How to Choose the Right Heating and Cooling Certification Class near El Mirage Arizona
Once you have come to a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioner specialist, the next step is to locate an HVAC technical school near El Mirage AZ. But with so many to pick from, how do you decide on the right one to get the training that you need? Many potential students will make their decision based exclusively on the price of tuition or how near the school is to their residence. Even though these are important factors to consider, they are not the only ones to evaluate. Just some of the other things that you need to investigate 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 discussed in more detail later within this article. But before we explore how to pick an HVAC training program, let's take a look at what a heating and a/c professional does to become a licensed skilled tradesman.
Becoming an HVAC Pro
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 central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are commonly mandated to be licensed, although each state and local municipality has its own requirements. Earning professional certification is not mandatory, but an alternative way for El Mirage AZ HVAC specialists to demonstrate that they are exceptionally proficient and experienced in their area of specialization. There are several respected certifications within the trade that are offered. Following are some of the significant ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally acknowledged certification for HVAC techs. The certification is attained by passing a proficiency exam 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 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 exam. As with NATE, certifications are provided in several specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is mandatory for techs that handle refrigerants. There are three forms of certification offered, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Considering that licensing may be required in your location, and you may also intend to earn certification, it's imperative 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 school you pick preps you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
HVAC Degree Training Programs
There are a variety of choices available for HVAC instruction in a technical or vocational school. You can attain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Obtaining a certificate will take the lesser period of time, often achieved in as little as six months, though some courses are longer. A certificate will qualify you for most HVAC positions, especially if you are licensed and have certification appropriate to the position. The degree training programs might provide a competitive advantage for securing employment and will furnish more extensive training than the certificate programs. Following is a short explanation of each option offered near El Mirage AZ.
- Certificate. Usually requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among entry level commercial or residential HVAC specialists. They furnish a solid foundation of skills for job opportunities within the industry.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program supplies a more detailed background of heating and cooling systems than the certificate program. Typically requiring 2 years to finish, some 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 conventional four year program. In addition to mastering how to service and maintain heating and air conditioning systems, you will also study how to design them.
Selecting the ideal credential program will be based on what your long term career goals are, along with the time and financial resources that you have to commit. One possibility is to begin with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after getting some experience in the trade in El Mirage 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
Attending an HVAC school online is one approach to attaining your education and receiving a certificate or degree. Most schools will call for some attendance on campus to participate in hands on training. Many also offer internship or work-study programs in addition to or in place of practical lab work. But since the rest of the classes can be attended online, this option may be a more accessible solution for some El Mirage AZ students that are short on time. And some online degree programs are less expensive than other on campus options. Even commuting expenses from El Mirage and study supplies can be lessened, helping to make schooling more budget-friendly. And a large number of online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your job or family commitments have left you with little time to attend classes, perhaps an online HVAC degree program will make it easier to accommodate school into your busy schedule.
Questions to Ask HVAC Certification Classes
Once you have decided on the type of certificate or degree that you want to acquire, either online or on campus, you can start to limit your list of schools. As you are certainly aware, there are numerous HVAC technical schools in the El Mirage AZ area and throughout the USA to choose from. That's why it is imperative to have a list of key qualifiers when making school assessments. As previously mentioned in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will most likely be the initial two 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 vocational programs in the El Mirage AZ area have earned either a regional or a national accreditation. They may earn Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to a specific program, for instance HVAC technology. Confirm that the school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency, for instance the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping guarantee that you get a quality education, it may assist in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are in many cases unavailable for non-accredited programs. Furthermore, a number of states require that the HVAC training program be accredited in order to qualify 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 course. A lower completion rate could indicate that students were dissatisfied with the program and quit. It could also indicate that the instructors were not competent to instruct the students. It's also essential that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive list of graduates, which may produce 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 industry, but also that it has the network of El Mirage AZ HVAC employers to assist graduates acquire apprenticeships or jobs.
Apprenticeship Programs. Many HVAC vocational programs are taught together with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating technical and vocational schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of HVAC contractors or trade unions. Find out if the schools you are reviewing have referring relationships with local El Mirage AZ HVAC professionals. An apprenticeship not only offers a valuable experience by providing hands-on training, but it also provides job opportunities and helps to build relationships in the area HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make sure that the school facilities and the tools that you will be instructed on are up-to-date and what you will be using on the job. If you are already in an internship or an apprenticeship, consult with the HVAC technician you are working under concerning what you should be looking for. Otherwise, ask a local El Mirage AZ HVAC contracting company if they can provide some suggestions. Additionally bear in mind that unless you are able to move, the school needs to be within commuting distance of your El Mirage AZ residence. Remember that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation costs there may be higher tuition fees compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's desirable that you receive as much one-on-one training as possible, which can be difficult in bigger classes. Ask if you can sit in on a few of the classes so that you can see how big they are and witness first hand the interaction between students and instructors. Speak with some of the students and get their comments relating to class sizes and instruction. Finally, talk with some of the teachers and learn what their level of experience is and what degrees or certifications they hold.
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 go to classes at night or on weekends near El Mirage AZ, verify that the programs you are reviewing offer those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Also, ask what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, sickness or family responsibilities.
Earn Your Heating and Cooling Training and Certification
Finding the ideal HVAC school course is a critical first step toward a fulfilling career in the heating and air conditioning industry. As we have addressed in this article, you should select a Heating and Cooling training program and a degree or certificate program that are both accredited and have exceptional reputations within the HVAC profession. Other factors to look for are plenty of hands-on training and state-of-the-art facilities. You should visit each of the schools in person that you are most interested in to tour the campus and speak with both the current students and faculty. Attempt to get a feel for the quality of the teaching and the interaction between them. In addition, inquire about scheduling choices and if evening or weekend classes are offered if needed. And remember to inquire about financial assistance and student loan options as well. If you ask the appropriate questions as we have detailed in our checklist for assessing 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 ultimately become a licensed HVAC specialist in El Mirage AZ.