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How to Choose the Right Heating and Cooling Training Class near Drexel Heights Arizona

Drexel Heights Arizona home A/C condensersNow that you have made a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioner specialist, the next step is to find an HVAC trade school near Drexel Heights AZ. But with so many to pick from, how do you select the best one to get the training that you need? Many future students will make their decision based entirely on the price of tuition or how close the school is to their residence. Although these are important considerations, they are not the only ones to evaluate. 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. These and other criteria will be discussed in more detail later within this article. But before we discuss how to pick an HVAC technical school, let's look at what a heating and air conditioning contractor does to become a licensed qualified tradesman.

How to Become an HVAC Tech

Drexel Heights Arizona HVAC Technician repairing A/C condenserHVAC is an acronym that is commonly used in the trade that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC technicians provide services for the installation, maintenance and repair of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, 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 mandatory, but an optional way for Drexel Heights AZ HVAC technicians to prove that they are exceptionally skilled and knowledgeable in their area of specialization. There are multiple acknowledged certifications within the industry that are offered. Following are some 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 competency exam and may be acquired in one or more specialties.
  • HVAC Excellence. This certification makes available both a professional and a master specialist credential. Two years of professional experience together with passing a comprehensive exam are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have 3 years of experience as well as a passing score on the professional level examination. Similar to NATE, certifications are offered in multiple specialties.
  • EPA Section 608. This certification is mandatory for technicians that handle refrigerants. There are 3 forms of certification offered, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.

Considering that licensing may be mandated in your location, and you may also desire to earn certification, it's important that you select an HVAC technical school that will prepare you for both. And since you will most likely be dealing with refrigerants, make sure that the program you choose prepares you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.

HVAC Degree Courses

Drexel Heights Arizona residential heat pump

There are a variety of options offered for HVAC instruction in a technical or trade school. You can obtain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Earning a certificate will take the least period of time, typically accomplished in as little as 6 months, although some programs are longer. A certificate will qualify you for most HVAC positions, particularly if you are licensed and have certification related to the position. The degree programs might provide a competitive advantage in the job market and will furnish more extensive training than the certificate programs. Below is a brief summary of each credential offered near Drexel Heights 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 employment within the industry.
  • Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program provides a more detailed knowledge of heating and a/c systems than the certificate program. Generally requiring 2 years to complete, a number of 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 call for an Associate Degree, while others are a traditional 4 year program. In addition to mastering how to service and maintain heating and cooling systems, you will also study how to design them.

Picking the ideal credential program will be dependent on what your future career goals are, as well as the time and money that you have to commit. One approach is to begin with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after acquiring some experience in the field in Drexel Heights AZ, later returning to obtain a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your approach, make sure to ask the HVAC tech school you are considering about how their returning student program works.

HVAC Classes Online

Attending an HVAC program online is one alternative to getting your education and receiving a degree or certificate. Nearly all schools will require some attendance on campus to participate in practical training. Many also sponsor internship or work-study programs in addition to or instead of practical lab work. But since the balance of the classes may be participated in via the internet, this approach may be a more practical solution for some Drexel Heights AZ students that are short on time. And many online degree programs are less expensive than other traditional alternatives. Even travelling expenses from Drexel Heights and study supplies can be reduced, helping to make schooling more affordable. And many online programs are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your work or family responsibilities have left you with minimal time to attend classes, maybe an HVAC online training program will make it more convenient to accommodate school into your active lifestyle.

Questions For HVAC Training Programs

Drexel Heights Arizona HVAC contractor servicing water heater

After you have chosen the type of degree or certificate that you desire to acquire, either on campus or online, you can start to limit your list of schools. As you are probably aware, there are a large number of HVAC trade schools in the Drexel Heights AZ area and throughout the Country to select from. That's why it is very important to have a list of important qualifications when making school assessments. As previously mentioned in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will probably be the first two factors 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 trade schools in the Drexel Heights AZ area have earned either a regional or a national accreditation. They can earn Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to an individual program, for example HVAC technology. Verify that the school and program are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency, for instance the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping make certain that you receive an excellent education, it can help in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are frequently unavailable for non-accredited programs. Also, some states require that the HVAC training course be accredited for it to be approved for licensing.

High Completion Rates.  Ask the Heating and Air Conditioning schools you are looking at what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students who enroll in and finish the course. A low completion rate could suggest that students were disappointed with the course and quit. It may also mean that the instructors were not qualified to train the students. It's also imperative that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader list 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 affirm that the school has a good reputation within the trade, but additionally that it has the network of Drexel Heights AZ HVAC employers to assist graduates acquire apprenticeships or jobs.

Apprenticeship Programs.  Many 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 partnerships with local Drexel Heights AZ HVAC contractors. An apprenticeship not only offers a rewarding experience by supplying hands-on training, but it also furnishes job opportunities and helps to form relationships in the local HVAC professional community.

Modern Facilities.  Make sure that the school facilities and the equipment that you will be trained on are up-to-date and what you will be using on the job. If you are presently in an internship or an apprenticeship, check with the HVAC specialist you are working under regarding what you should be expecting. Otherwise, ask a local Drexel Heights AZ HVAC contractor if they can give you some tips. Additionally bear in mind that unless you can relocate, the school needs to be within commuting distance of your Drexel Heights AZ residence. Remember that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation costs there can be increased tuition charges compared to in-state residents.

Smaller Classes.   It's desirable that you receive as much one-on-one 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 large they are and experience the interaction between students and instructors. Talk with a few of the students and get their opinions regarding 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 hold.

Flexible Scheduling.  Make sure that the class schedules for the schools you are reviewing are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you are only able to attend classes at night or on weekends near Drexel Heights AZ, check that the programs you are looking at offer those options. If you can only attend part-time, be sure that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Also, find out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, sickness or family responsibilities.

Learn More About Drexel Heights Heating and Cooling Training Programs Near You

Earn Your Heating and Cooling Degree and Certification

Choosing the right HVAC school course is an important beginning toward a rewarding career in the heating & cooling field. As we have addressed in this article, you need to select a Heating and Cooling training program and a degree or certificate program that are both accredited and have outstanding reputations within the HVAC field. Other things to search for are plenty of hands-on training and modern facilities. You need to visit each of the schools personally that you are most interested in to explore the campus and speak with both the current students and faculty. Try to get a feel for the quality of the teaching 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 too. If you ask the right questions as we have detailed in our guidelines for comparing schools, you'll be able to narrow down your options so that you can make an informed decision. With the appropriate training, hard work and dedication, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC professional in Drexel Heights AZ.