How to Find the Right HVAC School near Avondale Arizona
Now that you have made a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioning technician, the next action is to find an HVAC technical school near Avondale AZ. But with so many to choose from, how do you decide on the right one to receive the training that you need? A number of future students will make their decision based entirely on the cost of tuition or how near the school is to their residence. Although these are important considerations, they are not the only ones to evaluate. 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. These and other criteria will be covered in more detail later in this article. But before we discuss how to pick an HVAC technical school, let's take a look at what a heating and a/c specialist does to become a licensed skilled 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 techs provide services for the installation, repair and maintenance of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are commonly required to be licensed, though each state and regional municipality has its own requirements. Obtaining professional certification is not compulsory, but a voluntary way for Avondale AZ HVAC techs to establish that they are highly skilled and accomplished in their area of expertise. There are multiple respected certifications within the industry that are offered. Here are some of the important ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally recognized certification for HVAC techs. The certification is attained by passing a competency examination and can be acquired in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification makes available both a professional and a master specialist credential. Two years of field experience in addition to passing a comprehensive exam are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have 3 years of experience together with a passing score on the professional level examination. As with NATE, certifications are made available in several specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is necessary for techs that work with refrigerants. There are 3 forms of certification available, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Since licensing may be mandated in your location, and you may also intend to acquire certification, it's important that you enroll in an HVAC technical school that will prepare you for both. And since you will most likely be working with refrigerants, make certain that the school you pick readies you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.
HVAC Degree and Certificate Classes
There are a number of options offered for HVAC training in a vocational or trade school. You can obtain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Earning a certificate will take the lesser period of time, usually accomplished in as little as 6 months, although some courses are longer. A certificate will train you for the majority of HVAC positions, particularly if you are licensed and have certification appropriate to the position. The degree training programs can provide a competitive edge in the job market and will furnish more in-depth training than the certificate programs. Following is a brief description of each credential offered near Avondale AZ.
- Certificate. Usually requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among entry level residential or commercial HVAC specialists. They furnish a strong foundation of skills for job opportunities within the industry.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program delivers a more exhaustive background of heating and cooling systems than the certificate program. Normally requiring two years to finish, many degrees feature an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is geared more for a career in management or even business ownership. Some programs require an Associate Degree, while others are a traditional four year program. In addition to being taught how to service and maintain heating and cooling systems, you will also learn how to design them.
Picking the ideal credential program will be based on what your long term career goals are, in addition to the time and money that you have to commit. One approach is to start with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after getting some experience in the field in Avondale AZ, eventually going back to obtain a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your approach, make certain to ask the HVAC tech school you are considering about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Online Schools
Choosing an HVAC program online is one approach in getting your education and receiving a degree or certificate. Most schools will call for some attendance on campus to participate in hands on training. A number also sponsor internship or work-study programs in addition to or instead of practical lab work. But since the rest of the classes can be attended on the web, this option may be a more practical solution for some Avondale AZ students that are pressed for time. And some online degree programs are less expensive than other on campus options. Even travelling expenses from Avondale and study supplies may be lessened, helping to make schooling more budget-friendly. And many online programs are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your work or family responsibilities have left you with minimal time to attend classes, perhaps an online HVAC degree program will make it easier to fit school into your busy lifestyle.
What to Ask HVAC Training Classes
As soon as you have selected the type of degree or certificate that you wish to earn, either on campus or online, you can begin to limit your selection of schools. As you are certainly aware, there are many HVAC vocational schools in the Avondale AZ area and across the United States to pick from. That's why it is imperative to have a checklist of relevant qualifiers when making school assessments. As previously stated in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will undoubtedly be the initial two factors you will consider. Following are several additional ones that you need to explore before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. A large number of HVAC trade programs in the Avondale AZ area have earned either a regional or a national accreditation. They may acquire Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to a specific program, such as HVAC technology. Confirm that the program is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency, for example the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping make certain that you get an excellent education, it can assist in securing financial assistance or student loans, which are often not available for non-accredited schools. Furthermore, a number of states require that the HVAC training course be accredited in order to be approved 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 program. A lower completion rate may signify that students were unhappy with the course and quit. It could also suggest that the teachers were not competent to train the students. It's also important that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader directory of graduates, which may mean more contacts for the school to utilize 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 trade, but additionally that it has the network of Avondale AZ HVAC employers to assist grads acquire apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. Most HVAC trade programs are taught together with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating trade and vocational programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of HVAC contractors or trade unions. Find out if the schools you are comparing have working partnerships with local Avondale AZ HVAC companies. An apprenticeship not only offers a valuable experience by furnishing hands-on training, but it also provides 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 instructed on are up-to-date and what you will be working with in the field. If you are already in an internship or an apprenticeship, consult with the HVAC tech you are working under regarding what you should be expecting. Otherwise, ask a local Avondale AZ HVAC contracting company if they can give you some pointers. Also keep in mind that unless you can relocate, the school must be within driving distance of your Avondale AZ residence. Remember that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides the added moving costs there may be higher tuition charges compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's important that you receive as much one-on-one training 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 big they are and experience the interaction between teachers and students. Speak with a few of the students and get their comments regarding class sizes and instruction. Finally, speak to some of the teachers and learn what their level of experience is and what certifications or degrees they hold.
Flexible Scheduling. Verify that the class schedules for the programs you are reviewing are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Avondale AZ, check that the programs you are considering provide those choices. If you can only attend part-time, make certain that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Also, check out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, sickness or family issues.
Get Your HVAC Training and Certification
Selecting the right HVAC school course is a crucial beginning toward a gratifying career in the heating & cooling trade. As we have addressed in this article, you should select a Heating and Cooling training program and a degree or certificate program that are both accredited and have excellent reputations within the HVAC community. Other things to search for are plenty of practical training and state-of-the-art facilities. You need to go to each of the schools in person that you are most interested in to inspect the campus and talk with both the faculty and current students. Try to get a feel for the quality of the training 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 aid and student loan options as well. If you ask the right questions as we have laid out in our guidelines for assessing schools, you'll be able to filter your choices so that you can make an informed decision. With the appropriate training, hard work and dedication, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC contractor in Avondale AZ.