How to Select the Right Heating and Cooling Certification Training near Chandler Arizona
Now that you have decided on a career as a heating and cooling specialist, the next step is to find an HVAC technical school near Chandler AZ. But with so many to choose from, how do you choose the best one to get the training that you need? Many prospective students will make their selection based entirely on the cost 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 evaluate. Some of the other factors that you need to research are the graduation rates of the HVAC schools, their reputations, and if they are accredited by professional trade organizations. These and additional criteria will be covered in more detail later within this article. But before we discuss how to select an HVAC training program, let's take a look at what a heating and air conditioning specialist does to become a licensed professional tradesman.
How to Become an HVAC Technician
HVAC is an acronym that is frequently used in the industry that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC professionals provide services for the installation, maintenance and repair of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are commonly mandated to be licensed, although every state and local municipality has its own requirements. Acquiring professional certification is not mandatory, but a voluntary way for Chandler AZ HVAC technicians to prove that they are exceptionally qualified and experienced in their area of specialization. There are multiple acknowledged certifications within the trade that are available. Here are a few 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 competency examination and can be earned in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification makes available both a professional and a master specialist credential. 2 years of field 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 multiple specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is necessary for specialists that work with refrigerants. There are 3 forms of certification offered, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Since licensing may be mandated in your area, and you may also desire to obtain certification, it's important that you enroll in an HVAC vocational school that will train you for both. And since you will probably be dealing with refrigerants, make certain that the program you select readies you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.
HVAC Degree and Certificate Training Programs
There are a variety of alternatives offered for HVAC training in a technical or trade school. You can earn a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Earning a certificate will take the lesser amount of time, usually completed in just 6 months, though some courses are longer. A certificate will qualify you for most HVAC positions, particularly if you are licensed and have certification appropriate to the position. The degree programs may provide a competitive advantage in the job market and will furnish more extensive training than the certificate programs. Below is a short description of each credential offered near Chandler AZ.
- Certificate. Generally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among entry level residential or commercial HVAC professionals. They furnish a strong foundation of skills for job opportunities within the industry.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program supplies a more exhaustive understanding of heating and cooling systems than the certificate program. Typically requiring 2 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 as well as 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 appropriate credential program will be dependent on what your long term career goals are, in addition to the time and financial resources 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 trade in Chandler AZ, subsequently returning to acquire a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your strategy, make certain to ask the HVAC technician school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Online Courses
Enrolling in an HVAC program online is one option to attaining your training and earning a certificate or degree. Most schools will require some attendance on campus to complete hands on training. A number also sponsor internship or work-study programs in addition to or instead of practical lab work. But since the balance of the classes can be attended online, this option may be a more accessible solution for many Chandler AZ students that are pressed for time. And many online degree programs are more economical than other on campus options. Even driving expenses from Chandler and study materials may be minimized, helping to make schooling more economical. And numerous online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your job or family commitments have left you with limited time to attend classes, maybe an HVAC online training program will make it more convenient to fit school into your busy lifestyle.
Questions to Ask HVAC Training Classes
As soon as you have chosen the type of certificate or degree that you want to earn, either online or on campus, you can start to limit your list of schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are numerous HVAC trade schools in the Chandler AZ area and throughout the Country to choose from. That's why it is imperative to have a list of important qualifiers when making school evaluations. As formerly mentioned in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will probably be the first two aspects you will take into consideration. Following are some additional ones that you will want to explore before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Many HVAC vocational schools in the Chandler AZ area have attained 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. Make certain that the program and school are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency, for instance the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping guarantee that you get a quality education, it may assist in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are in many cases not available for non-accredited programs. Furthermore, 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 looking at what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage or portion of students who enroll in and finish the course. A lower completion rate could signify that students were disappointed with the course and dropped out. It might also mean that the teachers were not qualified to train the students. It's also imperative that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive list of graduates, which may produce more contacts for the school to use for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate can not only affirm that the school has a good reputation within the field, but additionally that it has the network of Chandler AZ HVAC employers to help grads acquire apprenticeships or jobs.
Apprenticeship Programs. Numerous HVAC trade programs are taught in conjunction with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating vocational and technical schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of Heating and Cooling businesses or trade unions. Ask if the schools you are reviewing have referring relationships with local Chandler AZ HVAC contractors. An apprenticeship not only provides a valuable experience by supplying hands-on training, but it also supplies employment opportunities and helps to form relationships in the area HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Confirm that the school facilities and the tools that you will be trained on are state-of-the-art and what you will be working with on the job. If you are currently in an internship or an apprenticeship, talk to the HVAC specialist you are working under regarding what you should be expecting. Otherwise, ask a local Chandler AZ HVAC company if they can give you some tips. Additionally bear in mind that unless you are able to relocate, the school must be within commuting distance of your Chandler AZ residence. Take note that if you decide to attend 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 receive as much individualized instruction as possible, which can be difficult in bigger classes. Ask if you can monitor a few of the classes so that you can see how large they are and witness first hand the interaction between instructors and students. Speak to a few of the students and get their comments relating to class sizes and instruction. Last, speak with a few of the teachers and learn what their level of experience is and what certifications or degrees they have earned.
Flexible Scheduling. Verify that the class schedules for the programs you are assessing are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Chandler AZ, verify that the programs you are reviewing provide those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Also, ask what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, illness or family emergencies.
Get Your HVAC Training and Certification
Choosing the ideal HVAC school program is an important beginning toward a rewarding career in the heating and cooling field. As we have addressed 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 exceptional reputations within the HVAC trade. Other things to look for are lots of practical training and modern facilities. You should go to each of the schools in person that you are most interested in to explore the campus and talk with both the current students and faculty. Attempt to get a feel for the quality of the instruction and the interaction between them. Also, ask about scheduling options and whether or not evening or weekend classes are offered if needed. And remember to inquire about financial assistance and student loan options too. If you ask the right questions as we have detailed 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 commitment, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC specialist in Chandler AZ.