How to Enroll In the Right Heating and Cooling Certification Training near Maricopa Arizona
Once you have decided on a career as a heating and air conditioner technician, the next action is to find an HVAC trade school near Maricopa AZ. But with so many to pick from, how do you select the ideal one to get the training that you need? A number of prospective students will make their choice based entirely on the price of tuition or how close the school is to their home. Even though these are important concerns, they are not the only ones to evaluate. A few of the other factors that you need to look into are the graduation rates of the HVAC schools, their reputations, and if they are accredited by professional trade organizations. Those and other criteria will be covered in more detail later in this article. But before we discuss how to select an HVAC trade school, let's take a look at what a heating and air conditioning technician does to become a licensed skilled tradesman.
Becoming an HVAC Professional
HVAC is an acronym that is commonly used in the trade that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC contractors provide services for 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 each state and regional municipality has its own requirements. Attaining professional certification is not compulsory, but a voluntary means for Maricopa AZ HVAC techs to establish that they are exceptionally proficient and experienced in their area of specialization. There are several acknowledged certifications within the trade that are available. Following 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 exam and may be acquired in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification makes available both a professional and a master specialist credential. 2 years of field experience in addition to passing a comprehensive exam are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have 3 years of experience along with a passing result on the professional level exam. As with NATE, certifications are made available in various specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is mandatory for specialists that work with refrigerants. There are 3 forms of certification available, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Since licensing may be mandated in your location, and you may also intend to earn certification, it's imperative that you pick an HVAC vocational school that will prepare you for both. And since you will more than likely be dealing with refrigerants, make sure that the program you decide on preps you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
HVAC Certificate and Degree Schools
There are a variety of choices available for HVAC training in a trade or technical school. You can obtain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Acquiring a certificate will take the minimum period of time, typically accomplished 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 provide more comprehensive training than the certificate programs. Below is a short description of each credential offered near Maricopa AZ.
- Certificate. Usually requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among beginning commercial or residential HVAC specialists. They furnish 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 two years to complete, some 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 four year program. In addition to mastering how to service and maintain heating and air conditioning systems, you will also study how to design them.
Picking the ideal credential program will be based on what your future career objectives are, along with the time and money that you have to invest. One approach is to begin with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after gaining some experience in the field in Maricopa AZ, later going back to earn a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your tactic, be sure to ask the HVAC technician school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Courses Online
Attending an HVAC program online is one approach to getting your training and earning a certificate or degree. Most schools will call for some attendance on campus to participate in hands on training. Some also sponsor internship or work-study programs in addition to or in place of practical lab work. But since the balance of the classes can be participated in on the web, this approach may be a more practical solution for many Maricopa AZ students that are short on time. And some online degree programs are less expensive than other traditional choices. Even driving expenses from Maricopa and study materials can be reduced, helping to make education more economical. And numerous online programs are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your career or family responsibilities 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 active lifestyle.
Questions to Ask HVAC Certification Classes
Once you have picked the type of certificate or degree that you wish to obtain, either on campus or online, you can start to limit your list of schools. As you are certainly aware, there are a large number of HVAC trade schools in the Maricopa AZ area and throughout the United States to pick from. That's why it is extremely important to have a checklist of relevant qualifiers when making school comparisons. As formerly stated in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will undoubtedly be the initial 2 factors you will look at. Following are several additional ones that you should explore before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Numerous HVAC trade schools in the Maricopa AZ area have acquired either a regional or a national accreditation. They may acquire Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to an individual program, for example HVAC technology. Confirm that the program and school are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency, for instance the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping guarantee that you receive a quality education, it can help in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are often unavailable for non-accredited programs. Furthermore, many states require that the HVAC training program be accredited for it to qualify for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the HVAC 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 could suggest that students were dissatisfied with the program and dropped out. It might also signify that the instructors were not competent to instruct the students. It's also imperative that the schools have higher 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 employ for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate can not only validate that the school has an excellent reputation within the industry, but additionally that it has the network of Maricopa AZ HVAC employers to assist students obtain apprenticeships or jobs.
Apprenticeship Programs. A large number of HVAC technical 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 inside their network of HVAC companies or labor unions. Ask if the schools you are considering have working partnerships with local Maricopa AZ HVAC companies. An apprenticeship not only offers a rewarding experience by providing hands-on training, but it also supplies job opportunities and helps to establish relationships in the regional HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make sure that the school facilities and the tools that you will be trained on are up-to-date and what you will be using in the field. If you are currently in an internship or an apprenticeship, check with the HVAC tech you are working under concerning what you should be expecting. Otherwise, ask a local Maricopa AZ HVAC company if they can give you some pointers. Additionally keep in mind that unless you are willing to relocate, the school needs to be within commuting distance of your Maricopa AZ home. Remember that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, in addition to moving costs there may be increased tuition fees compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's important that you receive as much one-on-one instruction as possible, which can be difficult in larger classes. Ask if you can monitor some of the classes so that you can see how big they are and experience the interaction between students and instructors. Talk with several of the students and get their comments concerning class sizes and instruction. Finally, speak with a few of the instructors and find out what their level of expertise is and what certifications or degrees they have earned.
Flexible Scheduling. Confirm that the class schedules for the schools you are evaluating are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you are only able to attend classes at night or on weekends near Maricopa AZ, check that the programs you are looking at provide those options. If you can only attend part-time, make certain that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Also, ask what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, sickness or family issues.
Get Your Heating and Cooling Degree and Certification
Finding the ideal HVAC school course is a crucial beginning toward a fulfilling career in the heating and air conditioning trade. 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 exceptional reputations within the HVAC profession. Other features to search for are plenty of practical training and state-of-the-art facilities. You need to visit each of the schools personally that you are most interested in to tour the campus and talk with both the faculty and current students. Attempt to get a feel for the quality of the training and the interaction between them. Also, inquire about scheduling choices and if night or weekend classes are available if needed. And remember 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 narrow down your options so that you can make an educated decision. With the appropriate training, hard work and commitment, you can eventually become a licensed HVAC technician in Maricopa AZ.