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How to Choose the Right Heating and Cooling Certification Class near Buckeye Arizona

Buckeye Arizona residential air conditioning condensersOnce you have decided on a career as a heating and air conditioner professional, the next action is to find an HVAC technical school near Buckeye AZ. But with so many to pick from, how do you decide on the right one to obtain the training that you require? A number of future students will make their decision based solely on the price of tuition or how near the school is to their home. While these are relevant considerations, they are not the only ones to evaluate. A few of the other factors 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. Those and other benchmarks will be addressed in more detail later within this article. But before we explore how to pick an HVAC training program, let's take a look at what a heating and a/c technician does to become a licensed skilled tradesman.

How to Become an HVAC Technician

Buckeye Arizona Heating and Cooling Contractor inspecting A/C condenserHVAC is an acronym that is widely used in the business that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC techs provide services for the installation, maintenance and repair of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are generally required to be licensed, though every state and regional municipality has its own criteria. Earning professional certification is not compulsory, but a voluntary way for Buckeye AZ HVAC specialists to demonstrate that they are exceptionally proficient and experienced in their area of specialization. There are several respected certifications within the trade that are offered. Below are some of the significant ones.

  • North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally recognized certification for HVAC techs. The certification is achieved by passing a proficiency examination and can be acquired in one or more specialties.
  • HVAC Excellence. This certification makes available both a professional and a master specialist credential. 2 years of field experience as well as passing a comprehensive examination are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have 3 years of experience along with a passing result on the professional level examination. Similar to NATE, certifications are offered in various specialties.
  • EPA Section 608. This certification is necessary for techs that work with refrigerants. There are 3 forms of certification obtainable, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.

Since licensing might be mandated in your area, and you may also intend to earn certification, it's imperative that you select an HVAC trade school that will train you for both. And since you will probably be handling refrigerants, make sure that the school you choose preps you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.

HVAC Degree Courses

Buckeye Arizona residential heater

There are several choices offered for HVAC instruction in a technical or vocational school. You can obtain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Earning a certificate will take the least amount of time, typically achieved in just 6 months, however some programs are longer. A certificate will train you for the majority of HVAC positions, especially if you are licensed and have certification relevant to the position. The degree training programs may provide a competitive edge for securing employment and will deliver more in-depth training than the certificate programs. Following is a brief explanation of each credential offered near Buckeye AZ.

  • Certificate. Usually requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among beginning commercial or residential HVAC specialists. They provide a solid foundation of skills for job opportunities within the industry.
  • Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program supplies a more exhaustive knowledge of heating & cooling systems than the certificate program. Normally requiring 2 years to complete, some degrees feature an internship or work-study program.
  • Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is tailored more for a career in management or even business ownership. Some programs require an Associate Degree, while others are a traditional 4 year program. In addition to mastering how to service and maintain heating and cooling systems, you will also learn how to design them.

Selecting the right credential program will be based on what your future career goals are, in addition to the time and money that you have to invest. One option is to begin with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after getting some experience in the field in Buckeye AZ, subsequently going back to earn a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your strategy, make certain to ask the HVAC tech school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.

HVAC Courses Online

Choosing an HVAC program online is one approach in attaining your training and receiving a degree or certificate. Almost all schools will call for some attendance on campus to participate in practical training. A number also provide internship or work-study programs in addition to or instead of practical lab work. But since the remainder of the classes can be attended via the internet, this alternative may be a more practical solution for many Buckeye AZ students that are short on time. And some online degree programs are more economical than other on campus alternatives. Even driving expenses from Buckeye and study materials may be minimized, helping to make education more economical. And a large number of online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your career or family responsibilities have left you with little time to attend classes, perhaps an HVAC online training program will make it more convenient to fit school into your active schedule.

Questions to Ask HVAC Certification Courses

Buckeye Arizona Heating and Cooling technician repairing water heater

When you have chosen the type of certificate or degree that you desire to acquire, either on campus or online, you can begin to limit your selection of schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are numerous HVAC vocational schools in the Buckeye AZ area and all over the USA to select from. That's why it is essential to have a checklist of important qualifications when making school assessments. As previously stated in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will undoubtedly be the first 2 variables you will consider. Following are some additional ones that you need to research before enrolling in your school of choice.

Accreditation.  Many HVAC technical schools in the Buckeye AZ area have attained either a regional or a national accreditation. They may receive Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to an individual program, for instance HVAC technology. Make certain that the school 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 get a quality education, it may assist in securing financial aid or student loans, which are frequently not available for non-accredited programs. Additionally, many states require that the HVAC training course be accredited in order 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 percentage or portion of students who enroll in and finish the program. A lower completion rate might suggest that students were disappointed with the course and dropped out. It may also mean that the teachers were not qualified to instruct the students. It's also imperative that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader list of alumni, which can produce more contacts for the school to employ for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate will not only validate that the school has an excellent reputation within the field, but also that it has the network of Buckeye AZ HVAC employers to assist students obtain apprenticeships or employment.

Apprenticeship Programs.  A large number of HVAC training programs are taught in conjunction with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating technical and vocational programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of HVAC companies or trade unions. Check if the schools you are reviewing have working partnerships with local Buckeye AZ HVAC contractors. An apprenticeship not only provides a valuable experience by providing hands-on training, but it also supplies job opportunities and helps to establish relationships in the area HVAC professional community.

Modern Facilities.  Confirm that the campus facilities and the equipment that you will be trained on are state-of-the-art and what you will be working with in the field. If you are already in an internship or an apprenticeship, check with the HVAC specialist you are working with concerning what you should be looking for. Otherwise, ask a local Buckeye AZ HVAC contractor if they can give you some tips. Additionally bear in mind that unless you can move, 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, in addition to moving costs there may be increased tuition charges compared to in-state residents.

Smaller Classes.   It's important that you get as much personalized training as possible, which can be difficult in larger classes. Ask if you can monitor a few of the classes so that you can observe how big they are and witness first hand the interaction between instructors and students. Speak with a few of the students and get their comments regarding class sizes and instruction. Finally, speak to a few of the instructors and find out what their level of expertise is and what certifications or degrees they have earned.

Flexible Scheduling.  Make sure that the class schedules for the programs you are evaluating are flexible enough to handle your needs. If you are only able to go to classes at night or on weekends near Buckeye AZ, verify that the schools you are comparing provide those choices. If you can only attend part-time, be sure that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Additionally, ask what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, sickness or family issues.

Find Out More About Buckeye HVAC Programs Near You

Get Your Heating and Cooling Degree and Certification

Enrolling in the right HVAC school course is an important first step toward a gratifying career in the heating and cooling field. 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 exceptional reputations within the HVAC profession. Other factors to look for are sufficient hands-on training and state-of-the-art facilities. You need to go to 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. In addition, inquire about scheduling options and whether or not night or weekend classes are available if needed. And don't forget to ask about financial aid and student loan options as well. If you ask the appropriate questions as we have laid out in our checklist for comparing schools, you'll be able to filter 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 technician in Buckeye AZ.