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How to Pick the Right Heating and Cooling Certification Training near Flagstaff Arizona

Flagstaff Arizona home A/C condensersOnce you have made a decision on a career as a heating and cooling professional, the next action is to choose an HVAC vocational school near Flagstaff AZ. But with so many to pick from, how do you select the best one to get the training that you need? Many potential students will make their choice based exclusively on the cost of tuition or how close the school is to their home. While these are necessary factors to consider, they are not the only ones to evaluate. Some of the other factors that you need to look into are the graduation rates of the HVAC schools, their reputations, and if they are accredited by professional trade organizations. Those and other criteria will be covered in more detail later within this article. But before we examine how to choose an HVAC trade school, let's look at what a heating and air conditioning specialist does to become a licensed qualified tradesman.

How to Become an HVAC Technician

Flagstaff Arizona HVAC Tech inspecting A/C condenserHVAC is an acronym that is extensively used in the industry that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC professionals provide services for the installation, maintenance and repair of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are generally mandated to be licensed, though each state and regional municipality has its own criteria. Earning professional certification is not compulsory, but a voluntary means for Flagstaff AZ HVAC specialists to prove that they are exceptionally qualified and experienced in their area of expertise. There are multiple recognized certifications within the trade that are available. Following are a few of the significant ones.

  • North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally recognized certification for HVAC technicians. The certification is earned by passing a competency examination and may 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 in addition to passing a comprehensive examination are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have three years of experience as well as a passing result on the professional level exam. As with NATE, certifications are offered in several specialties.
  • EPA Section 608. This certification is mandatory for specialists that handle refrigerants. There are three types of certification available, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.

Since licensing could be required in your area, and you may also intend to earn certification, it's imperative that you pick an HVAC technical school that will prepare you for both. And since you will more than likely be dealing with refrigerants, make certain that the school you decide on readies you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.

HVAC Degree Schools

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There are a variety of options available for HVAC instruction in a trade or technical school. You can attain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Earning a certificate will take the least period of time, usually accomplished in as little as 6 months, however some courses are longer. A certificate will train you for most HVAC positions, particularly if you are licensed and have certification applicable to the position. The degree programs may provide a competitive advantage in the job market and will provide more in-depth training than the certificate programs. Below is a short description of each credential offered near Flagstaff AZ.

  • Certificate. Usually requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among beginning commercial or residential HVAC technicians. They provide a solid foundation of skills for employment within the trade.
  • Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program supplies a more extensive background of heating & cooling systems than the certificate program. Generally requiring 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 geared more towards a career in management or even 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 cooling systems, you will also study how to design them.

Choosing the right credential program will be dependent on what your future career objectives are, in addition to the time and money that you have to invest. One option is to start with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after gaining some experience in the trade in Flagstaff AZ, eventually returning to earn a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your approach, make sure to ask the HVAC tech school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.

HVAC Schools Online

Enrolling in an HVAC program online is one option in attaining your training and receiving a degree or certificate. Almost all schools will call for some attendance on campus to take part in practical training. Many also offer internship or work-study programs in addition to or as an alternative to practical lab work. But since the rest of the classes can be attended online, this alternative may be a more practical solution for many Flagstaff AZ students that are pressed for time. And a number of online degree programs are more economical than other traditional choices. Even commuting expenses from Flagstaff and study materials may 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 limited time to attend classes, maybe an online HVAC degree program will make it less complicated to accommodate school into your active lifestyle.

Questions For HVAC Training Programs

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When you have chosen the type of certificate or degree that you wish to earn, either online or on campus, you can start to narrow down your list of schools. As you are certainly aware, there are a large number of HVAC technical schools in the Flagstaff AZ area and all over the Country to select from. That's why it is imperative to have a list of important qualifications when making school evaluations. As formerly stated in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will probably be the first 2 factors you will look at. Following are several additional ones that you will want to explore before enrolling in your school of choice.

Accreditation.  A large number of HVAC technical schools in the Flagstaff AZ area have attained either a regional or a national accreditation. They can earn Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to a specific program, for example HVAC technology. Verify that the program and school are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting agency, such as the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping ensure that you receive a quality education, it may help in acquiring financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently not available for non-accredited schools. Additionally, 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 percentage of students who enroll in and complete the program. A low completion rate could signify that students were disappointed with the course and dropped out. It may also indicate that the instructors were not competent to instruct the students. It's also essential that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive list 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 can not only validate that the school has an excellent reputation within the field, but additionally that it has the network of Flagstaff AZ HVAC employers to help students acquire apprenticeships or employment.

Apprenticeship Programs.  Many HVAC vocational programs are taught together with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating technical and vocational programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of Heating and Cooling companies or trade unions. Find out if the schools you are comparing have referring relationships with local Flagstaff AZ HVAC specialists. An apprenticeship not only provides a valuable experience by supplying hands-on training, but it also furnishes job opportunities and helps to form relationships in the local HVAC professional community.

Modern Facilities.  Make certain that the school facilities and the equipment that you will be instructed on are up-to-date and what you will be using in the field. If you are currently 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 Flagstaff AZ HVAC company if they can give you some tips. Also bear in mind that unless you are able to relocate, the school needs to be within driving distance of your Flagstaff AZ home. Take note that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, in addition to moving costs there can be higher tuition charges compared to in-state residents.

Smaller Classes.   It's important that you get as much individualized training as possible, which can be challenging in bigger classes. Ask if you can monitor some of the classes so that you can observe how large they are and witness first hand the interaction between instructors and students. Talk with a few of the students and get their comments relating to class sizes and instruction. Last, talk with a few of the teachers and find out 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 reviewing are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you are only able to attend classes at night or on weekends near Flagstaff AZ, check that the programs you are looking at provide those options. If you can only attend part-time, be sure that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Finally, find out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, sickness or family issues.

Find Out More About Flagstaff Heating and Cooling Training Near You

Earn Your HVAC Training and Certification

Enrolling in the right HVAC training course is a critical beginning toward a fulfilling career in the heating and air conditioning trade. As we have addressed 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 outstanding reputations within the HVAC community. Other features to look for are sufficient hands-on training and modern facilities. You should go to each of the schools in person that you are most interested in to tour the campus and talk with both the current students and faculty. Attempt to get a feel for the quality of the instruction and the interaction between them. In addition, ask about scheduling choices and if night or weekend classes are available if needed. And remember to inquire about financial aid and student loan options too. If you ask the appropriate questions as we have outlined in our guidelines for evaluating schools, you'll be able to filter your choices so that you can make an informed decision. With the right training, hard work and commitment, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC technician in Flagstaff AZ.