How to Enroll In the Right HVAC Certificate Program near Drexel Heights Arizona
Once you have come to a decision on a career as a heating and cooling professional, the next action is to look for an HVAC trade school near Drexel Heights AZ. But with so many to select from, how do you decide on the right one to obtain the training that you need? A number of prospective students will make their choice based entirely on the price of tuition or how near the school is to their home. Even though these are relevant concerns, they are not the only ones to investigate. Some of the other factors 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 other benchmarks will be addressed in more detail later within this article. But before we examine how to pick an HVAC training program, let's take a look at what a heating and cooling specialist does to become a licensed skilled tradesman.
Becoming an HVAC Contractor
HVAC is an acronym that is frequently used in the trade that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC techs provide services for the installation, maintenance and repair of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are typically required to be licensed, however each state and local municipality has its own requirements. Obtaining professional certification is not compulsory, but an optional means for Drexel Heights AZ HVAC technicians to demonstrate that they are highly skilled and experienced in their area of expertise. There are a number of recognized certifications within the field that are available. 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 proficiency 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 field experience together with passing a comprehensive examination are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have 3 years of experience together with a passing result on the professional level examination. Similar to NATE, certifications are provided in multiple specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is mandatory for specialists that handle refrigerants. There are three forms of certification available, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Since licensing could be required in your location, and you may also intend to earn certification, it's important that you choose an HVAC vocational school that will train you for both. And since you will most likely be working with refrigerants, make sure that the program you pick readies you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.
HVAC Degree Schools
There are a variety of choices available for HVAC training in a vocational or trade school. You can attain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Obtaining a certificate will take the lesser amount of time, usually completed in as little as 6 months, though some programs 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 in the job market and will furnish more comprehensive training than the certificate programs. Below is a brief explanation of each credential offered near Drexel Heights AZ.
- Certificate. Usually requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among entry level commercial or residential HVAC professionals. They provide a strong foundation of skills for employment within the industry.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program supplies a more detailed understanding of heating & cooling systems than the certificate program. Generally requiring two years to finish, many degrees include an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is suited more for 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 air conditioning systems, you will also learn how to design them.
Selecting the ideal credential program will be dependent on what your long term career aspirations are, along with the time and financial resources that you have to commit. One possibility is to start with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after gaining some experience in the trade in Drexel Heights AZ, eventually returning to earn a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your strategy, make certain to ask the HVAC tech school you are considering about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Training Online
Choosing an HVAC program online is one option in obtaining your education and earning a certificate or degree. Most schools will require some attendance on campus to take part in practical training. Some also sponsor internship or work-study programs in addition to or as an alternative to practical lab work. But since the rest of the classes can be participated in on the web, this alternative may be a more practical solution for some Drexel Heights AZ students that are pressed for time. And many online degree programs are less costly than other on campus choices. Even travelling expenses from Drexel Heights and study supplies can be minimized, helping to make schooling more affordable. And numerous online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your work or family obligations have left you with little time to attend classes, maybe an HVAC online training program will make it easier to accommodate school into your hectic lifestyle.
Questions to Ask HVAC Training Programs
After you have picked the type of degree or certificate that you wish to attain, either on campus or online, you can begin to decrease your selection of schools. As you are certainly aware, there are many HVAC trade schools in the Drexel Heights AZ area and all over the Country to pick from. That's why it is extremely important to have a checklist of important qualifiers when making school assessments. As previously mentioned in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will probably be the initial two variables you will consider. Following are some additional ones that you need to investigate 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 may receive Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to a specific program, for instance HVAC technology. Verify that the school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization, for example the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping make certain that you acquire a quality education, it can assist in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are frequently unavailable for non-accredited programs. Additionally, some states require that the HVAC training course be accredited for it to qualify 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 lower completion rate might signify that students were dissatisfied with the course and quit. It might also mean that the teachers were not competent to train the students. It's similarly imperative that the schools have high 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 use for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate can not only validate that the school has an excellent reputation within the field, but additionally that it has the network of Drexel Heights AZ HVAC employers to assist students acquire apprenticeships or jobs.
Apprenticeship Programs. Many HVAC training programs are taught in conjunction with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating vocational and trade programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of Heating and Cooling companies or labor unions. Ask if the schools you are considering have working partnerships with local Drexel Heights AZ HVAC companies. An apprenticeship not only offers a valuable experience by supplying hands-on training, but it also furnishes job opportunities and helps to establish relationships in the area HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make certain that the school facilities and the tools that you will be instructed on are state-of-the-art and what you will be using on the job. If you are already in an internship or an apprenticeship, consult with the HVAC specialist you are working under regarding what you should be looking for. If not, ask a local Drexel Heights AZ HVAC company if they can provide some tips. Additionally bear in mind that unless you are willing to relocate, 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 fees 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 larger classes. Ask if you can monitor a couple of the classes so that you can see how large they are and witness first hand the interaction between teachers and students. Talk to several of the students and get their opinions concerning class sizes and instruction. Last, speak with some 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 evaluating are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you are only able to go to classes at night or on weekends near Drexel Heights AZ, confirm that the programs you are comparing provide those choices. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, be sure that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Also, check out what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, illness or family responsibilities.
Earn Your HVAC Degree and Certification
Enrolling in the right HVAC school course is an important beginning toward a fulfilling career in the heating and air conditioning field. 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 exceptional reputations within the HVAC trade. Other things to look for are plenty of hands-on training and modern facilities. You need to go to each of the schools personally that you are most interested in to inspect the campus and speak with both the faculty and current students. Try to get a feel for the quality of the teaching and the interaction between them. Also, inquire about scheduling choices and whether or not evening or weekend classes are offered if needed. And don't forget to inquire about financial aid and student loan options also. If you ask the appropriate questions as we have detailed in our guidelines for evaluating schools, you'll be able to narrow down your options so that you can make an educated decision. With the right training, hard work and commitment, you can eventually become a licensed HVAC technician in Drexel Heights AZ.