How to Enroll In the Right Heating and Cooling Certificate Program Near Goodyear Arizona
Now that you have decided on a career as a heating and air conditioning professional, the next step is to locate an HVAC vocational school near Goodyear AZ. But with so many to pick from, how do you decide on the ideal one to receive the training that you need? Many future students will make their choice based entirely on the price of tuition or how close the school is to their home. Although these are important considerations, they are not the only ones to evaluate. Just some of the other factors that you need to investigate are the graduation rates of the HVAC schools, their reputations, and if they are accredited by professional trade organizations. Those and other criteria will be covered in more detail later in this article. But before we discuss how to pick an HVAC training program, let's take a look at what a heating and cooling professional does to become a licensed skilled tradesman.
HVAC Certificate and Degree Training Programs
There are a variety of choices offered for HVAC training in a vocational or trade school. You can earn a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Obtaining a certificate will take the least amount of time, often 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 programs can provide a competitive advantage in the job market and will furnish more comprehensive training than the certificate programs. Following is a brief explanation of each option offered near Goodyear Az.
- Certificate. Usually requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among entry level commercial or residential HVAC specialists. They furnish a strong foundation of skills for job opportunities within the trade.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program delivers a more comprehensive knowledge of heating and a/c systems than the certificate program. Generally taking two years to complete, a number of degrees feature an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is tailored more towards a career in management as well as business ownership. Some programs require an Associate Degree, while others are a conventional 4 year program. In addition to mastering how to service and maintain heating and cooling systems, you will also learn how to design them.
Choosing the right credential program will be based on what your future career objectives are, together with the time and financial resources that you have to commit. One option is to begin with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after getting some experience in the field in Goodyear AZ, later returning to earn a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your approach, be sure to ask the HVAC technician school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Online Schools
Attending an HVAC program online is one approach to attaining your training and earning a certificate or degree. Nearly all schools will call for some attendance on campus to complete practical training. Some 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 Goodyear AZ students that are pressed for time. And many online degree programs are more economical than other traditional alternatives. Even driving expenses from Goodyear and study materials can be reduced, helping to make schooling more affordable. And a large number of online programs are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your career or family obligations have left you with limited time to attend classes, perhaps an online HVAC degree program will make it easier to fit school into your active lifestyle.
Heating and Cooling Licensing and Certification
HVAC is an acronym that is widely used in the trade that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC professionals 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 mandated to be licensed, however every state and regional municipality has its own requirements. Earning professional certification is not required, but a voluntary means for Goodyear AZ HVAC techs to prove that they are exceptionally skilled and experienced in their area of specialization. There are several acknowledged certifications within the field that are available. Here are a few 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 acquired in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification offers both a professional and a master specialist credential. 2 years of field experience as well as passing a comprehensive exam are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have three years of experience together with a passing score on the professional level exam. As with NATE, certifications are offered in various specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is necessary for technicians that handle refrigerants. There are three forms of certification available, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Since licensing might be required in your location, and you may also intend 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 dealing with refrigerants, make sure that the program you select prepares you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
Questions to Ask HVAC Schools
After you have selected the type of certificate or degree that you desire to obtain, either on campus or online, you can start to narrow down your selection of schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are numerous HVAC trade schools in the Goodyear AZ area and throughout the Country to pick from. That's why it is extremely important to have a list of key qualifiers when making school assessments. As previously stated in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will probably be the initial two factors you will look at. Following are several 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 received either a regional or a national accreditation. They may acquire Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to a specific program, for instance HVAC technology. Make certain that the program and school are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency, for example the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping ensure that you get an excellent education, it can assist in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are in many cases unavailable for non-accredited programs. Furthermore, a number of 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 looking at what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage or portion of students who enroll in and complete the program. A lower completion rate might indicate that students were disappointed with the course and dropped out. It could also suggest 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 broader list 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 validate that the school has a good reputation within the industry, but also that it has the network of Goodyear AZ HVAC employers to assist graduates obtain apprenticeships or jobs.
Apprenticeship Programs. Many HVAC training programs are taught together with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating vocational and technical programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of HVAC contractors or trade unions. Ask if the schools you are reviewing have working relationships with local Goodyear AZ HVAC professionals. An apprenticeship not only offers a rewarding experience by providing practical training, but it also furnishes job opportunities and helps to form relationships in the area HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make certain that the school facilities and the tools that you will be instructed on are state-of-the-art and what you will be using in the field. If you are already in an internship or an apprenticeship, check with the HVAC specialist you are working with concerning what you should be expecting. Otherwise, ask a local Goodyear AZ HVAC contractor if they can provide some tips. Additionally keep in mind that unless you are willing to move, the school needs to be within commuting distance of your Goodyear AZ home. Remember that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides the added relocation costs there might be increased tuition fees compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's desirable that you get as much personalized training as possible, which can be challenging in bigger classes. Ask if you can monitor a couple of the classes so that you can see how big they are and experience the interaction between teachers and students. Talk with some of the students and get their feedback concerning class sizes and instruction. Last, speak to a few of the instructors and find out what their level of expertise is and what certifications or degrees they hold.
Flexible Scheduling. Verify that the class schedules for the schools you are evaluating are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Goodyear AZ, verify that the schools you are comparing offer those choices. If you can only attend part-time, be 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 issues.
Earn Your HVAC Certificate or Degree
Selecting the ideal HVAC training program is a crucial first step toward a rewarding career in the heating and air conditioning field. As we have covered in this post, you should select an HVAC technical school and a degree or certificate program that are both accredited and have excellent reputations within the HVAC community. Other features to search for are plenty of practical training and modern facilities. You need to visit each of the schools in person that you are most interested in to inspect the campus and speak with both the faculty and current students. Attempt to get a feel for the quality of the training and the interaction between them. In addition, ask about scheduling options and whether night or weekend classes are offered if needed. And don't forget to ask about financial assistance and student loan options as well. If you ask the appropriate questions as we have detailed in our checklist for assessing schools, you'll be able to filter your choices so that you can make an educated decision. With the right training, hard work and commitment, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC contractor in Goodyear AZ.