How to Find the Right Heating and Cooling Certification Course near Drexel Heights Arizona
Once you have come to a decision on a career as a heating and cooling technician, the next action is to look for an HVAC trade school near Drexel Heights AZ. But with so many to choose from, how do you decide on the right one to obtain the training that you require? Some potential students will make their choice based entirely on the cost of tuition or how close the school is to their home. Even though these are necessary factors to consider, they are not the only ones to evaluate. 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 benchmarks will be covered in more detail later within this article. But before we tackle how to choose an HVAC vocational school, let's look at what a heating and air conditioning professional does to become a licensed qualified tradesman.
Becoming an HVAC Contractor
HVAC 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, repair and maintenance of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are typically required to be licensed, although every state and local municipality has its own requirements. Attaining professional certification is not mandatory, but a voluntary way for Drexel Heights AZ HVAC techs to demonstrate that they are highly proficient and knowledgeable in their area of specialization. There are many recognized certifications within the industry that are available. Following are a few of the significant ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally recognized 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 field 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 result on the professional level exam. Similar to NATE, certifications are provided in various specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is required for specialists that work with refrigerants. There are three types of certification available, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Considering that licensing might be mandated in your area, and you may also intend to obtain certification, it's important that you choose an HVAC trade school that will prepare you for both. And since you will more than likely be working with refrigerants, make sure that the school you choose preps you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
HVAC Degree Classes
There are several options available for HVAC instruction in a technical or vocational school. You can earn a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Earning a certificate will take the minimum period of time, often completed in just 6 months, although some programs are longer. A certificate will train 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 provide more comprehensive training than the certificate programs. Following is a short explanation of each credential offered near Drexel Heights AZ.
- Certificate. Normally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among beginning residential or commercial HVAC technicians. They provide a solid foundation of skills for employment within the industry.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program supplies a more comprehensive understanding of heating and a/c systems than the certificate program. Usually taking two years to finish, many degrees include an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is tailored more towards a career in management or even business ownership. Some programs require an Associate Degree, while others are a standard four 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 right credential program will be based on what your future career objectives are, as well as the time and money that you have to commit. One option is to start with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after getting some experience in the trade in Drexel Heights AZ, later returning to acquire a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your strategy, make sure to ask the HVAC tech school you are considering about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Online Courses
Enrolling in an HVAC program online is one alternative in getting your training and receiving a certificate or degree. Most schools will require some attendance on campus to participate in hands on training. A number also provide internship or work-study programs in addition to or instead of practical lab work. But since the balance of the classes can be attended online, this alternative may be a more accessible solution for many Drexel Heights AZ students that are pressed for time. And many online degree programs are less costly than other traditional choices. Even commuting expenses from Drexel Heights and study materials may be reduced, helping to make schooling more budget-friendly. And many online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your career or family obligations have left you with limited time to attend classes, maybe an HVAC online training program will make it more convenient to fit school into your active schedule.
Questions For HVAC Certification Classes
As soon as you have decided on the type of degree or certificate that you want 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 vocational schools in the Drexel Heights AZ area and all over the United States to pick from. That's why it is imperative to have a list of important qualifications when making school comparisons. As earlier stated in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will undoubtedly be the first two variables you will look at. Following are several additional ones that you will want to investigate before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Many HVAC trade programs in the Drexel Heights 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 pertains to a specific program, such as HVAC technology. Verify that the program and school are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting organization, which includes the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping ensure that you acquire a quality education, it can assist in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are frequently not available for non-accredited schools. Additionally, some states require that the HVAC training program be accredited in order to be approved for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the HVAC schools you are looking at what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage of students who enroll in and complete the program. A lower completion rate might indicate that students were unhappy with the course and quit. It could also indicate that the teachers were not competent to train the students. It's similarly important that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive list of alumni, which may result in more contacts for the school to employ for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate will not only affirm that the school has an excellent reputation within the industry, but additionally that it has the network of Drexel Heights AZ HVAC employers to assist graduates obtain apprenticeships or jobs.
Apprenticeship Programs. Many HVAC technical programs are taught in conjunction with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating trade and vocational schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of HVAC businesses or labor unions. Check if the schools you are comparing have working relationships with local Drexel Heights AZ HVAC specialists. An apprenticeship not only offers a valuable experience by providing practical training, but it also furnishes job opportunities and helps to build 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 state-of-the-art and what you will be working with in the field. If you are already in an internship or an apprenticeship, check with the HVAC tech you are working with concerning what you should be looking for. If not, ask a local Drexel Heights AZ HVAC company if they can give you some tips. Also keep in mind that unless you can relocate, the school needs to be within commuting distance of your Drexel Heights AZ residence. Take note that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation costs there may be increased tuition charges compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's desirable that you receive as much individualized training as possible, which can be challenging in bigger classes. Ask if you can sit in on a few of the classes so that you can observe how big they are and witness first hand the interaction between teachers and students. Talk with a few of the students and get their feedback regarding class sizes and instruction. Last, talk to some of the instructors and find out what their level of expertise is and what degrees or certifications they have earned.
Flexible Scheduling. Confirm that the class schedules for the programs you are evaluating are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you are only able to attend classes at night or on weekends near Drexel Heights AZ, verify that the schools you are considering offer those choices. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, be sure that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Also, check out what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, sickness or family emergencies.
Get Your Heating and Cooling Certificate or Degree
Selecting the right HVAC school program is an important first step toward a fulfilling career in the heating & cooling trade. As we have addressed in this article, you should pick a Heating and Cooling training program and a certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have outstanding reputations within the HVAC field. 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 tour 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. In addition, ask about scheduling options and whether or not evening or weekend classes are offered if needed. And remember to ask about financial aid and student loan options as well. If you ask the proper questions as we have laid out in our guidelines for assessing schools, you'll be able to filter your options so that you can make an educated decision. With the proper training, hard work and commitment, you can eventually become a licensed HVAC professional in Drexel Heights AZ.