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How to Pick the Right Heating and Cooling Training Program near Anthem Arizona

Anthem Arizona home air conditioning condensersOnce you have come to a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioning technician, the next action is to find an HVAC technical school near Anthem AZ. But with so many to choose from, how do you pick the right one to get the training that you require? Some prospective students will make their selection based solely on the cost of tuition or how near the school is to their residence. Although these are relevant considerations, they are not the only ones to evaluate. 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. These and other benchmarks will be addressed in more detail later in this article. But before we examine how to choose an HVAC trade school, let's take a look at what a heating and a/c specialist does to become a licensed professional tradesman.

Becoming an HVAC Tech

Anthem Arizona Heating and Cooling Contractor servicing air conditioning condenserHVAC is an acronym that is extensively used in the business that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC technicians specialize in the installation, maintenance and repair of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are typically mandated to be licensed, although each state and local municipality has its own criteria. Attaining professional certification is not mandatory, but a voluntary means for Anthem AZ HVAC technicians to establish that they are exceptionally proficient and experienced in their area of expertise. There are multiple respected certifications within the trade that are available. Here are some of the significant ones.

  • North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally recognized 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. Two years of professional experience as well as passing a comprehensive exam are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have three years of experience together with a passing score on the professional level examination. As with NATE, certifications are offered in multiple specialties.
  • EPA Section 608. This certification is required for technicians that handle refrigerants. There are 3 forms of certification offered, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.

Because licensing could be required in your location, and you may also intend to earn certification, it's essential that you choose an HVAC technical school that will prepare you for both. And since you will probably be dealing with refrigerants, make certain that the program you decide on preps you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.

HVAC Degree Courses

Anthem Arizona residential heater

There are several alternatives available for HVAC training in a vocational or trade school. You can obtain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Acquiring a certificate will take the minimum period of time, often achieved in as little as six months, although some courses are longer. A certificate will train you for most HVAC positions, especially if you are licensed and have certification applicable to the position. The degree training programs might provide a competitive advantage for securing employment and will furnish more comprehensive training than the certificate programs. Following is a short explanation of each credential offered near Anthem AZ.

  • Certificate. Generally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among entry level commercial or residential HVAC specialists. They provide a strong foundation of skills for employment within the industry.
  • Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program provides a more comprehensive background of heating & cooling systems than the certificate program. Typically taking two years to finish, many degrees feature an internship or work-study program.
  • Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is tailored more for 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 being taught how to service and maintain heating and cooling systems, you will also study how to design them.

Choosing the appropriate credential program will be dependent on what your future career goals are, along with the time and money that you have to commit. One approach is to start with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after getting some experience in the field in Anthem AZ, subsequently returning to acquire 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 Classes

Enrolling in an HVAC school online is one option to getting your education and earning a certificate or degree. Nearly all schools will require some attendance on campus to participate in practical training. Some also sponsor internship or work-study programs in addition to or in place of practical lab work. But since the rest of the classes may be participated in online, this approach may be a more convenient solution for many Anthem AZ students that are short on time. And a number of online degree programs are less costly than other on campus options. Even driving expenses from Anthem and study materials may be lessened, helping to make education more economical. And many online programs 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 online HVAC degree program will make it less complicated to fit school into your hectic schedule.

What to Ask HVAC Certification Classes

Anthem Arizona Heating and Cooling contractor replacing water heater

As soon as you have chosen the type of degree or certificate that you desire to attain, either online or on campus, you can start to limit your list of schools. As you are certainly aware, there are a large number of HVAC technical schools in the Anthem AZ area and across the Country to select from. That's why it is imperative to have a checklist of relevant qualifiers when making school comparisons. As previously stated in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will probably be the initial 2 factors you will consider. Following are several additional ones that you should explore before enrolling in your school of choice.

Accreditation.  Many HVAC vocational programs in the Anthem AZ area have received either a regional or a national accreditation. They can receive Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to a specific program, such as HVAC technology. Verify that the school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting organization, which includes the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping guarantee that you obtain an excellent education, it may help in acquiring financial assistance or student loans, which are in many cases not available for non-accredited programs. Additionally, many states mandate that the HVAC training course be accredited in order to be approved for licensing.

High Completion Rates.  Ask the HVAC schools you are considering what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students who enroll in and finish the program. A low completion rate might suggest that students were dissatisfied with the course and dropped out. It may also signify that the teachers were not qualified to instruct the students. It's similarly imperative that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive directory of graduates, which can mean more contacts for the school to employ 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 trade, but also that it has the network of Anthem AZ HVAC employers to help students acquire apprenticeships or jobs.

Apprenticeship Programs.  A large number of HVAC trade programs are taught along with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating vocational and trade programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of Heating and Cooling businesses or labor unions. Ask if the schools you are reviewing have working relationships with local Anthem AZ HVAC companies. An apprenticeship not only offers a rewarding experience by furnishing practical training, but it also supplies employment opportunities and helps to build relationships in the regional HVAC professional community.

Modern Facilities.  Confirm that the school 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 currently in an internship or an apprenticeship, consult with the HVAC technician you are working with concerning what you should be looking for. Otherwise, ask a local Anthem AZ HVAC contracting company if they can provide some tips. Also keep in mind that unless you are willing to move, the school needs to be within driving distance of your Anthem AZ residence. Take note that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation costs there can be increased tuition charges compared to in-state residents.

Smaller Classes.   It's desirable that you receive as much individualized training as possible, which can be difficult in bigger classes. Ask if you can sit in on a few of the classes so that you can see how large they are and experience the interaction between teachers and students. Speak with some of the students and get their opinions regarding class sizes and instruction. Finally, talk to some of the instructors and find out what their level of experience is and what certifications or degrees they hold.

Flexible Scheduling.  Make sure that the class schedules for the schools you are assessing are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Anthem AZ, confirm that the schools you are considering provide those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, be sure that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Additionally, ask what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, sickness or family emergencies.

Find Out More About Anthem HVAC Training Near You

Earn Your Heating and Cooling Degree and Certification

Choosing the ideal HVAC training program is an important beginning toward a rewarding career in the heating and cooling industry. As we have addressed in this article, you should pick a Heating and Cooling training program and a degree or certificate program that are both accredited and have excellent reputations within the HVAC trade. Other things to search for are ample practical training and modern facilities. You should 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 instruction and the interaction between them. Also, ask about scheduling choices and whether or not night or weekend classes are offered if needed. And don't forget to ask about financial aid and student loan options too. If you ask the proper questions as we have detailed in our checklist for evaluating schools, you'll be able to narrow down your choices so that you can make an educated decision. With the appropriate training, hard work and commitment, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC technician in Anthem AZ.