How to Enroll In the Right Heating and Cooling Certificate Program near Kingman Arizona
Now that you have decided on a career as a heating and cooling technician, the next action is to locate an HVAC trade school near Kingman AZ. But with so many to select from, how do you decide on the best one to receive the training that you need? Many prospective students will make their selection based exclusively on the price 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 take into account. Just some of the other details that you need to research are the graduation rates of the HVAC schools, their reputations, and if they are accredited by professional trade organizations. These and additional benchmarks will be covered in more detail later in this article. But before we discuss how to select an HVAC vocational school, let's look at what a heating and air conditioning technician does to become a licensed professional tradesman.
How to Become an HVAC Specialist
HVAC is an acronym that is commonly used in the business that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC techs provide services for the installation, repair and maintenance of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are typically required to be licensed, however each state and regional municipality has its own criteria. Attaining professional certification is not required, but an optional means for Kingman AZ HVAC techs to establish that they are exceptionally qualified and experienced in their area of specialization. There are many respected certifications within the field that are available. Here are some of the important ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally recognized certification for HVAC techs. The certification is attained by passing a proficiency exam and can 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 together with passing a comprehensive exam are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have 3 years of experience together with a passing result on the professional level examination. As with NATE, certifications are offered in several specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is mandatory for specialists that handle refrigerants. There are 3 types of certification obtainable, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Since licensing may be mandated in your area, and you may also wish to acquire certification, it's essential that you enroll in an HVAC trade school that will train you for both. And since you will more than likely be working with refrigerants, make certain that the school you choose readies you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.
HVAC Degree and Certificate Schools
There are several alternatives offered for HVAC training in a vocational or trade school. You can attain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Earning a certificate will take the minimum amount of time, often accomplished in just six months, however some courses are longer. A certificate will train you for the majority of HVAC positions, especially if you are licensed and have certification appropriate to the position. The degree training programs may provide a competitive edge in the job market and will deliver more extensive training than the certificate programs. Following is a short summary of each option offered near Kingman AZ.
- Certificate. Normally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among beginning residential or commercial HVAC technicians. They provide a solid foundation of skills for job opportunities within the trade.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program provides a more detailed background of heating and a/c systems than the certificate program. Generally requiring two years to complete, many degrees incorporate an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is suited more towards a career in management or even business ownership. Some programs require an Associate Degree, while others are a traditional four 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 dependent on what your long term career objectives are, together with the time and financial resources that you have to invest. One approach is to start with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after getting some experience in the trade in Kingman AZ, subsequently returning to obtain 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 Classes Online
Attending an HVAC school online is one approach to attaining your education and earning a degree or certificate. Nearly all schools will require some attendance on campus to take part in practical training. Many also provide internship or work-study programs in addition to or in place of practical lab work. But since the balance of the classes can be attended online, this option may be a more accessible solution for many Kingman AZ students that are short on time. And a number of online degree programs are more economical than other on campus alternatives. Even travelling expenses from Kingman and study supplies can be reduced, helping to make education more affordable. And a large number of online programs are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your work or family commitments have left you with limited time to attend classes, maybe an HVAC online training program will make it less complicated to accommodate school into your busy lifestyle.
Questions For HVAC Training Classes
After you have picked the type of certificate or degree that you wish to acquire, either on campus or online, you can start to narrow down your selection of schools. As you are probably aware, there are many HVAC technical schools in the Kingman AZ area and throughout the Country to pick from. That's why it is imperative to have a checklist of important qualifications when making school comparisons. As formerly mentioned in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will probably be the first 2 variables you will look at. Following are several additional ones that you need to research before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. A large number of HVAC technical programs in the Kingman AZ area have attained either a regional or a national accreditation. They may attain Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to a specific program, such as HVAC technology. Verify that the program and school are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting organization, for example the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping guarantee that you obtain a quality education, it may assist in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are often unavailable for non-accredited schools. Furthermore, many states mandate that the HVAC training course be accredited in order to qualify for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the Heating and Air Conditioning schools you are looking at what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage of students who enroll in and finish the program. A lower completion rate may suggest that students were unhappy with the course and quit. It may also indicate that the instructors were not competent to train the students. It's similarly essential that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive directory of alumni, which may result in 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 field, but also that it has the network of Kingman AZ HVAC employers to help grads obtain apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. Many HVAC vocational programs are taught together with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating vocational and trade programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of HVAC companies or labor unions. Ask if the schools you are considering have referring partnerships with local Kingman AZ HVAC specialists. An apprenticeship not only provides a valuable experience by furnishing hands-on training, but it also supplies employment opportunities and helps to form relationships in the area HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make certain that the school facilities and the tools that you will be instructed on are state-of-the-art and what you will be working with on the job. If you are currently in an internship or an apprenticeship, consult with the HVAC technician you are working with regarding what you should be looking for. If not, ask a local Kingman AZ HVAC contracting company if they can give you some tips. Additionally keep in mind that unless you are willing to move, the school must be within commuting 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 charges compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's important that you receive as much individualized training as possible, which can be challenging in bigger classes. Ask if you can sit in on a few of the classes so that you can see how big they are and experience the interaction between students and instructors. Talk to several of the students and get their feedback regarding class sizes and instruction. Finally, talk with a few of the instructors and learn what their level of expertise is and what certifications or degrees they hold.
Flexible Scheduling. Verify that the class schedules for the schools you are assessing are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you are only able to go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Kingman AZ, confirm that the schools you are considering offer those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Additionally, check out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, sickness or family responsibilities.
Earn Your HVAC Certificate or Degree
Picking the right HVAC training course is a critical first step toward a gratifying career in the heating and cooling industry. As we have covered in this article, you need to select a Heating and Cooling training program and a degree or certificate program that are both accredited and have exceptional reputations within the HVAC community. Other things to search for are sufficient hands-on training and modern facilities. You should visit 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 teaching and the interaction between them. Additionally, ask about scheduling choices and if evening or weekend classes are available if needed. And don't forget to ask about financial assistance and student loan options too. If you ask the right questions as we have laid out in our checklist for evaluating schools, you'll be able to filter your choices so that you can make an educated decision. With the right training, hard work and dedication, you can eventually become a licensed HVAC professional in Kingman AZ.