How to Enroll In the Right HVAC Certification Class Near Holbrook Arizona
Now that you have decided on a career as a heating and cooling professional, the next step is to find an HVAC vocational school near Holbrook AZ. But with so many to pick from, how do you pick the best one to receive the training that you need? Some prospective students will make their decision based solely on the cost of tuition or how close the school is to their residence. Even though these are significant factors to consider, they are not the only ones to investigate. Some of the other factors that you need to investigate are the graduation completion rates of the HVAC schools, their reputations, and if they are accredited by professional trade organizations. Those and other benchmarks will be discussed in more detail later in this article. But before we discuss how to choose an HVAC vocational school, let's look at what a heating and air conditioning technician does to become a licensed professional tradesman.
HVAC Degree Schools
There are several choices offered for HVAC instruction in a technical or trade school. You can earn a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Acquiring a certificate will take the least amount of time, usually accomplished in as little as 6 months, although some courses are longer. A certificate will train you for most HVAC positions, particularly if you are licensed and have certification applicable to the position. The degree programs can provide a competitive edge for securing employment and will provide more comprehensive training than the certificate programs. Below is a brief summary of each credential offered near Holbrook Az.
- Certificate. Generally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among beginning residential or commercial HVAC technicians. They furnish a strong foundation of skills for job opportunities within the trade.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program provides a more exhaustive knowledge of heating & cooling systems than the certificate program. Typically taking 2 years to complete, some 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 as well as business ownership. Some programs require an Associate Degree, while others are a standard four year program. In addition to learning 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 long term career goals are, as well as the time and money that you have to invest. One option is to begin with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after acquiring some experience in the trade in Holbrook AZ, later 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 Classes Online
Choosing an HVAC program online is one option in attaining your training and receiving a certificate or degree. Most schools will call for some attendance on campus to take part in practical training. A number also sponsor internship or work-study programs in addition to or in place of practical lab work. But since the remainder of the classes may be attended online, this option may be a more practical solution for some Holbrook AZ students that are pressed for time. And a number of online degree programs are less costly than other on campus alternatives. Even driving expenses from Holbrook and study supplies can be reduced, helping to make schooling more economical. And many online programs are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your career or family responsibilities have left you with minimal time to attend classes, perhaps an HVAC online training program will make it more convenient to accommodate school into your busy schedule.
Heating and Cooling Certification and Licensing
HVAC is an acronym that is commonly used in the industry that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC techs provide services for the installation, repair and maintenance of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are commonly required to be licensed, although each state and local municipality has its own prerequisites. Earning professional certification is not compulsory, but a voluntary way for Holbrook AZ HVAC techs to prove that they are highly skilled and accomplished in their area of expertise. There are multiple recognized certifications within the trade that are available. Below are a few of the important ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally acknowledged certification for HVAC techs. The certification is earned by passing a proficiency examination and can be acquired in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification makes available both a professional and a master specialist credential. 2 years of field experience as well as passing a comprehensive examination are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have 3 years of experience as well as a passing score on the professional level examination. Similar to NATE, certifications are offered in several specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is mandatory for technicians that work with refrigerants. There are 3 forms of certification obtainable, 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 desire to obtain certification, it's important that you pick an HVAC vocational school that will train you for both. And since you will more than likely be working with refrigerants, make sure that the school you select readies you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
What to Ask Heating and Cooling Certification Courses
Once you have selected the type of degree or certificate that you desire to earn, either online or on campus, you can start to limit your list of schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are numerous HVAC technical schools in the Holbrook AZ area and all over the United States to select from. That's why it is extremely important to have a checklist of important qualifiers when making school evaluations. As previously mentioned in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will probably be the first 2 variables 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 trade schools in the Holbrook AZ area have earned either a regional or a national accreditation. They may earn Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to an individual program, such as HVAC technology. Confirm that the school and program are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency, which includes the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping make certain that you acquire a superior education, it may assist in obtaining financial assistance or student loans, which are in many cases unavailable for non-accredited programs. Also, many states mandate that the HVAC training program be accredited for it to be approved for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the Heating and Air Conditioning schools you are reviewing what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students who enroll in and complete the course. A lower completion rate may suggest that students were unhappy with the program and dropped out. It could also mean that the teachers were not qualified to train the students. It's similarly important that the schools have high 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 an excellent reputation within the field, but additionally that it has the network of Holbrook AZ HVAC employers to help grads acquire apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. Many HVAC vocational programs are taught along with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating trade and vocational programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of HVAC businesses or labor unions. Ask if the schools you are considering have working partnerships with local Holbrook AZ HVAC companies. An apprenticeship not only provides a valuable experience by furnishing hands-on training, but it also provides employment opportunities and helps to establish relationships in the regional HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Confirm that the school facilities and the equipment that you will be instructed on are up-to-date and what you will be working with in the field. If you are currently in an internship or an apprenticeship, talk to the HVAC technician you are working with regarding what you should be expecting. If not, ask a local Holbrook AZ HVAC contractor if they can provide some tips. Also bear in mind that unless you are able to move, the school needs to be within commuting distance of your Holbrook AZ residence. Take note that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation costs there may be increased tuition fees compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's desirable that you get as much personalized instruction as possible, which can be difficult in bigger classes. Ask if you can sit in on a couple of the classes so that you can observe how big they are and experience the interaction between students and instructors. Talk with a few of the students and get their feedback regarding class sizes and instruction. Finally, talk with a few of the teachers and learn what their level of expertise is and what degrees or certifications they hold.
Flexible Scheduling. Make sure that the class schedules for the programs you are reviewing are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Holbrook AZ, confirm that the schools you are reviewing offer those choices. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Additionally, find out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, illness or family responsibilities.
Get Your HVAC Certificate or Degree
Choosing the ideal HVAC training program is an important first step toward a gratifying career in the heating and cooling trade. As we have addressed in this post, you need to select an HVAC technical school and a certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have exceptional reputations within the HVAC field. Other features to search for are lots of hands-on training and state-of-the-art facilities. You need to check out each of the schools personally that you are most interested in to explore 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, inquire about scheduling choices and whether or not evening or weekend classes are available if needed. And don't forget to inquire about financial aid and student loan options also. 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 appropriate training, hard work and commitment, you can eventually become a licensed HVAC technician in Holbrook AZ.