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How to Pick the Right HVAC Training Program near El Mirage Arizona

El Mirage Arizona home A/C condensersOnce you have decided on a career as a heating and air conditioner professional, the next action is to locate an HVAC vocational school near El Mirage AZ. But with so many to select from, how do you select the right one to receive the training that you need? Many future students will make their selection based exclusively on the cost of tuition or how close the school is to their home. While these are important considerations, they are not the only ones to take into account. Just some of the other details that you need to investigate are the graduation completion rates of the HVAC schools, their reputations, and if they are accredited by professional trade organizations. These and additional criteria will be covered in more detail later in this article. But before we tackle how to select an HVAC training program, let's take a look at what a heating and air conditioning professional does to become a licensed qualified tradesman.

Becoming an HVAC Specialist

El Mirage Arizona HVAC Contractor fixing A/C condenserHVAC is an acronym that is widely used in the business that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC contractors provide services for the installation, maintenance and repair of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are generally mandated to be licensed, although every state and local municipality has its own prerequisites. Acquiring professional certification is not mandatory, but an alternative way for El Mirage AZ HVAC techs to prove that they are exceptionally skilled and experienced in their area of expertise. There are several respected certifications within the industry that are offered. Following are a few of the important ones.

  • North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally recognized certification for HVAC techs. The certification is earned 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. Two years of field experience in addition to passing a comprehensive exam are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have 3 years of experience together with a passing score on the professional level examination. Similar to NATE, certifications are provided in several specialties.
  • EPA Section 608. This certification is mandatory for specialists that work with refrigerants. There are three types of certification obtainable, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.

Since licensing may be mandated in your location, and you may also intend to obtain certification, it's imperative that you pick an HVAC vocational school that will prepare you for both. And since you will more than likely be dealing with refrigerants, make sure that the school you select preps you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.

HVAC Degree and Certificate Classes

El Mirage Arizona home heating pump

There are several options offered for HVAC training in a trade or technical school. You can attain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Acquiring a certificate will take the least amount of time, typically achieved in as little as six months, though 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 training programs may provide a competitive edge for securing employment and will provide more extensive training than the certificate programs. Following is a short summary of each option offered near El Mirage AZ.

  • Certificate. Generally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among beginning residential or commercial HVAC professionals. They provide a strong foundation of skills for job opportunities within the industry.
  • Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program delivers a more detailed knowledge of heating and a/c systems than the certificate program. Generally taking 2 years to finish, a number of degrees incorporate an internship or work-study program.
  • Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is tailored more for 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 long term career objectives are, in addition to the time and money that you have to invest. One approach is to start with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after getting some experience in the trade in El Mirage AZ, later going back to acquire a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your strategy, make certain to ask the HVAC technician school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.

HVAC Training Online

Choosing an HVAC program online is one approach to getting your education and receiving a degree or certificate. Almost all schools will require some attendance on campus to take part in hands on training. A number also offer internship or work-study programs in addition to or instead of practical lab work. But since the rest of the classes may be participated in on the web, this approach may be a more convenient solution for many El Mirage AZ students that are short on time. And a number of online degree programs are less costly than other on campus choices. Even travelling expenses from El Mirage and study materials can be reduced, helping to make schooling more affordable. And many online programs are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your career or family commitments have left you with limited time to attend classes, maybe an HVAC online training program will make it more convenient to accommodate school into your busy schedule.

Questions For HVAC Certification Courses

El Mirage Arizona Heating and Cooling tech servicing water heater

Once you have selected the type of certificate or degree that you would like to acquire, either online or on campus, you can start to limit your list of schools. As you are probably aware, there are numerous HVAC vocational schools in the El Mirage AZ area and across the USA to choose from. That's why it is essential to have a list of relevant qualifiers when making school evaluations. As formerly stated in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will most likely be the initial two factors you will look at. Following are some additional ones that you should research before enrolling in your school of choice.

Accreditation.  A large number of HVAC technical programs in the El Mirage AZ area have received either a regional or a national accreditation. They can receive Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to an individual program, for example HVAC technology. Make sure that the school and program are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization, such as the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping ensure that you receive a superior education, it can help in securing financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently not available for non-accredited programs. Additionally, many states require that the HVAC training course be accredited for it to be approved for licensing.

High Completion Rates.  Ask the Heating and Air Conditioning 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 lower completion rate may signify that students were dissatisfied with the program and quit. It could also mean that the teachers were not qualified to train the students. It's similarly imperative that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader directory of alumni, which can result in more contacts for the school to utilize 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 additionally that it has the network of El Mirage AZ HVAC employers to assist grads acquire apprenticeships or employment.

Apprenticeship Programs.  A large number of HVAC training programs are taught along with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating vocational and technical schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of HVAC businesses or labor unions. Check if the schools you are comparing have working partnerships with local El Mirage AZ HVAC contractors. An apprenticeship not only provides a valuable experience by furnishing hands-on training, but it also provides job opportunities and helps to build relationships in the local HVAC professional community.

Modern Facilities.  Make certain that the school facilities and the tools that you will be trained on are up-to-date and what you will be working with on the job. If you are currently in an internship or an apprenticeship, consult with the HVAC tech you are working under regarding what you should be looking for. Otherwise, ask a local El Mirage AZ HVAC company if they can give you some pointers. Also keep in mind that unless you can relocate, the school must be within commuting distance of your El Mirage AZ home. Take note that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to moving costs there may be increased tuition charges compared to in-state residents.

Smaller Classes.   It's important that you get as much individualized instruction 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 instructors and students. Speak to several of the students and get their comments relating to class sizes and instruction. Last, speak with some of the instructors and learn what their level of expertise is and what certifications or degrees they have earned.

Flexible Scheduling.  Verify that the class schedules for the schools you are assessing are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you are only able to attend classes at night or on weekends near El Mirage AZ, confirm that the programs 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 protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, illness or family emergencies.

Learn More About El Mirage HVAC Programs In Your Area

Earn Your Heating and Cooling Training and Certification

Enrolling in the right HVAC training course is a crucial first step toward a rewarding career in the heating & cooling field. As we have covered in this article, you should choose 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 features to search for are lots of practical training and modern facilities. You should go to each of the schools personally that you are most interested in to tour the campus and talk with both the faculty and current students. Attempt to get a feel for the quality of the training and the interaction between them. Additionally, ask about scheduling choices and whether or not night or weekend classes are offered if needed. And remember to ask about financial aid and student loan options also. If you ask the right questions as we have laid out in our guidelines for evaluating schools, you'll be able to narrow down your options so that you can make an informed decision. With the appropriate training, hard work and dedication, you can eventually become a licensed HVAC technician in El Mirage AZ.