How to Choose the Right Heating and Cooling Certification Course near El Mirage Arizona
Now that you have decided on a career as a heating and cooling technician, the next action is to locate an HVAC technical school near El Mirage AZ. But with so many to pick from, how do you select the ideal one to get the training that you require? Many future students will make their choice based solely on the cost of tuition or how near the school is to their home. Even though these are significant concerns, they are not the only ones to investigate. Just some of the other things that you need to research are the graduation completion rates of the HVAC schools, their reputations, and if they are accredited by professional trade organizations. Those and additional criteria will be addressed in more detail later in this article. But before we discuss how to select an HVAC technical school, let's look at what a heating and a/c contractor does to become a licensed skilled tradesman.
How to Become an HVAC Professional
HVAC is an acronym that is widely used in the trade that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC contractors provide services for the installation, maintenance and repair of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are typically required to be licensed, though each state and local municipality has its own prerequisites. Earning professional certification is not required, but a voluntary means for El Mirage AZ HVAC technicians to demonstrate that they are exceptionally proficient and accomplished in their area of expertise. There are multiple acknowledged certifications within the trade that are offered. Following are some of the important ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally recognized 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 makes available both a professional and a master specialist credential. 2 years of field experience as well as passing a comprehensive examination are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have 3 years of experience in addition to a passing result on the professional level exam. Similar to NATE, certifications are made available in multiple specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is required for technicians that handle refrigerants. There are three forms of certification available, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Because licensing could be mandated in your area, and you may also desire to earn certification, it's essential that you enroll in an HVAC trade school that will prepare you for both. And since you will more than likely be working with refrigerants, make certain that the school you select prepares you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
HVAC Degree and Certificate Training Programs
There are several choices available for HVAC training in a trade or technical school. You can earn a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Earning a certificate will take the lesser period of time, usually achieved in as little as 6 months, although some programs are longer. A certificate will train you for the majority of HVAC positions, particularly if you are licensed and have certification relevant to the position. The degree training programs might provide a competitive advantage for securing employment and will furnish more comprehensive training than the certificate programs. Following is a short description of each credential offered near El Mirage AZ.
- Certificate. Usually requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among beginning residential or commercial HVAC technicians. They furnish a strong foundation of skills for employment within the trade.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program supplies a more detailed background of heating & cooling systems than the certificate program. Typically taking 2 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 as well as business ownership. Some programs require an Associate Degree, while others are a conventional 4 year program. In addition to mastering how to service and maintain heating and cooling systems, you will also learn how to design them.
Picking the appropriate credential program will be dependent on what your future career objectives are, along with 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 El Mirage AZ, subsequently going back to acquire a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your strategy, make sure to ask the HVAC technician school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Courses Online
Attending an HVAC program online is one option to obtaining your training and receiving a degree or certificate. Nearly all schools will call for some attendance on campus to participate in practical training. Many also sponsor internship or work-study programs in addition to or in place of practical lab work. But since the remainder of the classes can be attended on the web, this option may be a more accessible solution for many El Mirage AZ students that are pressed for time. And some online degree programs are less expensive than other traditional choices. Even driving expenses from El Mirage and study supplies may be minimized, helping to make education more affordable. And numerous online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your work or family obligations have left you with limited time to attend classes, perhaps an online HVAC degree program will make it more convenient to accommodate school into your active schedule.
Questions to Ask HVAC Certification Courses
After you have picked the type of certificate or degree that you desire to earn, either online or on campus, you can start to decrease your list of schools. As you are probably aware, there are numerous HVAC vocational schools in the El Mirage AZ area and throughout the Country to pick from. That's why it is extremely important to have a list of important qualifiers when making school evaluations. As previously mentioned in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will probably be the first two 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 vocational schools in the El Mirage AZ area have attained either a regional or a national accreditation. They can acquire Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to an individual program, for example HVAC technology. Verify that the school and program are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting agency, which includes the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping ensure that you obtain a quality education, it can help in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are in many cases unavailable for non-accredited schools. Furthermore, a number of states require 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 looking at 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 might indicate that students were unhappy with the course and quit. It could also indicate that the instructors were not qualified to instruct the students. It's similarly essential that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive directory of alumni, which can mean more contacts for the school to use for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate will not only confirm that the school has a good reputation within the industry, but also that it has the network of El Mirage AZ HVAC employers to assist students secure apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. Most HVAC technical programs are taught in conjunction with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating trade and technical programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of Heating and Cooling contractors or labor unions. Check if the schools you are considering have referring partnerships with local El Mirage AZ HVAC companies. An apprenticeship not only provides a rewarding experience by supplying hands-on training, but it also furnishes employment opportunities and helps to form relationships in the area HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make certain that the school facilities and the equipment 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, check with the HVAC specialist you are working under concerning what you should be expecting. If not, ask a local El Mirage AZ HVAC contracting company if they can provide some suggestions. Additionally bear in mind that unless you are willing to relocate, the school needs to be within driving distance of your El Mirage AZ home. Take note that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, besides the added moving costs there might be higher tuition charges compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's important that you get as much personalized training as possible, which can be challenging in bigger classes. Ask if you can monitor a couple of the classes so that you can see how big they are and experience the interaction between students and teachers. Speak with some of the students and get their opinions relating to class sizes and instruction. Finally, talk to a few of the instructors and find out what their level of expertise is and what certifications or degrees they hold.
Flexible Scheduling. Verify that the class schedules for the programs you are evaluating are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you are only able to attend classes at night or on weekends near El Mirage AZ, verify that the schools you are comparing provide those choices. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Finally, ask what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, sickness or family responsibilities.
Get Your Heating and Cooling Training and Certification
Choosing the right HVAC school course is a crucial first step toward a fulfilling career in the heating & cooling 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 community. Other things to look for are ample hands-on training and state-of-the-art facilities. You should check out each of the schools personally that you are most interested in to explore the campus and speak with both the faculty and current students. Attempt to get a feel for the quality of the instruction and the interaction between them. Additionally, ask about scheduling choices and whether night or weekend classes are offered if needed. And remember to inquire about financial aid and student loan options also. If you ask the appropriate questions as we have detailed in our checklist for comparing schools, you'll be able to filter your choices so that you can make an educated decision. With the right training, hard work and commitment, you can eventually become a licensed HVAC contractor in El Mirage AZ.