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How to Find the Right Heating and Cooling Degree Program near Apache Junction Arizona

Apache Junction Arizona residential A/C condensersNow that you have come to a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioning 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 pick the right one to receive the training that you require? A number of prospective students will make their decision based entirely on the price of tuition or how close the school is to their home. Even though these are necessary considerations, they are not the only ones to take into account. Just some of the other things that you need to research are the graduation rates of the HVAC schools, their reputations, and if they are accredited by professional trade organizations. These and other criteria will be addressed in more detail later in this article. But before we discuss how to choose an HVAC trade school, let's look at what a heating and air conditioning professional does to become a licensed qualified tradesman.

How to Become an HVAC Professional

Apache Junction Arizona HVAC Technician inspecting A/C condenserHVAC is an acronym that is commonly used in the industry that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC contractors specialize in the installation, maintenance and repair of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are generally required to be licensed, however every state and local municipality has its own requirements. Earning professional certification is not compulsory, but an alternative means for Apache Junction AZ HVAC technicians to prove that they are exceptionally skilled and experienced in their area of expertise. There are many recognized certifications within the industry that are available. Following 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 examination and can be received in one or more specialties.
  • HVAC Excellence. This certification offers both a professional and a master specialist credential. 2 years of professional experience as well as passing a comprehensive exam are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have 3 years of experience along with a passing result on the professional level examination. Similar to NATE, certifications are offered in various specialties.
  • EPA Section 608. This certification is required for technicians that handle refrigerants. There are three types of certification obtainable, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.

Since licensing might be required in your location, and you may also desire to obtain certification, it's important that you select an HVAC technical school that will train you for both. And since you will probably be working with refrigerants, make sure that the school you choose readies you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.

HVAC Degree Training Programs

Apache Junction Arizona home heating pump

There are several options available for HVAC training in a trade or technical school. You can earn a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Obtaining a certificate will take the lesser amount of time, often completed in as little as 6 months, though some programs are longer. A certificate will qualify you for the majority of HVAC positions, particularly if you are licensed and have certification related to the position. The degree programs can provide a competitive advantage for securing employment and will deliver more in-depth training than the certificate programs. Below is a brief summary of each credential offered near Apache Junction AZ.

  • Certificate. Normally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among beginning commercial or residential HVAC technicians. They provide a solid foundation of skills for employment within the trade.
  • Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program provides a more extensive understanding of heating & cooling systems than the certificate program. Typically taking two years to finish, some 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 standard four year program. In addition to learning how to service and maintain heating and cooling systems, you will also study how to design them.

Picking the appropriate credential program will be based on what your long term career aspirations are, along with the time and money that you have to invest. One option is to begin with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after acquiring some experience in the trade in Apache Junction AZ, subsequently going back 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 Online Training

Choosing an HVAC school online is one option in getting your training and earning a certificate or degree. Almost all schools will require some attendance on campus to take part in hands on training. Many also provide internship or work-study programs in addition to or instead of practical lab work. But since the remainder of the classes can be participated in on the web, this alternative may be a more convenient solution for some Apache Junction AZ students that are pressed for time. And some online degree programs are less costly than other on campus options. Even driving expenses from Apache Junction and study materials can be reduced, helping to make education more economical. And numerous online programs are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your career or family responsibilities have left you with minimal time to attend classes, perhaps an HVAC online training program will make it more convenient to accommodate school into your hectic schedule.

What to Ask HVAC Schools

Apache Junction Arizona HVAC technician servicing water heater

Once you have picked the type of certificate or degree that you want to earn, either on campus or online, you can begin to decrease your list of schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are numerous HVAC technical schools in the Apache Junction AZ area and across the Country to pick from. That's why it is essential to have a list of key qualifications when making school comparisons. As earlier stated in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will most likely be the initial two variables you will take into consideration. Following are several additional ones that you will want to investigate before enrolling in your school of choice.

Accreditation.  Numerous HVAC technical schools in the Apache Junction AZ area have earned 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 example HVAC technology. Confirm that the program is 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 obtain an excellent education, it may assist in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are often unavailable for non-accredited schools. Furthermore, many states mandate that the HVAC training program 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 portion or percentage of students who enroll in and complete the course. A low completion rate could indicate that students were dissatisfied with the program and quit. It might also signify that the instructors were not competent to train the students. It's also essential that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader list of graduates, which may mean more contacts for the school to use for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate can not only affirm that the school has a good reputation within the industry, but also that it has the network of Apache Junction AZ HVAC employers to help students obtain apprenticeships or employment.

Apprenticeship Programs.  Numerous HVAC training programs are taught together with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating vocational and technical programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of HVAC contractors or trade unions. Check if the schools you are comparing have referring partnerships with local Apache Junction AZ HVAC professionals. An apprenticeship not only offers a valuable experience by furnishing hands-on training, but it also supplies employment opportunities and helps to establish relationships in the local HVAC professional community.

Modern Facilities.  Confirm that the school facilities and the equipment that you will be trained on are up-to-date and what you will be working with on the job. If you are already in an internship or an apprenticeship, consult with the HVAC tech you are working with regarding what you should be looking for. Otherwise, ask a local Apache Junction AZ HVAC company if they can provide some suggestions. Also bear in mind that unless you are willing to relocate, the school needs to be within commuting distance of your Apache Junction AZ home. Take note that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides the added 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 bigger classes. Ask if you can monitor a few of the classes so that you can observe how big they are and witness first hand the interaction between teachers and students. Speak to some of the students and get their feedback relating to class sizes and instruction. Finally, speak to some of the teachers and find out what their level of expertise is and what degrees or certifications they hold.

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 Apache Junction AZ, verify that the schools you are looking at provide those options. If you can only attend part-time, be sure that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Additionally, check out what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, illness or family emergencies.

Find Out More About Apache Junction HVAC Schools Near You

Earn Your HVAC Certificate or Degree

Enrolling in the ideal HVAC school program is a crucial beginning toward a fulfilling career in the heating and air conditioning 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 outstanding reputations within the HVAC profession. Other things to search for are sufficient practical training and state-of-the-art facilities. You need to visit 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. In addition, inquire about scheduling options and whether evening or weekend classes are available if needed. And don't forget to inquire about financial aid and student loan options as well. If you ask the appropriate questions as we have laid out 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 proper training, hard work and dedication, you can eventually become a licensed HVAC technician in Apache Junction AZ.