How to Pick the Right HVAC College near Kingman Arizona
Once you have decided on a career as a heating and cooling specialist, the next step is to choose an HVAC vocational school near Kingman AZ. But with so many to choose from, how do you decide on the ideal one to receive the training that you require? Many prospective students will make their choice based entirely on the cost of tuition or how close the school is to their home. Even though these are important factors to consider, 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. Those and additional criteria will be addressed in more detail later in this article. But before we discuss how to choose an HVAC technical school, let's look at what a heating and cooling professional does to become a licensed professional tradesman.
How to Become an HVAC Technician
HVAC is an acronym that is commonly used in the business that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC technicians specialize in the installation, repair and maintenance of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are typically required to be licensed, however each state and local municipality has its own prerequisites. Obtaining professional certification is not required, but an optional way for Kingman AZ HVAC specialists to prove that they are exceptionally skilled and experienced in their area of expertise. There are a number of respected certifications within the field that are available. Following are a few of the significant ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally recognized certification for HVAC technicians. The certification is achieved 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. Two years of professional experience in addition to passing a comprehensive exam are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have 3 years of experience as well as a passing result on the professional level exam. As with NATE, certifications are made available in various specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is required for technicians that handle refrigerants. There are three types of certification obtainable, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Since licensing might be required in your area, and you may also desire to obtain certification, it's important that you pick an HVAC trade school that will train you for both. And since you will more than likely be dealing with refrigerants, make sure that the school you choose readies you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
HVAC Degree and Certificate Courses
There are a variety of choices offered 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, usually completed in as little as six months, though some courses are longer. A certificate will train you for the majority of HVAC positions, particularly if you are licensed and have certification applicable to the position. The degree programs can provide a competitive advantage in the job market and will furnish more comprehensive training than the certificate programs. Below is a short summary of each credential offered near Kingman AZ.
- Certificate. Normally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among entry level commercial or residential HVAC technicians. They furnish a strong foundation of skills for job opportunities within the trade.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program supplies a more exhaustive background of heating & cooling systems than the certificate program. Typically taking two years to complete, 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 as well as business ownership. Some programs call for an Associate Degree, while others are a standard 4 year program. In addition to mastering how to service and maintain heating and air conditioning systems, you will also learn how to design them.
Choosing the ideal credential program will be based on what your long term career goals are, in addition to 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 getting some experience in the trade in Kingman AZ, eventually returning to obtain a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your tactic, make certain to ask the HVAC tech school you are considering about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Online Schools
Enrolling in an HVAC program online is one alternative in attaining your training and receiving a certificate or degree. Nearly all schools will require some attendance on campus to complete hands on training. A number 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 attended on the web, this approach may be a more practical solution for some Kingman AZ students that are short on time. And some online degree programs are more economical than other traditional options. Even driving expenses from Kingman and study materials may be minimized, 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 limited time to attend classes, maybe an online HVAC degree program will make it easier to fit school into your active lifestyle.
Questions For HVAC Training Programs
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 no doubt aware, there are numerous HVAC trade schools in the Kingman AZ area and all over the Country to choose from. That's why it is extremely important to have a list of key qualifiers when making school comparisons. As previously stated in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will most likely be the first 2 aspects 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 trade schools in the Kingman AZ area have received either a regional or a national accreditation. They can receive Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to an individual program, such as HVAC technology. Make certain that the program is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting agency, for instance the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping guarantee that you receive a superior education, it can help in securing financial aid or student loans, which are in many cases unavailable for non-accredited schools. Additionally, a number of states mandate that the HVAC training program be accredited in order to qualify for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the Heating and Air Conditioning 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 might signify that students were disappointed with the course and quit. It may also indicate that the teachers were not qualified to instruct the students. It's also essential that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive directory of alumni, which can mean more contacts for the school to use 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 industry, but also that it has the network of Kingman AZ HVAC employers to assist students acquire apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. A large number of HVAC training programs are taught along with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating technical and vocational schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of Heating and Cooling businesses or trade unions. Ask if the schools you are reviewing have working relationships with local Kingman AZ HVAC companies. An apprenticeship not only provides a valuable experience by providing hands-on training, but it also furnishes employment opportunities and helps to form relationships in the area HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Confirm that the school facilities and the equipment that you will be instructed on are up-to-date and what you will be working with in the field. If you are currently in an internship or an apprenticeship, check with the HVAC specialist you are working under regarding what you should be looking for. If not, ask a local Kingman AZ HVAC contracting company if they can provide some suggestions. Also keep in mind that unless you are able to relocate, the school must be within driving distance of your Kingman AZ home. Remember that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, besides the added relocation costs there may be higher tuition charges compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's important that you get as much individualized instruction as possible, which can be challenging in bigger classes. Ask if you can monitor some of the classes so that you can observe how large they are and experience the interaction between instructors and students. Talk with several of the students and get their comments relating to class sizes and instruction. Last, speak to some of the teachers and find out what their level of experience is and what certifications or degrees they have earned.
Flexible Scheduling. Make sure that the class schedules for the programs you are assessing are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you are only able to attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Kingman AZ, confirm that the schools you are comparing provide those choices. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Finally, check out what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, illness or family issues.
Earn Your Heating and Cooling Degree and Certification
Selecting the right HVAC school course is a crucial first step toward a fulfilling career in the heating and cooling field. 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 outstanding reputations within the HVAC field. Other things to search for are ample hands-on training and modern facilities. You should 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. Try to get a feel for the quality of the training and the interaction between them. In addition, ask about scheduling options and if evening or weekend classes are offered if needed. And remember to inquire about financial aid and student loan options also. If you ask the appropriate questions as we have outlined in our checklist for assessing schools, you'll be able to filter your choices so that you can make an informed decision. With the right training, hard work and dedication, you can eventually become a licensed HVAC technician in Kingman AZ.