How to Find the Right HVAC Training Program near Fountain Hills Arizona
Now that you have decided on a career as a heating and air conditioner specialist, the next action is to choose an HVAC technical school near Fountain Hills AZ. But with so many to pick from, how do you select the right one to receive the training that you require? Many prospective students will make their decision based solely on the price of tuition or how close the school is to their residence. Although these are necessary considerations, they are not the only ones to evaluate. Some of the other things that you need to look into 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 covered in more detail later within this article. But before we discuss how to select an HVAC trade school, let's take a look at what a heating and a/c specialist does to become a licensed professional tradesman.
How to Become an HVAC Professional
HVAC is an acronym that is extensively used in the trade that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC contractors provide services for the installation, maintenance and repair of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are generally required to be licensed, however each state and local municipality has its own criteria. Obtaining professional certification is not compulsory, but an optional way for Fountain Hills AZ HVAC specialists to demonstrate that they are exceptionally proficient and accomplished in their area of expertise. There are many recognized certifications within the field that are offered. Below are some 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 competency examination and can be earned in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification offers both a professional and a master specialist credential. Two years of field experience in addition to passing a comprehensive exam are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have 3 years of experience as well as a passing score on the professional level examination. As with NATE, certifications are made available in various specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is necessary for techs that handle refrigerants. There are three types 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 desire to earn certification, it's imperative that you select an HVAC trade school that will prepare you for both. And since you will more than likely be dealing with refrigerants, make certain that the school you pick readies you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.
HVAC Degree Classes
There are a variety of options offered for HVAC training in a vocational or trade school. You can attain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Obtaining a certificate will take the lesser amount of time, usually completed in just six months, although some programs are longer. A certificate will train you for the majority of HVAC positions, especially if you are licensed and have certification applicable to the position. The degree training programs might provide a competitive advantage in the job market and will furnish more extensive training than the certificate programs. Following is a brief summary of each option offered near Fountain Hills AZ.
- Certificate. Normally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among entry level residential or commercial HVAC specialists. They furnish a strong foundation of skills for employment within the trade.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program delivers a more extensive knowledge of heating & cooling systems than the certificate program. Usually requiring 2 years to complete, a number of degrees feature 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 standard four year program. In addition to mastering how to service and maintain heating and air conditioning systems, you will also study how to design them.
Choosing the ideal credential program will be dependent on what your future career objectives are, as well as the time and financial resources that you have to commit. One approach is to start with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after gaining some experience in the field in Fountain Hills AZ, subsequently going back to earn a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your approach, be sure to ask the HVAC tech school you are considering about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Online Classes
Enrolling in an HVAC program online is one option in getting your training and earning a certificate or degree. Almost all schools will call for some attendance on campus to participate in hands on training. Many 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 online, this option may be a more accessible solution for some Fountain Hills AZ students that are short on time. And many online degree programs are less expensive than other traditional options. Even commuting expenses from Fountain Hills and study materials can be reduced, helping to make education more economical. And a large number of online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your job or family obligations have left you with little 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
After you have selected the type of certificate or degree that you want to earn, either online or on campus, you can begin to narrow down your selection of schools. As you are certainly aware, there are many HVAC technical schools in the Fountain Hills AZ area and across the Country to select from. That's why it is very important to have a checklist of relevant qualifications when making school comparisons. As formerly stated in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will probably be the initial 2 aspects you will take into consideration. Following are several additional ones that you need to explore before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Numerous HVAC vocational programs in the Fountain Hills AZ area have received either a regional or a national accreditation. They can receive Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to a specific program, for example HVAC technology. Confirm that the school and program are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization, for instance the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping guarantee that you get an excellent education, it may help in securing financial assistance or student loans, which are often unavailable for non-accredited programs. Furthermore, many states require that the HVAC training course be accredited for it to be approved for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the HVAC schools you are reviewing what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage or portion of students who enroll in and complete the program. A lower completion rate might signify that students were disappointed with the course and quit. It may also indicate that the teachers were not qualified to train the students. It's also essential that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader directory of alumni, which may produce more contacts for the school to employ 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 trade, but additionally that it has the network of Fountain Hills AZ HVAC employers to help graduates secure apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. Many HVAC technical programs are taught in conjunction with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating vocational and trade programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of HVAC businesses or labor unions. Find out if the schools you are considering have referring relationships with local Fountain Hills AZ HVAC specialists. An apprenticeship not only provides a rewarding experience by furnishing practical training, but it also supplies employment opportunities and helps to form relationships in the regional HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Confirm that the school facilities and the equipment that you will be instructed on are state-of-the-art and what you will be using in the field. If you are currently in an internship or an apprenticeship, check with the HVAC tech you are working with regarding what you should be expecting. Otherwise, ask a local Fountain Hills AZ HVAC contractor if they can give you some tips. Also keep in mind that unless you are willing to relocate, the school needs to be within driving distance of your Fountain Hills AZ residence. Remember that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides the added relocation costs there may be increased tuition fees 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 see how big they are and experience the interaction between students and teachers. Speak with some of the students and get their opinions relating to class sizes and instruction. Finally, talk to a few of the teachers and find out what their level of experience is and what degrees or certifications they hold.
Flexible Scheduling. Make sure that the class schedules for the schools you are reviewing are flexible enough to handle your needs. If you are only able to attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Fountain Hills AZ, check that the schools you are comparing offer those choices. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Additionally, ask what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, sickness or family emergencies.
Earn Your Heating and Cooling Degree and Certification
Selecting the ideal HVAC school program is a crucial first step toward a gratifying career in the heating and air conditioning 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 plenty of hands-on training and state-of-the-art facilities. You need to check out each of the schools in person that you are most interested in to explore the campus and speak with both the current students and faculty. Try to get a feel for the quality of the instruction and the interaction between them. Additionally, ask about scheduling choices and whether night or weekend classes are available if needed. And don't forget to inquire about financial aid and student loan options too. If you ask the appropriate questions as we have outlined in our checklist for evaluating schools, you'll be able to narrow down your options so that you can make an informed decision. With the appropriate training, hard work and dedication, you can eventually become a licensed HVAC professional in Fountain Hills AZ.