How to Find the Right HVAC Program near Chandler Arizona
Once you have come to a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioning professional, the next step is to find an HVAC vocational school near Chandler AZ. But with so many to choose from, how do you select the ideal one to receive the training that you need? Many prospective students will make their choice based exclusively on the price of tuition or how close the school is to their residence. Although these are significant considerations, they are not the only ones to evaluate. Just some of the other factors 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. Those and additional criteria will be discussed in more detail later within this article. But before we discuss how to choose an HVAC trade school, let's look at what a heating and a/c specialist does to become a licensed skilled tradesman.
Becoming an HVAC Specialist
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, maintenance and repair of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are generally required to be licensed, though every state and local municipality has its own requirements. Acquiring professional certification is not compulsory, but a voluntary way for Chandler AZ HVAC technicians to establish that they are exceptionally proficient and experienced in their area of specialization. There are multiple recognized certifications within the trade that are available. Here are a few of the important ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally acknowledged certification for HVAC technicians. The certification is earned by passing a proficiency exam and can be acquired in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification offers both a professional and a master specialist credential. 2 years of field experience as well as passing a comprehensive examination are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have 3 years of experience together with a passing result 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 three forms of certification obtainable, 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 desire to earn certification, it's imperative that you choose 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 program you select prepares you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.
HVAC Degree and Certificate Schools
There are a number of choices offered for HVAC instruction in a technical or vocational school. You can obtain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Obtaining a certificate will take the minimum amount of time, usually accomplished in just six months, however some programs are longer. A certificate will qualify you for most HVAC positions, particularly if you are licensed and have certification relevant to the position. The degree programs might provide a competitive edge for securing employment and will furnish 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 furnish a strong foundation of skills for employment within the industry.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program provides a more exhaustive understanding of heating and cooling systems than the certificate program. Generally taking two years to complete, some degrees incorporate an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is tailored more for a career in management as well as business ownership. Some programs call for an Associate Degree, while others are a conventional 4 year program. In addition to mastering how to service and maintain heating and air conditioning systems, you will also learn how to design them.
Selecting the appropriate credential program will be based on what your future career goals are, together 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 gaining some experience in the trade in Chandler AZ, later returning to earn a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your tactic, be sure to ask the HVAC tech school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Courses Online
Choosing an HVAC school online is one option to getting your education and earning a degree or certificate. Almost all schools will call for some attendance on campus to participate in hands on training. Some also provide internship or work-study programs in addition to or in place of practical lab work. But since the rest of the classes can be attended on the web, this alternative may be a more accessible solution for many Chandler AZ students that are short on time. And a number of online degree programs are less expensive than other on campus alternatives. Even travelling expenses from Chandler and study materials can be lessened, helping to make schooling more budget-friendly. And a large number of online programs are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your job or family obligations have left you with little time to attend classes, maybe an online HVAC degree program will make it easier to fit school into your active lifestyle.
What to Ask HVAC Certification Classes
Once you have picked the type of degree or certificate that you wish to acquire, either on campus or online, you can begin to limit your list of schools. As you are probably aware, there are many HVAC vocational schools in the Chandler AZ area and across the USA to pick from. That's why it is very important to have a checklist of relevant qualifications when making school comparisons. As earlier mentioned in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will probably be the initial two aspects you will look at. Following are several additional ones that you should explore before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Many HVAC trade programs in the Chandler AZ area have received either a regional or a national accreditation. They may receive Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to a specific program, such as HVAC technology. Make certain that the program and school are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency, which includes the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping make certain that you acquire a quality education, it may help in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are in many cases unavailable for non-accredited schools. Also, some states require that the HVAC training course be accredited in order to be approved for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the Heating and Air Conditioning schools you are considering what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage or portion of students who enroll in and finish the program. A low completion rate could suggest that students were dissatisfied with the course and dropped out. It might also mean that the teachers were not competent to instruct the students. It's also essential that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader directory of alumni, which can result in more contacts for the school to use for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate will not only confirm that the school has a good reputation within the industry, but additionally that it has the network of Chandler AZ HVAC employers to assist students acquire apprenticeships or jobs.
Apprenticeship Programs. Many HVAC trade programs are taught in conjunction with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating technical and vocational programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of Heating and Cooling contractors or trade unions. Ask if the schools you are comparing have referring relationships with local Chandler AZ HVAC specialists. An apprenticeship not only provides a rewarding experience by furnishing practical training, but it also supplies job opportunities and helps to build relationships in the area 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, consult with the HVAC technician you are working under regarding what you should be expecting. If not, ask a local Chandler AZ HVAC contractor if they can give you some suggestions. Also bear in mind that unless you are willing to relocate, the school needs to be within driving distance of your Chandler AZ home. Take note that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, besides the added relocation costs there can be increased tuition fees compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's important 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 see how large they are and witness first hand the interaction between students and teachers. Speak to a few of the students and get their opinions concerning class sizes and instruction. Last, speak with a few of the teachers and find out what their level of experience is and what certifications or degrees they have earned.
Flexible Scheduling. Verify that the class schedules for the schools you are evaluating are flexible enough to handle your needs. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Chandler AZ, check that the programs you are considering provide those choices. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Also, check out what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Earn Your Heating and Cooling Degree and Certification
Finding the ideal HVAC training course is a critical first step toward a rewarding career in the heating and cooling field. As we have addressed in this article, you should select a Heating and Cooling training program and a degree or certificate program that are both accredited and have exceptional reputations within the HVAC field. Other factors to look for are sufficient practical training and modern facilities. You should visit each of the schools in person that you are most interested in to tour the campus and speak with both the faculty and current students. Attempt to get a feel for the quality of the instruction and the interaction between them. In addition, inquire about scheduling choices and whether or not night or weekend classes are available if needed. And don't forget to ask about financial assistance and student loan options also. If you ask the right questions as we have laid out in our guidelines for assessing schools, you'll be able to filter 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 Chandler AZ.