How to Enroll In the Right HVAC Degree Program near Goodyear Arizona
Once you have decided on a career as a heating and air conditioning specialist, the next action is to find an HVAC technical school near Goodyear AZ. But with so many to choose from, how do you select the right one to obtain the training that you need? A number of potential students will make their decision based solely on the cost of tuition or how close the school is to their residence. Even though these are necessary considerations, they are not the only ones to evaluate. Just some 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. These and additional benchmarks will be discussed in more detail later in this article. But before we examine how to choose an HVAC trade school, let's look at what a heating and a/c specialist does to become a licensed professional tradesman.
How to Become an HVAC Contractor
HVAC is an acronym that is frequently used in the business that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC contractors specialize in the installation, repair and maintenance of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are commonly required to be licensed, however each state and regional municipality has its own requirements. Earning professional certification is not compulsory, but an optional way for Goodyear AZ HVAC specialists to prove that they are highly skilled and experienced in their area of expertise. There are several recognized certifications within the field that are available. Below are a few of the important ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally recognized certification for HVAC techs. The certification is attained by passing a competency exam and may be earned in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification makes available both a professional and a master specialist credential. Two years of field experience together with passing a comprehensive exam are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have 3 years of experience as well as a passing result on the professional level examination. As with NATE, certifications are made available in various specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is necessary for specialists 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 could be mandated in your location, and you may also desire to acquire certification, it's essential that you enroll in 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 select readies you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.
HVAC Degree and Certificate Classes
There are several choices offered for HVAC training in a technical or vocational school. You can earn a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Obtaining a certificate will take the minimum period of time, typically achieved in as little as 6 months, although some programs are longer. A certificate will train you for most HVAC positions, particularly if you are licensed and have certification appropriate to the position. The degree training programs might provide a competitive edge for securing employment and will provide more in-depth training than the certificate programs. Following is a brief description of each option offered near Goodyear AZ.
- Certificate. Normally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among entry level residential or commercial HVAC professionals. They furnish a solid foundation of skills for employment within the industry.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program supplies a more extensive background of heating and a/c systems than the certificate program. Usually requiring two years to complete, a number of degrees feature 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 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.
Selecting the appropriate 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 option is to start with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after acquiring some experience in the field in Goodyear AZ, later going back to obtain a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your strategy, be sure to ask the HVAC technician school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Online Courses
Choosing an HVAC school online is one option in getting your education and earning a degree or certificate. Most schools will call for some attendance on campus to take part in practical 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 may be attended via the internet, this approach may be a more accessible solution for many Goodyear AZ students that are short on time. And many online degree programs are cheaper than other traditional options. Even travelling expenses from Goodyear and study materials can be minimized, helping to make education more economical. And many 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 easier to fit school into your busy schedule.
Questions For HVAC Schools
Once you have chosen the type of degree or certificate that you wish to attain, either on campus or online, you can begin to limit your list of schools. As you are probably aware, there are many HVAC technical schools in the Goodyear AZ area and throughout the Country to pick from. That's why it is imperative to have a checklist of important qualifications when making school comparisons. As earlier stated in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will most likely be the first two factors you will take into consideration. Following are some additional ones that you should investigate before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Numerous HVAC vocational programs in the Goodyear AZ area have acquired either a regional or a national accreditation. They may attain Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to an individual program, for example HVAC technology. Make certain that the program and school are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting agency, for instance the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping ensure that you receive a superior education, it may help in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are often unavailable for non-accredited programs. Also, many states require that the HVAC training program be accredited for it to qualify for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the Heating and Air Conditioning schools you are reviewing what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage or portion of students who enroll in and finish the program. A lower completion rate could indicate that students were dissatisfied with the course and dropped out. It could also mean that the instructors were not qualified to instruct the students. It's similarly important that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive list 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 affirm 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 acquire apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. Numerous HVAC technical programs are taught together with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating trade and technical schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of Heating and Cooling companies or trade unions. Check if the schools you are reviewing have working partnerships with local Goodyear AZ HVAC professionals. An apprenticeship not only provides a valuable experience by furnishing practical training, but it also supplies employment opportunities and helps to form relationships in the local HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Confirm 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, consult with the HVAC tech you are working with concerning what you should be expecting. Otherwise, ask a local Goodyear AZ HVAC contracting company if they can give you some tips. Additionally keep in mind that unless you are able to move, the school must be within driving distance of your Goodyear AZ home. Remember that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation costs there can be higher tuition fees compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's desirable that you get as much individualized instruction as possible, which can be difficult in larger classes. Ask if you can sit in on a couple of the classes so that you can observe how big they are and witness first hand the interaction between students and teachers. Speak to some of the students and get their feedback relating to class sizes and instruction. Last, talk to some of the teachers and find out what their level of experience is and what degrees or certifications they hold.
Flexible Scheduling. Make sure that the class schedules for the schools you are evaluating are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you are only able to go to classes at night or on weekends near Goodyear AZ, check that the programs you are reviewing provide those options. If you can only attend part-time, be sure that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Finally, ask what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, sickness or family responsibilities.
Earn Your Heating and Cooling Certificate or Degree
Selecting the right HVAC school course is an important first step toward a rewarding career in the heating & cooling trade. As we have addressed in this article, you need to select a Heating and Cooling training program and a certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have excellent reputations within the HVAC community. Other features to search for are lots of hands-on training and modern facilities. You should check out each of the schools personally that you are most interested in to explore the campus and talk with both the faculty and current students. Try to get a feel for the quality of the teaching and the interaction between them. Additionally, ask about scheduling options and whether or not night or weekend classes are available if needed. And remember to ask about financial aid and student loan options too. If you ask the proper questions as we have laid out in our checklist for assessing schools, you'll be able to narrow down your options so that you can make an educated decision. With the right training, hard work and dedication, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC technician in Goodyear AZ.