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How to Choose the Right HVAC Certification Class near Flagstaff Arizona

Flagstaff Arizona home air conditioning condensersOnce you have come to a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioner specialist, the next step is to find an HVAC vocational school near Flagstaff AZ. But with so many to pick from, how do you pick the right one to get the training that you require? Many future students will make their choice based exclusively on the price of tuition or how near the school is to their residence. Even though these are relevant factors to consider, they are not the only ones to evaluate. Some of the other details 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 other benchmarks will be covered in more detail later within this article. But before we explore how to choose an HVAC vocational school, let's take a look at what a heating and air conditioning professional does to become a licensed qualified tradesman.

Becoming an HVAC Technician

Flagstaff Arizona HVAC Tech fixing A/C condenserHVAC is an acronym that is widely used in the business that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC technicians specialize in the installation, repair and maintenance of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are commonly required to be licensed, though every state and local municipality has its own prerequisites. Earning professional certification is not mandatory, but a voluntary means for Flagstaff AZ HVAC technicians to demonstrate that they are highly skilled and experienced in their area of specialization. There are multiple respected certifications within the trade that are available. Here are some of the important 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 may be acquired in one or more specialties.
  • HVAC Excellence. This certification offers both a professional and a master specialist credential. 2 years of professional experience as well as passing a comprehensive examination are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have 3 years of experience as well as a passing score on the professional level exam. As with NATE, certifications are made available in multiple specialties.
  • EPA Section 608. This certification is mandatory for technicians that handle refrigerants. There are three forms of certification offered, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.

Considering that licensing could be required in your location, and you may also desire 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 handling refrigerants, make sure that the program you pick readies you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.

HVAC Degree Courses

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There are a number of choices available for HVAC training in a technical or trade school. You can obtain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Earning a certificate will take the minimum amount of time, often accomplished in just 6 months, however some programs are longer. A certificate will train you for most HVAC positions, especially if you are licensed and have certification related to the position. The degree training programs may provide a competitive advantage in the job market and will furnish more comprehensive training than the certificate programs. Following is a brief explanation of each option offered near Flagstaff AZ.

  • Certificate. Normally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among entry level residential or commercial HVAC specialists. They provide a solid foundation of skills for employment within the industry.
  • Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program provides a more extensive understanding of heating & cooling systems than the certificate program. Generally requiring two years to finish, some degrees feature an internship or work-study program.
  • Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is tailored 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 learn how to design them.

Picking the appropriate credential program will be dependent on what your future career goals are, along with the time and money that you have to commit. One option is to begin with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after gaining some experience in the field in Flagstaff AZ, later going back to acquire a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your tactic, be sure to ask the HVAC tech school you are considering about how their returning student program works.

HVAC Training Online

Choosing an HVAC school online is one alternative in attaining your education and earning a certificate or degree. Nearly all schools will call for some attendance on campus to take part in hands on training. Some also provide internship or work-study programs in addition to or as an alternative to practical lab work. But since the balance of the classes may be participated in online, this approach may be a more accessible solution for many Flagstaff AZ students that are pressed for time. And a number of online degree programs are cheaper than other traditional alternatives. Even travelling expenses from Flagstaff and study supplies may be lessened, helping to make schooling more affordable. And a large number of online programs are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your work or family obligations have left you with limited time to attend classes, maybe an online HVAC degree program will make it easier to fit school into your hectic schedule.

Questions to Ask HVAC Certification Classes

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When you have selected the type of certificate or degree that you want to acquire, either online or on campus, you can start to decrease your list of schools. As you are certainly aware, there are a large number of HVAC vocational schools in the Flagstaff AZ area and throughout the USA to select from. That's why it is very important to have a checklist of key qualifications when making school evaluations. As formerly stated in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will probably be the initial two aspects you will take into consideration. Following are some additional ones that you need to explore before enrolling in your school of choice.

Accreditation.  A large number of HVAC technical programs in the Flagstaff AZ area have acquired either a regional or a national accreditation. They can earn Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to an individual program, for example HVAC technology. Confirm that the school and program are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency, for example the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping guarantee that you receive a quality education, it can help in securing financial aid or student loans, which are in many cases not available for non-accredited schools. Furthermore, a number of states mandate that the HVAC training program be accredited in order to be approved for licensing.

High Completion Rates.  Ask the Heating and Cooling schools you are looking at what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage or portion 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 may also mean that the teachers were not competent to instruct 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 alumni, which can result in more contacts for the school to employ for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate can not only confirm that the school has a good reputation within the field, but also that it has the network of Flagstaff AZ HVAC employers to assist grads secure apprenticeships or jobs.

Apprenticeship Programs.  Numerous HVAC trade programs are taught together with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating trade and vocational schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of HVAC businesses or labor unions. Check if the schools you are considering have referring partnerships with local Flagstaff AZ HVAC specialists. An apprenticeship not only offers a valuable experience by supplying hands-on training, but it also supplies employment opportunities and helps to build relationships in the regional HVAC professional community.

Modern Facilities.  Confirm that the campus facilities and the tools 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, check with the HVAC specialist you are working under concerning what you should be looking for. If not, ask a local Flagstaff AZ HVAC company if they can give you some suggestions. Additionally bear in mind that unless you are willing to move, the school must be within commuting distance of your Flagstaff AZ residence. Remember that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, in addition to moving costs there can be increased tuition fees compared to in-state residents.

Smaller Classes.   It's desirable that you get as much one-on-one training as possible, which can be challenging in bigger classes. Ask if you can monitor a couple of the classes so that you can observe how big they are and witness first hand the interaction between students and teachers. Speak to several of the students and get their opinions concerning class sizes and instruction. Last, talk with a few of the instructors and learn what their level of expertise is and what certifications or degrees they hold.

Flexible Scheduling.  Confirm that the class schedules for the programs you are assessing are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you are only able to go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Flagstaff AZ, check that the programs you are looking at provide those choices. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Finally, ask what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, illness or family issues.

Learn More About Flagstaff HVAC Trade Schools Near You

Get Your Heating and Cooling Degree and Certification

Finding the right HVAC training course is a crucial first step toward a rewarding career in the heating and air conditioning 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 excellent reputations within the HVAC trade. Other things to search for are plenty of hands-on training and state-of-the-art facilities. You should visit each of the schools personally that you are most interested in to explore the campus and speak with both the faculty and current students. Try to get a feel for the quality of the instruction and the interaction between them. Additionally, ask about scheduling options and if evening or weekend classes are offered if needed. And remember to inquire about financial aid and student loan options too. 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 choices so that you can make an educated decision. With the proper training, hard work and dedication, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC professional in Flagstaff AZ.