How to Find the Right Heating and Cooling Training Program near Drexel Heights Arizona
Now that you have made a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioning professional, the next step is to find an HVAC technical school near Drexel Heights AZ. But with so many to pick from, how do you decide on the ideal one to obtain the training that you require? Many future students will make their selection based entirely on the price 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 take into account. Just some of the other things 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 other criteria will be discussed in more detail later in this article. But before we explore how to choose an HVAC trade school, let's look at what a heating and cooling contractor does to become a licensed professional tradesman.
How to Become an HVAC Pro
HVAC is an acronym that is extensively used in the industry that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC technicians provide services for the installation, repair and maintenance of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are generally required to be licensed, though every state and regional municipality has its own requirements. Acquiring professional certification is not required, but an optional means for Drexel Heights AZ HVAC techs to demonstrate that they are highly proficient and knowledgeable in their area of specialization. There are multiple recognized certifications within the trade that are offered. Here are a few of the important ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally acknowledged certification for HVAC techs. The certification is attained by passing a proficiency examination and can be received in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification offers both a professional and a master specialist credential. 2 years of professional experience together with passing a comprehensive exam are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have 3 years of experience in addition to a passing score on the professional level examination. Similar to NATE, certifications are offered in various specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is necessary for techs that handle refrigerants. There are three forms of certification offered, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Considering that licensing might be required in your area, and you may also desire to obtain certification, it's imperative that you select an HVAC trade school that will prepare you for both. And since you will most likely be handling refrigerants, make sure that the school you select readies you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
HVAC Degree Schools
There are a number of options available for HVAC instruction 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 least amount of time, typically accomplished in just 6 months, however some programs are longer. A certificate will qualify you for most HVAC positions, especially if you are licensed and have certification applicable to the position. The degree programs can provide a competitive advantage for securing employment and will furnish more extensive training than the certificate programs. Below is a brief explanation of each credential offered near Drexel Heights AZ.
- Certificate. Generally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among beginning commercial or residential HVAC specialists. They provide a solid foundation of skills for job opportunities within the trade.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program provides a more comprehensive knowledge of heating and cooling 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 suited more towards 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 being taught how to service and maintain heating and air conditioning systems, you will also learn how to design them.
Choosing the right credential program will be based on what your long term career aspirations are, together with the time and money that you have to commit. One possibility is to begin with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after getting some experience in the field in Drexel Heights AZ, later returning to obtain a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your strategy, make sure to ask the HVAC tech school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Classes Online
Choosing an HVAC program online is one possibility to attaining your training and receiving a certificate or degree. Most schools will require some attendance on campus to complete practical training. A number also provide internship or work-study programs in addition to or in place of practical lab work. But since the rest of the classes may be participated in on the web, this alternative may be a more convenient solution for some Drexel Heights AZ students that are short on time. And many online degree programs are less expensive than other on campus options. Even commuting expenses from Drexel Heights and study materials can be reduced, helping to make education more economical. And numerous online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your job or family responsibilities 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 hectic schedule.
What to Ask HVAC Training Classes
When you have chosen the type of degree or certificate that you wish to acquire, either online or on campus, you can start to limit your selection of schools. As you are probably aware, there are many HVAC technical schools in the Drexel Heights AZ area and throughout the Country to choose from. That's why it is very important to have a checklist of relevant qualifications when making school assessments. As formerly stated in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will probably be the initial two factors you will look at. Following are several additional ones that you will want to explore before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Numerous HVAC trade schools in the Drexel Heights AZ area have attained either a regional or a national accreditation. They can earn Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to an individual program, such as HVAC technology. Confirm that the school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting agency, for example the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping guarantee that you get an excellent education, it may help in acquiring financial assistance or student loans, which are in many cases unavailable for non-accredited schools. Furthermore, a number of states require that the HVAC training course be accredited for it to qualify for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the Heating and Cooling 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 might suggest that students were dissatisfied with the course and dropped out. It could also signify that the instructors were not qualified to train the students. It's similarly imperative that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader directory of graduates, which may 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 also that it has the network of Drexel Heights AZ HVAC employers to help students secure apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. Most HVAC training 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 within their network of HVAC contractors or labor unions. Check if the schools you are comparing have referring partnerships with local Drexel Heights AZ HVAC contractors. An apprenticeship not only offers a valuable experience by supplying hands-on training, but it also supplies employment opportunities and helps to build relationships in the area HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make sure that the school facilities and the tools that you will be trained on are up-to-date and what you will be using 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. If not, ask a local Drexel Heights AZ HVAC company if they can provide some tips. Also keep in mind that unless you are willing to move, the school needs to be within driving distance of your Drexel Heights AZ home. Remember that if you decide to enroll in 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 important that you receive as much individualized training as possible, which can be difficult in larger 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 instructors. Speak with some of the students and get their comments concerning class sizes and instruction. Last, speak to a few of the instructors and find out what their level of expertise is and what degrees or certifications they have earned.
Flexible Scheduling. Make sure that the class schedules for the schools you are reviewing are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Drexel Heights AZ, verify that the programs you are considering offer those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Additionally, 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 Training and Certification
Enrolling in the right HVAC school program is a crucial beginning toward a fulfilling career in the heating & cooling trade. As we have addressed in this article, you need to pick 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 look for are ample practical training and state-of-the-art facilities. You need to go to each of the schools in person that you are most interested in to inspect 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. Additionally, ask about scheduling options and if night or weekend classes are offered if needed. And remember to ask about financial aid and student loan options too. If you ask the right questions as we have laid out in our guidelines for comparing schools, you'll be able to narrow down your options so that you can make an educated decision. With the proper training, hard work and dedication, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC professional in Drexel Heights AZ.