How to Pick the Right HVAC Training Class near Drexel Heights Arizona
Now that you have come to a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioning specialist, the next action 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 receive the training that you need? A number of prospective students will make their decision based exclusively on the price of tuition or how close the school is to their home. While these are relevant concerns, they are not the only ones to evaluate. Some 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. These and additional criteria will be discussed in more detail later within this article. But before we tackle how to choose an HVAC technical school, let's look at what a heating and cooling technician does to become a licensed skilled tradesman.
How to Become an HVAC Specialist
HVAC is an acronym that is widely used in the business that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC professionals specialize in the installation, maintenance and repair of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are commonly required to be licensed, although each state and local municipality has its own prerequisites. Earning professional certification is not compulsory, but a voluntary means for Drexel Heights AZ HVAC techs to prove that they are highly proficient and experienced in their area of specialization. There are a number of 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 attained by passing a competency examination and can be earned in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification offers both a professional and a master specialist credential. 2 years of field experience together with passing a comprehensive exam are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have 3 years of experience along with a passing score on the professional level examination. As with NATE, certifications are made available in several specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is required for techs that work with refrigerants. There are three forms of certification available, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Considering that licensing may be mandated in your location, and you may also desire to acquire certification, it's essential that you choose an HVAC technical school that will train you for both. And since you will most likely be working with refrigerants, make certain that the program you decide on preps you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
HVAC Degree Training Programs
There are several alternatives available for HVAC instruction in a trade or technical school. You can attain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Earning a certificate will take the lesser period of time, typically accomplished in just six months, though some courses are longer. A certificate will qualify you for most HVAC positions, particularly if you are licensed and have certification applicable to the position. The degree programs can provide a competitive advantage for securing employment and will deliver more in-depth training than the certificate programs. Following is a short description 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 specialists. They furnish a strong foundation of skills for job opportunities within the industry.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program delivers a more detailed understanding of heating and cooling systems than the certificate program. Generally requiring two years to finish, some degrees include an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is geared more towards a career in management as well as business ownership. Some programs require an Associate Degree, while others are a standard 4 year program. In addition to mastering how to service and maintain heating and cooling systems, you will also study how to design them.
Selecting the appropriate credential program will be dependent on what your long term career objectives are, together with the time and money that you have to invest. One approach is to begin with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after acquiring some experience in the trade in Drexel Heights AZ, eventually returning to acquire 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 Courses Online
Attending an HVAC program online is one alternative to getting your training and earning a degree or certificate. Nearly all schools will require some attendance on campus to take part in practical training. Some also provide internship or work-study programs in addition to or as an alternative to practical lab work. But since the balance of the classes can be participated in via the internet, this option may be a more accessible solution for many Drexel Heights AZ students that are short on time. And a number of online degree programs are less expensive than other traditional options. Even commuting expenses from Drexel Heights and study materials can be lessened, helping to make education more budget-friendly. And numerous online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your career or family responsibilities have left you with limited time to attend classes, perhaps an online HVAC degree program will make it easier to fit school into your busy schedule.
Questions to Ask HVAC Certification Classes
Once you have decided on the type of certificate or degree that you would like to earn, either on campus or online, you can begin to narrow down your selection of schools. As you are probably 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 very important to have a checklist of important qualifiers when making school assessments. As earlier stated in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will probably be the first 2 factors you will consider. Following are several additional ones that you will want to investigate before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. A large number of HVAC technical schools in the Drexel Heights AZ area have attained either a regional or a national accreditation. They may earn Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to a specific program, such as HVAC technology. Verify that the program is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency, for example the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping ensure that you get an excellent education, it can help in securing financial aid or student loans, which are often unavailable for non-accredited schools. Also, some states mandate that the HVAC training program be accredited for it to qualify for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the Heating and Air Conditioning schools you are reviewing what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students who enroll in and complete the program. A lower completion rate may indicate that students were disappointed with the course and quit. It might also mean that the instructors were not competent to train the students. It's similarly essential that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader list of graduates, which may mean more contacts for the school to employ for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate will 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 employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. Most HVAC trade programs are taught together 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 labor unions. Find out if the schools you are considering have referring relationships with local Drexel Heights AZ HVAC contractors. An apprenticeship not only provides a valuable experience by supplying practical training, but it also supplies employment 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 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 under concerning what you should be expecting. If not, ask a local Drexel Heights AZ HVAC contracting company if they can provide some suggestions. Also keep in mind that unless you are able to move, the school must be within driving distance of your Drexel Heights AZ home. Take note that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to moving costs there may be increased tuition fees compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's important that you receive as much one-on-one training as possible, which can be challenging in bigger classes. Ask if you can monitor a few of the classes so that you can see how big they are and witness first hand the interaction between students and teachers. Talk with several of the students and get their comments regarding class sizes and instruction. Finally, speak with some of the teachers and learn what their level of experience is and what certifications or degrees they hold.
Flexible Scheduling. Verify that the class schedules for the schools you are reviewing are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you are only able to go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Drexel Heights AZ, check that the programs you are reviewing provide those choices. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Additionally, find out what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, sickness or family emergencies.
Earn Your HVAC Certificate or Degree
Finding the right HVAC training program is an important beginning toward a rewarding career in the heating & cooling industry. As we have covered in this article, you should select a Heating and Cooling training program and a degree or certificate program that are both accredited and have outstanding reputations within the HVAC community. Other things to search for are ample hands-on training and modern facilities. You should check out each of the schools personally 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 instruction and the interaction between them. Also, ask about scheduling choices and whether evening or weekend classes are offered if needed. And don't forget to inquire about financial assistance and student loan options too. If you ask the proper questions as we have outlined in our checklist for assessing schools, you'll be able to narrow down your choices so that you can make an educated decision. With the appropriate training, hard work and commitment, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC technician in Drexel Heights AZ.