How to Pick the Right Heating and Cooling College near Chandler Arizona
Now that you have decided on a career as a heating and air conditioner professional, the next action is to find an HVAC trade school near Chandler AZ. But with so many to pick from, how do you choose the ideal one to receive the training that you need? Many future students will make their choice based exclusively on the price of tuition or how close the school is to their residence. Although these are necessary 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. These and other criteria will be addressed in more detail later in this article. But before we explore how to choose an HVAC technical school, let's look at what a heating and cooling contractor does to become a licensed skilled tradesman.
Becoming an HVAC Professional
HVAC is an acronym that is widely 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, hot water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are generally required to be licensed, although each state and local municipality has its own prerequisites. Earning professional certification is not compulsory, but an optional way for Chandler AZ HVAC specialists to prove that they are exceptionally skilled and knowledgeable in their area of specialization. There are many acknowledged certifications within the industry that are available. Below are a few of the significant ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally acknowledged certification for HVAC techs. The certification is attained by passing a proficiency exam and can be earned in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification offers 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 exam. Similar to NATE, certifications are made available in various specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is necessary for technicians that work with refrigerants. There are three forms of certification available, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Since licensing might be required in your area, and you may also desire to earn certification, it's imperative that you choose an HVAC technical school that will prepare you for both. And since you will more than likely be handling refrigerants, make sure that the school you select preps you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.
HVAC Degree and Certificate Training Programs
There are a number of choices available for HVAC training in a trade or technical school. You can obtain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Acquiring a certificate will take the minimum amount of time, often achieved in as little as 6 months, however some programs are longer. A certificate will qualify you for most HVAC positions, particularly if you are licensed and have certification applicable to the position. The degree programs can provide a competitive edge in the job market and will deliver more comprehensive training than the certificate programs. Below is a brief explanation of each option offered near Chandler AZ.
- Certificate. Normally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among beginning residential or commercial HVAC technicians. They furnish a strong foundation of skills for employment within the trade.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program supplies a more comprehensive knowledge of heating & cooling systems than the certificate program. Usually requiring two years to complete, some degrees feature an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is suited 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 learning how to service and maintain heating and cooling systems, you will also study how to design them.
Picking the right credential program will be based on what your future career objectives are, along with the time and financial resources that you have to commit. One approach is to start with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after getting some experience in the trade in Chandler AZ, eventually going back to acquire a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your approach, make certain to ask the HVAC technician school you are considering about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Online Classes
Attending an HVAC school online is one approach to obtaining your training and earning a degree or certificate. Nearly all schools will call for some attendance on campus to participate in practical training. A number also offer internship or work-study programs in addition to or as an alternative to practical lab work. But since the balance of the classes can be participated in on the web, this approach may be a more convenient solution for many Chandler AZ students that are pressed for time. And some online degree programs are less costly than other on campus options. Even travelling expenses from Chandler and study materials can be reduced, helping to make schooling more affordable. And many online programs are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your job or family obligations have left you with minimal time to attend classes, maybe an online HVAC degree program will make it less complicated to fit school into your busy lifestyle.
Questions For HVAC Training Programs
As soon as you have picked the type of certificate or degree that you would like to earn, either on campus or online, you can begin to limit your list of schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are many HVAC vocational schools in the Chandler AZ area and across the USA to pick from. That's why it is essential to have a list of relevant qualifiers when making school evaluations. As previously mentioned in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will undoubtedly be the initial 2 factors you will look at. Following are several additional ones that you will want to research 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 earn Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to a specific program, such as HVAC technology. Confirm 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. In addition to helping make certain that you receive a superior education, it may help in obtaining financial assistance or student loans, which are in many cases not available for non-accredited schools. Furthermore, many 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 lower completion rate could signify that students were dissatisfied with the course and dropped out. It might also signify 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 can produce more contacts for the school to utilize 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 trade, but additionally that it has the network of Chandler AZ HVAC employers to assist students obtain apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. A large number of HVAC technical programs are taught together with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating trade and vocational programs 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 considering have referring relationships with local Chandler AZ HVAC specialists. An apprenticeship not only offers a rewarding experience by supplying practical training, but it also provides employment opportunities and helps to establish relationships in the local HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Confirm that the campus facilities and the tools that you will be trained on are state-of-the-art and what you will be working with in the field. If you are presently in an internship or an apprenticeship, check with the HVAC technician you are working with regarding what you should be expecting. Otherwise, ask a local Chandler AZ HVAC contractor if they can give you some suggestions. Additionally keep in mind that unless you are able to relocate, the school must be within driving distance of your Chandler AZ home. Take note that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides the added moving costs there can be higher tuition fees compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's desirable that you get as much personalized training as possible, which can be difficult in bigger classes. Ask if you can monitor some of the classes so that you can observe how big they are and witness first hand the interaction between students and teachers. Speak with a few of the students and get their opinions regarding class sizes and instruction. Finally, speak with a few of the instructors and find out what their level of experience is and what certifications or degrees they have earned.
Flexible Scheduling. Make sure that the class schedules for the programs you are reviewing are flexible enough to handle 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 provide those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Additionally, check out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, illness or family responsibilities.
Get Your HVAC Certificate or Degree
Choosing the right HVAC training program is a crucial beginning toward a fulfilling career in the heating and air conditioning field. As we have discussed in this article, you need to choose a Heating and Cooling training program and a degree or certificate program that are both accredited and have outstanding reputations within the HVAC profession. Other things to search for are plenty of 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 speak with both the faculty and current students. Attempt to get a feel for the quality of the training and the interaction between them. Additionally, ask about scheduling options and whether or not evening or weekend classes are available if needed. And don't forget to ask about financial assistance and student loan options too. If you ask the right questions as we have outlined in our guidelines for evaluating schools, you'll be able to filter your options so that you can make an informed decision. With the appropriate training, hard work and commitment, you can eventually become a licensed HVAC specialist in Chandler AZ.