How to Pick the Right Heating and Cooling Certification Class near Glendale Arizona
Now that you have decided on a career as a heating and air conditioning technician, the next action is to look for an HVAC trade school near Glendale AZ. But with so many to choose from, how do you pick the ideal one to obtain the training that you need? A number of future students will make their decision based entirely on the cost of tuition or how close the school is to their home. Even though these are necessary considerations, they are not the only ones to evaluate. A few of the other details that you need to research 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 addressed in more detail later in this article. But before we discuss how to choose an HVAC trade school, let's look at what a heating and air conditioning technician does to become a licensed qualified tradesman.
How to Become an HVAC Technician
HVAC is an acronym that is widely used in the industry that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC professionals specialize in the installation, maintenance and repair of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are generally required to be licensed, though each state and local municipality has its own prerequisites. Earning professional certification is not required, but an alternative means for Glendale AZ HVAC technicians to prove that they are exceptionally skilled and experienced in their area of specialization. There are multiple recognized certifications within the field that are available. Following are a few of the significant ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally acknowledged certification for HVAC technicians. The certification is earned 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 exam are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have three years of experience along with a passing result on the professional level examination. As with NATE, certifications are provided in several specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is necessary for techs that handle refrigerants. There are three forms of certification available, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Considering that licensing may be required in your area, and you may also desire to acquire certification, it's important that you select an HVAC vocational school that will prepare you for both. And since you will most likely be working with refrigerants, make sure that the school you choose preps you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.
HVAC Degree Training Programs
There are several options offered for HVAC training in a trade or technical school. You can attain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Earning a certificate will take the least period of time, usually achieved in as little as six months, though some programs are longer. A certificate will train you for most HVAC positions, particularly if you are licensed and have certification applicable to the position. The degree programs can provide a competitive advantage for securing employment and will deliver more extensive training than the certificate programs. Following is a short description of each credential offered near Glendale AZ.
- Certificate. Generally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among beginning commercial or residential HVAC specialists. They provide a solid foundation of skills for employment within the trade.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program provides a more extensive knowledge of heating & cooling systems than the certificate program. Normally requiring 2 years to complete, a number of 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 require 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 study how to design them.
Picking the ideal credential program will be based on what your future career objectives are, in addition to the time and financial resources that you have to invest. One possibility is to start with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after acquiring some experience in the field in Glendale AZ, eventually going back to acquire 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 Training
Enrolling in an HVAC school online is one approach to attaining your training and earning a degree or certificate. Almost all schools will call for some attendance on campus to participate in practical training. A number also provide internship or work-study programs in addition to or as an alternative to practical lab work. But since the rest of the classes can be participated in on the web, this option may be a more practical solution for many Glendale AZ students that are pressed for time. And many online degree programs are cheaper than other traditional options. Even commuting expenses from Glendale and study materials may be minimized, helping to make education more economical. And many online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your job or family commitments have left you with minimal time to attend classes, maybe an online HVAC degree program will make it more convenient to fit school into your hectic schedule.
Questions to Ask HVAC Schools
After you have selected the type of degree or certificate that you want to obtain, either on campus or online, you can start to decrease your list of schools. As you are probably aware, there are many HVAC vocational schools in the Glendale AZ area and throughout the Country to select from. That's why it is very important to have a checklist of relevant qualifiers when making school evaluations. As earlier stated in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will most likely be the initial two variables you will look at. Following are some additional ones that you will want to explore before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Many HVAC technical programs in the Glendale AZ area have earned 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 relates to a specific program, for instance HVAC technology. Verify that the school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization, such as the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping guarantee that you receive an excellent education, it can assist in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are often unavailable for non-accredited programs. Furthermore, a number of 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 considering what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage of students who enroll in and complete the course. A low completion rate may signify that students were dissatisfied with the program and quit. It could also indicate that the teachers were not competent to train the students. It's similarly imperative that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive directory of alumni, which can mean 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 an excellent reputation within the field, but additionally that it has the network of Glendale AZ HVAC employers to help grads secure apprenticeships or jobs.
Apprenticeship Programs. A large number of HVAC technical programs are taught in conjunction 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 businesses or labor unions. Check if the schools you are comparing have referring relationships with local Glendale AZ HVAC companies. An apprenticeship not only provides a valuable experience by supplying practical training, but it also furnishes employment opportunities and helps to form relationships in the local HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Confirm that the campus facilities and the tools that you will be trained 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, consult with the HVAC tech you are working with concerning what you should be looking for. Otherwise, ask a local Glendale AZ HVAC company if they can give you some suggestions. Additionally bear in mind that unless you are willing to relocate, the school must be within commuting distance of your Glendale AZ home. Remember that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to moving costs there may 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 difficult in bigger classes. Ask if you can monitor some of the classes so that you can see how big they are and experience the interaction between students and teachers. Speak to several of the students and get their comments regarding class sizes and instruction. Finally, speak to some of the teachers and find out what their level of expertise is and what degrees or certifications they have earned.
Flexible Scheduling. Confirm that the class schedules for the programs you are evaluating are flexible enough to handle your needs. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Glendale AZ, check that the schools you are looking at provide those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Also, check out what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Get Your HVAC Training and Certification
Choosing the right HVAC training program is a critical beginning toward a gratifying career in the heating and cooling field. As we have addressed in this article, you should 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 personally 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 instruction and the interaction between them. Additionally, inquire about scheduling options and whether evening or weekend classes are offered if needed. And remember to ask about financial aid and student loan options as well. If you ask the right questions as we have detailed in our checklist for comparing schools, you'll be able to filter your choices so that you can make an informed decision. With the right training, hard work and dedication, you can eventually become a licensed HVAC contractor in Glendale AZ.