How to Choose the Right Heating and Cooling Certification Course near Kingman Arizona
Now that you have made a decision on a career as a heating and cooling technician, the next step is to choose an HVAC technical school near Kingman AZ. But with so many to select from, how do you select the best one to receive the training that you require? Many future students will make their choice based exclusively on the price of tuition or how near the school is to their residence. Even though these are relevant concerns, they are not the only ones to investigate. 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. These and other criteria will be discussed in more detail later within this article. But before we explore how to select an HVAC trade school, let's take a look at what a heating and a/c technician does to become a licensed skilled tradesman.
How to Become an HVAC Pro
HVAC is an acronym that is widely used in the business that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC contractors provide services for the installation, repair and maintenance of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are typically mandated to be licensed, although every state and regional municipality has its own prerequisites. Obtaining professional certification is not required, but an optional way for Kingman AZ HVAC technicians to demonstrate that they are exceptionally skilled and experienced in their area of specialization. There are a number of acknowledged certifications within the trade that are offered. Here are a few of the important ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally acknowledged certification for HVAC techs. The certification is earned by passing a competency examination and can be received in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification offers both a professional and a master specialist credential. Two years of field experience as well as passing a comprehensive exam are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have 3 years of experience along with a passing score on the professional level examination. Similar to NATE, certifications are provided in several specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is necessary for specialists that work with refrigerants. There are three types of certification obtainable, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Since licensing might be mandated in your area, and you may also intend to acquire certification, it's important that you select an HVAC trade school that will prepare you for both. And since you will more than likely be handling refrigerants, make certain that the program you choose prepares you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.
HVAC Degree Schools
There are a number of options available for HVAC instruction in a vocational or trade school. You can obtain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Acquiring a certificate will take the lesser amount of time, often completed in just 6 months, though some courses are longer. A certificate will qualify you for most HVAC positions, particularly if you are licensed and have certification applicable to the position. The degree training programs might provide a competitive advantage for securing employment and will provide more extensive training than the certificate programs. Below is a brief description of each option offered near Kingman AZ.
- Certificate. Normally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among beginning commercial or residential HVAC professionals. They furnish a strong foundation of skills for job opportunities within the trade.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program provides a more comprehensive knowledge of heating and a/c systems than the certificate program. Typically requiring two years to finish, many degrees incorporate 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 4 year program. In addition to learning how to service and maintain heating and cooling 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, as well as the time and financial resources that you have to invest. One option is to begin with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after gaining some experience in the field in Kingman AZ, subsequently returning to acquire a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your strategy, be sure to ask the HVAC tech school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Online Training
Enrolling in an HVAC program online is one possibility in attaining your training and receiving a degree or certificate. Almost all schools will require some attendance on campus to complete hands on training. A number also provide internship or work-study programs in addition to or in place of practical lab work. But since the rest of the classes can be participated in via the internet, this alternative may be a more convenient solution for some Kingman AZ students that are pressed for time. And many online degree programs are less costly than other on campus alternatives. Even travelling expenses from Kingman and study materials can be reduced, helping to make schooling more budget-friendly. And numerous online programs are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your career or family commitments have left you with little time to attend classes, maybe an HVAC online training program will make it easier to accommodate school into your active lifestyle.
What to Ask HVAC Schools
After you have selected the type of degree or certificate that you desire to attain, either online or on campus, you can start to limit your list of schools. As you are probably aware, there are many HVAC technical schools in the Kingman AZ area and all over the United States to choose from. That's why it is extremely important to have a list of important qualifications when making school comparisons. As earlier stated in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will probably be the initial 2 aspects you will take into consideration. Following are several additional ones that you need to explore before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Many HVAC technical programs in the Kingman AZ area have attained either a regional or a national accreditation. They can receive Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to an individual program, such as HVAC technology. Make sure that the program and school are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization, for instance the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping guarantee that you get a superior education, it may assist in acquiring financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently unavailable for non-accredited schools. Furthermore, some states mandate that the HVAC training program be accredited for it to qualify 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 portion or percentage of students who enroll in and complete the course. A lower completion rate might signify that students were dissatisfied with the program and quit. It may also indicate that the instructors were not competent 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 broader directory of graduates, which may result in more contacts for the school to employ 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 field, but additionally that it has the network of Kingman AZ HVAC employers to help graduates acquire apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. A large number of HVAC technical programs are taught in conjunction with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating vocational and technical schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of Heating and Cooling contractors or trade unions. Check if the schools you are comparing have referring partnerships with local Kingman AZ HVAC contractors. An apprenticeship not only provides a rewarding experience by providing practical training, but it also provides job opportunities and helps to establish relationships in the local HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Confirm that the campus facilities and the equipment that you will be trained on are state-of-the-art and what you will be using in the field. If you are presently in an internship or an apprenticeship, talk to the HVAC tech you are working under regarding what you should be expecting. If not, ask a local Kingman AZ HVAC company if they can provide some suggestions. Additionally keep in mind that unless you are able to move, the school must be within commuting distance of your Kingman AZ home. Remember that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to moving costs there may be higher tuition charges compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's desirable that you receive as much individualized training as possible, which can be difficult in bigger classes. Ask if you can monitor some of the classes so that you can see how big they are and witness first hand the interaction between teachers and students. Talk with a few of the students and get their opinions relating to class sizes and instruction. Finally, talk with some of the instructors and learn what their level of expertise is and what degrees or certifications they hold.
Flexible Scheduling. Make sure that the class schedules for the programs you are assessing are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you are only able to go to classes at night or on weekends near Kingman AZ, verify that the schools you are considering provide those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Additionally, find out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, sickness or family responsibilities.
Earn Your Heating and Cooling Degree and Certification
Picking the ideal HVAC school program is an important beginning toward a fulfilling career in the heating & cooling trade. As we have addressed in this article, you need to pick 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 factors to search for are lots of practical training and state-of-the-art facilities. You need to check out each of the schools in person that you are most interested in to tour the campus and talk with both the current students and faculty. Try to get a feel for the quality of the training and the interaction between them. In addition, ask about scheduling options and if night or weekend classes are offered if needed. And don't forget to ask about financial aid and student loan options too. If you ask the right questions as we have outlined in our guidelines for assessing schools, you'll be able to narrow down your options so that you can make an educated decision. With the proper training, hard work and commitment, you can eventually become a licensed HVAC contractor in Kingman AZ.