How to Enroll In the Right Heating and Cooling Training Class near Anthem Arizona
Now that you have decided on a career as a heating and air conditioner specialist, the next action is to find an HVAC vocational school near Anthem AZ. But with so many to select from, how do you choose the best one to obtain the training that you require? A number of potential students will make their choice based exclusively on the cost of tuition or how close the school is to their home. While these are relevant concerns, they are not the only ones to evaluate. Just some of the other factors that you need to look into are the graduation rates of the HVAC schools, their reputations, and if they are accredited by professional trade organizations. These and additional criteria will be discussed in more detail later in this article. But before we explore how to choose an HVAC technical school, let's look at what a heating and a/c professional does to become a licensed professional tradesman.
Becoming an HVAC Professional
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, repair and maintenance of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are typically mandated to be licensed, though each state and regional municipality has its own prerequisites. Obtaining professional certification is not mandatory, but a voluntary means for Anthem AZ HVAC techs to prove that they are exceptionally qualified and knowledgeable in their area of specialization. There are a number of respected certifications within the field that are available. Here are a few of the important ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally recognized certification for HVAC techs. The certification is earned by passing a competency examination 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 field experience as well as passing a comprehensive exam are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have 3 years of experience as well as a passing result on the professional level examination. Similar to NATE, certifications are made available in multiple specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is required for specialists that handle refrigerants. There are three forms of certification offered, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Considering that licensing might be required in your area, and you may also wish to acquire certification, it's important that you select an HVAC vocational school that will prepare you for both. And since you will most likely be working with refrigerants, make sure that the school you decide on preps you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
HVAC Degree Classes
There are a variety of alternatives available for HVAC training in a technical or vocational school. You can attain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Acquiring a certificate will take the lesser amount of time, often accomplished in as little as 6 months, although some programs 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 training programs might 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 option offered near Anthem AZ.
- Certificate. Normally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among entry level commercial or residential HVAC technicians. They furnish a solid foundation of skills for job opportunities within the trade.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program delivers a more comprehensive knowledge of heating & cooling systems than the certificate program. Normally requiring 2 years to complete, some degrees incorporate an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is geared more for 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 being taught how to service and maintain heating and cooling systems, you will also study how to design them.
Selecting the appropriate credential program will be dependent on what your long term career aspirations are, in addition to the time and financial resources that you have to invest. One approach is to start with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after getting some experience in the trade in Anthem AZ, later returning to earn a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your strategy, make sure to ask the HVAC technician school you are considering about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Classes Online
Enrolling in an HVAC school online is one option in getting your training and receiving a certificate or degree. Almost all schools will call for some attendance on campus to participate in hands on training. A number also sponsor internship or work-study programs in addition to or in place of practical lab work. But since the balance of the classes may be participated in online, this alternative may be a more accessible solution for many Anthem AZ students that are pressed for time. And many online degree programs are more economical than other traditional alternatives. Even travelling expenses from Anthem and study supplies may be lessened, helping to make education more economical. And many online programs are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your job or family commitments have left you with limited time to attend classes, maybe an HVAC online training program will make it more convenient to accommodate school into your busy schedule.
Questions For HVAC Trade Schools
Once you have selected the type of certificate or degree that you desire to earn, either on campus or online, you can begin to narrow down your list of schools. As you are probably aware, there are many HVAC technical schools in the Anthem 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 comparisons. As previously stated in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will probably be the first two variables you will consider. Following are some additional ones that you need to explore before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Many HVAC trade schools in the Anthem AZ area have received 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 a specific program, such as HVAC technology. Make certain that the school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency, for instance the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping ensure that you obtain a superior education, it can help in acquiring financial assistance or student loans, which are in many cases unavailable for non-accredited programs. Furthermore, some states mandate that the HVAC training course be accredited for it to qualify 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 percentage or portion of students who enroll in and finish the course. A lower completion rate may suggest that students were dissatisfied with the program and dropped out. It might also suggest that the teachers were not competent to instruct the students. It's similarly essential that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive list of alumni, which may produce more contacts for the school to utilize 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 trade, but additionally that it has the network of Anthem AZ HVAC employers to help graduates obtain apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. A large number of HVAC training programs are taught along 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 Heating and Cooling companies or labor unions. Check if the schools you are considering have working relationships with local Anthem AZ HVAC specialists. An apprenticeship not only offers a valuable experience by supplying practical training, but it also provides job opportunities and helps to establish relationships in the regional HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make certain that the campus facilities and the tools that you will be trained on are state-of-the-art and what you will be working with in the field. If you are presently in an internship or an apprenticeship, talk to the HVAC specialist you are working under regarding what you should be expecting. If not, ask a local Anthem AZ HVAC company if they can provide some suggestions. Also keep in mind that unless you are able to move, the school needs to be within commuting distance of your Anthem AZ home. Take note that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to moving costs there may be higher tuition fees compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's desirable that you receive as much individualized instruction as possible, which can be challenging in larger 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 teachers and students. Speak to several of the students and get their feedback relating to class sizes and instruction. Finally, talk to some of the instructors and find out 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 reviewing are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you are only able to go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Anthem AZ, verify that the programs you are considering provide those choices. If you can only attend part-time, be sure that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Finally, ask what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, sickness or family issues.
Earn Your HVAC Training and Certification
Choosing the right HVAC training program is a critical first step toward a gratifying career in the heating and cooling trade. As we have discussed in this article, you should pick a Heating and Cooling training program and a degree or certificate program that are both accredited and have exceptional reputations within the HVAC field. Other features to look for are sufficient hands-on training and modern facilities. You should go to each of the schools in person that you are most interested in to explore the campus and speak with both the faculty and current students. Try to get a feel for the quality of the instruction 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 inquire about financial aid and student loan options too. If you ask the proper questions as we have outlined in our checklist for evaluating schools, you'll be able to filter your options so that you can make an educated decision. With the right training, hard work and dedication, you can eventually become a licensed HVAC contractor in Anthem AZ.