How to Pick the Right Heating and Cooling Degree Program near Kingman Arizona
Once you have come to a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioning technician, the next step is to locate an HVAC technical school near Kingman AZ. But with so many to choose from, how do you decide on the best one to get the training that you require? Many potential students will make their decision based exclusively on the price of tuition or how near the school is to their residence. Although these are significant factors to consider, they are not the only ones to take into account. 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 in this article. But before we discuss how to choose an HVAC trade school, let's take a look at what a heating and cooling specialist does to become a licensed skilled tradesman.
How to Become an HVAC Specialist
HVAC is an acronym that is frequently used in the industry that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC contractors provide services for the installation, repair and maintenance of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are commonly required to be licensed, however every state and local municipality has its own requirements. Obtaining professional certification is not compulsory, but a voluntary way for Kingman AZ HVAC specialists to prove that they are exceptionally skilled and knowledgeable in their area of specialization. There are many acknowledged certifications within the trade that are available. Following are some of the important ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally recognized certification for HVAC techs. The certification is earned by passing a proficiency examination and can be received in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification makes available both a professional and a master specialist credential. 2 years of professional experience in addition to passing a comprehensive exam are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have three years of experience in addition to a passing score on the professional level exam. Similar to NATE, certifications are offered in several specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is required for technicians that work with refrigerants. There are three types of certification offered, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Because licensing might be required in your area, and you may also wish to acquire certification, it's imperative that you pick an HVAC vocational school that will train you for both. And since you will more than likely be dealing with refrigerants, make sure that the school you pick preps you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.
HVAC Degree Training Programs
There are several choices offered for HVAC instruction in a technical or trade school. You can earn a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Earning a certificate will take the minimum period of time, usually achieved in just 6 months, however some courses are longer. A certificate will train you for most HVAC positions, especially if you are licensed and have certification applicable to the position. The degree training programs may provide a competitive edge for securing employment and will furnish more in-depth training than the certificate programs. Below is a short description of each credential offered near Kingman AZ.
- Certificate. Generally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among beginning commercial or residential HVAC specialists. They provide a solid foundation of skills for employment within the industry.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program delivers a more detailed background of heating & cooling systems than the certificate program. Usually taking two years to finish, some degrees include an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is suited more for a career in management as well as business ownership. Some programs require an Associate Degree, while others are a conventional 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 long term career goals are, in addition to the time and money that you have to invest. One approach is to begin with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after gaining some experience in the trade in Kingman AZ, subsequently returning to acquire a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your strategy, make sure to ask the HVAC tech school you are considering about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Online Training
Enrolling in an HVAC school online is one option to obtaining your education and receiving a certificate or degree. Almost all schools will require some attendance on campus to take part in practical training. A number also offer internship or work-study programs in addition to or instead of practical lab work. But since the remainder of the classes may be attended via the internet, this approach may be a more accessible solution for many Kingman AZ students that are short on time. And many online degree programs are less expensive than other on campus options. Even driving expenses from Kingman and study materials may be lessened, helping to make education more budget-friendly. And a large number of online programs are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your career or family obligations have left you with little time to attend classes, perhaps an online HVAC degree program will make it less complicated to fit school into your hectic schedule.
Questions to Ask HVAC Schools
After you have selected the type of certificate or degree that you would like to attain, either on campus or online, you can start to decrease your selection of schools. As you are certainly aware, there are a large number of HVAC technical schools in the Kingman AZ area and across the United States to choose from. That's why it is extremely important to have a checklist of key qualifiers when making school assessments. As earlier mentioned in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will undoubtedly be the initial 2 variables you will look at. Following are several additional ones that you will want to explore before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Many HVAC technical programs in the Kingman AZ area have received either a regional or a national accreditation. They may earn Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to a specific program, for example HVAC technology. Make sure that the school and program are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization, for example the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping guarantee that you acquire an excellent education, it may help in securing financial assistance or student loans, which are in many cases not available for non-accredited programs. Also, many states mandate that the HVAC training program be accredited for it to qualify for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the HVAC schools you are considering what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students who enroll in and finish the course. A lower completion rate might indicate that students were unhappy with the course and dropped out. It may also mean that the teachers were not competent to train the students. It's also important that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive directory of alumni, which may produce more contacts for the school to utilize for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate will not only affirm that the school has an excellent reputation within the trade, but additionally that it has the network of Kingman AZ HVAC employers to assist grads acquire apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. Many HVAC trade programs are taught in conjunction with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating vocational and technical programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of HVAC contractors or trade unions. Find out if the schools you are considering have referring partnerships with local Kingman AZ HVAC contractors. An apprenticeship not only provides a rewarding experience by supplying hands-on training, but it also supplies employment opportunities and helps to form relationships in the local HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make sure that the campus facilities and the tools that you will be trained on are state-of-the-art and what you will be using in the field. If you are already in an internship or an apprenticeship, check with the HVAC specialist you are working with regarding what you should be looking for. Otherwise, ask a local Kingman AZ HVAC contracting company if they can give you some tips. Additionally bear in mind that unless you can move, the school must be within driving distance of your Kingman AZ residence. Remember that if you decide to enroll in 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 desirable that you receive as much personalized training as possible, which can be difficult in larger classes. Ask if you can sit in on some of the classes so that you can observe how large they are and witness first hand the interaction between teachers and students. Speak with a few of the students and get their comments concerning class sizes and instruction. Finally, talk to some of the teachers and learn what their level of experience is and what degrees or certifications they have earned.
Flexible Scheduling. Verify that the class schedules for the schools you are assessing are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you are only able to go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Kingman AZ, verify that the programs you are comparing offer those choices. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Additionally, find out what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, sickness or family emergencies.
Get Your HVAC Certificate or Degree
Picking the ideal HVAC training program is a crucial beginning toward a gratifying career in the heating and air conditioning trade. As we have covered in this article, you need to choose a Heating and Cooling training program and a certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have excellent reputations within the HVAC profession. Other features to look for are plenty of practical training and state-of-the-art facilities. You need to go to each of the schools in person that you are most interested in to explore the campus and speak 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 offered if needed. And don't forget to inquire 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 choices so that you can make an informed decision. With the appropriate training, hard work and dedication, you can eventually become a licensed HVAC technician in Kingman AZ.