How to Select the Right Heating and Cooling Training Class Near Gilbert Arizona
Now that you have decided on a career as a heating and cooling specialist, the next action is to choose an HVAC vocational school near Gilbert AZ. But with so many to choose from, how do you select the right one to receive the training that you need? Some potential students will make their choice based entirely on the cost of tuition or how close the school is to their home. Although these are significant considerations, they are not the only ones to evaluate. A few of the other things 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 other benchmarks will be covered in more detail later within this article. But before we discuss how to select an HVAC trade school, let's take a look at what a heating and cooling technician does to become a licensed professional tradesman.
HVAC Degree and Certificate Training Programs
There are several choices offered for HVAC training in a trade or technical school. You can attain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Obtaining a certificate will take the minimum period of time, typically achieved in just 6 months, although some courses are longer. A certificate will train you for the majority of HVAC positions, especially if you are licensed and have certification applicable to the position. The degree training programs can provide a competitive advantage for securing employment and will deliver more comprehensive training than the certificate programs. Below is a brief summary of each option offered near Gilbert Az.
- Certificate. Usually requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among entry level residential or commercial 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 detailed background of heating and a/c systems than the certificate program. Usually taking two years to finish, a number of degrees feature an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is geared more for a career in management or even business ownership. Some programs require an Associate Degree, while others are a conventional 4 year program. In addition to being taught how to service and maintain heating and cooling systems, you will also learn how to design them.
Selecting the ideal credential program will be dependent on what your future career aspirations are, as well as the time and financial resources that you have to commit. One approach is to start with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after getting some experience in the trade in Gilbert AZ, eventually returning to obtain a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your strategy, make certain to ask the HVAC technician school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Online Schools
Enrolling in an HVAC program online is one option in obtaining your education and receiving a degree or certificate. Most schools will require some attendance on campus to take part in practical training. A number also provide internship or work-study programs in addition to or instead of practical lab work. But since the balance of the classes can be participated in on the web, this option may be a more convenient solution for some Gilbert AZ students that are short on time. And many online degree programs are less costly than other on campus options. Even commuting expenses from Gilbert 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 little time to attend classes, maybe an online HVAC degree program will make it less complicated to accommodate school into your active lifestyle.
Heating and Cooling Certification and Licensing
HVAC is an acronym that is extensively used in the business 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 commonly required to be licensed, however every state and regional municipality has its own prerequisites. Earning professional certification is not compulsory, but an optional means for Gilbert AZ HVAC technicians to demonstrate that they are exceptionally skilled and knowledgeable in their area of specialization. There are a number of recognized certifications within the industry that are available. Here are a few of the significant ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally acknowledged certification for HVAC technicians. The certification is achieved by passing a competency exam and may be earned in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification offers both a professional and a master specialist credential. 2 years of professional experience together with passing a comprehensive examination are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have three years of experience as well as a passing result on the professional level examination. Similar to NATE, certifications are offered in several specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is mandatory for specialists that work with refrigerants. There are 3 forms of certification offered, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Considering that licensing may be required in your location, and you may also wish to acquire certification, it's imperative that you pick an HVAC technical school that will prepare you for both. And since you will probably be working with refrigerants, make sure that the program you decide on readies you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
Questions to Ask Heating and Cooling Trade Schools
After you have selected the type of certificate or degree that you want to obtain, either online or on campus, you can begin to narrow down your list of schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are many HVAC vocational schools in the Gilbert AZ area and all over the USA to select from. That's why it is extremely important to have a checklist of important qualifiers when making school assessments. As earlier stated in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will most likely be the first 2 factors you will consider. Following are several additional ones that you will want to explore before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. A large number of HVAC vocational programs in the Gilbert AZ area have attained either a regional or a national accreditation. They may attain Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to an individual program, for instance HVAC technology. Make sure that the program is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency, for instance the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping guarantee that you receive a quality education, it can assist in securing financial aid or student loans, which are in many cases unavailable for non-accredited programs. Furthermore, some states mandate that the HVAC training program be accredited in order to be approved for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the HVAC schools you are reviewing what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage or portion of students who enroll in and complete the course. A low completion rate may signify that students were disappointed with the course and dropped out. It could also indicate that the teachers were not qualified to train the students. It's also important that the schools have higher 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 employ for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate will not only validate that the school has a good reputation within the trade, but additionally that it has the network of Gilbert AZ HVAC employers to help students secure apprenticeships or jobs.
Apprenticeship Programs. Many HVAC vocational programs are taught in conjunction with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating technical and vocational programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of HVAC companies or trade unions. Check if the schools you are reviewing have referring relationships with local Gilbert AZ HVAC companies. An apprenticeship not only provides a rewarding experience by providing practical training, but it also provides employment opportunities and helps to build relationships in the area HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make sure 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, check with the HVAC technician you are working with concerning what you should be expecting. If not, ask a local Gilbert AZ HVAC company if they can give you some tips. Additionally keep in mind that unless you are able to move, the school must be within driving distance of your Gilbert AZ home. Take note that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation costs there might be higher tuition charges compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's important that you receive as much one-on-one training as possible, which can be challenging in bigger classes. Ask if you can monitor a few of the classes so that you can see how large they are and experience the interaction between students and teachers. Talk with a few of the students and get their opinions relating to class sizes and instruction. Finally, talk to some of the teachers and learn what their level of experience is and what certifications or degrees they hold.
Flexible Scheduling. Make sure that the class schedules for the programs you are assessing are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Gilbert AZ, verify that the schools you are comparing provide those options. If you can only attend part-time, make certain that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Finally, find out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, sickness or family emergencies.
Earn Your Heating and Cooling Degree or Certificate
Selecting the ideal HVAC training course is a critical first step toward a gratifying career in the heating & cooling trade. As we have discussed in this article, you need to choose an HVAC school and a certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have exceptional reputations within the HVAC field. Other features to look for are plenty of hands-on training and modern facilities. You need to check out each of the schools in person that you are most interested in to explore the campus and speak with both the faculty and current students. Try to get a feel for the quality of the training and the interaction between them. Also, inquire about scheduling choices 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 outlined in our checklist for comparing schools, you'll be able to narrow down your options so that you can make an informed decision. With the right training, hard work and commitment, you can eventually become a licensed HVAC professional in Gilbert AZ.