree or Certificate
Selecting the right HVAC training program is a crucial beginning toward a gratifying career in the heating and cooling trade. As we have discussed in this post, you should select an HVAC trade school and a degree or certificate program that are both accredited and have exceptional reputations within the HVAC trade. Other things to search for are plenty of hands-on training and modern facilities. You should visit each of the schools personally that you are most interested in to inspect the campus and speak with both the current students and faculty. Try to get a feel for the quality of the teaching and the interaction between them. Additionally, ask about scheduling options and whether or not night or weekend classes are offered if needed. And don't forget to ask about financial assistance and student loan options too. If you ask the proper questions as we have laid out in our guidelines for evaluating 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 dedication, you can eventually become a licensed HVAC technician in Fountain Hills AZ.