How to Enroll In the Right Heating and Cooling Training Class 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 choose the best one to get the training that you need? Some future students will make their decision based solely on the price of tuition or how near the school is to their residence. While these are important concerns, they are not the only ones to take into account. Just some of the other factors that you need to look into 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 in this article. But before we examine how to select an HVAC technical school, let's look at what a heating and cooling technician does to become a licensed skilled tradesman.
Becoming an HVAC Professional
HVAC is an acronym that is extensively 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, hot water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are commonly required to be licensed, though each state and regional municipality has its own requirements. Acquiring professional certification is not compulsory, but a voluntary means for Fountain Hills AZ HVAC technicians to establish that they are highly skilled and knowledgeable in their area of expertise. There are several acknowledged certifications within the industry that are available. Here are a few of the significant ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally recognized certification for HVAC technicians. The certification is achieved by passing a competency exam 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 professional experience together with passing a comprehensive examination are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have 3 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 necessary for techs that handle refrigerants. There are three types of certification obtainable, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Since licensing may be required in your area, and you may also desire to obtain certification, it's important that you pick an HVAC technical school that will train you for both. And since you will probably be dealing with refrigerants, make sure that the school you choose preps you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.
HVAC Degree Schools
There are a variety of options offered for HVAC instruction in a trade or technical school. You can obtain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Earning a certificate will take the minimum period of time, usually achieved in as little as six months, though some programs are longer. A certificate will qualify you for most HVAC positions, especially if you are licensed and have certification applicable to the position. The degree programs might provide a competitive edge for securing employment and will provide more comprehensive training than the certificate programs. Below is a short explanation of each option 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 strong foundation of skills for job opportunities within the trade.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program delivers a more exhaustive understanding of heating and a/c systems than the certificate program. Generally taking two years to finish, some degrees incorporate an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is tailored more for a career in management or even business ownership. Some programs require an Associate Degree, while others are a standard 4 year program. In addition to being taught how to service and maintain heating and cooling systems, you will also learn how to design them.
Selecting the appropriate credential program will be dependent on what your future career objectives are, as well as the time and financial resources that you have to invest. 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, subsequently going back to earn a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your strategy, make sure to ask the HVAC tech school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Online Training
Choosing an HVAC program online is one option in obtaining your education and receiving a degree or certificate. Most schools will call for some attendance on campus to complete practical training. Many also sponsor internship or work-study programs in addition to or as an alternative to practical lab work. But since the remainder of the classes can be attended via the internet, this option may be a more accessible solution for some Fountain Hills AZ students that are pressed for time. And some online degree programs are less costly than other on campus alternatives. Even commuting expenses from Fountain Hills and study materials can be reduced, helping to make schooling more affordable. And many online programs are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your job or family responsibilities have left you with limited time to attend classes, perhaps an online HVAC degree program will make it less complicated to accommodate school into your busy lifestyle.
Questions to Ask HVAC Certification Classes
Once you have picked the type of certificate or degree that you would like to acquire, either online or on campus, you can start to narrow down your selection of schools. As you are probably aware, there are many HVAC technical schools in the Fountain Hills AZ area and throughout the USA to select from. That's why it is imperative to have a checklist of key qualifications when making school comparisons. As previously mentioned in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will most likely be the initial two factors you will consider. Following are some additional ones that you should research before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. A large number of HVAC technical schools in the Fountain Hills AZ area have earned either a regional or a national accreditation. They can receive Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to an individual program, for instance HVAC technology. Make certain that the program and school are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency, which includes the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping make certain that you get a superior education, it can help in acquiring financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently not available for non-accredited programs. Also, many 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 considering what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage or portion of students who enroll in and finish the program. A low completion rate might indicate that students were dissatisfied with the program and quit. It might also indicate that the teachers were not qualified to instruct the students. It's similarly essential that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive directory of alumni, which may result in more contacts for the school to employ for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate can not only validate that the school has a good reputation within the field, but additionally that it has the network of Fountain Hills AZ HVAC employers to help grads obtain apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. Many HVAC training programs are taught together with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating trade and technical programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of HVAC companies or labor unions. Find out if the schools you are considering have working relationships with local Fountain Hills AZ HVAC professionals. An apprenticeship not only provides a valuable experience by providing hands-on training, but it also supplies job opportunities and helps to build relationships in the regional HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Confirm that the campus facilities and the tools that you will be instructed on are up-to-date and what you will be using in the field. If you are already in an internship or an apprenticeship, check with the HVAC specialist you are working with concerning what you should be looking for. If not, ask a local Fountain Hills AZ HVAC company if they can provide some suggestions. Also keep in mind that unless you are willing to relocate, the school needs to be within driving distance of your Fountain Hills AZ home. Remember that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation costs there can be increased tuition fees compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's important that you get as much individualized instruction as possible, which can be challenging in larger classes. Ask if you can monitor a couple of the classes so that you can see how large they are and witness first hand the interaction between students and teachers. Talk with several of the students and get their opinions relating to class sizes and instruction. Last, talk with some of the instructors and find out what their level of experience 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 are only able to attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Fountain Hills AZ, confirm that the schools you are reviewing provide those choices. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, be sure that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Finally, ask what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, illness or family responsibilities.
Earn Your HVAC Degree and Certification
Selecting the right HVAC training program is a crucial beginning toward a rewarding career in the heating and cooling trade. As we have covered in this article, you need to select a Heating and Cooling training program and a degree or certificate program that are both accredited and have exceptional reputations within the HVAC community. Other things to search for are plenty of hands-on training and state-of-the-art facilities. You should check out each of the schools in person that you are most interested in to tour the campus and talk with both the faculty and current students. Try to get a feel for the quality of the teaching and the interaction between them. Additionally, inquire about scheduling choices and if evening or weekend classes are offered if needed. And remember to inquire about financial aid and student loan options also. If you ask the appropriate questions as we have outlined in our checklist for comparing schools, you'll be able to filter your choices so that you can make an educated decision. With the proper training, hard work and commitment, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC specialist in Fountain Hills AZ.