How to Enroll In the Right HVAC Certificate Program near Drexel Heights Arizona
Now that you have decided on a career as a heating and cooling specialist, the next step is to choose an HVAC vocational school near Drexel Heights AZ. But with so many to choose from, how do you choose the ideal one to obtain the training that you need? A number of prospective students will make their selection based entirely on the cost of tuition or how near the school is to their residence. Although these are important considerations, they are not the only ones to evaluate. Just some of the other things 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 additional criteria will be discussed in more detail later within this article. But before we tackle how to pick an HVAC vocational school, let's look at what a heating and cooling technician does to become a licensed professional tradesman.
How to Become an HVAC Technician
HVAC is an acronym that is commonly used in the industry that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC professionals specialize in the installation, maintenance and repair of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are typically mandated to be licensed, though each state and regional municipality has its own criteria. Earning professional certification is not compulsory, but a voluntary way for Drexel Heights AZ HVAC techs to establish that they are exceptionally proficient and accomplished in their area of specialization. There are several respected certifications within the field that are offered. Below are some of the significant ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally acknowledged certification for HVAC technicians. The certification is attained by passing a proficiency examination and may be acquired in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification makes available 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 need to have three years of experience in addition to a passing score on the professional level examination. As with NATE, certifications are provided in multiple specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is mandatory for specialists that work with refrigerants. There are 3 forms of certification obtainable, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Considering that licensing may be required in your area, and you may also intend to obtain certification, it's essential that you enroll in an HVAC trade school that will prepare you for both. And since you will probably be handling refrigerants, make certain that the program you pick readies you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.
HVAC Degree and Certificate Courses
There are a number of options offered for HVAC training in a technical or vocational school. You can obtain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Acquiring a certificate will take the least period of time, typically completed in just 6 months, although some programs are longer. A certificate will qualify you for most HVAC positions, especially if you are licensed and have certification relevant to the position. The degree programs can provide a competitive edge in the job market and will deliver more in-depth training than the certificate programs. Below is a short explanation of each credential offered near Drexel Heights AZ.
- Certificate. Usually requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among entry level commercial or residential HVAC professionals. They provide a solid foundation of skills for job opportunities within the industry.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program provides a more extensive background of heating and a/c systems than the certificate program. Usually requiring two years to complete, many degrees include an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is geared more for 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.
Picking the right credential program will be dependent on what your future career objectives are, along with the time and financial resources that you have to invest. One option is to start with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after getting some experience in the field in Drexel Heights AZ, subsequently returning to earn a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your tactic, make certain to ask the HVAC technician school you are considering about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Courses Online
Enrolling in an HVAC school online is one approach to getting your training and receiving a degree or certificate. Nearly all schools will call for some attendance on campus to participate in practical training. A number also sponsor internship or work-study programs in addition to or in place of practical lab work. But since the remainder of the classes may be attended online, this alternative may be a more accessible solution for some Drexel Heights AZ students that are pressed for time. And a number of online degree programs are more economical than other on campus options. Even travelling expenses from Drexel Heights and study supplies may be lessened, helping to make schooling more economical. And many online programs are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your work or family obligations have left you with minimal time to attend classes, perhaps an HVAC online training program will make it less complicated to fit school into your busy schedule.
Questions to Ask HVAC Training Programs
As soon as you have selected the type of certificate or degree that you would like to attain, either on campus or online, you can start to decrease your selection of schools. As you are certainly aware, there are many HVAC technical schools in the Drexel Heights AZ area and across the Country to select from. That's why it is essential to have a checklist of important qualifications when making school comparisons. As previously stated in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will most likely be the initial 2 factors you will look at. Following are several additional ones that you need to investigate before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. A large number of HVAC technical programs in the Drexel Heights AZ area have acquired either a regional or a national accreditation. They may receive Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to a specific program, for example HVAC technology. Confirm that the program and school are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization, for instance the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping make certain that you obtain a superior education, it may help in obtaining financial assistance or student loans, which are in many cases unavailable for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of states mandate that the HVAC training course be accredited in order to be approved for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the HVAC schools you are considering 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 unhappy with the program and quit. It might also signify that the instructors were not qualified 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 broader list 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 confirm that the school has an excellent reputation within the industry, but also that it has the network of Drexel Heights AZ HVAC employers to assist grads secure apprenticeships or jobs.
Apprenticeship Programs. A large number of HVAC technical programs are taught together with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating technical and vocational programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of HVAC businesses or trade unions. Ask if the schools you are reviewing have working relationships with local Drexel Heights AZ HVAC specialists. An apprenticeship not only offers a rewarding experience by providing practical training, but it also supplies employment opportunities and helps to build relationships in the area HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make certain that the school facilities and the tools that you will be trained 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 technician you are working under concerning what you should be looking for. Otherwise, ask a local Drexel Heights AZ HVAC contracting company if they can give you some pointers. Additionally keep in mind that unless you are willing to relocate, the school must be within driving distance of your Drexel Heights AZ residence. Remember that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, in addition to moving costs there might be increased tuition fees compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's important that you get as much one-on-one training as possible, which can be difficult in bigger classes. Ask if you can sit in on a couple of the classes so that you can observe how large they are and witness first hand the interaction between students and instructors. Talk to some of the students and get their feedback concerning class sizes and instruction. Finally, speak with a few of the instructors and learn what their level of experience is and what certifications or degrees they hold.
Flexible Scheduling. Verify that the class schedules for the programs you are reviewing are flexible enough to handle your needs. If you are only able to go to classes at night or on weekends near Drexel Heights AZ, verify that the schools you are reviewing provide those choices. If you can only attend part-time, make sure that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Additionally, ask what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Earn Your HVAC Degree and Certification
Enrolling in the right HVAC training course is a crucial first step toward a rewarding 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 degree or certificate program that are both accredited and have outstanding reputations within the HVAC profession. Other factors to look for are ample practical training and state-of-the-art facilities. You should check out each of the schools in person that you are most interested in to inspect the campus and talk with both the current students and faculty. Attempt to get a feel for the quality of the teaching and the interaction between them. Additionally, inquire about scheduling options and whether night or weekend classes are available if needed. And remember to ask about financial aid and student loan options also. If you ask the appropriate questions as we have laid out in our checklist for evaluating 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 eventually become a licensed HVAC contractor in Drexel Heights AZ.