How to Choose the Right Heating and Cooling Degree Program near Fountain Hills Arizona
Once you have made a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioner professional, the next action is to find an HVAC vocational school near Fountain Hills AZ. But with so many to select from, how do you decide on the ideal one to receive the training that you need? Some future students will make their selection based solely on the price of tuition or how near the school is to their home. While these are significant factors to consider, they are not the only ones to evaluate. Some of the other details 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. These and additional criteria will be discussed in more detail later within this article. But before we discuss how to pick an HVAC vocational school, let's take a look at what a heating and cooling professional does to become a licensed professional tradesman.
Becoming an HVAC Technician
HVAC is an acronym that is frequently 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 typically mandated to be licensed, although each state and regional municipality has its own criteria. Acquiring professional certification is not compulsory, but an alternative way for Fountain Hills AZ HVAC technicians to demonstrate that they are highly qualified and accomplished in their area of specialization. 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 recognized certification for HVAC techs. The certification is attained by passing a competency examination and may be earned in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification makes available both a professional and a master specialist credential. 2 years of field experience in addition to passing a comprehensive examination are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have three years of experience in addition to a passing result on the professional level exam. Similar to NATE, certifications are offered in several specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is mandatory for technicians that handle refrigerants. There are three forms of certification offered, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Considering that licensing could be required in your area, and you may also desire to obtain certification, it's imperative that you enroll in an HVAC vocational school that will train you for both. And since you will more than likely be working with refrigerants, make sure that the school you decide on prepares you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.
HVAC Certificate and Degree Courses
There are several choices offered for HVAC instruction in a trade or technical school. You can obtain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Obtaining a certificate will take the lesser amount of time, typically accomplished in as little as 6 months, though some courses are longer. A certificate will qualify you for the majority of HVAC positions, especially if you are licensed and have certification appropriate to the position. The degree programs might provide a competitive advantage in the job market and will provide more extensive training than the certificate programs. Below is a short summary of each credential offered near Fountain Hills AZ.
- Certificate. Generally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among beginning residential or commercial HVAC professionals. They furnish a solid foundation of skills for employment within the industry.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program delivers a more detailed understanding of heating and cooling systems than the certificate program. Normally requiring 2 years to complete, a number of degrees include an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is tailored more towards a career in management as well as 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 cooling systems, you will also learn how to design them.
Picking the ideal credential program will be based on what your long term career goals are, as well as the time and money that you have to commit. One option is to start with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after acquiring some experience in the trade in Fountain Hills AZ, subsequently returning to earn 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
Choosing an HVAC school online is one option in getting your education 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 offer internship or work-study programs in addition to or in place of practical lab work. But since the balance of the classes can be participated in online, this alternative may be a more accessible solution for some Fountain Hills AZ students that are pressed for time. And a number of online degree programs are less expensive than other on campus choices. Even travelling expenses from Fountain Hills and study materials can be lessened, helping to make education more affordable. And a large number of online programs are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your work or family obligations have left you with limited time to attend classes, maybe an HVAC online training program will make it less complicated to accommodate school into your active lifestyle.
Questions For HVAC Certification Classes
When you have chosen the type of degree or certificate that you would like to earn, either online or on campus, you can start to decrease your list of schools. As you are probably aware, there are many HVAC technical schools in the Fountain Hills AZ area and all over the United States to pick from. That's why it is very important to have a list of important qualifications when making school evaluations. As formerly mentioned in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will probably be the initial two factors you will take into consideration. Following are several additional ones that you need to research before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Numerous HVAC technical schools in the Fountain Hills AZ area have acquired either a regional or a national accreditation. They can attain Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to a specific program, for instance HVAC technology. Make sure that the program is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency, for example the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping guarantee that you obtain a superior education, it can help in acquiring financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently not available for non-accredited programs. Furthermore, a number of states mandate that the HVAC training program 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 finish the course. A low completion rate could signify that students were dissatisfied with the course and quit. It could also indicate that the instructors were not competent to train the students. It's also essential that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive directory of alumni, which can produce more contacts for the school to employ for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate will not only validate that the school has an excellent reputation within the industry, but additionally that it has the network of Fountain Hills AZ HVAC employers to assist grads acquire apprenticeships or jobs.
Apprenticeship Programs. Most HVAC technical programs are taught in conjunction with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating vocational and trade programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of HVAC contractors or labor unions. Find out if the schools you are comparing have working partnerships with local Fountain Hills AZ HVAC specialists. An apprenticeship not only offers a valuable experience by supplying practical training, but it also provides employment opportunities and helps to form relationships in the area HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make sure 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, talk to the HVAC technician you are working under regarding what you should be expecting. If not, ask a local Fountain Hills AZ HVAC contractor if they can give you some suggestions. Additionally keep in mind that unless you are able to relocate, the school must be within commuting distance of your Fountain Hills AZ home. Take note that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides the added moving costs there may be higher tuition fees compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's desirable that you get as much one-on-one training as possible, which can be difficult in larger classes. Ask if you can sit in on a few of the classes so that you can see how big they are and witness first hand the interaction between teachers and students. Talk with a few of the students and get their opinions concerning class sizes and instruction. Last, talk to a few of the teachers and find out what their level of expertise is and what certifications or degrees they hold.
Flexible Scheduling. Confirm that the class schedules for the schools you are reviewing are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you are only able to attend classes at night or on weekends near Fountain Hills AZ, check that the schools you are looking at provide those choices. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, be sure that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Finally, find out what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, sickness or family emergencies.
Earn Your Heating and Cooling Training and Certification
Finding the ideal HVAC training program is a crucial beginning toward a fulfilling career in the heating and cooling field. As we have discussed in this article, you need to 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 things to search for are sufficient practical 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 tour 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. In addition, ask about scheduling options and if night or weekend classes are available if needed. And remember to inquire about financial aid and student loan options also. If you ask the right 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 informed decision. With the right training, hard work and commitment, you can eventually become a licensed HVAC professional in Fountain Hills AZ.