How to Choose the Right HVAC Certification Class near Goodyear Arizona
Now that you have made a decision on a career as a heating and cooling technician, the next step is to look for an HVAC technical school near Goodyear AZ. But with so many to select from, how do you choose the ideal one to obtain the training that you need? Some future students will make their choice based solely on the price of tuition or how close the school is to their residence. Although these are relevant factors to consider, they are not the only ones to evaluate. 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 other criteria will be discussed in more detail later within this article. But before we discuss how to pick an HVAC technical school, let's take a look at what a heating and air conditioning professional does to become a licensed skilled tradesman.
How to Become an HVAC Technician
HVAC is an acronym that is widely used in the trade that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC professionals specialize in the installation, repair and maintenance of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are commonly required to be licensed, although every state and regional municipality has its own criteria. Attaining professional certification is not required, but an alternative way for Goodyear AZ HVAC specialists to establish that they are highly proficient and knowledgeable in their area of specialization. There are a number of acknowledged certifications within the field that are available. Below are a few of the significant ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally recognized certification for HVAC technicians. The certification is achieved by passing a competency examination and can be received in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification makes available both a professional and a master specialist credential. Two years of field experience in addition to passing a comprehensive examination are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have 3 years of experience together with a passing score on the professional level examination. Similar to NATE, certifications are made available in various specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is mandatory for techs that handle refrigerants. There are 3 forms of certification obtainable, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Since licensing may be mandated in your location, and you may also wish to acquire certification, it's imperative that you select an HVAC trade school that will prepare you for both. And since you will more than likely be dealing with refrigerants, make certain that the program you pick readies you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
HVAC Certificate and Degree Training Programs
There are a variety of choices offered for HVAC instruction in a technical or vocational school. You can attain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Obtaining a certificate will take the least amount of time, usually achieved in as little as 6 months, however some programs 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 training programs might provide a competitive advantage in the job market and will furnish more in-depth training than the certificate programs. Following is a brief explanation of each credential offered near Goodyear AZ.
- Certificate. Generally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among entry level commercial or residential HVAC technicians. They furnish a strong foundation of skills for job opportunities within the industry.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program supplies a more detailed understanding of heating & cooling systems than the certificate program. Usually taking 2 years to complete, many 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 call for an Associate Degree, while others are a conventional 4 year program. In addition to mastering how to service and maintain heating and cooling systems, you will also learn how to design them.
Choosing the appropriate credential program will be dependent on what your future career aspirations are, as well as the time and money that you have to invest. One approach is to begin with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after acquiring some experience in the field in Goodyear AZ, later returning to earn a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your approach, be sure to ask the HVAC technician school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Online Schools
Attending an HVAC program online is one alternative in obtaining your education and earning a degree or certificate. Almost all schools will require some attendance on campus to complete hands on training. Some also provide internship or work-study programs in addition to or in place of practical lab work. But since the balance of the classes can be participated in via the internet, this alternative may be a more convenient solution for many Goodyear AZ students that are short on time. And some online degree programs are more economical than other traditional options. Even travelling expenses from Goodyear and study supplies can be reduced, helping to make education more economical. And numerous online programs are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your job or family commitments have left you with limited time to attend classes, perhaps an HVAC online training program will make it more convenient to fit school into your active lifestyle.
Questions For HVAC Training Programs
When you have selected the type of degree or certificate that you wish to obtain, either on campus or online, you can begin to limit your list of schools. As you are certainly aware, there are many HVAC technical schools in the Goodyear AZ area and throughout the United States to select from. That's why it is extremely important to have a list of important qualifications when making school comparisons. As formerly stated in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will most likely be the first 2 variables you will consider. Following are several additional ones that you need to research before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. A large number of HVAC trade programs in the Goodyear AZ area have received either a regional or a national accreditation. They can receive Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to an individual program, such as HVAC technology. Confirm 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. In addition to helping guarantee that you acquire a quality education, it can help in acquiring financial assistance or student loans, which are in many cases not available for non-accredited schools. Additionally, many states require that the HVAC training program be accredited in order to qualify for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the Heating and Air Conditioning 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 might suggest that students were disappointed with the program and quit. It could also indicate that the instructors were not qualified 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 more extensive directory of alumni, which may 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 a good reputation within the trade, but also that it has the network of Goodyear AZ HVAC employers to help grads secure apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. Most HVAC trade programs are taught together with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating vocational and technical schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of Heating and Cooling contractors or labor unions. Ask if the schools you are reviewing have referring partnerships with local Goodyear AZ HVAC professionals. An apprenticeship not only offers a rewarding experience by supplying hands-on training, but it also furnishes job opportunities and helps to establish relationships in the area HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Confirm that the campus facilities and the equipment that you will be trained on are up-to-date and what you will be working with on the job. If you are already in an internship or an apprenticeship, talk to the HVAC technician you are working under regarding what you should be expecting. Otherwise, ask a local Goodyear AZ HVAC contractor if they can give you some pointers. Additionally keep in mind that unless you are willing to relocate, the school must be within commuting distance of your Goodyear AZ residence. Remember that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation costs there might be increased tuition fees compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's important that you get as much personalized training as possible, which can be difficult in larger classes. Ask if you can monitor some of the classes so that you can observe how large they are and experience the interaction between instructors and students. Talk to a few of the students and get their opinions regarding class sizes and instruction. Finally, speak with a few of the instructors and find out what their level of experience 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 fulfill your needs. If you are only able to go to classes at night or on weekends near Goodyear AZ, confirm that the programs you are reviewing provide those options. If you can only attend part-time, be sure that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Finally, ask what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, sickness or family emergencies.
Get Your HVAC Training and Certification
Selecting the ideal HVAC school course is a crucial first step toward a fulfilling career in the heating and air conditioning field. 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 excellent reputations within the HVAC profession. Other things to look for are ample hands-on training and state-of-the-art facilities. You need to 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 teaching and the interaction between them. In addition, ask about scheduling options and whether or not evening or weekend classes are available if needed. And don't forget to inquire about financial assistance and student loan options too. If you ask the right questions as we have laid out in our checklist for assessing schools, you'll be able to filter your options so that you can make an educated decision. With the right training, hard work and commitment, you can eventually become a licensed HVAC contractor in Goodyear AZ.