How to Pick the Right HVAC Training Program near Flowing Wells Arizona
Once you have decided on a career as a heating and air conditioner specialist, the next action is to choose an HVAC vocational school near Flowing Wells AZ. But with so many to pick from, how do you pick the right one to obtain the training that you need? A number of future students will make their choice based entirely on the cost of tuition or how near the school is to their home. Although these are relevant considerations, they are not the only ones to take into account. Just some of the other details that you need to investigate are the graduation rates of the HVAC schools, their reputations, and if they are accredited by professional trade organizations. These and other criteria will be addressed in more detail later within this article. But before we explore how to pick an HVAC technical school, let's look at what a heating and air conditioning specialist does to become a licensed skilled tradesman.
How to Become an HVAC Pro
HVAC is an acronym that is frequently used in the industry that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC techs specialize in the installation, repair and maintenance of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are generally mandated to be licensed, however every state and regional municipality has its own criteria. Obtaining professional certification is not mandatory, but an alternative means for Flowing Wells AZ HVAC technicians to demonstrate that they are highly skilled and accomplished in their area of expertise. There are many respected certifications within the field that are offered. Below are some of the important ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally acknowledged certification for HVAC technicians. The certification is achieved by passing a competency exam and can be acquired 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 exam are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have three years of experience as well as a passing score on the professional level exam. As with NATE, certifications are provided in multiple specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is necessary for techs that work with refrigerants. There are three types of certification available, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Considering that licensing may be mandated in your area, and you may also wish to obtain certification, it's important that you select an HVAC vocational school that will prepare you for both. And since you will more than likely be dealing with refrigerants, make sure that the school you select preps you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
HVAC Degree and Certificate Schools
There are a number of alternatives available for HVAC instruction in a trade or technical school. You can obtain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Acquiring a certificate will take the least period of time, often achieved in just six months, although some courses are longer. A certificate will qualify you for the majority of HVAC positions, especially if you are licensed and have certification related to the position. The degree training programs might provide a competitive edge in the job market and will deliver more in-depth training than the certificate programs. Below is a short description 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 technicians. They provide a strong foundation of skills for employment within the trade.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program delivers a more comprehensive knowledge of heating and cooling systems than the certificate program. Normally requiring two years to complete, a number of degrees incorporate an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is tailored more towards a career in management or even business ownership. Some programs require an Associate Degree, while others are a traditional four year program. In addition to learning how to service and maintain heating and cooling systems, you will also study how to design them.
Selecting the right credential program will be dependent on what your long term career goals are, as well as the time and financial resources that you have to invest. One option is to begin with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after gaining some experience in the field in Flowing Wells AZ, later going back to obtain a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your strategy, make certain to ask the HVAC tech school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Courses Online
Choosing an HVAC school online is one alternative to attaining your education and receiving a degree or certificate. Almost all schools will call for some attendance on campus to participate in practical training. A number also offer 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 approach may be a more practical solution for many Flowing Wells AZ students that are short on time. And some online degree programs are more economical than other traditional choices. Even commuting expenses from Flowing Wells and study materials can be minimized, helping to make education more budget-friendly. And a large number of online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your job or family responsibilities have left you with little time to attend classes, perhaps an online HVAC degree program will make it easier to fit school into your hectic lifestyle.
Questions For HVAC Certification Courses
As soon as you have selected the type of degree or certificate that you wish to acquire, either online or on campus, you can start to narrow down your selection of schools. As you are certainly aware, there are numerous HVAC vocational schools in the Flowing Wells AZ area and all over the USA to choose from. That's why it is very important to have a list of key qualifiers when making school evaluations. As previously stated in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will undoubtedly be the first 2 variables you will take into consideration. Following are several additional ones that you will want to investigate before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Many HVAC technical schools in the Flowing Wells AZ area have earned either a regional or a national accreditation. They may attain Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to a specific program, such as HVAC technology. Make sure that the school and program are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting organization, such as the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping ensure that you acquire a superior education, it can help in obtaining financial assistance or student loans, which are in many cases unavailable for non-accredited schools. Furthermore, many states mandate that the HVAC training program be accredited in order to qualify 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 portion or percentage of students who enroll in and complete the program. A lower completion rate could indicate that students were unhappy with the program and quit. It might also mean that the instructors were not competent to train the students. It's also imperative that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive list of alumni, which may mean more contacts for the school to use for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate can not only affirm that the school has an excellent reputation within the trade, but also that it has the network of Flowing Wells AZ HVAC employers to help graduates obtain apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. Numerous HVAC trade programs are taught together with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating vocational and technical programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of HVAC contractors or trade unions. Check if the schools you are considering have referring relationships with local Flowing Wells AZ HVAC professionals. An apprenticeship not only offers a valuable experience by providing practical training, but it also furnishes job opportunities and helps to establish relationships in the local HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Confirm that the school facilities and the tools that you will be trained on are state-of-the-art and what you will be working with on the job. If you are already in an internship or an apprenticeship, check with the HVAC tech you are working under concerning what you should be looking for. Otherwise, ask a local Flowing Wells AZ HVAC company if they can provide some suggestions. Additionally bear in mind that unless you can relocate, the school needs to be within driving distance of your Flowing Wells AZ home. Take note that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides the added moving costs there might be increased tuition charges compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's important that you receive as much one-on-one instruction as possible, which can be difficult in larger classes. Ask if you can monitor a few of the classes so that you can see how large they are and experience the interaction between students and instructors. Speak to a few of the students and get their comments regarding class sizes and instruction. Finally, talk to some of the instructors and learn what their level of expertise is and what certifications or degrees they hold.
Flexible Scheduling. Verify that the class schedules for the schools you are evaluating are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Flowing Wells AZ, confirm that the schools you are considering offer those options. If you can only attend part-time, make sure that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Finally, ask what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, sickness or family issues.
Get Your Heating and Cooling Degree and Certification
Selecting the ideal HVAC training program is an important beginning toward a gratifying career in the heating & cooling industry. As we have covered in this article, you should select a Heating and Cooling training program and a certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have exceptional reputations within the HVAC profession. Other factors to look for are sufficient practical 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 instruction and the interaction between them. Also, inquire about scheduling choices and whether night or weekend classes are offered if needed. And remember to ask about financial assistance and student loan options as well. If you ask the proper questions as we have detailed in our checklist for assessing schools, you'll be able to filter your options so that you can make an educated decision. With the proper training, hard work and dedication, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC specialist in Flowing Wells AZ.