How to Enroll In the Right Heating and Cooling Certificate Program near Kingman Arizona
Once you have decided on a career as a heating and air conditioning professional, the next step is to locate an HVAC trade school near Kingman AZ. But with so many to choose from, how do you choose the right one to receive the training that you require? A number of future students will make their decision based exclusively on the price of tuition or how near the school is to their home. While these are relevant concerns, they are not the only ones to evaluate. A few of the other factors that you need to investigate 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 discussed in more detail later in this article. But before we tackle how to choose an HVAC trade school, let's look at what a heating and air conditioning technician 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 professionals specialize in the installation, repair and maintenance of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are typically required to be licensed, although every state and regional municipality has its own criteria. Attaining professional certification is not required, but a voluntary way for Kingman AZ HVAC specialists to prove that they are highly qualified and knowledgeable in their area of expertise. There are a number of recognized certifications within the trade that are available. Below 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 competency examination and may be acquired in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification offers 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 need to have three years of experience along with a passing result on the professional level examination. Similar to NATE, certifications are provided in various specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is required for technicians that work with refrigerants. There are three forms of certification offered, 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 wish to acquire certification, it's essential that you choose an HVAC technical school that will train you for both. And since you will more than likely be working with refrigerants, make sure that the program you choose readies you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.
HVAC Degree Courses
There are a variety of alternatives available for HVAC training in a trade or technical school. You can obtain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Obtaining a certificate will take the least period of time, often achieved in as little as six months, however some programs are longer. A certificate will qualify you for most HVAC positions, especially if you are licensed and have certification relevant 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 brief explanation of each option offered near Kingman AZ.
- Certificate. Usually requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among entry level residential or commercial HVAC specialists. They furnish a solid foundation of skills for job opportunities within the industry.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program delivers a more extensive understanding of heating and cooling systems than the certificate program. Normally taking 2 years to complete, some 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 or even business ownership. Some programs call for 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 ideal credential program will be dependent on what your long term career goals are, together with the time and money that you have to commit. One approach is to begin with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after gaining some experience in the trade in Kingman AZ, eventually returning to acquire a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your tactic, make sure to ask the HVAC technician school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Courses Online
Choosing an HVAC program online is one alternative in obtaining your training and receiving a certificate or degree. Nearly all 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 as an alternative to practical lab work. But since the rest of the classes can be attended on the web, this alternative may be a more accessible solution for many Kingman AZ students that are pressed for time. And some online degree programs are less expensive than other on campus choices. Even driving expenses from Kingman and study supplies may be lessened, helping to make education more budget-friendly. And numerous online programs are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your work or family commitments have left you with little time to attend classes, maybe an HVAC online training program will make it easier to fit school into your busy schedule.
What to Ask HVAC Trade Schools
As soon as you have picked the type of certificate or degree that you wish to attain, either online or on campus, you can begin to decrease your list of schools. As you are probably aware, there are a large number of HVAC technical schools in the Kingman AZ area and throughout the United States to choose from. That's why it is extremely important to have a list of key qualifications when making school evaluations. As previously stated in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will most likely be the initial 2 variables you will take into consideration. Following are some 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 can acquire Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to a specific program, for instance HVAC technology. Make sure that the school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization, for example the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping make certain that you receive an excellent education, it may help in securing financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently not available for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of states mandate that the HVAC training program be accredited in order to be approved for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the Heating and Cooling schools you are looking at what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage of students who enroll in and complete the course. A lower completion rate might suggest that students were disappointed with the course and quit. It may also indicate that the instructors were not competent to instruct the students. It's similarly imperative that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader directory of alumni, which may mean more contacts for the school to use for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate will not only affirm that the school has a good reputation within the trade, but also that it has the network of Kingman AZ HVAC employers to assist graduates obtain apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. Numerous HVAC vocational programs are taught along with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating technical and vocational schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of HVAC companies or trade unions. Find out if the schools you are reviewing have referring partnerships with local Kingman AZ HVAC professionals. An apprenticeship not only provides a rewarding experience by providing hands-on training, but it also supplies employment opportunities and helps to establish relationships in the regional HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make certain that the school facilities and the equipment that you will be instructed 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, check with the HVAC technician you are working with concerning what you should be expecting. Otherwise, ask a local Kingman AZ HVAC company if they can give you some tips. Also keep in mind that unless you are able to move, the school needs to be within driving distance of your Kingman AZ home. Take note that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, in addition to moving costs there might be higher tuition fees compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's desirable that you receive as much personalized instruction as possible, which can be difficult in larger classes. Ask if you can monitor a couple of the classes so that you can observe how large they are and witness first hand the interaction between teachers and students. Speak with some of the students and get their opinions concerning class sizes and instruction. Finally, speak to a few of the teachers and find out what their level of experience is and what degrees or certifications they have earned.
Flexible Scheduling. Confirm that the class schedules for the schools you are evaluating are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Kingman AZ, verify that the schools you are considering offer those choices. If you can only attend part-time, make sure that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Also, find out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, illness or family responsibilities.
Earn Your HVAC Training and Certification
Finding the ideal HVAC school program is an important beginning toward a fulfilling career in the heating & cooling industry. As we have addressed in this article, you should choose a Heating and Cooling training program and a certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have exceptional reputations within the HVAC trade. Other features to search for are sufficient hands-on training and modern 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 faculty and current students. Attempt to get a feel for the quality of the training and the interaction between them. In addition, ask about scheduling choices and whether night or weekend classes are offered if needed. And remember to ask about financial assistance and student loan options also. If you ask the proper questions as we have detailed in our checklist for evaluating schools, you'll be able to filter 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 contractor in Kingman AZ.