How to Pick the Right HVAC Training Class near Buckeye Arizona
Now that you have made a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioning specialist, the next action is to locate an HVAC trade school near Buckeye AZ. But with so many to select from, how do you choose the ideal one to receive the training that you require? Some future students will make their selection based solely on the price of tuition or how close the school is to their residence. While these are necessary factors to consider, they are not the only ones to evaluate. Just some of the other things that you need to research are the graduation rates of the HVAC schools, their reputations, and if they are accredited by professional trade organizations. Those and other benchmarks will be covered in more detail later within this article. But before we tackle how to choose an HVAC trade school, let's take a look at what a heating and cooling specialist does to become a licensed skilled tradesman.
Becoming an HVAC Tech
HVAC is an acronym that is commonly used in the industry that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC technicians provide services for the installation, maintenance and repair of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are typically mandated to be licensed, however each state and regional municipality has its own prerequisites. Obtaining professional certification is not mandatory, but an alternative means for Buckeye AZ HVAC techs to demonstrate that they are exceptionally skilled and experienced in their area of specialization. There are many acknowledged certifications within the field that are offered. Here are some of the important ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally acknowledged certification for HVAC techs. 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. Two years of professional experience together with passing a comprehensive exam are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have three years of experience along with a passing result on the professional level exam. Similar to NATE, certifications are provided in several specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is mandatory for specialists that work with refrigerants. There are 3 types of certification offered, one for small appliances, and the other 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 essential that you choose an HVAC trade school that will train you for both. And since you will most likely be dealing with refrigerants, make sure that the program you choose prepares you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.
HVAC Degree Courses
There are a variety of options available for HVAC instruction in a technical or trade school. You can earn a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Acquiring a certificate will take the minimum period of time, typically accomplished in just 6 months, although some courses are longer. A certificate will train you for the majority of HVAC positions, especially if you are licensed and have certification appropriate to the position. The degree training programs can provide a competitive advantage for securing employment and will deliver more comprehensive training than the certificate programs. Following is a short summary of each credential offered near Buckeye AZ.
- Certificate. Generally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among entry level commercial or residential HVAC professionals. They provide a strong foundation of skills for employment within the trade.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program provides a more comprehensive understanding of heating and a/c systems than the certificate program. Usually requiring 2 years to complete, some 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 standard four year program. In addition to mastering how to service and maintain heating and cooling systems, you will also study how to design them.
Selecting the ideal credential program will be dependent on what your future career objectives are, in addition to the time and financial resources that you have to invest. One option is to begin with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after acquiring some experience in the trade in Buckeye AZ, later going back to acquire a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your approach, be sure to ask the HVAC technician school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Schools Online
Attending an HVAC school online is one option to getting your education and earning a certificate or degree. Nearly all schools will call for some attendance on campus to take part in hands on training. A number also sponsor internship or work-study programs in addition to or as an alternative to practical lab work. But since the rest of the classes can be participated in on the web, this approach may be a more accessible solution for some Buckeye AZ students that are short on time. And a number of online degree programs are less expensive than other on campus choices. Even driving expenses from Buckeye and study materials can be reduced, helping to make schooling more affordable. And many online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your job or family responsibilities have left you with little time to attend classes, maybe an online HVAC degree program will make it more convenient to accommodate school into your hectic schedule.
Questions to Ask HVAC Training Programs
After you have selected the type of degree or certificate that you would like to acquire, either on campus or online, you can begin to limit your list of schools. As you are certainly aware, there are numerous HVAC vocational schools in the Buckeye AZ area and across the USA to select from. That's why it is essential to have a checklist of relevant qualifiers when making school assessments. As formerly 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. Numerous HVAC technical schools in the Buckeye AZ area have received either a regional or a national accreditation. They may attain Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to a specific program, for instance HVAC technology. Confirm that the program is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting organization, which includes the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping ensure that you receive a superior education, it may assist in securing financial aid or student loans, which are often not available for non-accredited schools. Additionally, a number of states mandate that the HVAC training course be accredited for it to qualify for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the Heating and Cooling 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 low completion rate may indicate that students were dissatisfied with the program and dropped out. It might also signify that the teachers were not qualified to instruct the students. It's similarly important that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader list of graduates, which may produce more contacts for the school to utilize 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 industry, but additionally that it has the network of Buckeye AZ HVAC employers to help students obtain apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. A large number of HVAC vocational programs are taught along with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating vocational and technical programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of HVAC contractors or labor unions. Ask if the schools you are considering have working partnerships with local Buckeye AZ HVAC contractors. An apprenticeship not only offers a valuable experience by providing hands-on training, but it also furnishes job opportunities and helps to build relationships in the area HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Confirm that the school facilities and the tools that you will be instructed on are up-to-date and what you will be using in the field. If you are currently in an internship or an apprenticeship, check with the HVAC specialist you are working under regarding what you should be looking for. Otherwise, ask a local Buckeye AZ HVAC contracting company if they can give you some suggestions. Also keep in mind that unless you are able to relocate, the school needs to be within driving distance of your Buckeye AZ residence. Remember that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, besides the added relocation costs there may be increased 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 difficult in bigger classes. Ask if you can monitor a few of the classes so that you can observe how large they are and witness first hand the interaction between students and instructors. Talk to some of the students and get their comments relating to class sizes and instruction. Last, talk to a few of the teachers and find out what their level of expertise is and what degrees or certifications they hold.
Flexible Scheduling. Make sure that the class schedules for the schools you are evaluating are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Buckeye AZ, verify that the schools you are looking at provide those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, be sure that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Also, ask what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, illness or family issues.
Earn Your Heating and Cooling Degree and Certification
Picking the right HVAC training course is a critical first step toward a fulfilling career in the heating and cooling industry. As we have covered 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 field. Other features to look for are lots of hands-on training and modern facilities. You need to visit each of the schools personally that you are most interested in to explore the campus and speak with both the current students and faculty. Attempt to get a feel for the quality of the training and the interaction between them. In addition, inquire about scheduling options and whether night or weekend classes are offered if needed. And remember to inquire about financial assistance and student loan options also. If you ask the appropriate questions as we have detailed in our checklist for assessing schools, you'll be able to narrow down your options so that you can make an educated decision. With the appropriate training, hard work and commitment, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC technician in Buckeye AZ.