How to Enroll In the Right Heating and Cooling Certification Course near Buckeye Arizona
Once you have come to a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioner technician, the next action is to locate an HVAC trade school near Buckeye AZ. But with so many to select from, how do you decide on the ideal one to get the training that you require? A number of potential students will make their decision based solely on the cost of tuition or how near the school is to their home. Even though these are significant factors to consider, they are not the only ones to take into account. Just some 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. Those and additional criteria will be covered in more detail later within this article. But before we examine how to choose an HVAC vocational school, let's take a look at what a heating and air conditioning contractor does to become a licensed skilled tradesman.
How to Become an HVAC Professional
HVAC is an acronym that is frequently used in the trade that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC technicians specialize in the installation, maintenance and repair of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are generally required to be licensed, however every state and regional municipality has its own requirements. Attaining professional certification is not required, but an optional means for Buckeye AZ HVAC technicians to prove that they are highly qualified and accomplished in their area of expertise. There are many recognized certifications within the field that are available. Here are a few of the important ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally acknowledged certification for HVAC technicians. The certification is attained by passing a proficiency exam and may be earned in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification makes available both a professional and a master specialist credential. Two years of professional experience in addition to passing a comprehensive exam are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have 3 years of experience along with a passing score on the professional level examination. As with NATE, certifications are provided in several specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is mandatory for techs that work with 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 might be required in your area, and you may also intend to acquire certification, it's imperative that you select an HVAC technical school that will train you for both. And since you will probably be handling refrigerants, make sure that the program you pick prepares you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
HVAC Degree Schools
There are a number of alternatives available for HVAC instruction in a vocational or trade school. You can attain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Acquiring a certificate will take the minimum period of time, often accomplished in just 6 months, though some courses are longer. A certificate will train you for most HVAC positions, especially if you are licensed and have certification appropriate to the position. The degree programs might provide a competitive advantage in the job market and will furnish more in-depth training than the certificate programs. Below 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 furnish a strong foundation of skills for job opportunities within the industry.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program delivers a more exhaustive understanding of heating & cooling systems than the certificate program. Usually requiring 2 years to finish, some degrees incorporate an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is geared more towards 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 learning how to service and maintain heating and air conditioning systems, you will also learn how to design them.
Selecting the right credential program will be based on what your future career objectives are, together with the time and money that you have to invest. One possibility is to begin with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after getting some experience in the field in Buckeye AZ, subsequently returning to earn a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your tactic, be sure to ask the HVAC tech school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Online Classes
Choosing an HVAC program online is one approach in obtaining your education and earning a degree or certificate. Most schools will require some attendance on campus to take part in practical training. Some also provide internship or work-study programs in addition to or in place of practical lab work. But since the remainder of the classes may be attended on the web, this approach may be a more practical solution for many Buckeye AZ students that are pressed for time. And a number of online degree programs are cheaper than other traditional options. Even driving expenses from Buckeye and study supplies can be reduced, helping to make schooling more economical. And numerous online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your career or family obligations have left you with limited time to attend classes, perhaps an online HVAC degree program will make it less complicated to accommodate school into your hectic lifestyle.
Questions to Ask HVAC Schools
After you have picked 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 no doubt aware, there are many HVAC trade schools in the Buckeye AZ area and all over the Country to choose from. That's why it is imperative to have a list of important qualifiers when making school evaluations. As previously stated in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will most likely be the first 2 factors you will take into consideration. Following are several additional ones that you need to research before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. A large number of HVAC vocational schools in the Buckeye AZ area have received either a regional or a national accreditation. They can acquire Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to an individual program, for example HVAC technology. Make certain that the program and school are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting organization, such as the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping make certain that you receive an excellent education, it can help in acquiring financial assistance or student loans, which are in many cases not available for non-accredited schools. Additionally, many states mandate that the HVAC training program be accredited in order to qualify for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the HVAC schools you are reviewing what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage of students who enroll in and finish the program. A low completion rate could signify that students were dissatisfied with the course and quit. It may also mean that the instructors were not qualified to instruct the students. It's also essential that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader list of alumni, which may mean more contacts for the school to use for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate will not only affirm that the school has a good reputation within the field, but additionally that it has the network of Buckeye AZ HVAC employers to help grads secure apprenticeships or jobs.
Apprenticeship Programs. A large number of HVAC technical programs are taught together with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating technical and vocational schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of HVAC companies or trade unions. Check if the schools you are comparing have referring relationships with local Buckeye AZ HVAC specialists. An apprenticeship not only provides a rewarding experience by supplying practical training, but it also supplies employment opportunities and helps to build relationships in the regional 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 on the job. If you are already in an internship or an apprenticeship, check with the HVAC technician you are working with concerning what you should be looking for. Otherwise, ask a local Buckeye AZ HVAC contractor if they can provide some tips. Also bear in mind that unless you are willing to move, the school needs to be within commuting distance of your Buckeye AZ residence. Remember that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides the added relocation costs there can be higher tuition charges compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's desirable that you get as much one-on-one training as possible, which can be challenging in larger classes. Ask if you can monitor a few of the classes so that you can see how large they are and experience the interaction between teachers and students. Talk with a few of the students and get their comments concerning class sizes and instruction. Finally, talk with a few of the teachers and find out what their level of experience is and what degrees or certifications they have earned.
Flexible Scheduling. Verify that the class schedules for the schools you are assessing are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Buckeye AZ, verify that the programs you are reviewing offer those choices. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Also, check out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, sickness or family emergencies.
Earn Your HVAC Degree and Certification
Choosing the right HVAC training program is a crucial beginning toward a gratifying career in the heating and air conditioning industry. As we have covered in this article, you need to select a Heating and Cooling training program and a degree or certificate program that are both accredited and have excellent reputations within the HVAC field. Other factors to look for are ample 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 current students and faculty. Try to get a feel for the quality of the teaching and the interaction between them. Additionally, ask about scheduling choices and if evening or weekend classes are available if needed. And remember to ask about financial assistance and student loan options also. If you ask the right questions as we have laid out in our checklist for comparing 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 dedication, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC technician in Buckeye AZ.