How to Pick the Right Heating and Cooling School near Goodyear Arizona
Now that you have come to a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioner technician, the next action is to look for an HVAC trade school near Goodyear AZ. But with so many to pick from, how do you select the ideal one to get the training that you need? Many future students will make their decision based exclusively on the cost of tuition or how near the school is to their home. While these are important concerns, they are not the only ones to investigate. Just some of the other details 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. These and additional criteria will be addressed in more detail later in this article. But before we explore how to pick an HVAC vocational school, let's take a look at what a heating and cooling professional does to become a licensed professional tradesman.
How to Become an HVAC Professional
HVAC is an acronym that is commonly used in the trade that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC technicians provide services for the installation, maintenance and repair of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are generally required to be licensed, though every state and local municipality has its own requirements. Obtaining professional certification is not compulsory, but an optional means for Goodyear AZ HVAC technicians to establish that they are highly proficient and accomplished in their area of specialization. There are a number of respected certifications within the industry that are available. Below are some of the significant ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally acknowledged certification for HVAC techs. The certification is achieved by passing a proficiency exam and may be earned in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification offers both a professional and a master specialist credential. Two years of professional experience together with passing a comprehensive exam are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have 3 years of experience together with a passing result on the professional level exam. As with NATE, certifications are provided in multiple specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is required for techs that handle refrigerants. There are 3 types of certification obtainable, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Since licensing might be mandated in your location, and you may also desire to earn certification, it's essential that you select an HVAC vocational school that will prepare you for both. And since you will more than likely be handling refrigerants, make sure that the school you decide on preps you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.
HVAC Certificate and Degree Training Programs
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 period of time, often completed in as little as six months, although some courses are longer. A certificate will train you for most HVAC positions, especially if you are licensed and have certification related to the position. The degree programs may provide a competitive edge for securing employment and will furnish more extensive training than the certificate programs. Following is a brief explanation of each credential offered near Goodyear AZ.
- Certificate. Usually requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among entry level commercial or residential HVAC specialists. They provide a strong foundation of skills for job opportunities within the industry.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program supplies a more extensive background of heating & cooling systems than the certificate program. Generally taking 2 years to complete, some 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 or even business ownership. Some programs require an Associate Degree, while others are a standard four year program. In addition to mastering how to service and maintain heating and cooling systems, you will also study how to design them.
Choosing the right credential program will be dependent on what your future career objectives are, in addition to the time and financial resources that you have to invest. One approach is to start with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after gaining some experience in the trade in Goodyear AZ, later going back to obtain a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your approach, make certain to ask the HVAC technician school you are considering about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Online Classes
Enrolling in an HVAC program online is one option to attaining your training and receiving a degree or certificate. Almost all schools will call for some attendance on campus to take part in hands on training. A number also offer internship or work-study programs in addition to or in place of practical lab work. But since the rest of the classes can be participated in online, this option may be a more practical solution for many Goodyear AZ students that are pressed for time. And many online degree programs are more economical than other on campus choices. Even driving expenses from Goodyear and study supplies may be reduced, helping to make education more budget-friendly. And numerous online programs are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your career or family responsibilities have left you with minimal time to attend classes, perhaps an HVAC online training program will make it less complicated to fit school into your busy lifestyle.
Questions For HVAC Certification Courses
As soon as you have selected the type of certificate or degree that you wish to obtain, either on campus or online, you can begin to narrow down your selection of schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are numerous HVAC vocational schools in the Goodyear AZ area and across the Country to select from. That's why it is imperative to have a checklist of relevant qualifications when making school evaluations. As previously mentioned in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will undoubtedly be the first two factors you will take into consideration. Following are several additional ones that you will want to explore before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Many HVAC technical schools in the Goodyear AZ area have attained 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 relates to an individual program, such as HVAC technology. Verify that the school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency, such as the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping ensure that you acquire a quality education, it can assist in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are often not available for non-accredited programs. Additionally, some states require that the HVAC training course be accredited for it to be approved for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the HVAC 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 course. A low completion rate might suggest that students were dissatisfied with the course and dropped out. It might also indicate that the teachers were not qualified to train the students. It's also essential that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader directory of graduates, which can mean more contacts for the school to utilize for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate can not only confirm that the school has an excellent reputation within the industry, but additionally that it has the network of Goodyear AZ HVAC employers to help graduates secure apprenticeships or jobs.
Apprenticeship Programs. Many HVAC technical programs are taught together with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating vocational and technical schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of Heating and Cooling businesses or trade unions. Check if the schools you are considering have referring relationships with local Goodyear AZ HVAC professionals. An apprenticeship not only offers a valuable experience by supplying hands-on training, but it also provides job opportunities and helps to establish relationships in the local HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make sure that the school facilities and the equipment that you will be trained on are up-to-date 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 with concerning what you should be looking for. Otherwise, ask a local Goodyear AZ HVAC contracting company if they can provide some tips. Additionally keep in mind that unless you are able to move, the school needs to be within driving distance of your Goodyear AZ home. Remember that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to moving costs there may be higher tuition fees compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's desirable that you receive as much one-on-one instruction as possible, which can be challenging in larger classes. Ask if you can monitor a couple of the classes so that you can observe how big they are and witness first hand the interaction between students and teachers. Talk to a few of the students and get their feedback relating to class sizes and instruction. Finally, speak with some 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 reviewing are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Goodyear AZ, check that the schools you are comparing provide those choices. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, be sure that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Finally, ask what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, illness or family responsibilities.
Get Your Heating and Cooling Training and Certification
Selecting the right HVAC school course is a crucial beginning toward a rewarding career in the heating & cooling field. As we have addressed in this article, you should select 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 look for are sufficient hands-on training and modern facilities. You should check out each of the schools in person that you are most interested in to inspect the campus and talk with both the faculty and current students. Attempt to get a feel for the quality of the teaching and the interaction between them. Additionally, inquire about scheduling choices and whether or not evening or weekend classes are offered if needed. And don't forget to ask about financial aid and student loan options also. If you ask the right questions as we have laid out in our checklist for comparing schools, you'll be able to narrow down your options 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 Goodyear AZ.