How to Enroll In the Right Heating and Cooling Certification Class near Glendale Arizona
Now that you have come to a decision on a career as a heating and cooling technician, the next step is to choose an HVAC technical school near Glendale AZ. But with so many to select from, how do you pick the ideal one to obtain the training that you need? Many future students will make their selection based exclusively on the price of tuition or how close the school is to their home. Although these are significant considerations, they are not the only ones to investigate. A few of the other factors that you need to investigate are the graduation rates of the HVAC schools, their reputations, and if they are accredited by professional trade organizations. Those and additional criteria will be addressed in more detail later within this article. But before we tackle how to select an HVAC technical school, let's look at what a heating and a/c technician does to become a licensed professional tradesman.
How to Become an HVAC Technician
HVAC is an acronym that is extensively used in the business that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC professionals provide services for the installation, maintenance and repair of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are typically required to be licensed, though each state and local municipality has its own prerequisites. Acquiring professional certification is not required, but a voluntary way for Glendale AZ HVAC technicians to prove that they are exceptionally qualified and knowledgeable in their area of expertise. There are a number of respected certifications within the trade that are available. Below are a few 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 exam and can be received in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification offers both a professional and a master specialist credential. 2 years of professional experience in addition to passing a comprehensive exam are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have 3 years of experience in addition to a passing score on the professional level exam. Similar to NATE, certifications are made available in several specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is necessary for technicians that handle refrigerants. There are 3 forms of certification obtainable, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Since licensing could be required in your location, and you may also wish to obtain certification, it's imperative that you choose an HVAC technical school that will train you for both. And since you will probably be working with refrigerants, make certain that the school you decide on prepares you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.
HVAC Certificate and Degree Schools
There are a number of alternatives available for HVAC training in a trade or technical school. You can obtain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Earning a certificate will take the lesser amount of time, typically completed in just 6 months, however some courses are longer. A certificate will qualify 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 advantage in the job market and will furnish more comprehensive training than the certificate programs. Below is a short explanation of each credential offered near Glendale AZ.
- Certificate. Usually requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among beginning commercial or residential HVAC specialists. They furnish a strong foundation of skills for job opportunities within the trade.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program supplies a more extensive knowledge of heating and cooling systems than the certificate program. Generally requiring 2 years to complete, some degrees feature an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is geared more for a career in management as well as business ownership. Some programs require an Associate Degree, while others are a traditional 4 year program. In addition to mastering how to service and maintain heating and cooling systems, you will also learn how to design them.
Selecting the ideal credential program will be dependent on what your future career objectives are, as well as the time and financial resources that you have to commit. One approach is to start with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after getting some experience in the field in Glendale AZ, subsequently going back to obtain a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your approach, be sure to ask the HVAC technician school you are considering about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Training Online
Enrolling in an HVAC program online is one option in getting your education and receiving a certificate or degree. Almost all schools will call for some attendance on campus to participate in practical training. Many 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 attended online, this option may be a more accessible solution for many Glendale AZ students that are pressed for time. And some online degree programs are cheaper than other on campus options. Even commuting expenses from Glendale and study supplies may be reduced, helping to make education more economical. And many online programs are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your career or family commitments have left you with minimal time to attend classes, maybe an HVAC online training program will make it less complicated to accommodate school into your active schedule.
What to Ask HVAC Training Programs
When you have chosen the type of degree or certificate that you desire to acquire, either on campus or online, you can start to limit your selection of schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are numerous HVAC technical schools in the Glendale AZ area and all over the USA to pick from. That's why it is very important to have a checklist of relevant qualifications when making school comparisons. As formerly mentioned in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will undoubtedly be the initial 2 variables you will look at. Following are several additional ones that you will want to investigate before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Many HVAC vocational schools in the Glendale AZ area have received either a regional or a national accreditation. They can earn Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to an individual program, for example HVAC technology. Make certain that the school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency, for example the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping guarantee that you receive a quality education, it can assist in securing financial aid or student loans, which are often not available for non-accredited schools. Additionally, many states require 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 percentage of students who enroll in and finish the program. A lower completion rate may signify that students were disappointed with the course and quit. It might also suggest that the teachers were not qualified to train the students. It's also imperative that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader list of graduates, which may result in more contacts for the school to employ for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate will not only confirm that the school has a good reputation within the field, but also that it has the network of Glendale AZ HVAC employers to assist students secure apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. A large number of HVAC technical programs are taught along with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating trade and technical schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of HVAC businesses or trade unions. Check if the schools you are considering have referring partnerships with local Glendale AZ HVAC professionals. An apprenticeship not only provides a valuable 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. 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 technician you are working with regarding what you should be expecting. Otherwise, ask a local Glendale AZ HVAC contracting company if they can give you some pointers. Also keep in mind that unless you can move, the school must be within driving distance of your Glendale 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 important that you receive as much personalized instruction as possible, which can be difficult in larger classes. Ask if you can monitor a few of the classes so that you can observe how large they are and experience the interaction between students and teachers. Speak to several of the students and get their opinions concerning class sizes and instruction. Finally, talk with a few of the teachers and learn what their level of expertise 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 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 comparing offer those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Also, check out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, sickness or family responsibilities.
Earn Your Heating and Cooling Certificate or Degree
Selecting the right HVAC training course is a crucial first step toward a rewarding career in the heating and air conditioning industry. As we have addressed 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 trade. Other factors to look for are plenty of practical training and state-of-the-art facilities. You should go to each of the schools personally that you are most interested in to explore the campus and talk with both the current students and faculty. Attempt to get a feel for the quality of the training and the interaction between them. Also, ask about scheduling choices and whether night or weekend classes are offered if needed. And remember to ask about financial aid and student loan options too. If you ask the right questions as we have outlined in our checklist for evaluating schools, you'll be able to narrow down your options so that you can make an informed decision. With the appropriate training, hard work and dedication, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC professional in Glendale AZ.