How to Select the Right Heating and Cooling Certificate Program near Gilbert Arizona
Once you have decided on a career as a heating and air conditioner technician, the next action is to choose an HVAC vocational school near Gilbert AZ. But with so many to select from, how do you choose the best one to get the training that you require? Many future students will make their selection based solely on the price of tuition or how close the school is to their residence. While these are significant considerations, they are not the only ones to take into account. Just some of the other things that you need to research 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 covered in more detail later in this article. But before we explore how to choose an HVAC training program, let's look at what a heating and a/c technician does to become a licensed skilled tradesman.
How to Become an HVAC Pro
HVAC is an acronym that is frequently used in the business that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC technicians provide services for the installation, maintenance and repair of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are commonly required to be licensed, though every state and regional municipality has its own criteria. Earning professional certification is not mandatory, but an optional means for Gilbert AZ HVAC technicians to prove that they are highly proficient and accomplished in their area of specialization. There are several respected certifications within the trade that are offered. Here are some of the important ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally acknowledged certification for HVAC technicians. The certification is attained by passing a proficiency examination and may be acquired in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification offers 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 need to have 3 years of experience as well as a passing score on the professional level examination. Similar to NATE, certifications are made available in multiple specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is required for techs that handle refrigerants. There are 3 forms of certification obtainable, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Because licensing might be mandated in your location, and you may also desire to obtain certification, it's essential that you choose an HVAC technical school that will train you for both. And since you will most likely be working with refrigerants, make certain that the program you decide on prepares you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
HVAC Degree Classes
There are a variety of alternatives available for HVAC instruction in a technical or vocational school. You can obtain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Obtaining a certificate will take the minimum amount of time, typically accomplished in as little as six months, though some courses 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 can provide a competitive advantage for securing employment and will furnish more extensive training than the certificate programs. Below is a short description of each option offered near Gilbert AZ.
- Certificate. Usually requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among entry level commercial or residential HVAC specialists. They provide a solid foundation of skills for employment within the industry.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program supplies a more exhaustive understanding of heating and cooling systems than the certificate program. Usually taking two years to complete, some degrees incorporate an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is geared more for a career in management or even business ownership. Some programs require an Associate Degree, while others are a traditional 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.
Selecting the right credential program will be based on what your future career aspirations are, as well as the time and money 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 field in Gilbert AZ, subsequently going back to obtain a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your approach, make certain to ask the HVAC tech school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Schools Online
Enrolling in an HVAC program online is one alternative to obtaining your training and earning a certificate or degree. Most schools will call for some attendance on campus to complete practical training. Some also provide 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 online, this approach may be a more convenient solution for some Gilbert AZ students that are short on time. And a number of online degree programs are less expensive than other on campus choices. Even travelling expenses from Gilbert and study supplies can be minimized, helping to make education more budget-friendly. And a large number of online programs are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your job or family commitments have left you with little time to attend classes, perhaps an HVAC online training program will make it less complicated to accommodate school into your hectic lifestyle.
Questions For HVAC Certification Courses
After you have picked the type of certificate or degree that you would like to earn, either online or on campus, you can start to limit your selection of schools. As you are certainly aware, there are many HVAC technical schools in the Gilbert AZ area and throughout the United States to select from. That's why it is extremely important to have a checklist of relevant qualifications when making school comparisons. As formerly mentioned in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will probably be the initial 2 factors 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 trade schools in the Gilbert AZ area have acquired either a regional or a national accreditation. They can receive Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to an individual program, such as HVAC technology. Make certain that the school is 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 may assist in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are in many cases not available for non-accredited schools. Also, some states require that the HVAC training course be accredited in order to qualify for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the Heating and Air Conditioning 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 course. A lower completion rate could signify that students were dissatisfied with the program and dropped out. It could also suggest that the teachers were not competent to instruct 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 mean more contacts for the school to utilize 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 field, but also that it has the network of Gilbert AZ HVAC employers to assist grads acquire apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. Numerous HVAC technical programs are taught along 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 companies or labor unions. Ask if the schools you are reviewing have referring partnerships with local Gilbert AZ HVAC specialists. An apprenticeship not only provides a rewarding experience by supplying practical training, but it also provides employment opportunities and helps to form relationships in the regional HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make sure that the school facilities and the equipment that you will be trained on are up-to-date and what you will be working with on the job. If you are presently in an internship or an apprenticeship, talk to the HVAC technician you are working under regarding what you should be looking for. If not, ask a local Gilbert AZ HVAC contractor if they can give you some suggestions. Also bear in mind that unless you can move, the school must be within commuting distance of your Gilbert AZ residence. Take note that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides the added relocation costs there might be higher tuition charges compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's desirable that you receive as much personalized 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 observe how large they are and experience the interaction between students and teachers. Talk with some of the students and get their comments relating to class sizes and instruction. Last, speak with some of the instructors and learn what their level of expertise is and what degrees or certifications they hold.
Flexible Scheduling. Verify that the class schedules for the programs you are evaluating are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Gilbert AZ, check that the programs you are comparing offer those choices. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Also, find out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, sickness or family emergencies.
Get Your HVAC Degree and Certification
Enrolling in the right HVAC school course is a critical first step toward a fulfilling career in the heating and air conditioning trade. As we have addressed in this article, you should choose a Heating and Cooling training program and a degree or certificate program that are both accredited and have excellent reputations within the HVAC field. Other things to search for are sufficient hands-on training and modern facilities. You need to go to each of the schools personally 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 instruction and the interaction between them. Also, inquire about scheduling choices and whether evening or weekend classes are offered if needed. And remember to inquire about financial aid and student loan options as well. If you ask the proper 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 educated decision. With the right training, hard work and dedication, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC professional in Gilbert AZ.