How to Choose the Right HVAC Certification Class near Avondale Arizona
Now that you have made a decision on a career as a heating and cooling technician, the next step is to locate an HVAC technical school near Avondale AZ. But with so many to choose from, how do you pick the best one to receive the training that you need? A number of prospective students will make their decision based solely on the cost of tuition or how close the school is to their residence. Although these are significant considerations, they are not the only ones to investigate. Just some of the other factors that you need to investigate are the graduation rates of the HVAC schools, their reputations, and if they are accredited by professional trade organizations. Those and additional criteria will be covered in more detail later within this article. But before we examine how to pick an HVAC training program, let's take a look at what a heating and a/c specialist does to become a licensed qualified tradesman.
How to Become an HVAC Technician
HVAC is an acronym that is widely used in the trade that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC techs specialize in the installation, repair and maintenance of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are generally mandated to be licensed, although every state and regional municipality has its own criteria. Acquiring professional certification is not required, but a voluntary means for Avondale AZ HVAC techs to establish that they are exceptionally proficient and knowledgeable in their area of expertise. There are a number of respected certifications within the trade that are offered. Below are a few of the important ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally recognized certification for HVAC technicians. The certification is attained by passing a proficiency examination and can be acquired in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification offers both a professional and a master specialist credential. 2 years of professional experience together with passing a comprehensive exam are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have three years of experience as well as a passing score on the professional level exam. As with NATE, certifications are offered in multiple specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is required for technicians that handle refrigerants. There are 3 types of certification available, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Because licensing could be mandated in your location, and you may also wish to earn certification, it's imperative that you select an HVAC trade school that will train you for both. And since you will more than likely be dealing with refrigerants, make certain that the program you select prepares you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.
HVAC Degree Classes
There are a number of alternatives available for HVAC instruction in a technical or vocational school. You can attain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Earning a certificate will take the least period of time, typically accomplished in as little as six months, though some programs are longer. A certificate will train you for most HVAC positions, particularly if you are licensed and have certification applicable to the position. The degree programs can provide a competitive edge in the job market and will provide more comprehensive training than the certificate programs. Following is a short description of each option offered near Avondale AZ.
- Certificate. Normally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among beginning commercial or residential HVAC professionals. They furnish a solid foundation of skills for employment within the industry.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program delivers a more extensive understanding of heating & cooling systems than the certificate program. Typically requiring 2 years to complete, some degrees include an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is suited more for a career in management or even business ownership. Some programs call for an Associate Degree, while others are a standard four year program. In addition to learning how to service and maintain heating and air conditioning systems, you will also study how to design them.
Picking the ideal credential program will be dependent on what your long term career goals are, in addition to 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 gaining some experience in the trade in Avondale AZ, eventually going back to earn a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your approach, make sure to ask the HVAC technician school you are considering about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Online Classes
Choosing an HVAC program online is one possibility in attaining your training and earning a degree or certificate. Most schools will call for some attendance on campus to complete hands on training. Some also offer internship or work-study programs in addition to or in place of practical lab work. But since the balance of the classes can be participated in on the web, this alternative may be a more practical solution for many Avondale AZ students that are pressed for time. And some online degree programs are cheaper than other on campus choices. Even commuting expenses from Avondale and study supplies can be lessened, helping to make education more affordable. And a large number of online programs are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your job or family obligations have left you with limited time to attend classes, perhaps an HVAC online training program will make it easier to accommodate school into your active schedule.
Questions to Ask HVAC Training Classes
As soon as you have selected the type of degree or certificate that you desire to obtain, either online or on campus, you can begin to limit your selection of schools. As you are probably aware, there are a large number of HVAC vocational schools in the Avondale AZ area and all over the USA to choose from. That's why it is extremely important to have a list of important qualifications when making school evaluations. As formerly mentioned in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will undoubtedly be the first 2 variables you will look at. Following are several additional ones that you need to explore before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Many HVAC trade programs in the Avondale AZ area have received either a regional or a national accreditation. They can earn Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to an individual program, for instance HVAC technology. Make sure that the school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting agency, such as the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping guarantee that you receive an excellent education, it can assist in securing financial aid or student loans, which are often unavailable for non-accredited schools. Additionally, many states mandate that the HVAC training program be accredited for it to be approved for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the HVAC schools you are considering 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 signify that students were dissatisfied with the course and dropped out. It may also signify that the teachers were not competent to train the students. It's similarly essential that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive 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 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 students obtain apprenticeships or jobs.
Apprenticeship Programs. Numerous HVAC training programs are taught together 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 businesses or labor unions. Find out if the schools you are comparing have working relationships with local Avondale AZ HVAC specialists. An apprenticeship not only offers a rewarding experience by providing hands-on training, but it also provides employment opportunities and helps to form 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 using on the job. If you are already in an internship or an apprenticeship, talk to the HVAC technician you are working under regarding what you should be looking for. If not, ask a local Avondale AZ HVAC contracting company if they can provide some tips. Additionally keep in mind that unless you can relocate, the school must be within commuting distance of your Avondale AZ residence. Take note that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, in addition to moving costs there may be higher tuition fees compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's desirable that you receive as much personalized instruction as possible, which can be difficult in larger classes. Ask if you can monitor a couple of the classes so that you can see how big they are and experience the interaction between instructors and students. Speak with several of the students and get their feedback regarding class sizes and instruction. Last, talk with some of the instructors and learn what their level of expertise is and what degrees or certifications they have earned.
Flexible Scheduling. Confirm that the class schedules for the programs you are assessing are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Avondale AZ, verify that the schools you are comparing offer those options. If you can only attend part-time, make certain that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Additionally, ask what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, illness or family issues.
Earn Your HVAC Degree and Certification
Selecting the right HVAC school program is a critical beginning toward a fulfilling career in the heating and cooling trade. As we have addressed in this article, you should pick a Heating and Cooling training program and a degree or certificate program that are both accredited and have outstanding reputations within the HVAC field. Other things to look for are lots of hands-on training and modern facilities. You need to check out each of the schools in person that you are most interested in to explore the campus and speak with both the current students and faculty. Try to get a feel for the quality of the instruction and the interaction between them. In addition, inquire about scheduling options and if evening or weekend classes are offered if needed. And remember to ask about financial aid and student loan options also. If you ask the right questions as we have detailed in our guidelines for assessing schools, you'll be able to narrow down your choices so that you can make an informed decision. With the right training, hard work and commitment, you can eventually become a licensed HVAC specialist in Avondale AZ.