How to Enroll In the Right HVAC Certificate Program Near Mesa Arizona
Now that you have made a decision on a career as a heating and cooling specialist, the next action is to look for an HVAC trade school near Mesa AZ. But with so many to pick from, how do you choose the right one to receive the training that you need? Some future students will make their selection based exclusively on the price of tuition or how close the school is to their residence. While these are relevant factors to consider, they are not the only ones to evaluate. A few of the other things 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 additional criteria will be covered in more detail later within this article. But before we explore how to select an HVAC technical school, let's take a look at what a heating and air conditioning contractor does to become a licensed skilled tradesman.
HVAC Degree and Certificate Training Programs
There are a variety of alternatives offered for HVAC training in a technical or vocational school. You can attain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Obtaining a certificate will take the lesser period of time, usually accomplished in as little as six months, though some courses are longer. A certificate will qualify you for the majority of HVAC positions, particularly if you are licensed and have certification relevant to the position. The degree training programs may provide a competitive advantage in the job market and will provide more in-depth training than the certificate programs. Following is a brief summary of each credential offered near Mesa Az.
- Certificate. Normally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among entry level residential or commercial HVAC specialists. They furnish a strong foundation of skills for employment within the industry.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program provides a more extensive knowledge of heating and cooling systems than the certificate program. Normally taking 2 years to finish, a number of degrees include an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is tailored more towards a career in management or even business ownership. Some programs call for an Associate Degree, while others are a standard 4 year program. In addition to mastering how to service and maintain heating and cooling systems, you will also learn how to design them.
Selecting the appropriate credential program will be based on what your long term career aspirations are, in addition to the time and money that you have to commit. One option is to start with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after getting some experience in the trade in Mesa AZ, later returning to earn a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your strategy, be sure to ask the HVAC technician school you are considering about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Online Training
Enrolling in an HVAC school online is one possibility in attaining your training and earning a certificate or degree. Most schools will require some attendance on campus to complete practical training. Some also offer 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 via the internet, this alternative may be a more accessible solution for many Mesa AZ students that are short on time. And many online degree programs are more economical than other traditional options. Even driving expenses from Mesa and study supplies may be minimized, helping to make education more budget-friendly. And numerous 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, maybe an online HVAC degree program will make it more convenient to fit school into your hectic schedule.
Heating and Cooling Certification and Licensing
HVAC is an acronym that is frequently used in the industry that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC professionals provide services for the installation, maintenance and repair of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are typically required to be licensed, although each state and local municipality has its own requirements. Acquiring professional certification is not required, but an alternative means for Mesa AZ HVAC techs to demonstrate that they are exceptionally qualified and experienced in their area of specialization. There are many recognized certifications within the trade 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 earned 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. 2 years of professional experience together with passing a comprehensive exam are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have three years of experience along with a passing score on the professional level examination. Similar to NATE, certifications are provided in multiple specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is required for techs that work with refrigerants. There are three types of certification offered, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Because licensing may be required in your area, and you may also intend to obtain certification, it's imperative that you enroll in an HVAC trade school that will train you for both. And since you will probably be dealing with refrigerants, make sure that the program you select readies you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.
Questions to Ask HVAC Schools
Once you have decided on the type of certificate or degree that you would like to acquire, either online or on campus, you can start to decrease your selection of schools. As you are probably aware, there are many HVAC vocational schools in the Mesa AZ area and throughout the Country to pick from. That's why it is very important to have a list of relevant qualifications when making school assessments. As formerly stated in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will probably be the first two variables you will take into consideration. Following are some additional ones that you need to investigate before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Numerous HVAC vocational programs in the Mesa AZ area have attained either a regional or a national accreditation. They can earn Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to a specific program, such as HVAC technology. Verify that the program and school are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency, for instance the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping make certain that you acquire an excellent education, it may assist in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are often not available for non-accredited schools. Additionally, some states require that the HVAC training course be accredited for it to be approved for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the Heating and Cooling schools you are considering what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage of students who enroll in and complete the program. A lower completion rate could indicate that students were dissatisfied with the course and quit. It could also mean that the instructors were not competent to train the students. It's also important that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader list of graduates, which may mean 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 an excellent reputation within the field, but also that it has the network of Mesa AZ HVAC employers to help students obtain apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. Most HVAC vocational programs are taught in conjunction with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating trade and vocational schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of HVAC contractors or trade unions. Find out if the schools you are reviewing have referring partnerships with local Mesa AZ HVAC companies. An apprenticeship not only provides a rewarding experience by providing hands-on training, but it also provides job opportunities and helps to form relationships in the regional HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Confirm that the campus 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 presently 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 Mesa AZ HVAC company if they can give you some tips. Additionally bear in mind that unless you are willing to relocate, the school must be within driving distance of your Mesa AZ residence. Take note that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides the added moving costs there might be higher tuition charges compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's desirable that you get as much individualized instruction as possible, which can be difficult in larger classes. Ask if you can sit in on a couple of the classes so that you can see how big they are and witness first hand the interaction between instructors and students. Talk with several of the students and get their comments relating to class sizes and instruction. Finally, talk with some of the instructors and find out what their level of experience is and what certifications or degrees they have earned.
Flexible Scheduling. Verify that the class schedules for the schools you are assessing are flexible enough to handle your needs. If you are only able to attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Mesa AZ, confirm that the schools you are looking at provide those choices. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Finally, find out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Get Your Heating and Cooling Certificate or Degree
Picking the ideal HVAC training course is a crucial beginning toward a rewarding career in the heating and cooling field. As we have covered in this post, you need to choose an Heating and Cooling training program and a certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have outstanding reputations within the HVAC profession. Other factors to search for are sufficient hands-on training and modern facilities. You need to go to each of the schools in person that you are most interested in to tour 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 if night or weekend classes are available if needed. And don't forget to inquire about financial assistance 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 options so that you can make an informed decision. With the right training, hard work and commitment, you can eventually become a licensed HVAC professional in Mesa AZ.