How to Pick the Right Heating and Cooling Certification Class near Chandler Arizona
Once you have come to a decision on a career as a heating and cooling specialist, the next action is to look for an HVAC vocational school near Chandler AZ. But with so many to select from, how do you select the best one to obtain the training that you require? Many future students will make their decision based solely on the cost of tuition or how close the school is to their home. Although these are significant factors to consider, they are not the only ones to take into account. A few of the other details that you need to look into 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 covered in more detail later in 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 technician does to become a licensed professional tradesman.
How to Become an HVAC Contractor
HVAC is an acronym that is extensively used in the trade that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC techs specialize in the installation, repair and maintenance of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are commonly required to be licensed, however each state and local municipality has its own prerequisites. Earning professional certification is not required, but a voluntary way for Chandler AZ HVAC specialists to demonstrate that they are highly skilled and experienced in their area of specialization. There are a number of recognized certifications within the field that are offered. Following are some of the important ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally recognized certification for HVAC techs. The certification is earned by passing a competency exam 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 field experience together with passing a comprehensive exam are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have three years of experience along with a passing result on the professional level examination. Similar to NATE, certifications are provided in several specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is mandatory for techs 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 could be required in your area, and you may also intend to acquire certification, it's essential that you enroll in an HVAC vocational school that will train you for both. And since you will more than likely be working with refrigerants, make certain that the program you decide on readies you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.
HVAC Degree and Certificate Training Programs
There are a number of choices available for HVAC instruction in a technical or vocational school. You can obtain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Acquiring a certificate will take the least amount of time, typically achieved in just six months, however some courses are longer. A certificate will qualify you for the majority of HVAC positions, particularly if you are licensed and have certification applicable to the position. The degree training programs might provide a competitive advantage for securing employment and will provide more comprehensive 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 entry level commercial or residential HVAC specialists. They provide a strong foundation of skills for job opportunities within the trade.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program delivers a more comprehensive understanding of heating and a/c systems than the certificate program. Typically taking 2 years to complete, some degrees feature an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is tailored more towards a career in management or even business ownership. Some programs call for an Associate Degree, while others are a conventional four year program. In addition to mastering how to service and maintain heating and cooling systems, you will also learn how to design them.
Picking the right credential program will be based on what your long term career objectives are, as well as the time and money that you have to commit. One approach is to begin with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after acquiring some experience in the field in Chandler AZ, subsequently going back to earn a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your strategy, be sure to ask the HVAC technician school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Classes Online
Choosing an HVAC program online is one alternative to getting your education and receiving a certificate or degree. Most schools will require some attendance on campus to take part in practical training. A number also provide internship or work-study programs in addition to or instead of practical lab work. But since the rest of the classes may be participated in 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 travelling expenses from Chandler and study supplies may be minimized, helping to make education more affordable. And many online programs are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your work or family commitments have left you with minimal time to attend classes, perhaps an HVAC online training program will make it more convenient to fit school into your busy lifestyle.
What to Ask HVAC Training Programs
When you have chosen the type of degree or certificate that you would like to attain, either online or on campus, you can start to narrow down your list of schools. As you are probably aware, there are a large number of HVAC trade schools in the Chandler AZ area and throughout the Country to pick from. That's why it is extremely important to have a checklist of important qualifiers when making school evaluations. As earlier stated in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will probably be the initial two factors you will look at. Following are several additional ones that you should research before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. A large number of HVAC vocational schools in the Chandler AZ area have attained either a regional or a national accreditation. They can attain Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to a specific program, for instance HVAC technology. Verify that the school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting agency, such as the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping guarantee that you acquire an excellent education, it may assist in securing financial assistance or student loans, which are in many cases not available for non-accredited programs. Furthermore, some states mandate that the HVAC training program be accredited in order to be approved for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the Heating and Cooling schools you are considering what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage of students who enroll in and complete the course. A lower completion rate could indicate that students were dissatisfied with the course and dropped out. It could also mean that the teachers were not qualified to train the students. It's also important that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive directory of graduates, which can mean more contacts for the school to utilize for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate can not only confirm that the school has an excellent reputation within the industry, but also that it has the network of Chandler AZ HVAC employers to help students secure apprenticeships or jobs.
Apprenticeship Programs. Many HVAC trade programs are taught along with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating vocational and technical programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of HVAC businesses or trade unions. Find out if the schools you are comparing have working relationships with local Chandler AZ HVAC companies. An apprenticeship not only provides a rewarding experience by furnishing practical training, but it also provides job opportunities and helps to form relationships in the local HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make certain 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 presently in an internship or an apprenticeship, talk to the HVAC tech you are working with regarding what you should be expecting. Otherwise, ask a local Chandler AZ HVAC contracting company if they can provide some suggestions. Also keep in mind that unless you are willing to relocate, the school needs to be within driving distance of your Chandler AZ residence. Remember that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to moving costs there might 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 bigger classes. Ask if you can sit in on a few 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 comments relating to class sizes and instruction. Finally, talk to a few of the teachers and learn 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 meet your needs. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Chandler AZ, confirm that the programs you are looking at offer those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Also, ask what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, illness or family issues.
Earn Your HVAC Training and Certification
Finding the right HVAC school course is a critical first step toward a gratifying 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 certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have excellent reputations within the HVAC field. Other things to search for are lots of practical training and state-of-the-art facilities. You need to go to each of the schools personally that you are most interested in to inspect the campus and talk with both the faculty and current students. Attempt to get a feel for the quality of the teaching and the interaction between them. Additionally, inquire about scheduling options and whether night or weekend classes are offered if needed. And remember to inquire about financial assistance and student loan options too. If you ask the appropriate questions as we have detailed in our checklist for assessing schools, you'll be able to filter your choices so that you can make an educated decision. With the proper training, hard work and commitment, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC specialist in Chandler AZ.