How to Pick the Right Heating and Cooling School near Apache Junction Arizona
Now that you have made a decision on a career as a heating and cooling specialist, the next step is to choose an HVAC trade school near Apache Junction AZ. But with so many to pick from, how do you decide on the best one to obtain the training that you need? Some potential students will make their choice based solely on the price of tuition or how close the school is to their residence. While these are necessary concerns, they are not the only ones to evaluate. Just some of the other factors 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 additional criteria will be covered in more detail later in this article. But before we examine how to choose an HVAC technical school, let's look at what a heating and a/c technician does to become a licensed qualified tradesman.
Becoming an HVAC Professional
HVAC is an acronym that is widely used in the business that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC technicians specialize in the installation, repair and maintenance of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are commonly mandated to be licensed, although every state and regional municipality has its own criteria. Attaining professional certification is not mandatory, but an alternative way for Apache Junction AZ HVAC specialists to demonstrate that they are highly proficient and accomplished in their area of expertise. There are many respected certifications within the industry 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 may be earned in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification offers both a professional and a master specialist credential. Two years of field experience as well as passing a comprehensive exam are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have three years of experience in addition to a passing score on the professional level exam. Similar to NATE, certifications are made available in several specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is required for specialists 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.
Since licensing could be required in your area, and you may also desire to earn certification, it's imperative that you pick an HVAC trade school that will prepare you for both. And since you will most likely be handling refrigerants, make sure that the school you choose prepares you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.
HVAC Degree Schools
There are a variety of options available for HVAC instruction in a technical or trade school. You can attain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Acquiring a certificate will take the minimum amount of time, typically accomplished in as little as 6 months, however some programs are longer. A certificate will train you for most HVAC positions, particularly if you are licensed and have certification applicable to the position. The degree training programs can provide a competitive advantage for securing employment and will provide more in-depth training than the certificate programs. Following is a short explanation of each credential offered near Apache Junction AZ.
- Certificate. Normally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among entry level commercial or residential HVAC specialists. They furnish a solid foundation of skills for job opportunities within the industry.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program supplies a more extensive understanding of heating and a/c 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 suited more towards 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 mastering how to service and maintain heating and air conditioning systems, you will also learn how to design them.
Selecting the right credential program will be dependent on what your future career aspirations are, as well as the time and financial resources 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 field in Apache Junction AZ, later going back to obtain a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your tactic, be sure to ask the HVAC technician school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Online Classes
Attending an HVAC program online is one approach to obtaining your training and receiving a degree or certificate. Almost all schools will require some attendance on campus to take part in practical training. A number also offer internship or work-study programs in addition to or instead of practical lab work. But since the balance of the classes can be participated in via the internet, this approach may be a more accessible solution for some Apache Junction AZ students that are pressed for time. And some online degree programs are cheaper than other on campus options. Even travelling expenses from Apache Junction and study materials may be lessened, helping to make schooling more affordable. And many online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your job 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 active lifestyle.
What to Ask HVAC Training Classes
After you have chosen the type of degree or certificate that you would like to acquire, either online or on campus, you can start to decrease your list of schools. As you are certainly aware, there are numerous HVAC trade schools in the Apache Junction AZ area and throughout the Country to select from. That's why it is essential to have a list of important qualifiers when making school evaluations. As previously mentioned in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will undoubtedly be the first two variables you will look at. Following are some additional ones that you will want to research before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Numerous HVAC trade schools in the Apache Junction AZ area have received either a regional or a national accreditation. They can attain Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to an individual program, for instance HVAC technology. Verify that the school and program are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization, for example the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping guarantee that you acquire a quality education, it can assist in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are frequently not available for non-accredited schools. Additionally, many states require that the HVAC training course be accredited for it to be approved for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the Heating and Air Conditioning schools you are looking at what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage of students who enroll in and finish the course. A lower completion rate may indicate that students were unhappy with the course and dropped out. It may also suggest that the instructors were not qualified to instruct 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 alumni, which can result in more contacts for the school to use for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate will not only affirm that the school has a good reputation within the industry, but additionally that it has the network of Apache Junction AZ HVAC employers to assist graduates acquire apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. A large number of HVAC trade programs are taught together with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating trade and technical schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of HVAC contractors or labor unions. Ask if the schools you are reviewing have working relationships with local Apache Junction AZ HVAC contractors. An apprenticeship not only offers a rewarding experience by supplying practical training, but it also provides job opportunities and helps to build relationships in the local HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make sure 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, consult with the HVAC specialist you are working under regarding what you should be expecting. If not, ask a local Apache Junction AZ HVAC contractor if they can provide some pointers. Also bear in mind that unless you can relocate, the school must be within commuting distance of your Apache Junction AZ residence. Remember that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to moving costs there might be higher tuition charges compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's important that you get as much personalized 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 observe how large they are and experience the interaction between students and teachers. Talk with several of the students and get their feedback concerning class sizes and instruction. Finally, talk with a few of the teachers and find out what their level of experience is and what degrees or certifications they hold.
Flexible Scheduling. Confirm that the class schedules for the programs you are evaluating are flexible enough to handle your needs. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Apache Junction AZ, check that the schools you are considering offer those options. If you can only attend part-time, 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 emergencies.
Learn More About Apache Junction Heating and Cooling Courses Near You
Get Your Heating and Cooling Certificate or Degree
Picking the ideal HVAC school program is an important beginning toward a fulfilling career in the heating and cooling industry. As we have discussed in this article, you should select a Heating and Cooling training program and a certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have exceptional reputations within the HVAC field. Other features to search for are plenty of practical training and state-of-the-art facilities. You need to visit each of the schools personally that you are most interested in to inspect the campus and speak 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 whether night or weekend classes are offered if needed. And remember to inquire about financial assistance and student loan options as well. If you ask the proper questions as we have detailed in our checklist for evaluating schools, you'll be able to filter your options so that you can make an educated decision. With the appropriate training, hard work and commitment, you can eventually become a licensed HVAC contractor in Apache Junction AZ.