How to Enroll In the Right HVAC Certification Course near Glendale Arizona
Now that you have come to a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioner professional, the next step is to locate an HVAC trade school near Glendale AZ. But with so many to choose from, how do you pick the best one to get the training that you need? Some potential students will make their choice based entirely on the cost of tuition or how close the school is to their residence. Even though these are important concerns, they are not the only ones to investigate. A few of the other things 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. These and other criteria will be addressed in more detail later within this article. But before we explore how to pick an HVAC vocational school, let's look at what a heating and air conditioning contractor does to become a licensed qualified tradesman.
How to Become an HVAC Tech
HVAC is an acronym that is widely used in the industry that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC technicians specialize in the installation, repair and maintenance of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are commonly mandated to be licensed, though every state and regional municipality has its own requirements. Acquiring professional certification is not compulsory, but a voluntary means for Glendale AZ HVAC techs to demonstrate that they are exceptionally proficient and experienced in their area of specialization. There are several acknowledged certifications within the trade that are offered. Here are some of the significant ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally acknowledged certification for HVAC techs. The certification is attained by passing a competency examination and can be acquired in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification offers both a professional and a master specialist credential. Two years of field experience in addition to passing a comprehensive exam are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have 3 years of experience together with a passing score on the professional level exam. As with NATE, certifications are offered in several specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is necessary 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 area, and you may also desire to acquire certification, it's essential that you select an HVAC vocational school that will train you for both. And since you will most likely be dealing with refrigerants, make certain that the program you decide on preps you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
HVAC Degree Schools
There are a variety of options available for HVAC instruction in a vocational or trade school. You can earn a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Acquiring a certificate will take the least period of time, usually accomplished in as little as 6 months, although some courses 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 programs may provide a competitive edge in the job market and will furnish more comprehensive training than the certificate programs. Below is a short explanation of each option offered near Glendale AZ.
- Certificate. Normally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among entry level residential or commercial HVAC specialists. They provide a strong foundation of skills for job opportunities within the industry.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program delivers a more extensive understanding of heating and a/c systems than the certificate program. Typically requiring 2 years to finish, a number of degrees include an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is tailored more for a career in management as well as business ownership. Some programs call for an Associate Degree, while others are a traditional 4 year program. In addition to being taught how to service and maintain heating and cooling systems, you will also learn how to design them.
Choosing the ideal credential program will be based on what your future career aspirations are, as well as the time and financial resources that you have to invest. One possibility is to start 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 tactic, make certain to ask the HVAC tech school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Training Online
Choosing an HVAC program online is one option to getting your training and earning a degree or certificate. Almost all schools will require some attendance on campus to take part in hands on training. Many also sponsor internship or work-study programs in addition to or in place of practical lab work. But since the balance of the classes can be attended via the internet, this approach may be a more practical solution for many Glendale AZ students that are pressed for time. And many online degree programs are less expensive than other traditional options. Even commuting expenses from Glendale and study materials can be lessened, helping to make education more budget-friendly. And many online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your work or family commitments have left you with little time to attend classes, perhaps an HVAC online training program will make it more convenient to accommodate school into your busy schedule.
Questions For HVAC Schools
When you have picked the type of certificate or degree that you want to obtain, either online or on campus, you can start to narrow down your list of schools. As you are probably aware, there are a large number of HVAC vocational schools in the Glendale AZ area and throughout the United States to choose from. That's why it is essential to have a checklist of relevant qualifiers when making school comparisons. As previously stated in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will undoubtedly be the first two factors you will consider. Following are several additional ones that you should explore before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. A large number of HVAC trade schools in the Glendale AZ area have acquired either a regional or a national accreditation. They may earn Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to a specific program, for example HVAC technology. Verify that the school and program are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting agency, which includes the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping guarantee that you get a quality education, it may assist in securing financial aid or student loans, which are in many cases not available for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of states require that the HVAC training program be accredited for it to qualify 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 percentage or portion of students who enroll in and complete the program. A lower completion rate could signify that students were disappointed with the course and dropped out. It could also signify that the teachers were not competent to train the students. It's similarly essential that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader list of graduates, which may mean more contacts for the school to use for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate can not only validate that the school has an excellent reputation within the industry, but also that it has the network of Glendale AZ HVAC employers to assist graduates obtain apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. A large number of HVAC vocational programs are taught along with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating technical and vocational schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of Heating and Cooling contractors or trade unions. Check if the schools you are comparing have working relationships with local Glendale AZ HVAC specialists. An apprenticeship not only offers a rewarding experience by furnishing hands-on training, but it also furnishes employment opportunities and helps to establish relationships in the local HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make sure that the campus facilities and the equipment that you will be trained on are state-of-the-art and what you will be using in the field. If you are currently in an internship or an apprenticeship, consult with the HVAC technician you are working under regarding what you should be expecting. Otherwise, ask a local Glendale AZ HVAC company if they can provide some suggestions. Also keep in mind that unless you are willing to relocate, the school must be within driving distance of your Glendale AZ residence. Take note that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to moving costs there can be increased tuition charges compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's important that you receive as much individualized instruction as possible, which can be difficult in bigger classes. Ask if you can sit in on a few of the classes so that you can observe how big they are and witness first hand the interaction between instructors and students. Talk to several of the students and get their opinions relating to class sizes and instruction. Last, speak with a few of the teachers and find out what their level of expertise is and what certifications or degrees they hold.
Flexible Scheduling. Verify that the class schedules for the schools you are assessing are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you are only able to attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Glendale AZ, confirm that the schools you are considering provide those choices. If you can only attend part-time, make sure that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Additionally, check out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, illness or family issues.
Get Your HVAC Certificate or Degree
Finding the ideal HVAC training program is an important first step toward a gratifying career in the heating and cooling field. As we have covered 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 profession. Other features to search for are plenty of hands-on training and state-of-the-art facilities. You need to visit each of the schools in person that you are most interested in to explore the campus and speak with both the current students and faculty. Attempt to get a feel for the quality of the training and the interaction between them. Additionally, ask about scheduling choices and if night or weekend classes are available if needed. And remember to ask about financial aid and student loan options as well. If you ask the appropriate questions as we have detailed 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 appropriate training, hard work and commitment, you can eventually become a licensed HVAC specialist in Glendale AZ.