How to Enroll In the Best Heating and Cooling School Near Glendale Arizona
Now that you have come to a decision on a career as a heating and cooling specialist, the next step is to choose an HVAC vocational school near Glendale AZ. But with so many to choose from, how do you choose the right one to obtain the training that you need? Some potential students will make their decision based entirely on the cost of tuition or how close the school is to their residence. Although these are important concerns, 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. These and additional benchmarks will be addressed in more detail later in this article. But before we discuss how to pick an HVAC vocational school, let's take a look at what a heating and a/c specialist does to become a licensed skilled tradesman.
HVAC Degree Schools
There are a variety of alternatives available for HVAC training in a technical or vocational school. You can earn a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Obtaining a certificate will take the least period of time, usually accomplished in just 6 months, though some courses are longer. A certificate will train you for most HVAC positions, particularly if you are licensed and have certification appropriate to the position. The degree training programs can provide a competitive edge for securing employment and will furnish more comprehensive training than the certificate programs. Below is a brief explanation of each credential offered near Glendale Az.
- Certificate. Generally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among beginning residential or commercial HVAC technicians. They provide a solid foundation of skills for employment within the industry.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program provides a more exhaustive background of heating & 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 suited more towards a career in management or even business ownership. Some programs require an Associate Degree, while others are a standard 4 year program. In addition to being taught how to service and maintain heating and air conditioning systems, you will also study how to design them.
Choosing the right credential program will be based on what your long term career goals are, along with the time and financial resources that you have to commit. One possibility is to start with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after getting some experience in the field in Glendale AZ, subsequently going back to earn a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your approach, make sure to ask the HVAC tech school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Classes Online
Choosing an HVAC school online is one possibility to getting your education and earning a degree or certificate. Almost all schools will require some attendance on campus to participate in hands on training. A number also sponsor internship or work-study programs in addition to or as an alternative to practical lab work. But since the rest of the classes can be attended via the internet, this approach may be a more convenient solution for some Glendale AZ students that are pressed for time. And a number of online degree programs are cheaper than other traditional options. Even commuting expenses from Glendale and study materials can be minimized, helping to make education more economical. 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, perhaps an HVAC online training program will make it easier to fit school into your hectic schedule.
Heating and Cooling Licensing and Certification
HVAC is an acronym that is extensively used in the trade that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC techs provide services for the installation, maintenance and repair of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are typically mandated to be licensed, although each state and regional municipality has its own requirements. Earning professional certification is not compulsory, but an alternative way for Glendale AZ HVAC specialists to establish that they are exceptionally qualified and experienced in their area of expertise. There are multiple acknowledged certifications within the industry that are offered. Below are some of the significant ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally acknowledged certification for HVAC techs. The certification is attained by passing a competency exam and may be received 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 exam are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have three years of experience along with a passing result on the professional level examination. As with NATE, certifications are provided in several specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is necessary for specialists that handle refrigerants. There are 3 forms of certification obtainable, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Since licensing may be required in your area, and you may also intend to acquire certification, it's imperative that you choose an HVAC technical school that will prepare you for both. And since you will more than likely be handling refrigerants, make sure that the school you decide on prepares you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
Questions to Ask Heating and Cooling Schools
Once you have picked the type of certificate or degree that you want to attain, either on campus or online, you can begin to decrease your selection of schools. As you are certainly aware, there are numerous HVAC trade schools in the Glendale AZ area and all over the Country to pick from. That's why it is imperative to have a list of key qualifiers when making school comparisons. As formerly stated in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will undoubtedly be the initial 2 variables 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 Glendale AZ area have received either a regional or a national accreditation. They may acquire Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to a specific program, such as HVAC technology. Confirm that the program is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency, which includes the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping guarantee that you get a quality education, it can assist in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are in many cases unavailable for non-accredited schools. Additionally, 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 looking at what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage or portion of students who enroll in and finish the course. A low completion rate might indicate that students were dissatisfied with the course and quit. It might also signify that the instructors were not qualified to train the students. It's similarly imperative that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive directory of graduates, which may produce 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 an excellent reputation within the trade, but additionally that it has the network of Glendale AZ HVAC employers to help students obtain apprenticeships or jobs.
Apprenticeship Programs. Numerous HVAC vocational 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 inside their network of Heating and Cooling companies or trade unions. Find out if the schools you are considering have referring relationships with local Glendale AZ HVAC companies. An apprenticeship not only provides a rewarding experience by furnishing hands-on training, but it also furnishes employment opportunities and helps to build relationships in the area HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make sure that the campus facilities and the tools that you will be instructed on are up-to-date and what you will be using in the field. If you are already in an internship or an apprenticeship, consult with the HVAC technician you are working with concerning what you should be expecting. If not, ask a local Glendale AZ HVAC contracting company if they can provide some suggestions. Additionally bear in mind that unless you are willing to relocate, the school needs to be within commuting distance of your Glendale AZ residence. Remember that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, besides the added relocation costs there may be higher tuition fees compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's desirable that you receive as much one-on-one instruction as possible, which can be challenging in bigger classes. Ask if you can sit in on a few of the classes so that you can observe how big they are and witness first hand the interaction between students and teachers. Talk to some of the students and get their comments concerning class sizes and instruction. Last, talk with a few of the instructors and learn what their level of expertise is and what certifications or degrees they hold.
Flexible Scheduling. Verify that the class schedules for the programs you are assessing are flexible enough to handle your needs. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Glendale AZ, verify that the schools you are comparing provide those choices. If you can only attend part-time, make sure that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Finally, find out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, sickness or family issues.
Earn Your Heating and Cooling Degree or Certificate
Selecting the ideal HVAC school program is a critical first step toward a fulfilling career in the heating & cooling field. As we have discussed in this post, you should pick an Heating and Cooling technical school and a degree or certificate program that are both accredited and have outstanding reputations within the HVAC community. Other things to look for are ample 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, inquire about scheduling choices and if night or weekend classes are available if needed. And don't forget to ask about financial assistance and student loan options also. If you ask the right questions as we have detailed in our guidelines 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 ultimately become a licensed HVAC specialist in Glendale AZ.