How to Enroll In the Right Heating and Cooling Program near Drexel Heights Arizona
Once you have decided on a career as a heating and air conditioner specialist, the next step is to look for an HVAC vocational school near Drexel Heights AZ. But with so many to pick from, how do you decide on the right one to get the training that you need? A number of future students will make their choice based exclusively 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 investigate. 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 covered in more detail later in this article. But before we tackle how to select an HVAC trade school, let's take a look at what a heating and a/c contractor does to become a licensed skilled tradesman.
Becoming an HVAC Professional
HVAC is an acronym that is widely used in the industry that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC techs specialize in the installation, repair and maintenance of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are generally mandated to be licensed, however every state and regional municipality has its own requirements. Attaining professional certification is not required, but an alternative means for Drexel Heights AZ HVAC specialists to demonstrate that they are exceptionally proficient and accomplished in their area of specialization. There are multiple acknowledged 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 technicians. The certification is achieved by passing a competency examination 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 in addition to passing a comprehensive exam are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have 3 years of experience together with a passing result on the professional level exam. Similar to NATE, certifications are made available in multiple specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is mandatory for specialists that work with refrigerants. There are 3 forms of certification available, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Because licensing might be required in your location, and you may also wish to acquire certification, it's essential that you select an HVAC trade school that will prepare you for both. And since you will most likely be working with refrigerants, make sure that the school you select prepares you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.
HVAC Degree Training Programs
There are several alternatives offered for HVAC instruction in a vocational or trade school. You can obtain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Obtaining a certificate will take the minimum period of time, typically achieved in just 6 months, however some courses 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 furnish more comprehensive training than the certificate programs. Below is a short explanation of each option offered near Drexel Heights AZ.
- Certificate. Usually requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among entry level residential or commercial HVAC professionals. They furnish a strong foundation of skills for employment within the trade.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program provides a more exhaustive understanding of heating and a/c systems than the certificate program. Generally requiring two years to finish, many degrees feature an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is suited more towards a career in management or even business ownership. Some programs require an Associate Degree, while others are a traditional four year program. In addition to learning how to service and maintain heating and air conditioning systems, you will also study how to design them.
Choosing the ideal credential program will be dependent on what your long term career aspirations are, along with the time and money that you have to commit. One possibility is to start with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after acquiring some experience in the field in Drexel Heights AZ, subsequently going back to obtain 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 Training
Attending an HVAC school online is one possibility in obtaining your education and receiving a certificate or degree. Almost all schools will require some attendance on campus to complete practical training. Some also offer internship or work-study programs in addition to or as an alternative to practical lab work. But since the rest of the classes may be attended online, this approach may be a more accessible solution for some Drexel Heights AZ students that are pressed for time. And some online degree programs are less costly than other on campus choices. Even driving expenses from Drexel Heights and study materials may be minimized, helping to make education more economical. And numerous online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your career or family commitments have left you with limited time to attend classes, perhaps an online HVAC degree program will make it easier to accommodate school into your hectic schedule.
Questions For HVAC Trade Schools
After you have chosen the type of certificate or degree that you desire to obtain, either online or on campus, you can begin to decrease your list of schools. As you are probably aware, there are a large number of HVAC technical schools in the Drexel Heights AZ area and across the United States to pick from. That's why it is imperative to have a checklist of key qualifications when making school evaluations. As formerly stated in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will undoubtedly be the initial 2 variables you will take into consideration. Following are some additional ones that you need to research before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Many HVAC technical schools in the Drexel Heights AZ area have acquired either a regional or a national accreditation. They may attain Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to an individual program, such as HVAC technology. Make sure that the school and program are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization, for example the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping guarantee that you acquire an excellent education, it can assist in securing financial aid or student loans, which are often not available for non-accredited schools. Furthermore, many 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 considering what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students who enroll in and complete the course. A low completion rate may indicate that students were dissatisfied with the course and dropped out. It might also suggest that the teachers were not competent to instruct the students. It's similarly imperative that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader list of graduates, which can produce 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 trade, but also that it has the network of Drexel Heights AZ HVAC employers to assist students secure apprenticeships or jobs.
Apprenticeship Programs. Numerous HVAC training programs are taught in conjunction with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating trade and technical schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of HVAC businesses or trade unions. Find out 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 furnishing practical training, but it also furnishes job opportunities and helps to form relationships in the regional HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Confirm that the campus facilities and the equipment that you will be trained on are state-of-the-art and what you will be using on the job. If you are presently in an internship or an apprenticeship, consult with the HVAC tech you are working with regarding what you should be expecting. Otherwise, ask a local Drexel Heights AZ HVAC company if they can give you some pointers. Also bear in mind that unless you can move, the school must be within commuting distance of your Drexel Heights AZ home. Take note that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides the added relocation costs there may be increased tuition charges compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's important that you receive as much personalized instruction as possible, which can be difficult in bigger classes. Ask if you can monitor some of the classes so that you can see how big they are and witness first hand the interaction between teachers and students. Talk to a few of the students and get their opinions concerning class sizes and instruction. Last, talk to a few of the teachers and find out what their level of experience is and what degrees or certifications they have earned.
Flexible Scheduling. Confirm that the class schedules for the schools you are reviewing 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 schools you are considering offer those choices. If you can only attend part-time, be sure that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Also, find out what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, illness or family issues.
Earn Your HVAC Certificate or Degree
Finding the right HVAC school program is a crucial beginning toward a rewarding career in the heating and cooling industry. As we have discussed in this article, you need to select 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 features to look for are sufficient practical training and modern facilities. You should check out each of the schools in person that you are most interested in to explore the campus and talk with both the faculty and current students. Attempt to get a feel for the quality of the teaching and the interaction between them. In addition, inquire about scheduling options and whether evening or weekend classes are available if needed. And remember to inquire about financial assistance and student loan options as well. If you ask the proper questions as we have detailed in our guidelines for comparing schools, you'll be able to narrow down your choices so that you can make an informed decision. With the proper training, hard work and commitment, you can eventually become a licensed HVAC professional in Drexel Heights AZ.