How to Pick the Right Heating and Cooling School near Glendale Arizona
Once you have made a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioning technician, the next step is to find an HVAC technical school near Glendale AZ. But with so many to choose from, how do you choose the ideal one to get the training that you require? A number of prospective students will make their selection based entirely on the cost of tuition or how near the school is to their home. Although these are relevant considerations, they are not the only ones to take into account. A few of the other details that you need to investigate 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 addressed in more detail later in this article. But before we tackle how to select an HVAC trade school, let's look at what a heating and a/c specialist does to become a licensed qualified tradesman.
How to Become an HVAC Contractor
HVAC is an acronym that is frequently used in the business that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC contractors specialize in the installation, repair and maintenance of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are typically mandated to be licensed, however each state and local municipality has its own criteria. Obtaining professional certification is not mandatory, but an alternative way for Glendale AZ HVAC specialists to prove that they are highly qualified and experienced in their area of specialization. There are a number of acknowledged certifications within the field that are available. 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 competency examination and may be received in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification makes available both a professional and a master specialist credential. Two 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 as well as a passing score on the professional level exam. Similar to NATE, certifications are offered in several specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is necessary for specialists that work with refrigerants. There are three forms of certification obtainable, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Because licensing might be required in your location, and you may also intend to obtain certification, it's essential that you choose an HVAC vocational school that will prepare you for both. And since you will most likely be working with refrigerants, make certain that the school you pick readies you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
HVAC Certificate and Degree Classes
There are a variety of options available for HVAC training in a vocational or trade school. You can attain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Obtaining a certificate will take the minimum amount of time, often accomplished in as little as six months, although some programs 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 training programs may provide a competitive edge in the job market and will provide more extensive training than the certificate programs. Below is a brief summary of each option offered near Glendale AZ.
- Certificate. Generally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among beginning residential or commercial HVAC technicians. They provide a solid foundation of skills for employment within the trade.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program supplies a more extensive understanding of heating and cooling systems than the certificate program. Typically requiring two years to complete, a number of degrees incorporate an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is geared more towards a career in management or even business ownership. Some programs require an Associate Degree, while others are a traditional four year program. In addition to mastering how to service and maintain heating and air conditioning systems, you will also study how to design them.
Choosing the ideal credential program will be based on what your future career goals are, as well as the time and money that you have to invest. One approach is to start with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after acquiring some experience in the trade in Glendale AZ, eventually going back to earn a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your tactic, make certain to ask the HVAC tech school you are considering about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Online Courses
Enrolling in an HVAC school online is one option to obtaining your training and earning a certificate or degree. Nearly all schools will require some attendance on campus to complete practical 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 may be participated in via the internet, this option may be a more convenient solution for many Glendale AZ students that are pressed for time. And a number of online degree programs are less expensive than other on campus choices. Even commuting expenses from Glendale 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 job or family responsibilities have left you with little time to attend classes, maybe an online HVAC degree program will make it less complicated to accommodate school into your busy lifestyle.
Questions to Ask HVAC Certification Courses
Once you have decided on the type of certificate or degree that you want to obtain, either online or on campus, you can begin to narrow down your selection of schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are a large number of HVAC vocational schools in the Glendale AZ area and all over the Country to select from. That's why it is essential to have a list of relevant qualifiers when making school comparisons. As previously mentioned in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will undoubtedly be the initial two variables you will consider. Following are some additional ones that you will want to investigate before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Numerous HVAC trade programs in the Glendale AZ area have attained either a regional or a national accreditation. They may earn Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to a specific program, for example HVAC technology. Confirm that the program and school are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting organization, which includes the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping ensure that you obtain an excellent education, it can help in securing financial aid or student loans, which are frequently not available for non-accredited programs. Additionally, many states require that the HVAC training program be accredited in order to be approved for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the Heating and Cooling schools you are reviewing what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students who enroll in and finish the program. A low completion rate could signify that students were unhappy with the course and quit. It might also indicate that the instructors were not qualified to train the students. It's also imperative that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader directory of graduates, which can produce more contacts for the school to use for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate can not only affirm that the school has an excellent reputation within the industry, but also that it has the network of Glendale AZ HVAC employers to help students obtain apprenticeships or jobs.
Apprenticeship Programs. Most HVAC technical programs are taught in conjunction with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating trade and vocational programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of HVAC companies or labor unions. Check if the schools you are comparing have referring partnerships with local Glendale AZ HVAC professionals. An apprenticeship not only provides a rewarding experience by supplying hands-on training, but it also supplies job opportunities and helps to build relationships in the local HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make sure that the school facilities and the tools that you will be instructed on are state-of-the-art and what you will be using on the job. If you are presently in an internship or an apprenticeship, check with the HVAC tech you are working under regarding what you should be looking for. Otherwise, ask a local Glendale AZ HVAC contractor if they can provide some suggestions. Additionally bear in mind that unless you are able to relocate, the school must be within driving distance of your Glendale AZ residence. Remember that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, besides the added relocation costs there can be increased tuition fees compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's important that you receive as much individualized instruction as possible, which can be challenging in bigger classes. Ask if you can monitor some of the classes so that you can observe how large they are and experience the interaction between students and instructors. Speak with some of the students and get their comments regarding class sizes and instruction. Finally, talk to a few of the instructors and find out what their level of expertise is and what certifications or degrees they have earned.
Flexible Scheduling. Confirm that the class schedules for the schools you are reviewing are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you are only able to go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Glendale AZ, check that the programs you are considering provide those choices. If you can only attend part-time, be sure that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Finally, ask what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, sickness or family emergencies.
Earn Your Heating and Cooling Certificate or Degree
Choosing the right HVAC training course is a crucial beginning toward a rewarding career in the heating & cooling industry. As we have discussed in this article, you need to pick 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 features to search for are plenty of practical training and modern facilities. You should go to each of the schools in person that you are most interested in to explore the campus and talk 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 evening or weekend classes are available if needed. And don't forget to inquire about financial aid and student loan options too. If you ask the appropriate questions as we have outlined in our checklist for comparing schools, you'll be able to filter your options so that you can make an informed decision. With the right training, hard work and dedication, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC contractor in Glendale AZ.