How to Enroll In the Right Heating and Cooling College near Flowing Wells Arizona
Once you have decided on a career as a heating and cooling specialist, the next step is to look for an HVAC technical school near Flowing Wells AZ. But with so many to select from, how do you decide on the ideal one to get the training that you require? Many prospective students will make their choice based exclusively on the cost of tuition or how close the school is to their residence. Although these are relevant factors to consider, they are not the only ones to evaluate. A few of the other factors 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 additional benchmarks will be covered in more detail later in this article. But before we explore how to choose an HVAC training program, let's look at what a heating and a/c professional does to become a licensed professional tradesman.
How to Become an HVAC Contractor
HVAC is an acronym that is frequently used in the trade that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC professionals provide services for the installation, repair and maintenance of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are typically mandated to be licensed, however each state and local municipality has its own prerequisites. Earning professional certification is not mandatory, but an alternative way for Flowing Wells AZ HVAC specialists to establish that they are exceptionally qualified and knowledgeable in their area of expertise. There are several respected certifications within the field that are available. Following are a few of the significant 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 can be received in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification offers 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 must have three years of experience as well as a passing score on the professional level examination. Similar to NATE, certifications are offered in several specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is necessary for techs that work with refrigerants. There are three forms of certification offered, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Because licensing could be mandated in your area, and you may also desire to obtain certification, it's essential that you enroll in an HVAC technical school that will train you for both. And since you will more than likely be handling refrigerants, make certain that the school you pick readies you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.
HVAC Certificate and Degree Schools
There are a number of choices available for HVAC training in a technical or vocational school. You can obtain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Acquiring a certificate will take the lesser amount of time, usually completed in as little as 6 months, though some courses 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 advantage for securing employment and will deliver more extensive training than the certificate programs. Below is a short summary of each credential offered near Flowing Wells AZ.
- Certificate. Usually 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 employment within the industry.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program provides a more exhaustive background of heating and cooling systems than the certificate program. Generally taking 2 years to finish, many degrees incorporate an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is geared more for a career in management or even business ownership. Some programs call for an Associate Degree, while others are a traditional 4 year program. In addition to being taught how to service and maintain heating and air conditioning systems, you will also learn how to design them.
Selecting the appropriate credential program will be based on what your future career aspirations are, as well as the time and money that you have to invest. One possibility is to start with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after getting some experience in the field in Flowing Wells AZ, subsequently returning to acquire a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your strategy, make certain to ask the HVAC technician school you are considering about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Schools Online
Enrolling in an HVAC program online is one approach to attaining your training and earning a certificate or degree. Almost all schools will call for some attendance on campus to take part 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 balance of the classes may be attended online, this alternative may be a more practical solution for some Flowing Wells AZ students that are pressed for time. And a number of online degree programs are less costly than other traditional alternatives. Even travelling expenses from Flowing Wells and study supplies can be reduced, helping to make schooling more economical. And numerous online programs are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your work or family commitments have left you with minimal time to attend classes, maybe an online HVAC degree program will make it more convenient to fit school into your hectic lifestyle.
Questions to Ask HVAC Training Classes
As soon as you have chosen the type of degree or certificate that you desire to earn, either online or on campus, you can begin to decrease your list of schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are many HVAC trade schools in the Flowing Wells AZ area and across the USA to choose from. That's why it is imperative to have a checklist of important qualifiers when making school assessments. As previously stated in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will undoubtedly be the first two aspects you will look at. Following are several additional ones that you will want to investigate before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Many HVAC trade schools in the Flowing Wells AZ area have attained either a regional or a national accreditation. They may acquire Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to a specific program, such as HVAC technology. Make certain that the school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency, such as the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping make certain that you acquire a quality education, it can help in acquiring financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently unavailable for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of states mandate that the HVAC training course be accredited for it to qualify for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the HVAC schools you are reviewing what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students who enroll in and complete the course. A low completion rate may signify that students were disappointed with the course and dropped out. It might also indicate that the instructors were not qualified to instruct the students. It's similarly important that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader list of graduates, which may result in more contacts for the school to use for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate will not only confirm 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 acquire apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. Most HVAC technical programs are taught together with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating trade and technical schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of Heating and Cooling businesses or labor unions. Find out if the schools you are considering have working relationships with local Flowing Wells AZ HVAC companies. An apprenticeship not only offers a valuable experience by furnishing hands-on training, but it also provides job opportunities and helps to form relationships in the area HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make certain that the campus facilities and the equipment that you will be trained on are up-to-date and what you will be using in the field. If you are currently in an internship or an apprenticeship, talk to the HVAC technician you are working under regarding what you should be looking for. Otherwise, ask a local Flowing Wells AZ HVAC contractor if they can give you some suggestions. Also bear in mind that unless you can relocate, the school needs to be within commuting distance of your Flowing Wells AZ home. Take note that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to moving costs there might be higher tuition fees compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's important that you receive as much one-on-one training as possible, which can be challenging in bigger classes. Ask if you can sit in on some of the classes so that you can see how big they are and witness first hand the interaction between instructors and students. Speak to a few of the students and get their comments relating to class sizes and instruction. Last, speak to a few of the teachers and learn what their level of expertise is and what degrees or certifications they have earned.
Flexible Scheduling. Confirm that the class schedules for the schools you are reviewing are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Flowing Wells AZ, check that the programs you are reviewing provide those options. If you can only attend part-time, make certain that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Finally, ask what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, illness or family emergencies.
Earn Your HVAC Training and Certification
Finding the ideal HVAC school course is a crucial first step toward a fulfilling career in the heating & cooling field. As we have covered in this article, you should pick a Heating and Cooling training program and a degree or certificate program that are both accredited and have outstanding reputations within the HVAC community. Other things to search for are lots of practical training and modern facilities. You should check out each of the schools personally that you are most interested in to explore the campus and speak with both the current students and faculty. Attempt to get a feel for the quality of the training and the interaction between them. Also, inquire about scheduling choices and if night or weekend classes are offered if needed. And don't forget to ask about financial assistance and student loan options as well. If you ask the right questions as we have outlined in our guidelines for comparing schools, you'll be able to filter your choices so that you can make an informed decision. With the proper training, hard work and commitment, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC professional in Flowing Wells AZ.