How to Find the Right Heating and Cooling Degree Program near Flowing Wells Arizona
Now that you have decided on a career as a heating and cooling professional, the next action is to choose an HVAC vocational school near Flowing Wells AZ. But with so many to select from, how do you decide on the right one to get the training that you need? Some prospective students will make their decision based solely on the cost of tuition or how close the school is to their home. Even though these are necessary considerations, they are not the only ones to investigate. Just some of the other things that you need to research 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 addressed in more detail later in this article. But before we examine how to choose an HVAC trade school, let's take a look at what a heating and a/c specialist does to become a licensed skilled tradesman.
How to Become an HVAC Pro
HVAC is an acronym that is extensively used in the trade that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC techs provide services for the installation, maintenance and repair of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are typically required to be licensed, however every state and local municipality has its own requirements. Attaining professional certification is not required, but an optional way for Flowing Wells AZ HVAC technicians to establish that they are highly proficient and experienced in their area of specialization. There are a number of recognized certifications within the field that are offered. Below are a few of the important ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally recognized certification for HVAC techs. The certification is achieved by passing a competency exam 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 professional experience as well as passing a comprehensive exam are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have 3 years of experience along with a passing score on the professional level exam. Similar to NATE, certifications are offered in multiple specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is required for technicians that work with refrigerants. There are three types of certification offered, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Considering that licensing might be mandated in your location, and you may also wish to earn certification, it's important that you pick an HVAC vocational school that will train you for both. And since you will most likely be handling refrigerants, make certain that the program you pick preps you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
HVAC Degree Courses
There are several alternatives available for HVAC instruction in a technical or vocational 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 accomplished in just six months, though some courses are longer. A certificate will qualify you for most HVAC positions, especially if you are licensed and have certification applicable to the position. The degree training programs might provide a competitive edge for securing employment and will provide more comprehensive training than the certificate programs. Following is a brief summary of each option offered near Flowing Wells AZ.
- Certificate. Normally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among entry level residential or commercial HVAC professionals. They furnish a strong foundation of skills for job opportunities within the industry.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program provides a more detailed knowledge of heating and cooling systems than the certificate program. Usually requiring 2 years to finish, a number of degrees include 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 standard 4 year program. In addition to mastering how to service and maintain heating and cooling systems, you will also learn how to design them.
Choosing the appropriate credential program will be based on what your long term career aspirations are, along with the time and financial resources that you have to commit. One possibility is to begin with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after getting some experience in the trade in Flowing Wells AZ, later going back to earn a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your tactic, be sure to ask the HVAC technician school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Online Schools
Enrolling in an HVAC program online is one alternative in obtaining your training and earning a certificate or degree. Nearly all schools will require some attendance on campus to take part in hands on training. A number also sponsor internship or work-study programs in addition to or instead of practical lab work. But since the remainder of the classes may be participated in via the internet, this alternative may be a more practical solution for some Flowing Wells AZ students that are short on time. And a number of online degree programs are less expensive than other on campus choices. Even commuting expenses from Flowing Wells and study materials may be minimized, helping to make schooling more budget-friendly. And many online programs are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your work or family obligations have left you with minimal time to attend classes, perhaps an HVAC online training program will make it easier to fit school into your active schedule.
Questions For HVAC Certification Classes
After you have decided on the type of degree or certificate that you would like to acquire, either online or on campus, you can begin to decrease your selection of schools. As you are probably aware, there are numerous HVAC technical schools in the Flowing Wells AZ area and all over the USA to select from. That's why it is extremely important to have a checklist of key qualifiers when making school assessments. As previously stated in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will undoubtedly be the first 2 factors you will consider. Following are several additional ones that you should explore before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Numerous HVAC vocational programs in the Flowing Wells AZ area have acquired either a regional or a national accreditation. They may earn Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to a specific program, such as HVAC technology. Confirm that the school and program are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization, for example the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping ensure that you obtain an excellent education, it can help in securing financial assistance or student loans, which are in many cases not available for non-accredited schools. Additionally, some states mandate 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 reviewing what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage of students who enroll in and finish the course. A low completion rate might indicate that students were unhappy with the course and quit. It could also signify that the teachers were not competent to instruct the students. It's also imperative that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive directory 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 will not only affirm that the school has a good reputation within the industry, but additionally that it has the network of Flowing Wells AZ HVAC employers to assist graduates secure apprenticeships or jobs.
Apprenticeship Programs. Numerous HVAC vocational programs are taught together with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating technical and vocational schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of HVAC companies or trade unions. Find out if the schools you are reviewing have referring partnerships with local Flowing Wells AZ HVAC professionals. An apprenticeship not only offers a valuable experience by providing hands-on training, but it also furnishes employment opportunities and helps to establish relationships in the regional HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Confirm that the school facilities and the equipment that you will be instructed on are up-to-date and what you will be using on the job. If you are already in an internship or an apprenticeship, consult with the HVAC technician you are working with concerning what you should be expecting. If not, ask a local Flowing Wells AZ HVAC company if they can provide some pointers. Additionally keep in mind that unless you are willing to relocate, the school must be within driving distance of your Flowing Wells AZ home. Remember that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, in addition to moving costs there might be higher tuition charges compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's desirable that you receive as much one-on-one instruction as possible, which can be challenging in larger classes. Ask if you can sit in on a couple of the classes so that you can observe how big they are and experience the interaction between students and instructors. Talk with some of the students and get their comments concerning class sizes and instruction. Last, talk with a few of the teachers and find out what their level of experience is and what certifications or degrees they have earned.
Flexible Scheduling. Verify that the class schedules for the programs you are assessing are flexible enough to handle your needs. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Flowing Wells AZ, verify that the schools you are looking at offer those choices. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Additionally, check out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, sickness or family responsibilities.
Earn Your HVAC Certificate or Degree
Choosing the right HVAC training course is a critical beginning toward a fulfilling career in the heating and cooling trade. As we have discussed in this article, you should choose a Heating and Cooling training program and a certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have outstanding reputations within the HVAC trade. Other features to search for are plenty of 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 inspect the campus and speak with both the faculty and current students. Attempt to get a feel for the quality of the teaching and the interaction between them. Additionally, ask about scheduling options and if night or weekend classes are offered if needed. And don't forget to inquire about financial assistance and student loan options as well. If you ask the right questions as we have laid out in our guidelines for assessing schools, you'll be able to narrow down your options so that you can make an educated decision. With the right training, hard work and commitment, you can eventually become a licensed HVAC specialist in Flowing Wells AZ.