How to Pick the Right Heating and Cooling Certification Course near Apache Junction Arizona
Once you have decided on a career as a heating and air conditioner specialist, the next step is to find an HVAC trade school near Apache Junction AZ. But with so many to pick from, how do you choose the right one to get the training that you need? Some potential students will make their decision based solely on the cost of tuition or how near the school is to their residence. Even though these are relevant factors to consider, they are not the only ones to investigate. Some of the other things that you need to look into 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 discussed in more detail later within this article. But before we examine how to pick an HVAC vocational school, let's look at what a heating and air conditioning specialist does to become a licensed qualified tradesman.
Becoming an HVAC Contractor
HVAC is an acronym that is frequently used in the trade that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC professionals specialize in the installation, maintenance and repair of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are typically required to be licensed, though every state and regional municipality has its own requirements. Acquiring professional certification is not mandatory, but an alternative means for Apache Junction AZ HVAC techs to demonstrate that they are highly proficient and accomplished in their area of expertise. There are several respected certifications within the industry 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 achieved by passing a proficiency exam and may be received in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification offers both a professional and a master specialist credential. 2 years of field experience as well as passing a comprehensive exam are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have three years of experience together with a passing score on the professional level exam. As with NATE, certifications are provided in multiple specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is mandatory for techs that handle refrigerants. There are 3 forms of certification available, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Considering that licensing might be mandated in your location, and you may also desire to acquire certification, it's essential that you enroll in an HVAC vocational school that will train you for both. And since you will more than likely be dealing with refrigerants, make sure that the program you select preps you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.
HVAC Certificate and Degree Training Programs
There are a number of choices available for HVAC training in a technical or vocational school. You can earn a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Acquiring a certificate will take the least amount of time, usually achieved in just six months, though some programs are longer. A certificate will train you for most HVAC positions, especially if you are licensed and have certification appropriate to the position. The degree training programs might provide a competitive edge for securing employment and will furnish more comprehensive training than the certificate programs. Following is a brief description of each credential offered near Apache Junction AZ.
- Certificate. Usually requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among beginning commercial or residential HVAC technicians. They furnish a solid foundation of skills for employment within the trade.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program supplies a more exhaustive background of heating and a/c systems than the certificate program. Typically requiring two years to finish, some degrees feature an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is suited more for a career in management as well as business ownership. Some programs call for an Associate Degree, while others are a conventional four 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 appropriate credential program will be dependent on what your future career goals are, as well as the time and money that you have to commit. One approach is to begin with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after gaining some experience in the trade in Apache Junction AZ, later returning to acquire a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your strategy, be sure to ask the HVAC tech school you are considering about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Online Training
Enrolling in an HVAC program online is one possibility to getting your education and earning a certificate or degree. Nearly all schools will require some attendance on campus to participate in practical training. Many also provide 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 on the web, this option may be a more practical solution for some Apache Junction AZ students that are pressed for time. And many online degree programs are cheaper than other on campus alternatives. Even commuting expenses from Apache Junction and study materials may be reduced, helping to make education more affordable. And numerous online programs are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your career or family responsibilities have left you with limited time to attend classes, perhaps an HVAC online training program will make it more convenient to accommodate school into your busy schedule.
Questions For HVAC Training Programs
Once you have selected the type of certificate or degree that you wish to earn, either online or on campus, you can start to narrow down your selection of schools. As you are probably aware, there are numerous HVAC technical schools in the Apache Junction AZ area and throughout the United States to select from. That's why it is essential to have a checklist of relevant qualifiers when making school comparisons. As previously mentioned in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will most likely be the first 2 factors you will look at. Following are some additional ones that you should research before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Many HVAC vocational programs in the Apache Junction AZ area have earned either a regional or a national accreditation. They may earn Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to a specific program, such as HVAC technology. Confirm 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 get a superior education, it can assist in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are in many cases unavailable for non-accredited programs. Also, some states mandate that the HVAC training course be accredited in order to qualify for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the HVAC schools you are looking at what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage of students who enroll in and complete the course. A lower completion rate may signify that students were dissatisfied with the program and quit. It might also mean that the instructors were not competent 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 broader directory of alumni, 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 confirm that the school has a good reputation within the field, but additionally that it has the network of Apache Junction AZ HVAC employers to help grads acquire apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. Many HVAC trade 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 inside their network of Heating and Cooling companies or labor unions. Ask if the schools you are comparing 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 area HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make certain that the campus facilities and the equipment that you will be instructed on are up-to-date and what you will be using on the job. If you are currently in an internship or an apprenticeship, check with the HVAC specialist you are working with concerning what you should be looking for. If not, ask a local Apache Junction AZ HVAC company if they can provide some tips. Also bear in mind that unless you can move, the school needs to be within commuting distance of your Apache Junction AZ residence. Take note that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides the added moving costs there might be higher tuition charges compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's important that you receive as much one-on-one instruction as possible, which can be difficult in larger classes. Ask if you can sit in on a few of the classes so that you can see how big they are and witness first hand the interaction between teachers and students. Speak to a few of the students and get their opinions relating to class sizes and instruction. Last, speak with some of the teachers and learn what their level of expertise is and what certifications or degrees they have earned.
Flexible Scheduling. Verify that the class schedules for the schools you are evaluating are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Apache Junction AZ, confirm 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. Finally, check out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, sickness or family issues.
Find Out More About Apache Junction Heating and Cooling Schools In Your Area
Get Your HVAC Certificate or Degree
Choosing the right HVAC school course is an important beginning toward a rewarding career in the heating and air conditioning trade. As we have discussed in this article, you need to pick 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 features to search for are lots of hands-on training and state-of-the-art facilities. You should visit each of the schools personally that you are most interested in to explore the campus and talk with both the faculty and current students. Try to get a feel for the quality of the teaching and the interaction between them. Additionally, inquire about scheduling choices and whether or not evening or weekend classes are offered if needed. And don't forget to ask about financial assistance and student loan options as well. If you ask the appropriate questions as we have outlined in our guidelines for assessing schools, you'll be able to filter your choices so that you can make an educated decision. With the appropriate training, hard work and commitment, you can eventually become a licensed HVAC technician in Apache Junction AZ.