How to Find the Best HVAC Vocational School Near Fountain Hills Arizona
Once you have come to a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioning professional, the next step is to find an HVAC trade school near Fountain Hills AZ. But with so many to pick from, how do you pick the ideal one to obtain the training that you need? Some prospective students will make their decision based solely on the cost of tuition or how close the school is to their residence. Even though these are relevant concerns, they are not the only ones to take into account. Some of the other things 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 benchmarks will be discussed in more detail later within this article. But before we discuss how to pick an HVAC trade school, let's take a look at what a heating and cooling professional does to become a licensed professional tradesman.
HVAC Degree and Certificate Courses
There are a variety of alternatives offered for HVAC training 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 lesser amount of time, often completed in just 6 months, though 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 training programs can provide a competitive edge for securing employment and will furnish more in-depth training than the certificate programs. Following is a short summary of each credential offered near Fountain Hills Az.
- Certificate. Normally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among entry level commercial or residential HVAC technicians. They provide a solid foundation of skills for employment within the industry.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program delivers a more extensive background of heating & cooling systems than the certificate program. Generally 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 for a career in management as well as business ownership. Some programs call for an Associate Degree, while others are a conventional four year program. In addition to mastering how to service and maintain heating and air conditioning systems, you will also study how to design them.
Choosing the appropriate credential program will be based on what your future career goals are, together with the time and financial resources that you have to invest. One approach is to start with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after gaining some experience in the field in Fountain Hills AZ, later going back to obtain a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your strategy, make sure to ask the HVAC technician school you are considering about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Classes Online
Attending an HVAC school online is one alternative to getting your education and receiving a degree or certificate. Nearly all schools will require some attendance on campus to participate in practical training. A number also sponsor internship or work-study programs in addition to or in place of practical lab work. But since the rest of the classes can be attended online, this option may be a more accessible solution for some Fountain Hills AZ students that are short on time. And a number of online degree programs are less costly than other traditional options. Even driving expenses from Fountain Hills and study supplies can be lessened, helping to make education more budget-friendly. And numerous online programs are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your work or family responsibilities have left you with limited time to attend classes, perhaps an HVAC online training program will make it more convenient to fit school into your busy lifestyle.
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 contractors specialize in the installation, repair and maintenance of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are typically required to be licensed, although each state and local municipality has its own criteria. Earning professional certification is not required, but a voluntary way for Fountain Hills AZ HVAC technicians to demonstrate that they are exceptionally proficient and knowledgeable in their area of specialization. There are multiple respected certifications within the trade 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 proficiency examination and may be acquired in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification offers both a professional and a master specialist credential. 2 years of field experience in addition to passing a comprehensive examination are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have three years of experience as well as a passing result on the professional level examination. Similar to NATE, certifications are made available in several specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is required for specialists that handle refrigerants. There are three forms of certification obtainable, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Because licensing might be mandated in your area, and you may also wish to obtain certification, it's imperative that you select an HVAC technical school that will prepare you for both. And since you will more than likely be dealing with refrigerants, make certain that the school you pick prepares you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.
Questions to Ask Heating and Cooling Trade Schools
Once you have chosen the type of degree or certificate that you would like to obtain, either online or on campus, you can start to limit your selection of schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are a large number of HVAC technical schools in the Fountain Hills AZ area and throughout the United States to select from. That's why it is imperative to have a checklist of relevant qualifications when making school assessments. As formerly mentioned in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will most likely be the first 2 aspects you will take into consideration. Following are several additional ones that you should research before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Numerous HVAC trade schools in the Fountain Hills AZ area have earned either a regional or a national accreditation. They can acquire Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to an individual program, such as HVAC technology. Confirm 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 acquire a quality education, it can assist in securing financial aid or student loans, which are frequently unavailable for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of states require that the HVAC training program be accredited for it to qualify for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the Heating and Cooling schools you are considering 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 disappointed with the course and quit. It may also signify that the instructors were not competent to train the students. It's also imperative that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader list 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 a good reputation within the industry, but additionally that it has the network of Fountain Hills AZ HVAC employers to help students obtain apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. Numerous HVAC technical programs are taught together with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating technical and vocational schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of HVAC contractors or trade unions. Ask if the schools you are comparing have working partnerships with local Fountain Hills AZ HVAC specialists. An apprenticeship not only offers a valuable experience by furnishing practical training, but it also furnishes job opportunities and helps to build relationships in the area HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Confirm that the school facilities and the tools that you will be trained on are state-of-the-art and what you will be working with on the job. If you are currently in an internship or an apprenticeship, check with the HVAC technician you are working under regarding what you should be looking for. Otherwise, ask a local Fountain Hills AZ HVAC company if they can give you some pointers. Also keep in mind that unless you are willing to move, the school must be within commuting distance of your Fountain Hills AZ residence. Take note that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, in addition to moving costs there might be higher tuition fees compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's desirable that you get as much individualized training as possible, which can be difficult in larger classes. Ask if you can sit in on a couple of the classes so that you can observe how large they are and witness first hand the interaction between students and instructors. Speak with several of the students and get their opinions relating to class sizes and instruction. Finally, talk to a few of the instructors and find out what their level of expertise is and what degrees or certifications they have earned.
Flexible Scheduling. Make sure that the class schedules for the programs you are reviewing are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Fountain Hills AZ, verify that the schools you are looking at provide those options. If you can only attend part-time, make certain that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Finally, check out what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, sickness or family issues.
Earn Your HVAC Degree or Certificate
Enrolling in the ideal HVAC school course is a critical beginning toward a gratifying career in the heating and cooling industry. As we have addressed in this article, you need to choose an Heating and Cooling vocational school and a certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have outstanding reputations within the HVAC trade. Other things to look for are lots of hands-on training and state-of-the-art facilities. You need to visit each of the schools personally that you are most interested in to tour the campus and talk with both the current students and faculty. Try to get a feel for the quality of the training and the interaction between them. Additionally, ask about scheduling options and whether 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 appropriate questions as we have outlined in our checklist for assessing schools, you'll be able to filter your options so that you can make an informed decision. With the right training, hard work and dedication, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC professional in Fountain Hills AZ.