How to Pick the Right HVAC School near Chandler Arizona
Once you have decided on a career as a heating and air conditioner specialist, the next action is to locate an HVAC technical school near Chandler AZ. But with so many to select from, how do you choose the right one to receive the training that you need? A number of prospective students will make their choice based solely on the price of tuition or how near the school is to their home. Even though these are relevant factors to consider, they are not the only ones to investigate. A few 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 additional criteria will be addressed in more detail later in this article. But before we discuss how to select an HVAC trade school, let's take a look at what a heating and cooling professional does to become a licensed skilled tradesman.
Becoming an HVAC Pro
HVAC is an acronym that is commonly 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, water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are commonly mandated to be licensed, though each state and local municipality has its own criteria. Obtaining professional certification is not compulsory, but an alternative means for Chandler AZ HVAC specialists to prove that they are exceptionally proficient and experienced in their area of specialization. There are many recognized certifications within the trade that are available. Following are some of the important ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally recognized certification for HVAC technicians. The certification is earned by passing a proficiency examination and may 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 in addition to passing a comprehensive examination are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have three years of experience together with a passing score on the professional level examination. Similar to NATE, certifications are provided in several specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is mandatory for technicians that work with refrigerants. There are 3 types of certification available, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Because licensing might be required in your location, and you may also desire to earn certification, it's essential that you enroll in an HVAC technical school that will prepare you for both. And since you will more than likely be handling refrigerants, make certain that the program you decide on prepares you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
HVAC Degree Courses
There are several alternatives available for HVAC instruction in a technical or trade school. You can attain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Earning a certificate will take the least amount of time, typically accomplished in as little as six months, although some programs are longer. A certificate will train you for the majority of HVAC positions, particularly if you are licensed and have certification applicable to the position. The degree training programs can provide a competitive edge in the job market and will deliver more extensive training than the certificate programs. Below is a short summary of each credential offered near Chandler AZ.
- Certificate. Generally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among beginning residential or commercial HVAC specialists. They furnish a solid foundation of skills for employment within the trade.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program delivers a more detailed background of heating and cooling systems than the certificate program. Generally taking two years to complete, many 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 being taught how to service and maintain heating and cooling systems, you will also study how to design them.
Selecting the right credential program will be dependent on what your long term career objectives are, along with the time and money that you have to commit. One possibility is to begin with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after gaining some experience in the field in Chandler 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 Training Online
Choosing an HVAC program online is one option in obtaining your education and earning a degree or certificate. Almost all schools will call for some attendance on campus to complete practical training. Many also provide internship or work-study programs in addition to or instead of practical lab work. But since the balance of the classes may be attended online, this alternative may be a more practical solution for some Chandler AZ students that are pressed for time. And many online degree programs are more economical than other on campus alternatives. Even driving expenses from Chandler and study supplies may be lessened, helping to make education more economical. And numerous online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your job or family obligations have left you with little time to attend classes, perhaps an HVAC online training program will make it easier to fit school into your hectic schedule.
What to Ask HVAC Training Classes
After you have chosen the type of degree or certificate that you desire to obtain, either online or on campus, you can begin to decrease your list of schools. As you are certainly aware, there are many HVAC technical schools in the Chandler AZ area and all over the United States to pick from. That's why it is imperative to have a list of relevant qualifications when making school comparisons. As earlier stated in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will most likely be the initial two variables you will take into consideration. Following are some additional ones that you should explore before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Many HVAC trade schools in the Chandler AZ area have earned either a regional or a national accreditation. They may acquire Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to a specific program, for example HVAC technology. Make certain that the program and school are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization, which includes the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping guarantee that you get an excellent education, it may help in securing financial aid or student loans, which are in many cases unavailable for non-accredited programs. Additionally, some states require that the HVAC training course be accredited for it to qualify for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the HVAC schools you are considering what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage or portion of students who enroll in and complete the course. A lower completion rate could indicate that students were disappointed with the program and dropped out. It could 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 more extensive list of graduates, which may mean more contacts for the school to employ for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate can not only validate that the school has an excellent reputation within the industry, but also that it has the network of Chandler AZ HVAC employers to assist students obtain apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. Numerous HVAC technical programs are taught in conjunction 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 Heating and Cooling companies or trade unions. Ask if the schools you are reviewing have referring partnerships with local Chandler AZ HVAC contractors. An apprenticeship not only offers a rewarding experience by furnishing hands-on training, but it also provides employment opportunities and helps to form relationships in the regional 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 working with in the field. If you are presently in an internship or an apprenticeship, check with the HVAC specialist you are working with regarding what you should be looking for. If not, ask a local Chandler AZ HVAC contracting company if they can give you some tips. Additionally keep in mind that unless you are able to move, the school needs to be within driving distance of your Chandler AZ residence. Remember that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, in addition to moving costs there might be higher tuition fees compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's important that you get as much individualized training as possible, which can be difficult in bigger classes. Ask if you can sit in on a few of the classes so that you can observe how big they are and witness first hand the interaction between students and instructors. Speak to several of the students and get their feedback concerning class sizes and instruction. Last, talk with a few of the instructors and learn what their level of experience is and what certifications or degrees they hold.
Flexible Scheduling. Confirm that the class schedules for the programs you are reviewing are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you are only able to attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Chandler AZ, check that the programs you are considering offer those choices. If you can only attend part-time, be sure that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Additionally, ask what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, illness or family issues.
Earn Your HVAC Degree and Certification
Picking the ideal HVAC training course is an important first step toward a rewarding career in the heating & cooling field. As we have discussed in this article, you should choose a Heating and Cooling training program and a certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have exceptional reputations within the HVAC profession. Other features to look for are ample hands-on training and state-of-the-art facilities. You should go to each of the schools personally that you are most interested in to inspect the campus and speak with both the current students and faculty. Try to get a feel for the quality of the training and the interaction between them. Also, inquire about scheduling options and if evening or weekend classes are offered if needed. And don't forget to ask about financial aid and student loan options too. If you ask the appropriate questions as we have laid out in our guidelines for assessing schools, you'll be able to narrow down your choices so that you can make an educated decision. With the appropriate training, hard work and dedication, you can eventually become a licensed HVAC contractor in Chandler AZ.