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How to Pick the Right Heating and Cooling Degree Program near Fountain Hills Arizona

Fountain Hills Arizona home A/C condensersOnce you have come to a decision on a career as a heating and cooling professional, the next step is to find an HVAC technical school near Fountain Hills AZ. But with so many to select from, how do you pick the best one to obtain the training that you require? Some future students will make their decision based entirely on the cost of tuition or how near the school is to their residence. Even though these are important concerns, they are not the only ones to investigate. A few of the other things that you need to investigate 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 addressed in more detail later in this article. But before we discuss how to choose an HVAC trade school, let's take a look at what a heating and a/c technician does to become a licensed qualified tradesman.

How to Become an HVAC Contractor

Fountain Hills Arizona Heating and Cooling Contractor inspecting A/C condenserHVAC is an acronym that is extensively used in the business that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC technicians specialize in the installation, maintenance and repair of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are typically mandated to be licensed, however every state and local municipality has its own criteria. Acquiring professional certification is not required, but an alternative means for Fountain Hills AZ HVAC specialists to prove that they are highly skilled and knowledgeable in their area of expertise. There are a number of acknowledged certifications within the industry that are offered. Here are some of the significant ones.

  • North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally recognized certification for HVAC techs. The certification is earned by passing a proficiency examination and can be acquired in one or more specialties.
  • HVAC Excellence. This certification makes available both a professional and a master specialist credential. 2 years of professional experience in addition to passing a comprehensive examination are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have 3 years of experience as well as a passing result on the professional level examination. As with NATE, certifications are made available in various specialties.
  • EPA Section 608. This certification is required for techs that work with refrigerants. There are 3 types of certification offered, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.

Considering that licensing might be mandated in your area, and you may also desire to obtain certification, it's imperative that you select an HVAC trade school that will prepare you for both. And since you will most likely be dealing with refrigerants, make sure that the program you select preps you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.

HVAC Degree and Certificate Training Programs

Fountain Hills Arizona residential heat pump

There are a variety of alternatives offered for HVAC instruction in a technical or trade school. You can earn a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Obtaining a certificate will take the least period of time, often achieved in just six months, though some courses are longer. A certificate will qualify you for the majority of HVAC positions, particularly if you are licensed and have certification related to the position. The degree programs might provide a competitive advantage in the job market and will deliver more in-depth training than the certificate programs. Below is a brief summary of each credential 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 provide a solid foundation of skills for job opportunities within the industry.
  • Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program supplies a more exhaustive understanding of heating and a/c systems than the certificate program. Usually taking 2 years to finish, some degrees feature an internship or work-study program.
  • Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is suited more for 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 air conditioning systems, you will also study how to design them.

Choosing the appropriate credential program will be dependent on what your long term career goals are, along with the time and money that you have to commit. One possibility is to begin with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after acquiring some experience in the trade in Fountain Hills AZ, eventually going back to acquire a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your approach, make sure to ask the HVAC technician school you are considering about how their returning student program works.

HVAC Courses Online

Attending an HVAC program online is one possibility to obtaining your education and earning a certificate or degree. Most schools will require some attendance on campus to take part in hands on training. Some also sponsor internship or work-study programs in addition to or instead of practical lab work. But since the remainder of the classes can be attended on the web, this approach may be a more practical solution for some Fountain Hills AZ students that are pressed for time. And a number of online degree programs are less costly than other traditional alternatives. Even commuting expenses from Fountain Hills and study materials may be reduced, helping to make education more affordable. And a large number of online programs are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your career or family obligations have left you with limited time to attend classes, perhaps an online HVAC degree program will make it easier to fit school into your hectic schedule.

What to Ask HVAC Training Classes

Fountain Hills Arizona Heating and Cooling tech installing water heater

When you have chosen the type of degree or certificate that you want to obtain, either on campus or online, you can start to narrow down your selection of schools. As you are probably aware, there are a large number of HVAC trade schools in the Fountain Hills AZ area and across the Country to pick from. That's why it is extremely important to have a checklist of relevant qualifiers when making school evaluations. As formerly stated in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will probably be the first two variables you will take into consideration. Following are some additional ones that you need to investigate before enrolling in your school of choice.

Accreditation.  A large number of HVAC technical programs in the Fountain Hills AZ area have earned either a regional or a national accreditation. They may attain Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to an individual program, for example HVAC technology. Make sure that the school and program are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting organization, for instance the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping make certain that you receive an excellent education, it may help in securing financial aid or student loans, which are frequently unavailable for non-accredited programs. Additionally, many states mandate that the HVAC training course be accredited for it to be approved for licensing.

High Completion Rates.  Ask the Heating and Cooling schools you are reviewing what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students who enroll in and finish the course. A low completion rate may suggest that students were disappointed with the program and quit. It may also suggest that the teachers were not qualified to train the students. It's also imperative that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader list of alumni, which may produce 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 trade, but also that it has the network of Fountain Hills AZ HVAC employers to help students acquire apprenticeships or jobs.

Apprenticeship Programs.  Many HVAC vocational programs are taught together with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating trade and vocational programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of HVAC businesses or labor unions. Check if the schools you are considering have working partnerships with local Fountain Hills AZ HVAC contractors. An apprenticeship not only offers a rewarding experience by supplying hands-on training, but it also provides job opportunities and helps to build relationships in the area HVAC professional community.

Modern Facilities.  Make certain that the campus 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, consult with the HVAC specialist you are working with regarding what you should be looking for. If not, ask a local Fountain Hills AZ HVAC company if they can provide some suggestions. Also bear in mind that unless you are willing to relocate, the school must be within driving distance of your Fountain Hills AZ residence. Remember that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to moving costs there may be higher tuition fees compared to in-state residents.

Smaller Classes.   It's desirable that you get as much individualized training as possible, which can be challenging in bigger classes. Ask if you can sit in on a couple of the classes so that you can see how big they are and witness first hand the interaction between students and instructors. Speak to some of the students and get their comments regarding class sizes and instruction. Last, speak with a few of the instructors and learn what their level of experience is and what degrees or certifications 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 at night or on weekends near Fountain Hills AZ, check that the schools you are considering provide those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, be sure that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Also, find out what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, illness or family emergencies.

Learn More About Fountain Hills Heating and Cooling Programs In Your Area

Earn Your HVAC Training and Certification

Picking the ideal HVAC school course is a crucial beginning toward a gratifying career in the heating and cooling industry. As we have discussed in this article, you should pick a Heating and Cooling training program and a certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have exceptional reputations within the HVAC community. Other things to search for are plenty of practical training and modern facilities. You need to visit each of the schools in person that you are most interested in to tour the campus and speak with both the faculty and current students. Try to get a feel for the quality of the training and the interaction between them. In addition, ask about scheduling options and whether or not evening or weekend classes are offered if needed. And remember to inquire about financial assistance and student loan options as well. If you ask the proper questions as we have outlined in our guidelines for evaluating schools, you'll be able to narrow down your options so that you can make an educated decision. With the appropriate training, hard work and commitment, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC technician in Fountain Hills AZ.