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How to Choose the Right Heating and Cooling Certification Training near Gilbert Arizona

Gilbert Arizona residential A/C condensersOnce you have come to a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioning professional, the next action is to look for an HVAC technical school near Gilbert AZ. But with so many to choose from, how do you decide on the right one to receive the training that you require? A number of future students will make their choice based solely on the price of tuition or how close the school is to their residence. Even though these are important factors to consider, they are not the only ones to take into account. A few of the other details 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. Those and other benchmarks will be discussed in more detail later in this article. But before we discuss how to pick an HVAC training program, let's look at what a heating and air conditioning professional does to become a licensed professional tradesman.

How to Become an HVAC Professional

Gilbert Arizona Heating and Cooling Technician repairing air conditioning condenserHVAC is an acronym that is extensively used in the industry that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC technicians provide services for the installation, repair and maintenance of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are typically required to be licensed, though every state and local municipality has its own criteria. Attaining professional certification is not mandatory, but an optional way for Gilbert AZ HVAC techs to establish that they are exceptionally skilled and experienced in their area of expertise. There are multiple respected 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 techs. The certification is achieved by passing a proficiency exam 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 field experience together with passing a comprehensive exam are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have three years of experience together with a passing result on the professional level exam. Similar to NATE, certifications are provided in various specialties.
  • EPA Section 608. This certification is mandatory for techs that work with refrigerants. There are three forms of certification available, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.

Since licensing may be required in your area, and you may also desire to acquire certification, it's important that you select an HVAC technical school that will train you for both. And since you will more than likely be dealing with refrigerants, make sure that the school you decide on preps you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.

HVAC Degree Training Programs

Gilbert Arizona residential heating pump

There are a number of alternatives available for HVAC training in a trade or technical school. You can earn a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Acquiring a certificate will take the minimum amount of time, often completed in as little as 6 months, however some programs are longer. A certificate will train you for the majority of HVAC positions, particularly if you are licensed and have certification related to the position. The degree programs can provide a competitive edge for securing employment and will deliver more extensive training than the certificate programs. Below is a short description of each credential offered near Gilbert AZ.

  • Certificate. Usually requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among beginning commercial or residential HVAC specialists. They furnish a solid foundation of skills for employment within the industry.
  • Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program provides a more extensive understanding of heating and a/c systems than the certificate program. Typically requiring 2 years to complete, many 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 call for an Associate Degree, while others are a traditional 4 year program. In addition to learning how to service and maintain heating and cooling systems, you will also learn how to design them.

Choosing the right credential program will be based on what your future career objectives are, in addition to the time and financial resources that you have to commit. One option is to start with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after acquiring some experience in the trade in Gilbert AZ, eventually returning to obtain a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your tactic, make certain to ask the HVAC technician school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.

HVAC Online Training

Attending an HVAC school online is one option to attaining your education and receiving a certificate or degree. Almost all schools will call for some attendance on campus to complete hands on training. A number also provide internship or work-study programs in addition to or in place of practical lab work. But since the remainder of the classes can be attended via the internet, this approach may be a more practical solution for many Gilbert AZ students that are short on time. And some online degree programs are less expensive than other traditional choices. Even travelling expenses from Gilbert and study materials may be lessened, helping to make education more economical. And many online programs are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your work or family commitments have left you with minimal time to attend classes, perhaps an HVAC online training program will make it less complicated to fit school into your hectic lifestyle.

Questions For HVAC Schools

Gilbert Arizona HVAC technician servicing water heater

When you have decided on the type of degree or certificate that you desire to attain, either online or on campus, you can begin to decrease your list of schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are a large number of HVAC trade schools in the Gilbert AZ area and all over the USA to select from. That's why it is essential to have a list of key qualifications when making school evaluations. As formerly stated in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will undoubtedly be the first two aspects you will look at. Following are several additional ones that you should investigate before enrolling in your school of choice.

Accreditation.  Numerous HVAC trade schools in the Gilbert AZ area have received either a regional or a national accreditation. They can attain Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to a specific program, for example HVAC technology. Verify that the program is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization, which includes the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping make certain that you obtain a quality education, it can help 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 Cooling 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 lower completion rate could suggest that students were unhappy with the program and dropped out. It might also signify that the teachers were not competent to train the students. It's similarly important that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive list of graduates, which can produce more contacts for the school to use for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate will not only affirm that the school has a good reputation within the field, but also that it has the network of Gilbert AZ HVAC employers to assist students obtain apprenticeships or jobs.

Apprenticeship Programs.  Many HVAC trade programs are taught in conjunction with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating technical and vocational schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of HVAC companies or trade unions. Find out if the schools you are reviewing have referring relationships with local Gilbert AZ HVAC professionals. An apprenticeship not only provides a rewarding experience by providing practical training, but it also furnishes employment opportunities and helps to build relationships in the area HVAC professional community.

Modern Facilities.  Confirm that the school facilities and the equipment that you will be trained on are up-to-date and what you will be using on the job. If you are currently in an internship or an apprenticeship, consult with the HVAC specialist you are working under concerning what you should be looking for. Otherwise, ask a local Gilbert AZ HVAC company if they can provide some suggestions. Also bear in mind that unless you are willing to relocate, the school needs to be within commuting distance of your Gilbert AZ residence. Remember that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to moving costs there may be increased tuition fees compared to in-state residents.

Smaller Classes.   It's desirable that you get as much individualized instruction as possible, which can be challenging in bigger 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. Speak with several of the students and get their opinions concerning class sizes and instruction. Last, talk to some of the instructors and learn what their level of experience is and what degrees or certifications they hold.

Flexible Scheduling.  Confirm that the class schedules for the programs you are assessing are flexible enough to handle your needs. If you are only able to attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Gilbert AZ, verify that the programs you are considering offer those choices. If you can only attend part-time, make sure that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Finally, ask what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, illness or family issues.

Learn More About Gilbert HVAC Schools Near You

Earn Your HVAC Certificate or Degree

Finding the ideal HVAC training program is an important first step toward a fulfilling career in the heating and cooling field. As we have covered in this article, you should select a Heating and Cooling training program and a certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have outstanding reputations within the HVAC community. Other factors to search for are lots 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 talk with both the faculty and current students. Try to get a feel for the quality of the instruction and the interaction between them. In addition, ask about scheduling options and whether or not night or weekend classes are offered if needed. And remember to ask about financial aid and student loan options as well. If you ask the proper questions as we have detailed in our guidelines for evaluating schools, you'll be able to filter your choices 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 Gilbert AZ.