How to Choose the Right HVAC Certification Class near Kingman Arizona
Once you have come to a decision on a career as a heating and cooling technician, the next action is to choose an HVAC trade school near Kingman AZ. But with so many to select from, how do you select the right one to get the training that you need? Some future students will make their choice based entirely on the cost of tuition or how close the school is to their home. Although these are important considerations, they are not the only ones to investigate. Just some of the other factors that you need to look into are the graduation completion rates of the HVAC schools, their reputations, and if they are accredited by professional trade organizations. These and other criteria will be covered in more detail later within this article. But before we explore how to pick an HVAC technical school, let's take a look at what a heating and air conditioning contractor does to become a licensed skilled tradesman.
Becoming an HVAC Technician
HVAC is an acronym that is commonly used in the trade that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC professionals provide services for the installation, repair and maintenance of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are generally required to be licensed, although each state and regional municipality has its own prerequisites. Obtaining professional certification is not required, but a voluntary means for Kingman AZ HVAC technicians to establish that they are highly qualified and experienced in their area of expertise. There are a number of respected certifications within the field that are offered. Below are a few of the important ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally acknowledged certification for HVAC technicians. The certification is achieved by passing a proficiency examination and can be earned in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification makes available 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 must have three years of experience along with a passing result on the professional level examination. As with NATE, certifications are made available in multiple specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is required for techs that handle refrigerants. There are three forms of certification available, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Since licensing could be mandated in your location, and you may also wish to acquire certification, it's important that you pick an HVAC trade school that will train you for both. And since you will most likely be dealing with refrigerants, make sure that the school you pick readies you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
HVAC Degree and Certificate Courses
There are a variety of alternatives offered for HVAC instruction in a technical or trade school. You can obtain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Obtaining a certificate will take the lesser amount of time, usually accomplished in as little as 6 months, although some programs are longer. A certificate will qualify you for most HVAC positions, particularly if you are licensed and have certification related to the position. The degree programs might provide a competitive edge for securing employment and will provide more extensive training than the certificate programs. Following is a short description of each option offered near Kingman AZ.
- Certificate. Generally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among beginning commercial or residential HVAC technicians. They provide a strong foundation of skills for job opportunities within the industry.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program delivers a more detailed understanding of heating & cooling systems than the certificate program. Typically requiring 2 years to finish, many 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 call for an Associate Degree, while others are a standard four year program. In addition to being taught how to service and maintain heating and air conditioning systems, you will also study how to design them.
Choosing the ideal credential program will be dependent on what your future career aspirations are, along with the time and financial resources that you have to invest. One option is to begin with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after gaining some experience in the trade in Kingman AZ, eventually going back to earn a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your strategy, make certain to ask the HVAC technician school you are considering about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Online Courses
Attending an HVAC school online is one possibility in attaining your education and receiving a certificate or degree. Most schools will call for some attendance on campus to complete practical training. Many also offer internship or work-study programs in addition to or instead of practical lab work. But since the balance of the classes can be participated in on the web, this alternative may be a more accessible solution for some Kingman AZ students that are pressed for time. And a number of online degree programs are less costly than other traditional options. Even travelling expenses from Kingman and study supplies can be lessened, helping to make education more economical. And numerous online schools 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 HVAC online training program will make it less complicated to accommodate school into your hectic lifestyle.
Questions to Ask HVAC Training Programs
After you have picked the type of certificate or degree that you want to earn, either on campus or online, you can start to decrease your list of schools. As you are certainly aware, there are many HVAC vocational schools in the Kingman AZ area and all over the Country to pick from. That's why it is very important to have a checklist of relevant qualifiers when making school comparisons. As earlier mentioned in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will undoubtedly be the first two aspects you will consider. Following are several additional ones that you need to explore before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. A large number of HVAC technical programs in the Kingman 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 relates to a specific program, for example HVAC technology. Make sure that the school and program are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency, which includes the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping ensure that you acquire a quality education, it may assist in obtaining financial assistance or student loans, which are in many cases unavailable for non-accredited schools. Furthermore, a number of states mandate that the HVAC training course be accredited for it to be approved for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the HVAC schools you are looking at what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage or portion of students who enroll in and complete the program. A lower completion rate may signify that students were unhappy with the program and quit. It may also suggest that the teachers were not competent to train the students. It's similarly imperative that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive list of graduates, 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 a good reputation within the trade, but also that it has the network of Kingman AZ HVAC employers to help students secure apprenticeships or jobs.
Apprenticeship Programs. Most HVAC trade programs are taught together with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating vocational and trade schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of HVAC contractors or trade unions. Find out if the schools you are reviewing have working partnerships with local Kingman AZ HVAC professionals. An apprenticeship not only provides a valuable experience by supplying practical training, but it also provides job opportunities and helps to build relationships in the local HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make certain 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 already in an internship or an apprenticeship, check with the HVAC tech you are working under concerning what you should be expecting. If not, ask a local Kingman AZ HVAC contractor if they can provide some tips. Also keep in mind that unless you can relocate, the school needs to be within commuting distance of your Kingman AZ residence. Remember that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to moving costs there can 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 larger classes. Ask if you can monitor a couple of the classes so that you can observe how large they are and experience the interaction between instructors and students. Speak to several of the students and get their feedback regarding class sizes and instruction. Last, talk to some of the teachers and learn what their level of expertise is and what certifications or degrees they have earned.
Flexible Scheduling. Make sure that the class schedules for the schools you are assessing are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Kingman AZ, check that the programs you are comparing provide those choices. If you can only attend part-time, make sure that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Additionally, check out what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, sickness or family responsibilities.
Earn Your HVAC Training and Certification
Enrolling in the ideal HVAC school program is a critical first step toward a fulfilling career in the heating and air conditioning industry. As we have addressed in this article, you need to pick 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 features to look for are plenty of practical training and modern facilities. You should go to each of the schools personally that you are most interested in to tour the campus and speak with both the faculty and current students. Try to get a feel for the quality of the teaching and the interaction between them. In addition, inquire about scheduling options and if evening or weekend classes are offered if needed. And remember to ask about financial aid and student loan options also. If you ask the appropriate questions as we have laid out in our guidelines for assessing 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 eventually become a licensed HVAC technician in Kingman AZ.