How to Select the Right HVAC Program near Anthem Arizona
Once you have decided on a career as a heating and air conditioning professional, the next step is to find an HVAC technical school near Anthem AZ. But with so many to select from, how do you pick the right one to get the training that you require? A number of potential students will make their choice based entirely on the price of tuition or how close the school is to their home. Although these are significant factors to consider, they are not the only ones to investigate. Some of the other details that you need to research are the graduation rates of the HVAC schools, their reputations, and if they are accredited by professional trade organizations. Those and other criteria will be covered in more detail later in this article. But before we discuss how to pick an HVAC training program, let's look at what a heating and cooling specialist does to become a licensed professional tradesman.
Becoming an HVAC Specialist
HVAC is an acronym that is extensively used in the trade that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC contractors provide services for the installation, repair and maintenance of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are commonly required to be licensed, though each state and local municipality has its own prerequisites. Obtaining professional certification is not compulsory, but an optional way for Anthem AZ HVAC techs to prove that they are exceptionally proficient and accomplished in their area of expertise. There are many acknowledged certifications within the trade that are available. Below are a few of the significant ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally acknowledged certification for HVAC technicians. The certification is attained by passing a competency exam and can be received 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 exam are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have 3 years of experience along with a passing result on the professional level exam. Similar to NATE, certifications are made available in multiple specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is required for technicians that work with refrigerants. There are three forms of certification available, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Considering that licensing might be mandated in your area, and you may also wish to acquire certification, it's essential that you enroll in an HVAC trade school that will prepare you for both. And since you will probably be working with refrigerants, make sure that the program you select prepares you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
HVAC Degree Schools
There are a number of choices available for HVAC training in a technical or trade school. You can earn a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Obtaining a certificate will take the least amount of time, usually completed in as little as 6 months, however some programs are longer. A certificate will qualify you for most HVAC positions, especially if you are licensed and have certification appropriate to the position. The degree training programs can provide a competitive advantage in the job market and will deliver more comprehensive training than the certificate programs. Below is a brief description of each credential offered near Anthem AZ.
- Certificate. Usually requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among entry level residential or commercial HVAC technicians. They furnish a solid foundation of skills for job opportunities within the industry.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program provides a more detailed knowledge of heating and cooling systems than the certificate program. Generally taking 2 years to finish, many 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 as well as business ownership. Some programs require an Associate Degree, while others are a traditional 4 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 dependent on what your future career goals are, as well as the time and money that you have to invest. One option is to start with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after gaining some experience in the field in Anthem AZ, eventually returning to earn a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your strategy, make certain to ask the HVAC tech school you are considering about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Schools Online
Attending an HVAC school online is one possibility to attaining your education and receiving a degree or certificate. Nearly all schools will require some attendance on campus to participate in hands on training. Many also sponsor internship or work-study programs in addition to or instead of practical lab work. But since the remainder of the classes can be attended on the web, this approach may be a more practical solution for many Anthem AZ students that are short on time. And some online degree programs are less expensive than other traditional choices. Even commuting expenses from Anthem and study materials may be minimized, helping to make education more economical. And numerous online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your work or family obligations have left you with limited time to attend classes, perhaps an HVAC online training program will make it easier to accommodate school into your busy schedule.
Questions to Ask HVAC Training Classes
As soon as you have chosen the type of degree or certificate that you desire to obtain, either on campus or online, you can begin to limit your selection of schools. As you are certainly aware, there are numerous HVAC technical schools in the Anthem AZ area and across the Country to select from. That's why it is essential to have a list of relevant qualifications when making school evaluations. As previously mentioned in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will most likely be the first two factors you will look at. Following are some additional ones that you will want to investigate before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Numerous HVAC vocational schools in the Anthem AZ area have attained either a regional or a national accreditation. They can receive Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to an individual program, for instance HVAC technology. Verify that the school and program are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization, for instance the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping ensure that you obtain a quality education, it can assist in acquiring financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently not available for non-accredited programs. Also, some states require that the HVAC training program be accredited for it to qualify 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 may indicate that students were dissatisfied with the course and dropped out. It may also suggest that the teachers 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 more extensive 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 confirm that the school has a good reputation within the field, but additionally that it has the network of Anthem AZ HVAC employers to help grads obtain apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. A large number of HVAC technical programs are taught in conjunction 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 trade unions. Find out if the schools you are comparing have referring relationships with local Anthem AZ HVAC companies. An apprenticeship not only offers a rewarding experience by providing hands-on training, but it also provides job opportunities and helps to build relationships in the regional HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make sure that the school facilities and the equipment that you will be trained on are state-of-the-art and what you will be using in the field. If you are currently in an internship or an apprenticeship, consult with the HVAC specialist you are working under concerning what you should be looking for. Otherwise, ask a local Anthem AZ HVAC contractor if they can provide some tips. Additionally keep in mind that unless you are willing to relocate, the school needs to be within commuting distance of your Anthem AZ residence. Remember that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation costs there may be increased tuition charges compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's desirable that you get as much one-on-one training as possible, which can be challenging in bigger classes. Ask if you can monitor a few of the classes so that you can observe how large they are and experience the interaction between teachers and students. Talk with some of the students and get their comments concerning class sizes and instruction. Finally, talk to a few of the teachers 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 meet your needs. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Anthem AZ, verify that the programs you are considering offer those options. 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 policy is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, sickness or family emergencies.
Earn Your HVAC Training and Certification
Enrolling in the ideal HVAC school program is a crucial first step toward a fulfilling career in the heating & cooling trade. As we have addressed in this article, you need to pick a Heating and Cooling training program and a certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have exceptional reputations within the HVAC trade. Other factors to look for are plenty of practical training and modern facilities. You should go to each of the schools personally that you are most interested in to tour the campus and speak with both the current students and faculty. Attempt to get a feel for the quality of the teaching and the interaction between them. Additionally, inquire about scheduling options and whether evening or weekend classes are offered if needed. And remember to ask about financial assistance and student loan options as well. If you ask the proper questions as we have outlined 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 eventually become a licensed HVAC technician in Anthem AZ.