How to Pick the Right Heating and Cooling Certification Course near Gilbert Arizona
Now that you have come to a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioning specialist, the next action is to choose an HVAC trade school near Gilbert AZ. But with so many to choose from, how do you choose the ideal one to get the training that you need? A number of potential students will make their selection based solely on the price of tuition or how near the school is to their home. Even though these are significant factors to consider, they are not the only ones to take into account. Just 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. Those and other criteria will be addressed in more detail later within this article. But before we examine how to pick an HVAC trade school, let's take a look at what a heating and a/c specialist does to become a licensed qualified tradesman.
How to Become an HVAC Professional
HVAC is an acronym that is commonly used in the industry that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC professionals specialize in the installation, repair and maintenance of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are typically mandated to be licensed, though every state and local municipality has its own criteria. Obtaining professional certification is not compulsory, but an optional means for Gilbert AZ HVAC techs to establish that they are highly proficient and experienced in their area of expertise. There are several acknowledged certifications within the trade that are offered. Following are some of the significant ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally acknowledged certification for HVAC techs. The certification is earned by passing a proficiency examination and may be received 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 required for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have three years of experience along with a passing score on the professional level examination. As with NATE, certifications are made available in various specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is mandatory for technicians that handle refrigerants. There are three forms of certification available, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Considering that licensing might be required in your location, and you may also desire to acquire certification, it's important that you pick an HVAC trade school that will prepare you for both. And since you will more than likely be handling refrigerants, make sure that the school you pick readies you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
HVAC Degree and Certificate Courses
There are several choices available for HVAC training in a technical or vocational school. You can earn a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Earning a certificate will take the lesser amount of time, usually accomplished in as little as six months, however some courses are longer. A certificate will qualify you for most HVAC positions, especially if you are licensed and have certification related to the position. The degree training programs may provide a competitive edge in the job market and will provide more extensive training than the certificate programs. Below is a short explanation of each option offered near Gilbert AZ.
- Certificate. Usually requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred 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 provides a more detailed knowledge of heating and a/c systems than the certificate program. Usually requiring two years to finish, many 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 as well as business ownership. Some programs call for an Associate Degree, while others are a standard four year program. In addition to being taught 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 future career objectives are, together with the time and financial resources that you have to invest. One option is to start with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after getting some experience in the trade in Gilbert AZ, eventually returning to earn a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your strategy, make certain to ask the HVAC tech school you are considering about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Online Training
Attending an HVAC school online is one possibility to obtaining your training and receiving a certificate or degree. Nearly all schools will require some attendance on campus to participate in practical training. Some also sponsor internship or work-study programs in addition to or in place of practical lab work. But since the remainder of the classes can be participated in on the web, this alternative may be a more accessible solution for many Gilbert AZ students that are pressed for time. And some online degree programs are less costly than other traditional alternatives. Even travelling expenses from Gilbert and study materials can be lessened, helping to make schooling more economical. And a large number of online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your job or family commitments have left you with limited time to attend classes, maybe an online HVAC degree program will make it easier to fit school into your busy schedule.
Questions to Ask HVAC Training Programs
Once you have decided on the type of degree or certificate that you wish to attain, either online or on campus, you can begin to decrease your list of schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are numerous HVAC vocational schools in the Gilbert AZ area and throughout the USA to choose from. That's why it is extremely important to have a list of relevant qualifiers when making school comparisons. As formerly stated in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will undoubtedly be the initial two factors you will look at. 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 Gilbert AZ area have received either a regional or a national accreditation. They may acquire Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to a specific program, for instance HVAC technology. Confirm that the school and program are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting organization, which includes the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping make certain that you acquire a superior education, it may assist in acquiring financial assistance or student loans, which are often unavailable for non-accredited schools. Additionally, some states mandate that the HVAC training course be accredited in order to be approved for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the Heating and Air Conditioning schools you are looking at 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 dissatisfied with the program and quit. It might also indicate that the instructors were not qualified to train the students. It's similarly important that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader list of graduates, which may mean more contacts for the school to utilize for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate can not only confirm that the school has an excellent reputation within the field, but additionally that it has the network of Gilbert AZ HVAC employers to assist students acquire apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. Many HVAC vocational programs are taught along with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating trade and vocational programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of Heating and Cooling companies or trade unions. Find out if the schools you are considering have referring partnerships with local Gilbert AZ HVAC companies. An apprenticeship not only offers a rewarding experience by supplying practical training, but it also provides job opportunities and helps to form relationships in the local HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make sure that the campus facilities and the tools that you will be trained on are up-to-date and what you will be using in the field. If you are presently in an internship or an apprenticeship, talk to the HVAC technician you are working under concerning what you should be looking for. Otherwise, ask a local Gilbert AZ HVAC contractor if they can give you some suggestions. Additionally bear in mind that unless you can relocate, the school must be within driving distance of your Gilbert AZ home. Take note that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation costs there can be increased tuition charges compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's important that you receive as much personalized training as possible, which can be challenging in larger classes. Ask if you can monitor some of the classes so that you can see how large they are and experience the interaction between teachers and students. Speak with a few of the students and get their opinions regarding class sizes and instruction. Last, talk to a few of the teachers and learn what their level of experience is and what certifications or degrees they hold.
Flexible Scheduling. Verify that the class schedules for the programs you are evaluating are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you are only able to go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Gilbert AZ, confirm that the programs you are looking at offer those choices. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Additionally, find out what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, illness or family responsibilities.
Get Your HVAC Training and Certification
Choosing the right HVAC training course is a crucial first step toward a rewarding career in the heating and cooling industry. As we have covered in this article, you need to pick a Heating and Cooling training program and a certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have outstanding reputations within the HVAC profession. Other things to search for are ample 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 inspect the campus and talk with both the current students and faculty. Try to get a feel for the quality of the teaching and the interaction between them. In addition, inquire about scheduling choices and whether or not evening or weekend classes are available if needed. And remember to ask about financial aid and student loan options as well. If you ask the appropriate questions as we have laid out in our guidelines for comparing schools, you'll be able to filter your choices so that you can make an informed decision. With the proper training, hard work and dedication, you can eventually become a licensed HVAC professional in Gilbert AZ.