How to Pick the Right HVAC College near Buckeye Arizona
Once you have decided on a career as a heating and cooling specialist, the next step is to look for an HVAC technical school near Buckeye AZ. But with so many to choose from, how do you pick the right one to get the training that you need? Some prospective students will make their decision based solely on the price of tuition or how close the school is to their residence. Even though these are important considerations, they are not the only ones to take into account. A few of the other details that you need to investigate 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 discussed in more detail later within this article. But before we tackle how to pick an HVAC trade school, let's take a look at what a heating and air conditioning specialist does to become a licensed skilled tradesman.
Becoming an HVAC Tech
HVAC is an acronym that is commonly 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, however every state and local municipality has its own prerequisites. Obtaining professional certification is not compulsory, but an optional way for Buckeye AZ HVAC specialists to prove that they are exceptionally proficient and knowledgeable in their area of expertise. There are multiple acknowledged certifications within the industry that are available. Here are a few of the significant ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally recognized certification for HVAC technicians. The certification is achieved 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. 2 years of professional experience together with passing a comprehensive examination 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 offered in various specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is mandatory for techs that handle refrigerants. There are 3 types of certification obtainable, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Since licensing might be required in your location, and you may also wish to acquire certification, it's important 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 sure that the school you choose preps you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.
HVAC Degree and Certificate Training Programs
There are several options available for HVAC training in a technical or trade school. You can earn a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Obtaining a certificate will take the lesser amount of time, often completed in just six months, however some courses are longer. A certificate will train you for the majority of HVAC positions, particularly if you are licensed and have certification relevant to the position. The degree training programs can provide a competitive edge for securing employment and will provide more extensive training than the certificate programs. Following is a brief summary of each option offered near Buckeye AZ.
- Certificate. Usually requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among entry level residential or commercial HVAC technicians. They furnish a strong foundation of skills for job opportunities within the trade.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program supplies a more comprehensive background of heating and cooling systems than the certificate program. Usually taking two years to finish, many degrees incorporate 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 call for an Associate Degree, while others are a traditional 4 year program. In addition to being taught 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 aspirations are, along with the time and money that you have to invest. One possibility is to begin with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after gaining some experience in the field in Buckeye AZ, eventually going back to acquire a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your strategy, be sure to ask the HVAC technician school you are considering about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Courses Online
Choosing an HVAC program online is one alternative in attaining your training and receiving a degree or certificate. Most schools will require some attendance on campus to take part in hands on training. Many also offer internship or work-study programs in addition to or instead of practical lab work. But since the remainder of the classes can be participated in on the web, this option may be a more convenient solution for some Buckeye AZ students that are pressed for time. And some online degree programs are less expensive than other traditional alternatives. Even travelling expenses from Buckeye and study materials may be lessened, helping to make education more budget-friendly. And a large number of online programs are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your career or family responsibilities have left you with minimal time to attend classes, perhaps an online HVAC degree program will make it more convenient to accommodate school into your busy schedule.
What to Ask HVAC Schools
Once you have picked the type of certificate or degree that you wish to earn, either on campus or online, you can begin to narrow down your selection of schools. As you are certainly aware, there are a large number of HVAC vocational schools in the Buckeye AZ area and across the United States to pick from. That's why it is essential to have a list of key qualifiers when making school comparisons. As earlier stated in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will probably be the first 2 factors you will take into consideration. Following are several additional ones that you need to investigate before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Numerous HVAC trade schools in the Buckeye AZ area have received either a regional or a national accreditation. They may earn Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to an individual program, for instance HVAC technology. Verify that the program and school are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization, for example the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping guarantee that you receive an excellent education, it may help in securing financial aid or student loans, which are frequently not available for non-accredited schools. Also, some states require that the HVAC training course be accredited in order to qualify for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the Heating and Cooling schools you are reviewing what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students who enroll in and finish the course. A lower completion rate could suggest that students were unhappy with the course and dropped out. It may also indicate that the teachers were not competent to train the students. It's also imperative that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader 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 will not only affirm that the school has an excellent reputation within the industry, but additionally that it has the network of Buckeye AZ HVAC employers to help grads obtain apprenticeships or jobs.
Apprenticeship Programs. Many HVAC vocational programs are taught in conjunction with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating trade and technical schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of Heating and Cooling contractors or trade unions. Check if the schools you are comparing have working partnerships with local Buckeye AZ HVAC specialists. An apprenticeship not only offers a rewarding experience by providing practical training, but it also supplies job opportunities and helps to establish relationships in the area HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make sure that the campus facilities and the tools that you will be instructed on are state-of-the-art and what you will be working with in the field. If you are currently in an internship or an apprenticeship, check with the HVAC technician you are working under concerning what you should be looking for. If not, ask a local Buckeye AZ HVAC contracting company if they can give you some suggestions. Also keep in mind that unless you are willing to move, the school needs to be within commuting distance of your Buckeye AZ residence. Take note that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation costs there can be higher tuition fees compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's desirable that you get as much individualized training as possible, which can be challenging in larger classes. Ask if you can sit in on some of the classes so that you can observe how large they are and witness first hand the interaction between students and teachers. Speak to some of the students and get their feedback relating to class sizes and instruction. Last, talk with some of the instructors and find out 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 reviewing are flexible enough to handle your needs. If you are only able to go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Buckeye AZ, check that the schools you are considering provide those choices. If you can only attend part-time, be sure that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Finally, ask what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, sickness or family responsibilities.
Find Out More About Buckeye HVAC Programs In Your Area
Get Your HVAC Degree and Certification
Picking the right HVAC training course is an important first step toward a rewarding career in the heating & cooling trade. 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 community. Other things to search 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 tour the campus and speak with both the current students and faculty. Try to get a feel for the quality of the teaching and the interaction between them. Additionally, inquire about scheduling options and whether or not evening or weekend classes are available if needed. And remember to inquire about financial aid and student loan options as well. If you ask the proper questions as we have detailed in our checklist for evaluating schools, you'll be able to narrow down your choices so that you can make an informed decision. With the proper training, hard work and dedication, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC technician in Buckeye AZ.