How to Enroll In the Best Heating and Cooling School Near Goodyear Arizona
Once you have made a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioning specialist, the next step is to look for an HVAC vocational school near Goodyear AZ. But with so many to choose from, how do you select the right one to receive the training that you require? Some future students will make their decision based solely on the price of tuition or how near the school is to their residence. Although these are important considerations, they are not the only ones to evaluate. A few of the other details 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 other criteria will be discussed in more detail later within this article. But before we explore how to select an HVAC technical school, let's look at what a heating and cooling professional does to become a licensed qualified tradesman.
HVAC Degree and Certificate Courses
There are a number of alternatives available for HVAC training in a technical or trade school. You can attain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Obtaining a certificate will take the least amount of time, usually completed in as little as 6 months, though 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 programs can provide a competitive edge in the job market and will deliver more extensive training than the certificate programs. Below is a short summary of each credential offered near Goodyear Az.
- Certificate. Normally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among entry level residential or commercial HVAC technicians. They furnish a strong foundation of skills for job opportunities within the industry.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program provides a more detailed knowledge of heating and a/c systems than the certificate program. Normally requiring 2 years to complete, a number of degrees incorporate 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 cooling systems, you will also study how to design them.
Selecting the ideal credential program will be dependent on what your future career goals are, in addition to 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 acquiring some experience in the trade in Goodyear AZ, later returning to acquire 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 Online Classes
Enrolling in an HVAC school online is one option to obtaining your training and earning a degree or certificate. Most schools will require some attendance on campus to take part in practical training. Many also sponsor internship or work-study programs in addition to or in place of practical lab work. But since the remainder of the classes can be participated in online, this approach may be a more accessible solution for some Goodyear AZ students that are short on time. And some online degree programs are less costly than other on campus alternatives. Even commuting expenses from Goodyear and study materials can be minimized, helping to make education more economical. And many online programs are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your job or family responsibilities have left you with little time to attend classes, perhaps an online HVAC degree program will make it more convenient to accommodate school into your hectic lifestyle.
Heating and Cooling Certification and Licensing
HVAC is an acronym that is commonly used in the trade that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC contractors specialize in the installation, repair and maintenance of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are commonly mandated to be licensed, although each state and regional municipality has its own requirements. Obtaining professional certification is not required, but an alternative means for Goodyear AZ HVAC technicians to demonstrate that they are highly skilled and accomplished in their area of specialization. There are several recognized certifications within the industry that are offered. Following are some of the important ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally recognized certification for HVAC technicians. The certification is attained 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 field experience in addition to passing a comprehensive examination are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have three years of experience as well as a passing score on the professional level exam. Similar to NATE, certifications are provided in several specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is required for technicians that handle refrigerants. There are three forms of certification offered, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Since licensing may be mandated in your area, and you may also intend to obtain certification, it's imperative that you choose an HVAC vocational school that will train you for both. And since you will more than likely be handling refrigerants, make sure that the school you choose preps you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
Questions For HVAC Schools
After you have selected the type of certificate or degree that you desire to acquire, either on campus or online, you can start to decrease your list of schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are a large number of HVAC vocational schools in the Goodyear AZ area and throughout the USA to pick from. That's why it is extremely important to have a list of relevant qualifications when making school comparisons. As formerly stated in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will probably be the first two aspects you will take into consideration. Following are some additional ones that you should explore before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. A large number of HVAC technical schools in the Goodyear AZ area have acquired either a regional or a national accreditation. They may receive Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to an individual program, for instance HVAC technology. Make sure that the school and program are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting agency, such as the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping make certain that you obtain a quality education, it can help in securing financial aid or student loans, which are often unavailable for non-accredited programs. Also, some states mandate that the HVAC training course be accredited in order to be approved for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the Heating and Cooling schools you are reviewing what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage or portion of students who enroll in and finish the program. A lower completion rate could indicate that students were dissatisfied with the program and dropped out. It might also signify that the instructors were not qualified to train the students. It's similarly imperative that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive directory of graduates, which can produce more contacts for the school to use 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 field, but additionally that it has the network of Goodyear AZ HVAC employers to help graduates obtain apprenticeships or jobs.
Apprenticeship Programs. A large number of HVAC technical programs are taught in conjunction with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating trade and technical programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of HVAC companies or labor unions. Check if the schools you are comparing have working relationships with local Goodyear AZ HVAC specialists. An apprenticeship not only provides a rewarding experience by furnishing practical training, but it also provides employment opportunities and helps to form relationships in the regional HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make sure that the school facilities and the equipment that you will be trained on are up-to-date and what you will be using in the field. If you are presently in an internship or an apprenticeship, consult with the HVAC tech you are working under regarding what you should be expecting. Otherwise, ask a local Goodyear AZ HVAC contracting company if they can provide some pointers. Additionally bear in mind that unless you are able to relocate, the school must be within commuting distance of your Goodyear 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 charges compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's important that you get as much individualized training as possible, which can be difficult in larger classes. Ask if you can monitor some of the classes so that you can observe how large they are and witness first hand the interaction between teachers and students. Speak with a few of the students and get their feedback regarding class sizes and instruction. Finally, talk to a few of the instructors and learn what their level of expertise is and what degrees or certifications they hold.
Flexible Scheduling. Verify that the class schedules for the programs you are evaluating are flexible enough to handle your needs. If you are only able to go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Goodyear AZ, confirm that the schools you are looking at offer those choices. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Also, find out what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, illness or family responsibilities.
Earn Your Heating and Cooling Degree or Certificate
Finding the right HVAC training course is a crucial first step toward a gratifying career in the heating & cooling trade. As we have discussed in this post, you need to pick an HVAC vocational school and a certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have excellent reputations within the HVAC field. Other features to look for are sufficient practical training and state-of-the-art facilities. You should visit each of the schools in person that you are most interested in to explore 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. Additionally, ask about scheduling options and if night or weekend classes are offered if needed. And don't forget to ask about financial aid and student loan options as well. If you ask the appropriate questions as we have detailed in our checklist for evaluating schools, you'll be able to narrow down your choices so that you can make an educated decision. With the appropriate training, hard work and commitment, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC technician in Goodyear AZ.