How to Enroll In the Right HVAC Training Class near Goodyear Arizona
Once you have come to a decision on a career as a heating and cooling professional, the next action is to find an HVAC technical school near Goodyear AZ. But with so many to select from, how do you decide on the right one to receive the training that you need? Many prospective students will make their choice based entirely on the price of tuition or how near the school is to their home. Even though these are relevant considerations, they are not the only ones to investigate. Some of the other factors 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. Those and other criteria will be addressed in more detail later in this article. But before we discuss how to choose an HVAC training program, let's take a look at what a heating and cooling specialist does to become a licensed qualified tradesman.
How to Become an HVAC Tech
HVAC is an acronym that is widely used in the business that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC professionals provide services for the installation, maintenance and repair of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are typically mandated to be licensed, although each state and local municipality has its own requirements. Earning professional certification is not mandatory, but a voluntary means for Goodyear AZ HVAC techs to demonstrate that they are exceptionally qualified and knowledgeable in their area of specialization. There are several respected certifications within the field that are offered. Here are a few of the important ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally recognized certification for HVAC technicians. The certification is earned 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 in addition to passing a comprehensive exam are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have three years of experience in addition to a passing score on the professional level examination. As with NATE, certifications are made available in various specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is mandatory for technicians that work with refrigerants. There are 3 forms of certification obtainable, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Considering that licensing may be mandated in your location, and you may also desire to earn certification, it's important that you choose an HVAC trade school that will train you for both. And since you will more than likely be dealing with refrigerants, make certain that the school you decide on preps you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
HVAC Degree and Certificate Classes
There are several alternatives available for HVAC instruction in a vocational or trade school. You can earn a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Earning a certificate will take the minimum amount of time, often achieved in as little as 6 months, though some programs are longer. A certificate will qualify you for the majority of HVAC positions, especially if you are licensed and have certification applicable to the position. The degree training programs might provide a competitive advantage in the job market and will provide more comprehensive training than the certificate programs. Following is a brief explanation of each credential offered near Goodyear AZ.
- Certificate. Normally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among entry level commercial or residential HVAC technicians. They provide a solid foundation of skills for job opportunities within the trade.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program provides a more detailed knowledge of heating & cooling systems than the certificate program. Normally taking 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 geared more towards a career in management or even business ownership. Some programs call for an Associate Degree, while others are a traditional 4 year program. In addition to learning how to service and maintain heating and air conditioning systems, you will also learn how to design them.
Choosing the right credential program will be dependent on what your future career goals are, as well as the time and money that you have to invest. One possibility is to begin with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after gaining some experience in the field in Goodyear AZ, subsequently returning to acquire 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 Schools Online
Choosing an HVAC program online is one alternative in obtaining your education and receiving a certificate or degree. Nearly all schools will call for some attendance on campus to take part in hands on training. Some also sponsor internship or work-study programs in addition to or in place of practical lab work. But since the remainder of the classes can be participated in via the internet, this approach may be a more convenient solution for many Goodyear AZ students that are short on time. And some online degree programs are cheaper than other traditional options. Even travelling expenses from Goodyear and study materials can be reduced, helping to make education more affordable. And numerous online programs are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your job or family commitments have left you with minimal time to attend classes, perhaps an HVAC online training program will make it more convenient to accommodate school into your busy schedule.
What to Ask HVAC Schools
Once you have selected the type of certificate or degree that you would like to attain, either on campus or online, you can begin to narrow down your list of schools. As you are certainly aware, there are numerous HVAC vocational schools in the Goodyear AZ area and throughout the United States to choose from. That's why it is imperative to have a checklist of key qualifications when making school evaluations. As earlier mentioned in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will undoubtedly be the initial 2 variables you will consider. Following are some additional ones that you need to explore before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Many HVAC technical programs in the Goodyear AZ area have acquired either a regional or a national accreditation. They can attain Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to an individual program, for instance HVAC technology. Verify that the program and school are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting organization, which includes the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping make certain that you receive a superior education, it may help in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are often not available for non-accredited schools. Also, many states require that the HVAC training course be accredited for it to qualify for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the HVAC 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 may indicate that students were unhappy with the program and quit. It might also suggest that the instructors were not competent 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 alumni, which may result in 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 trade, but additionally that it has the network of Goodyear AZ HVAC employers to help grads obtain apprenticeships or jobs.
Apprenticeship Programs. A large number of HVAC vocational programs are taught in conjunction with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating vocational and technical programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of HVAC contractors or labor unions. Ask if the schools you are considering have referring partnerships with local Goodyear AZ HVAC professionals. An apprenticeship not only provides a valuable experience by furnishing hands-on training, but it also furnishes job opportunities and helps to establish relationships in the regional HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make sure that the campus facilities and the tools that you will be instructed 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 specialist you are working with concerning what you should be expecting. If not, ask a local Goodyear AZ HVAC contractor if they can provide some suggestions. Additionally bear in mind that unless you are willing to move, the school must be within commuting distance of your Goodyear AZ home. Remember that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, besides the added relocation costs there can be increased tuition fees compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's important that you receive as much individualized instruction as possible, which can be challenging in bigger 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. Talk with several of the students and get their opinions regarding class sizes and instruction. Last, talk to a few of the teachers and find out what their level of experience 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 can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Goodyear AZ, confirm that the programs you are considering offer those options. If you can only attend part-time, be sure that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Also, ask what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, illness or family responsibilities.
Earn Your Heating and Cooling Training and Certification
Picking the right HVAC training course is an important first step toward a gratifying career in the heating & cooling trade. As we have discussed in this article, you should select a Heating and Cooling training program and a degree or certificate program that are both accredited and have outstanding reputations within the HVAC trade. Other factors to look for are ample hands-on training and modern facilities. You need to visit each of the schools in person that you are most interested in to inspect the campus and speak with both the faculty and current students. Attempt to get a feel for the quality of the instruction and the interaction between them. Additionally, ask about scheduling options and if evening or weekend classes are available if needed. And remember to ask about financial aid and student loan options also. If you ask the right questions as we have outlined in our checklist for comparing schools, you'll be able to filter your choices so that you can make an informed decision. With the proper training, hard work and commitment, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC contractor in Goodyear AZ.