How to Select the Right Heating and Cooling Degree Program near Glendale Arizona
Now that you have made a decision on a career as a heating and cooling specialist, the next step is to find an HVAC trade school near Glendale AZ. But with so many to choose from, how do you decide on the ideal one to get the training that you need? Many potential students will make their choice based exclusively on the price of tuition or how close the school is to their residence. Even though these are relevant factors to consider, they are not the only ones to evaluate. 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. Those and other criteria will be discussed in more detail later within this article. But before we explore how to pick an HVAC technical school, let's look at what a heating and cooling technician does to become a licensed skilled tradesman.
Becoming an HVAC Specialist
HVAC is an acronym that is widely used in the business that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC professionals specialize in the installation, maintenance and repair of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are typically mandated to be licensed, however every state and local municipality has its own requirements. Earning professional certification is not compulsory, but an optional means for Glendale AZ HVAC specialists to demonstrate that they are exceptionally proficient and accomplished in their area of specialization. There are a number of respected certifications within the industry that are offered. Here are a few of the important ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally acknowledged certification for HVAC techs. The certification is achieved by passing a competency examination and can be received in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification offers both a professional and a master specialist credential. Two years of field experience together with passing a comprehensive examination are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have three years of experience along with a passing score on the professional level exam. As with NATE, certifications are provided in several specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is required for techs that handle refrigerants. There are 3 forms of certification available, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Because licensing could be mandated in your location, and you may also wish to obtain certification, it's essential that you select an HVAC trade school that will train you for both. And since you will more than likely be dealing with refrigerants, make certain that the program you select preps you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
HVAC Certificate and Degree Schools
There are a number of options offered for HVAC training in a technical or trade school. You can earn a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Obtaining a certificate will take the lesser period of time, often completed in as little as 6 months, however some courses are longer. A certificate will train you for most HVAC positions, particularly if you are licensed and have certification related to the position. The degree programs might provide a competitive advantage for securing employment and will furnish more extensive training than the certificate programs. Below is a short summary of each credential offered near Glendale AZ.
- Certificate. Usually requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among beginning residential or commercial HVAC technicians. They furnish a strong foundation of skills for job opportunities within the industry.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program provides a more comprehensive knowledge of heating & cooling systems than the certificate program. Usually taking two years to complete, many degrees include an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is suited more towards a career in management as well as business ownership. Some programs call for an Associate Degree, while others are a conventional four year program. In addition to learning how to service and maintain heating and air conditioning systems, you will also learn how to design them.
Picking the right credential program will be based on what your future career aspirations are, in addition to the time and financial resources that you have to commit. One approach is to begin with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after acquiring some experience in the trade in Glendale AZ, subsequently returning to obtain a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your strategy, make certain to ask the HVAC tech school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Online Classes
Choosing an HVAC program online is one possibility to obtaining your training and earning a degree or certificate. Nearly all schools will require some attendance on campus to participate in practical training. A number also offer internship or work-study programs in addition to or as an alternative to practical lab work. But since the balance of the classes may be attended via the internet, this approach may be a more practical solution for many Glendale AZ students that are pressed for time. And a number of online degree programs are more economical than other traditional options. Even commuting expenses from Glendale and study supplies may be lessened, helping to make schooling more affordable. And a large number of online programs are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your work or family obligations have left you with limited time to attend classes, maybe an HVAC online training program will make it easier to fit school into your busy lifestyle.
Questions For HVAC Schools
After you have decided on the type of degree or certificate that you want to earn, either online or on campus, you can begin to decrease your selection of schools. As you are certainly aware, there are many HVAC vocational schools in the Glendale AZ area and across the United States to pick from. That's why it is very important to have a list of key qualifiers when making school assessments. As earlier stated in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will undoubtedly be the first 2 aspects you will take into consideration. Following are several additional ones that you need to research before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Numerous HVAC technical programs in the Glendale AZ area have acquired either a regional or a national accreditation. They can receive Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to a specific program, such as HVAC technology. Confirm that the school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization, for example the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping make certain that you obtain an excellent education, it can help in obtaining financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently unavailable for non-accredited programs. Furthermore, some states mandate 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 percentage of students who enroll in and finish the program. A low completion rate might indicate that students were disappointed with the program and dropped out. It might also signify that the instructors were not competent to train the students. It's similarly imperative that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader list of alumni, which may 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 Glendale AZ HVAC employers to help grads obtain apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. Numerous HVAC trade programs are taught together with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating vocational and trade 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 partnerships with local Glendale AZ HVAC specialists. An apprenticeship not only provides a valuable experience by furnishing hands-on training, but it also supplies job opportunities and helps to build relationships in the area HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make certain 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 currently in an internship or an apprenticeship, check with the HVAC technician you are working under regarding what you should be expecting. If not, ask a local Glendale AZ HVAC contracting company if they can provide some pointers. Also bear in mind that unless you are willing to move, the school needs to be within driving distance of your Glendale AZ residence. Take note that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, in addition to moving costs there might be higher tuition charges compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's important that you get as much personalized instruction as possible, which can be challenging in larger classes. Ask if you can monitor a few of the classes so that you can observe how big they are and witness first hand the interaction between students and teachers. Talk with several of the students and get their feedback relating to class sizes and instruction. Last, talk with a few of the teachers and learn what their level of experience is and what certifications or degrees they have earned.
Flexible Scheduling. Make sure that the class schedules for the programs you are assessing 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, verify that the schools you are reviewing offer those choices. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Additionally, ask what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, illness or family responsibilities.
Get Your HVAC Degree and Certification
Picking the right HVAC training course is a crucial beginning toward a gratifying career in the heating and cooling trade. As we have covered in this article, you should pick a Heating and Cooling training program and a degree or certificate program that are both accredited and have outstanding reputations within the HVAC trade. Other things to search for are plenty of practical training and modern facilities. You need to visit each of the schools personally that you are most interested in to explore the campus and speak with both the current students and faculty. Try to get a feel for the quality of the instruction and the interaction between them. Additionally, inquire about scheduling options and whether evening or weekend classes are available if needed. And don't forget to ask about financial assistance and student loan options as well. If you ask the proper questions as we have detailed in our checklist for evaluating schools, you'll be able to filter your choices so that you can make an educated decision. With the appropriate training, hard work and commitment, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC professional in Glendale AZ.