How to Enroll In the Right HVAC School near Apache Junction Arizona
Once you have come to a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioning technician, the next step is to find an HVAC technical school near Apache Junction AZ. But with so many to select from, how do you decide on the best one to get the training that you need? A number of future students will make their choice based entirely on the price of tuition or how close the school is to their residence. Even though these are significant considerations, they are not the only ones to investigate. Some of the other things that you need to look into are the graduation completion rates of the HVAC schools, their reputations, and if they are accredited by professional trade organizations. Those and additional criteria will be addressed in more detail later within this article. But before we explore how to pick an HVAC vocational school, let's look at what a heating and cooling specialist does to become a licensed qualified tradesman.
Becoming an HVAC Professional
HVAC is an acronym that is commonly used in the trade that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC professionals provide services for the installation, maintenance and repair of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are typically mandated to be licensed, although every state and regional municipality has its own criteria. Attaining professional certification is not mandatory, but an optional way for Apache Junction AZ HVAC technicians to establish that they are highly skilled and accomplished in their area of expertise. There are several recognized certifications within the trade that are available. Here are a few of the significant ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally recognized certification for HVAC technicians. 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 field experience together with passing a comprehensive exam are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have 3 years of experience together with a passing result on the professional level examination. As with NATE, certifications are offered in multiple specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is required for technicians that work with refrigerants. There are 3 types of certification obtainable, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Considering that licensing could be mandated in your location, and you may also desire to acquire certification, it's essential that you pick an HVAC technical school that will train you for both. And since you will most likely be working with refrigerants, make sure that the program you choose readies you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
HVAC Certificate and Degree Schools
There are a variety of options available for HVAC training in a trade or technical school. You can obtain 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 six months, although some programs are longer. A certificate will qualify 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 advantage in the job market and will deliver more extensive training than the certificate programs. Below is a brief description of each credential offered near Apache Junction AZ.
- Certificate. Generally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among beginning commercial or residential HVAC specialists. They provide a strong foundation of skills for employment within the trade.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program supplies a more detailed understanding of heating and a/c systems than the certificate program. Generally taking 2 years to complete, 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 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.
Picking the appropriate credential program will be dependent on what your future career aspirations are, together with the time and financial resources that you have to invest. One possibility is to start with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after getting some experience in the trade in Apache Junction AZ, subsequently going back to earn a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your tactic, make certain to ask the HVAC tech school you are considering about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Online Courses
Enrolling in an HVAC program online is one option to attaining your education and earning a certificate or degree. Nearly all schools will require some attendance on campus to complete practical training. Some 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 attended online, this approach may be a more practical solution for many Apache Junction AZ students that are short on time. And some online degree programs are less expensive than other traditional choices. Even commuting expenses from Apache Junction and study materials may be minimized, helping to make schooling more affordable. And numerous online programs are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your career or family commitments have left you with limited time to attend classes, perhaps an online HVAC degree program will make it easier to accommodate school into your hectic lifestyle.
Questions to Ask HVAC Certification Classes
After you have selected the type of degree or certificate that you wish to earn, either online or on campus, you can begin to decrease your selection of schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are many HVAC vocational schools in the Apache Junction AZ area and across the United States to choose from. That's why it is essential to have a checklist of relevant qualifiers when making school assessments. As earlier stated in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will most likely be the first 2 aspects you will consider. Following are several additional ones that you need to investigate before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Many HVAC trade programs in the Apache Junction AZ area have attained either a regional or a national accreditation. They can earn Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to an individual program, such as HVAC technology. Confirm that the school and program are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency, for example the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping guarantee that you receive an excellent education, it may help in securing financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently unavailable for non-accredited schools. Also, many states mandate that the HVAC training course be accredited in order to qualify for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the HVAC schools you are reviewing what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage or portion of students who enroll in and complete the course. A lower completion rate may signify that students were dissatisfied with the program and dropped out. It might also indicate that the teachers were not qualified to train the students. It's similarly imperative that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive directory of graduates, which can result in more contacts for the school to employ 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 trade, but also that it has the network of Apache Junction AZ HVAC employers to assist graduates acquire apprenticeships or jobs.
Apprenticeship Programs. Most HVAC technical programs are taught in conjunction with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating trade and technical programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of HVAC contractors or labor unions. Check if the schools you are considering have referring relationships with local Apache Junction AZ HVAC contractors. An apprenticeship not only provides a rewarding experience by providing hands-on training, but it also supplies job opportunities and helps to form relationships in the area HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Confirm that the campus 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, talk to the HVAC specialist you are working with regarding what you should be looking for. If not, ask a local Apache Junction AZ HVAC contractor if they can give you some suggestions. Also keep 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 relocation costs there may be increased tuition fees compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's important that you get as much individualized instruction as possible, which can be difficult in larger classes. Ask if you can sit in on a couple of the classes so that you can see how large they are and witness first hand the interaction between teachers and students. Talk with some of the students and get their opinions regarding class sizes and instruction. Last, talk with some of the teachers and find out what their level of experience is and what degrees or certifications they have earned.
Flexible Scheduling. Verify that the class schedules for the programs you are assessing are flexible enough to handle your needs. If you are only able to go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Apache Junction 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 allows part-time enrollment. Additionally, check out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, sickness or family issues.
Get Your Heating and Cooling Training and Certification
Picking the right HVAC training course is an important first step toward a fulfilling career in the heating & cooling field. As we have discussed in this article, you need to select a Heating and Cooling training program and a degree or certificate program that are both accredited and have outstanding reputations within the HVAC trade. Other factors to search 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 explore the campus and speak with both the faculty and current students. Try to get a feel for the quality of the teaching and the interaction between them. In addition, inquire about scheduling choices 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 appropriate questions as we have detailed in our guidelines for comparing schools, you'll be able to narrow down 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 technician in Apache Junction AZ.