How to Select the Best HVAC School Near Gilbert Arizona
Now that you have decided on a career as a heating and air conditioner specialist, the next action is to look for an HVAC vocational school near Gilbert AZ. But with so many to choose from, how do you choose the best one to receive the training that you need? Many prospective students will make their decision based entirely on the cost of tuition or how close the school is to their home. Although these are necessary considerations, they are not the only ones to evaluate. Some of the other details that you need to research are the graduation rates of the HVAC schools, their reputations, and if they are accredited by professional trade organizations. These and other criteria will be covered in more detail later within this article. But before we tackle how to choose an HVAC training program, let's take a look at what a heating and air conditioning contractor does to become a licensed professional tradesman.
HVAC Certificate and Degree Classes
There are several choices offered for HVAC instruction in a technical or vocational school. You can earn a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Earning a certificate will take the minimum amount of time, typically achieved in just 6 months, although some courses 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 may provide a competitive edge for securing employment and will provide more comprehensive training than the certificate programs. Below is a short description of each credential offered near Gilbert Az.
- Certificate. Normally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among entry level residential or commercial HVAC professionals. They furnish a solid foundation of skills for job opportunities within the trade.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program supplies a more comprehensive background of heating & cooling systems than the certificate program. Generally requiring two years to finish, a number of degrees incorporate an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is tailored more towards a career in management or even business ownership. Some programs require an Associate Degree, while others are a traditional 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.
Choosing the ideal credential program will be based on what your long term career goals are, in addition to the time and financial resources that you have to commit. One possibility is to begin with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after getting some experience in the trade in Gilbert AZ, subsequently returning to acquire a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your tactic, make certain to ask the HVAC tech school you are considering about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Online Training
Attending an HVAC school online is one approach in getting your education and earning a certificate or degree. Most schools will require some attendance on campus to participate in hands on training. Many 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 on the web, this alternative may be a more practical solution for some Gilbert AZ students that are short on time. And many online degree programs are less costly than other traditional alternatives. Even travelling expenses from Gilbert and study materials can be lessened, helping to make education more economical. 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 limited time to attend classes, maybe an HVAC online training program will make it less complicated to accommodate school into your busy lifestyle.
HVAC Certification and Licensing
HVAC is an acronym that is widely used in the industry that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC professionals provide services for the installation, maintenance and repair of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are commonly mandated to be licensed, though each state and regional municipality has its own requirements. Attaining professional certification is not mandatory, but an alternative way for Gilbert AZ HVAC technicians to demonstrate that they are highly skilled and knowledgeable in their area of expertise. There are many recognized certifications within the trade that are offered. Here are a few of the important ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally recognized certification for HVAC technicians. The certification is earned by passing a competency exam and may be acquired in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification makes available both a professional and a master specialist credential. Two years of field experience in addition to passing a comprehensive exam 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. As with 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 available, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Considering that licensing could be mandated in your location, and you may also intend to obtain certification, it's important that you enroll in an HVAC technical school that will prepare you for both. And since you will more than likely be dealing with refrigerants, make sure that the program you select prepares you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
Questions For HVAC Training Programs
When you have decided on the type of certificate or degree that you desire to earn, either online or on campus, you can start to limit your list of schools. As you are probably aware, there are many HVAC technical schools in the Gilbert AZ area and all over the USA to pick from. That's why it is imperative to have a checklist of important qualifiers when making school evaluations. As previously mentioned in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will undoubtedly be the first two factors you will look at. Following are some additional ones that you need to explore before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Many HVAC technical schools in the Gilbert AZ area have attained either a regional or a national accreditation. They may attain Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to an individual program, for example HVAC technology. Make certain that the school and program are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization, such as the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping guarantee that you obtain a superior education, it can help in securing financial assistance or student loans, which are often not available for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of states mandate that the HVAC training course be accredited in order to be approved for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the HVAC schools you are looking at 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 suggest that students were dissatisfied with the program and quit. It may also signify that the teachers were not qualified to instruct the students. It's similarly important that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive list of alumni, which may mean more contacts for the school to employ for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate can 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 assist students secure apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. Most 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 inside their network of HVAC contractors or trade unions. Check if the schools you are comparing have working relationships with local Gilbert AZ HVAC contractors. An apprenticeship not only offers a rewarding experience by providing hands-on training, but it also supplies job opportunities and helps to establish relationships in the regional HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make certain that the school facilities and the equipment that you will be instructed on are up-to-date and what you will be using on the job. If you are already in an internship or an apprenticeship, consult with the HVAC tech you are working under regarding what you should be looking for. Otherwise, ask a local Gilbert AZ HVAC company if they can provide some pointers. Also keep in mind that unless you are able to relocate, the school must be within commuting distance of your Gilbert AZ home. Remember that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation costs there may be higher tuition charges compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's important that you receive as much personalized instruction 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 big they are and witness first hand the interaction between instructors and students. Speak to a few of the students and get their comments concerning class sizes and instruction. Finally, speak with a few of the instructors and learn what their level of experience is and what degrees or certifications they have earned.
Flexible Scheduling. Confirm that the class schedules for the programs you are assessing are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you are only able to attend classes at night or on weekends near Gilbert AZ, verify that the programs you are comparing offer those options. If you can only attend part-time, be sure that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Finally, ask what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, illness or family responsibilities.
Get Your Heating and Cooling Degree or Certificate
Picking the right HVAC school program is a crucial beginning toward a rewarding career in the heating and air conditioning field. As we have discussed in this post, you need to choose an Heating and Cooling vocational school and a certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have exceptional reputations within the HVAC field. Other factors to look for are sufficient hands-on training and modern facilities. You need to check out each of the schools in person that you are most interested in to tour the campus and talk with both the faculty and current students. Try to get a feel for the quality of the training and the interaction between them. Also, ask about scheduling choices and whether evening or weekend classes are available if needed. And remember to ask about financial aid and student loan options too. If you ask the appropriate questions as we have detailed in our guidelines for evaluating schools, you'll be able to filter 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.