How to Choose the Right HVAC Certification Training near Apache Junction Arizona
Now that you have decided on a career as a heating and air conditioning technician, the next action is to locate an HVAC vocational school near Apache Junction AZ. But with so many to choose from, how do you pick the ideal one to get the training that you need? Many potential students will make their decision based exclusively on the cost of tuition or how close the school is to their home. Even though these are significant considerations, they are not the only ones to evaluate. A few of the other details that you need to research are the graduation completion rates of the HVAC schools, their reputations, and if they are accredited by professional trade organizations. These and other criteria will be discussed in more detail later within this article. But before we explore how to pick an HVAC technical school, let's take a look at what a heating and cooling contractor does to become a licensed qualified tradesman.
How to Become an HVAC Tech
HVAC is an acronym that is commonly used in the business that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC techs specialize in the installation, maintenance and repair of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are commonly required to be licensed, however every state and local municipality has its own criteria. Obtaining professional certification is not compulsory, but an alternative way for Apache Junction AZ HVAC technicians to demonstrate that they are highly skilled and experienced in their area of expertise. There are multiple recognized certifications within the trade that are offered. Here 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 competency examination and may be received 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 examination are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have 3 years of experience as well as a passing score on the professional level exam. As with NATE, certifications are provided in various specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is necessary for technicians that handle refrigerants. There are three forms of certification available, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Considering that licensing could be mandated in your area, and you may also intend to obtain certification, it's imperative that you pick an HVAC technical school that will prepare you for both. And since you will probably be dealing with refrigerants, make certain that the program you select readies you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
HVAC Certificate and Degree Courses
There are several options available for HVAC training in a technical or trade school. You can obtain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Earning a certificate will take the minimum period of time, often completed in as little as six months, though some courses are longer. A certificate will qualify you for the majority of HVAC positions, particularly 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. Following is a short explanation of each option offered near Apache Junction AZ.
- Certificate. Usually requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among beginning 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 delivers a more extensive knowledge of heating and a/c systems than the certificate program. Usually taking two years to complete, some 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 or even business ownership. Some programs call for an Associate Degree, while others are a standard 4 year program. In addition to being taught how to service and maintain heating and air conditioning systems, you will also study how to design them.
Choosing the appropriate credential program will be dependent on what your long term career goals are, together with 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 gaining some experience in the field in Apache Junction AZ, eventually returning to earn a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your tactic, make sure to ask the HVAC tech school you are considering about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Online Classes
Enrolling in an HVAC school online is one option in obtaining your training and receiving a certificate or degree. Almost all schools will call for some attendance on campus to participate in practical training. Some also offer internship or work-study programs in addition to or in place of practical lab work. But since the remainder of the classes can be participated in via the internet, this alternative may be a more accessible solution for some Apache Junction AZ students that are pressed for time. And some online degree programs are less expensive than other on campus choices. Even driving expenses from Apache Junction and study materials may be reduced, helping to make schooling more affordable. And many online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your career or family commitments have left you with minimal time to attend classes, maybe an HVAC online training program will make it easier to fit school into your busy lifestyle.
Questions For HVAC Training Programs
When you have chosen the type of degree or certificate that you wish to obtain, either on campus or online, you can start to limit your list of schools. As you are probably aware, there are a large number of HVAC vocational schools in the Apache Junction AZ area and across the Country to choose from. That's why it is very important to have a list of important qualifiers when making school assessments. As previously mentioned 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 research before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Numerous HVAC vocational schools in the Apache Junction AZ area have earned either a regional or a national accreditation. They may receive Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to a specific program, for example HVAC technology. Make sure that the school and program are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting agency, for instance the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping make certain that you receive a quality education, it may assist in securing financial assistance or student loans, which are in many cases 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 Cooling schools you are reviewing what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students who enroll in and finish the program. A lower completion rate could indicate that students were unhappy with the program and quit. It may also mean that the instructors were not competent to instruct the students. It's similarly essential that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader list of graduates, which can result in 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 field, but also that it has the network of Apache Junction AZ HVAC employers to help grads acquire apprenticeships or jobs.
Apprenticeship Programs. Numerous HVAC trade programs are taught in conjunction with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating technical and vocational schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of Heating and Cooling businesses or trade unions. Ask if the schools you are considering have working partnerships with local Apache Junction AZ HVAC companies. An apprenticeship not only offers a valuable experience by supplying practical training, but it also provides employment opportunities and helps to build relationships in the area HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make sure that the campus facilities and the equipment that you will be instructed on are up-to-date and what you will be working with in the field. If you are currently in an internship or an apprenticeship, talk to the HVAC specialist you are working with concerning what you should be expecting. Otherwise, ask a local Apache Junction AZ HVAC company if they can give you some suggestions. Additionally keep in mind that unless you are willing to relocate, the school needs to be within driving distance of your Apache Junction AZ home. Remember that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation costs there can be higher tuition fees compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's desirable that you receive as much one-on-one instruction as possible, which can be challenging in larger classes. Ask if you can sit in on a couple of the classes so that you can observe how large they are and witness first hand the interaction between students and teachers. Talk to several of the students and get their feedback relating to class sizes and instruction. Last, talk with a few of the instructors and find out what their level of experience is and what degrees or certifications they hold.
Flexible Scheduling. Make sure that the class schedules for the programs you are evaluating are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Apache Junction AZ, check that the schools you are considering offer those choices. If you can only attend part-time, be sure that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Additionally, ask what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, illness or family issues.
Get Your HVAC Degree and Certification
Selecting the right HVAC training course is an important first step toward a rewarding career in the heating and air conditioning field. As we have addressed in this article, you should select 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 lots of hands-on training and modern facilities. You should go to each of the schools in person that you are most interested in to tour the campus and speak with both the faculty and current students. Attempt to get a feel for the quality of the instruction and the interaction between them. In addition, ask about scheduling options and if evening or weekend classes are offered if needed. And don't forget to inquire about financial aid and student loan options too. If you ask the appropriate questions as we have laid out in our checklist for comparing schools, you'll be able to narrow down your options so that you can make an informed decision. With the right training, hard work and dedication, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC contractor in Apache Junction AZ.