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How to Pick the Right HVAC Certificate Program Near Mesa Arizona

Mesa Arizona commercial hvac technician repairing furnacesOnce you have made a decision on a career as a heating and cooling specialist, the next action is to look for an HVAC technical school near Mesa AZ. But with so many to pick from, how do you decide on the right one to get the training that you require? Many prospective students will make their choice based exclusively on the cost of tuition or how close the school is to their home. Although these are relevant concerns, they are not the only ones to evaluate. Just some of the other things 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. These and additional benchmarks will be discussed in more detail later in this article. But before we tackle how to pick an HVAC technical school, let's look at what a heating and air conditioning specialist does to become a licensed qualified tradesman.

HVAC Degree Schools

Mesa Arizona residential air conditioning condensers

There are a variety of alternatives offered for HVAC training in a technical or vocational 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 completed in just six months, however some courses are longer. A certificate will train you for the majority of HVAC positions, especially if you are licensed and have certification related to the position. The degree training programs can provide a competitive advantage in the job market and will provide more comprehensive training than the certificate programs. Following is a short summary of each credential offered near Mesa Az.

  • Certificate. Generally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among beginning commercial or residential HVAC technicians. They provide a solid foundation of skills for job opportunities within the trade.
  • Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program supplies a more detailed knowledge of heating & cooling systems than the certificate program. Usually taking 2 years to complete, a number of degrees feature an internship or work-study program.
  • Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is geared more towards a career in management or even business ownership. Some programs require an Associate Degree, while others are a standard 4 year program. In addition to learning how to service and maintain heating and cooling systems, you will also study how to design them.

Choosing the ideal credential program will be based on what your future career goals are, together with the time and financial resources that you have to commit. One option is to start with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after gaining some experience in the trade in Mesa AZ, eventually going back to earn a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your approach, make sure to ask the HVAC technician school you are considering about how their returning student program works.

HVAC Classes Online

Mesa Arizona forced air heat registerEnrolling in an HVAC program online is one option to obtaining your training and earning a certificate or degree. Most schools will call for some attendance on campus to take part in hands on training. Some also sponsor internship or work-study programs in addition to or as an alternative to practical lab work. But since the remainder of the classes may be participated in via the internet, this option may be a more practical solution for some Mesa AZ students that are short on time. And many online degree programs are more economical than other on campus choices. Even driving expenses from Mesa and study supplies may be minimized, helping to make schooling more economical. And many online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your work or family commitments have left you with minimal time to attend classes, perhaps an HVAC online training program will make it easier to fit school into your hectic schedule.

Heating and Cooling Licensing and Certification

HVAC is an acronym that is frequently used in the trade that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC professionals provide services for the installation, repair and maintenance of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are typically mandated to be licensed, however each state and regional municipality has its own requirements. Attaining professional certification is not required, but an optional way for Mesa AZ HVAC techs to establish that they are highly skilled and experienced in their area of specialization. There are a number of acknowledged certifications within the industry that are offered. Below are a few of the important ones.

  • North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally recognized certification for HVAC technicians. The certification is achieved by passing a competency exam and may be earned in one or more specialties.
  • HVAC Excellence. This certification makes available both a professional and a master specialist credential. 2 years of field experience together with passing a comprehensive examination are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have three years of experience in addition to a passing score on the professional level exam. Similar to NATE, certifications are offered in various specialties.
  • EPA Section 608. This certification is required for specialists that work with refrigerants. There are 3 types of certification offered, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.

Because licensing could be mandated in your location, and you may also wish to obtain certification, it's important that you select an HVAC technical school that will prepare you for both. And since you will most likely be working with refrigerants, make sure that the program you decide on prepares you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.

What to Ask HVAC Training Programs

Mesa Arizona hvac contractor working on hot water heater

After you have decided on the type of degree or certificate that you want to acquire, either online or on campus, you can begin to limit your list of schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are many HVAC trade schools in the Mesa AZ area and throughout the United States to select from. That's why it is essential to have a list of key qualifications when making school evaluations. As formerly stated in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will probably be the initial two variables you will take into consideration. Following are several additional ones that you need to explore before enrolling in your school of choice.

Accreditation.  Numerous HVAC trade programs in the Mesa AZ area have acquired either a regional or a national accreditation. They can attain Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to an individual program, such as HVAC technology. Make certain that the school and program 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 guarantee that you acquire an excellent education, it can help in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are often unavailable for non-accredited programs. Additionally, many states require that the HVAC training course be accredited for it 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 finish the course. A low completion rate may indicate that students were dissatisfied with the course and quit. It may also suggest that the teachers were not competent to train the students. It's also important that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive list of graduates, which may result in 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 industry, but also that it has the network of Mesa AZ HVAC employers to assist students secure apprenticeships or employment.

Apprenticeship Programs.  Many HVAC technical 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 Heating and Cooling businesses or labor unions. Find out if the schools you are comparing have working relationships with local Mesa AZ HVAC contractors. An apprenticeship not only offers a valuable experience by supplying 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 tools that you will be trained on are state-of-the-art and what you will be working with on the job. If you are presently in an internship or an apprenticeship, check with the HVAC technician you are working with regarding what you should be expecting. Otherwise, ask a local Mesa AZ HVAC company if they can provide some pointers. Also bear in mind that unless you can relocate, the school must be within driving distance of your Mesa AZ residence. Remember that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, besides the added relocation costs there may be higher tuition charges compared to in-state residents.

Smaller Classes.   It's desirable that you get as much individualized training as possible, which can be challenging in bigger classes. Ask if you can sit in on a couple of the classes so that you can observe how large they are and witness first hand the interaction between instructors and students. Speak to a few of the students and get their opinions relating to class sizes and instruction. Last, speak with some of the teachers and find out what their level of experience is and what certifications or degrees they have earned.

Flexible Scheduling.  Confirm 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 Mesa AZ, verify that the programs you are comparing offer those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, be sure that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Finally, ask what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, sickness or family issues.

Learn More About Mesa HVAC Vocational Schools

Earn Your HVAC Certificate or Degree

Selecting the ideal HVAC school program is a crucial first step toward a rewarding career in the heating and cooling field. As we have covered in this article, you should select an HVAC school and a certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have outstanding reputations within the HVAC community. Other things to search for are lots of practical training and modern facilities. You need to check out each of the schools personally that you are most interested in to explore the campus and talk with both the current students and faculty. Try to get a feel for the quality of the teaching and the interaction between them. Also, inquire about scheduling options and if night or weekend classes are available if needed. And remember to inquire about financial assistance and student loan options as well. If you ask the proper questions as we have laid out in our guidelines for assessing schools, you'll be able to filter your options so that you can make an informed decision. With the proper training, hard work and commitment, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC technician in Mesa AZ.


 

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