How to Choose the Right HVAC School Near Glendale Arizona
Once you have made a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioner specialist, the next step is to locate an HVAC vocational school near Glendale AZ. But with so many to pick from, how do you pick the right one to receive the training that you require? Some prospective students will make their selection based solely on the cost of tuition or how close the school is to their home. While these are significant considerations, they are not the only ones to investigate. A few of the other details that you need to research 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 addressed in more detail later within this article. But before we tackle how to select an HVAC trade school, let's take a look at what a heating and air conditioning professional does to become a licensed professional tradesman.
HVAC Degree Courses
There are a number of choices available for HVAC training in a trade or technical school. You can attain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Acquiring a certificate will take the lesser period of time, typically accomplished in just six months, although some courses are longer. A certificate will qualify you for the majority of HVAC positions, especially if you are licensed and have certification related to the position. The degree training programs may provide a competitive edge for securing employment and will furnish more in-depth training than the certificate programs. Following is a brief description of each option offered near Glendale Az.
- Certificate. Normally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among beginning commercial or residential HVAC technicians. They furnish a solid foundation of skills for job opportunities within the trade.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program provides a more extensive understanding of heating and cooling systems than the certificate program. Generally taking two years to finish, a number of degrees include 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 call for an Associate Degree, while others are a traditional four 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 dependent on what your long term career aspirations are, along with the time and financial resources that you have to invest. One possibility is to begin with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after getting some experience in the trade in Glendale AZ, eventually 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 Online Schools
Attending an HVAC school online is one alternative to obtaining your education and earning a degree or certificate. Almost all schools will require some attendance on campus to participate in practical training. Many 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 approach may be a more accessible solution for many Glendale AZ students that are pressed for time. And many online degree programs are more economical than other on campus alternatives. Even travelling expenses from Glendale 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 career or family commitments have left you with limited time to attend classes, maybe an HVAC online training program will make it easier to fit school into your active lifestyle.
HVAC Certification and Licensing
HVAC is an acronym that is widely used in the trade that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC technicians 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 requirements. Acquiring professional certification is not required, but an alternative way for Glendale AZ HVAC specialists to demonstrate that they are highly skilled and knowledgeable in their area of specialization. There are many recognized certifications within the industry that are available. Below are some of the significant ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally acknowledged certification for HVAC technicians. The certification is attained by passing a proficiency exam and can be acquired in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification offers 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 need to have three years of experience as well as a passing result on the professional level examination. As with NATE, certifications are made available in various specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is necessary for technicians that work with refrigerants. There are three types of certification available, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Since licensing could be required in your location, and you may also intend to obtain certification, it's imperative that you pick an HVAC vocational school that will train you for both. And since you will most likely be working with refrigerants, make certain that the school you select preps you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.
Questions to Ask HVAC Certification Classes
Once you have decided on the type of certificate or degree that you wish to earn, either on campus or online, you can begin to limit your list of schools. As you are probably aware, there are many HVAC trade schools in the Glendale AZ area and across the Country to select from. That's why it is very important to have a checklist of key qualifications when making school evaluations. As previously mentioned in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will undoubtedly be the first 2 aspects you will look at. Following are some additional ones that you should research before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Many HVAC trade programs in the Glendale AZ area have acquired either a regional or a national accreditation. They may earn Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to a specific program, for instance HVAC technology. Confirm that the program is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting organization, such as the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping guarantee that you acquire a quality education, it may assist in obtaining financial assistance or student loans, which are in many cases unavailable for non-accredited programs. Additionally, a number of states mandate that the HVAC training course be accredited in order to qualify for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the HVAC schools you are reviewing what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage of students who enroll in and complete the program. A low completion rate could suggest that students were disappointed with the course and quit. It may also suggest that the teachers 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 may produce more contacts for the school to use for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate will not only validate that the school has an excellent reputation within the trade, but also that it has the network of Glendale AZ HVAC employers to help graduates acquire apprenticeships or jobs.
Apprenticeship Programs. A large number of HVAC training programs are taught together with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating trade and technical schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of Heating and Cooling contractors or trade unions. Check if the schools you are comparing have referring partnerships with local Glendale AZ HVAC companies. An apprenticeship not only offers a valuable experience by providing hands-on training, but it also provides job opportunities and helps to form relationships in the local HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make sure that the school facilities and the equipment that you will be trained on are state-of-the-art and what you will be using on the job. If you are currently in an internship or an apprenticeship, check with the HVAC technician you are working under concerning what you should be looking for. If not, ask a local Glendale AZ HVAC contracting company if they can provide some pointers. Additionally bear in mind that unless you are willing to relocate, the school needs to be within commuting distance of your Glendale AZ home. Remember that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation costs there might be increased tuition charges compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's important that you receive as much personalized 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 witness first hand the interaction between students and instructors. Talk with some of the students and get their feedback relating to class sizes and instruction. Finally, speak to a few of the teachers and learn what their level of experience is and what degrees or certifications they have earned.
Flexible Scheduling. Make sure that the class schedules for the programs you are evaluating are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you are only able to attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Glendale AZ, check that the schools you are reviewing provide those choices. If you can only attend part-time, be sure that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Also, check out what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, illness or family issues.
Get Your HVAC Degree or Certificate
Finding the ideal HVAC training program is a critical first step toward a rewarding career in the heating and air conditioning industry. As we have discussed in this post, you should pick an Heating and Cooling training program and a degree or certificate program that are both accredited and have exceptional reputations within the HVAC field. Other features to look for are ample hands-on training and state-of-the-art facilities. You should visit 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 teaching and the interaction between them. In addition, inquire about scheduling choices and if evening or weekend classes are available if needed. And remember to inquire about financial aid 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 dedication, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC contractor in Glendale AZ.