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How to Pick the Right HVAC Certificate Program near Flagstaff Arizona

Flagstaff Arizona residential air conditioning condensersOnce you have come to a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioner professional, the next action is to locate an HVAC trade school near Flagstaff AZ. But with so many to pick from, how do you pick the ideal one to get the training that you need? A number of future students will make their decision based entirely on the price of tuition or how close the school is to their home. While these are significant factors to consider, they are not the only ones to take into account. 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 other criteria will be addressed in more detail later in this article. But before we discuss how to select an HVAC vocational school, let's look at what a heating and a/c contractor does to become a licensed professional tradesman.

How to Become an HVAC Contractor

Flagstaff Arizona Heating and Cooling Tech repairing air conditioning condenserHVAC is an acronym that is commonly used in the business that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC technicians specialize in the installation, maintenance and repair of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are generally mandated to be licensed, though every state and regional municipality has its own criteria. Attaining professional certification is not required, but an alternative means for Flagstaff AZ HVAC technicians to establish that they are exceptionally proficient and accomplished 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 earned by passing a proficiency examination and may be earned in one or more specialties.
  • HVAC Excellence. This certification offers both a professional and a master specialist credential. 2 years of field experience together with passing a comprehensive examination are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have 3 years of experience in addition to a passing score on the professional level examination. As with NATE, certifications are provided in multiple specialties.
  • EPA Section 608. This certification is required for technicians that handle refrigerants. There are 3 forms of certification available, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.

Since licensing might be required in your location, and you may also intend to earn certification, it's essential that you choose an HVAC trade school that will prepare you for both. And since you will most likely be working with refrigerants, make sure that the program you choose readies you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.

HVAC Certificate and Degree Schools

Flagstaff Arizona residential heating pump

There are a variety of choices offered for HVAC instruction in a vocational or trade school. You can attain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Earning a certificate will take the minimum amount of time, often accomplished in as little as six months, however some programs are longer. A certificate will qualify you for the majority of HVAC positions, particularly if you are licensed and have certification applicable to the position. The degree programs may provide a competitive advantage for securing employment and will deliver more extensive training than the certificate programs. Following is a brief explanation of each option offered near Flagstaff AZ.

  • Certificate. Generally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among beginning commercial or residential HVAC professionals. They furnish a strong foundation of skills for job opportunities within the trade.
  • Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program delivers a more extensive understanding of heating & cooling systems than the certificate program. Generally taking 2 years to complete, many 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 call for 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 ideal credential program will be dependent on what your long term career aspirations are, along with the time and financial resources that you have to commit. One possibility is to start with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after acquiring some experience in the trade in Flagstaff AZ, later returning to earn a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your approach, be sure to ask the HVAC technician school you are considering about how their returning student program works.

HVAC Online Schools

Attending an HVAC program online is one approach to getting your training and receiving a degree or certificate. Nearly all schools will call for some attendance on campus to participate in hands on training. A number also provide internship or work-study programs in addition to or in place of practical lab work. But since the rest of the classes can be participated in via the internet, this approach may be a more convenient solution for some Flagstaff AZ students that are short on time. And some online degree programs are less expensive than other on campus choices. Even travelling expenses from Flagstaff and study supplies can be minimized, helping to make schooling more economical. And numerous 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 more convenient to accommodate school into your active lifestyle.

Questions For HVAC Training Programs

Flagstaff Arizona HVAC contractor installing water heater

Once you have decided on the type of certificate or degree that you desire to acquire, either online or on campus, you can begin to decrease your list of schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are a large number of HVAC vocational schools in the Flagstaff AZ area and all over the USA to choose from. That's why it is imperative to have a list of relevant qualifications when making school assessments. As earlier stated in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will probably be the initial two factors you will look at. Following are several additional ones that you need to explore before enrolling in your school of choice.

Accreditation.  A large number of HVAC vocational programs in the Flagstaff AZ area have acquired either a regional or a national accreditation. They can acquire Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to a specific program, for instance HVAC technology. Make certain that the program and school are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency, such as the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping ensure that you obtain a quality education, it may help in obtaining financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently unavailable for non-accredited schools. Furthermore, many states mandate 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 finish the course. A low completion rate may suggest that students were unhappy with the course and quit. It might also signify that the instructors 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 more extensive directory of alumni, which may mean more contacts for the school to utilize for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate will not only validate that the school has an excellent reputation within the trade, but additionally that it has the network of Flagstaff AZ HVAC employers to assist graduates secure apprenticeships or employment.

Apprenticeship Programs.  Most HVAC vocational programs are taught together with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating vocational and trade programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of HVAC contractors or trade unions. Find out if the schools you are comparing have working partnerships with local Flagstaff AZ HVAC specialists. An apprenticeship not only provides a rewarding experience by furnishing practical training, but it also supplies job opportunities and helps to establish relationships in the regional HVAC professional community.

Modern Facilities.  Make certain that the school facilities and the tools that you will be instructed on are state-of-the-art and what you will be working with in the field. If you are already in an internship or an apprenticeship, check with the HVAC tech you are working with concerning what you should be expecting. If not, ask a local Flagstaff AZ HVAC contractor if they can give you some pointers. Also keep in mind that unless you are willing to move, the school must be within driving distance of your Flagstaff AZ home. Remember that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides the added relocation costs there might be increased tuition charges compared to in-state residents.

Smaller Classes.   It's desirable that you get as much individualized 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 witness first hand the interaction between teachers and students. Speak to a few of the students and get their comments relating to class sizes and instruction. Finally, speak to some of the instructors and find out what their level of experience is and what certifications or degrees they hold.

Flexible Scheduling.  Make sure that the class schedules for the programs you are assessing are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Flagstaff AZ, confirm that the schools you are reviewing provide those options. If you can only attend part-time, make sure that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Also, ask what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, illness or family issues.

Find Out More About Flagstaff Heating and Cooling Programs Near You

Earn Your Heating and Cooling Degree and Certification

Finding the right HVAC school course is an important first step toward a gratifying career in the heating and cooling field. As we have addressed in this article, you need to pick a Heating and Cooling training program and a degree or certificate program that are both accredited and have outstanding reputations within the HVAC field. Other things to look for are lots of practical training and modern facilities. You should visit each of the schools personally that you are most interested in to inspect the campus and talk with both the faculty and current students. Try to get a feel for the quality of the training and the interaction between them. Additionally, ask about scheduling options and if night or weekend classes are offered if needed. And remember to inquire about financial aid and student loan options as well. If you ask the right questions as we have outlined in our checklist for evaluating schools, you'll be able to filter your choices so that you can make an educated decision. With the right training, hard work and dedication, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC specialist in Flagstaff AZ.