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How to Choose the Right HVAC Certification Class near Maricopa Arizona

Maricopa Arizona residential air conditioning condensersNow that you have decided on a career as a heating and cooling technician, the next action is to find an HVAC technical school near Maricopa AZ. But with so many to choose from, how do you choose the right one to receive the training that you need? A number of prospective students will make their choice based solely on the cost of tuition or how near the school is to their home. Although these are necessary considerations, they are not the only ones to investigate. Just some of the other things that you need to research are the graduation completion rates of the HVAC schools, their reputations, and if they are accredited by professional trade organizations. Those and additional benchmarks will be covered in more detail later within this article. But before we discuss how to select an HVAC technical school, let's take a look at what a heating and a/c contractor does to become a licensed skilled tradesman.

Becoming an HVAC Technician

Maricopa Arizona Heating and Cooling Technician repairing A/C condenserHVAC is an acronym that is frequently used in the business that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC techs specialize in the installation, maintenance and repair of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are commonly required to be licensed, however every state and regional municipality has its own requirements. Obtaining professional certification is not required, but an alternative means for Maricopa AZ HVAC techs to demonstrate that they are exceptionally qualified and experienced in their area of expertise. There are several respected certifications within the trade that are available. Below are some of the important ones.

  • North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally recognized certification for HVAC technicians. The certification is attained by passing a competency examination and may be earned in one or more specialties.
  • HVAC Excellence. This certification makes available both a professional and a master specialist credential. 2 years of field experience as well as passing a comprehensive examination are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have 3 years of experience together with a passing result on the professional level exam. Similar to NATE, certifications are offered in several specialties.
  • EPA Section 608. This certification is mandatory for technicians that handle refrigerants. There are three forms of certification available, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.

Considering that licensing may be required in your location, and you may also intend to obtain certification, it's essential that you choose an HVAC technical school that will train you for both. And since you will probably be working with refrigerants, make sure that the program you pick prepares you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.

HVAC Degree and Certificate Courses

Maricopa Arizona home heater

There are a number of alternatives available 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 minimum period of time, typically accomplished in just six months, though some programs are longer. A certificate will qualify you for the majority of HVAC positions, particularly if you are licensed and have certification applicable to the position. The degree training programs might provide a competitive edge for securing employment and will deliver more in-depth training than the certificate programs. Following is a brief description of each option offered near Maricopa AZ.

  • Certificate. Generally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among entry level residential or commercial HVAC technicians. They provide a solid foundation of skills for job opportunities within the industry.
  • Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program supplies a more extensive understanding of heating and a/c systems than the certificate program. Normally taking 2 years to complete, some degrees incorporate an internship or work-study program.
  • Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is geared more for a career in management or even business ownership. Some programs require an Associate Degree, while others are a standard four year program. In addition to learning how to service and maintain heating and air conditioning systems, you will also study how to design them.

Picking the appropriate credential program will be dependent on what your future career goals are, as well as the time and money that you have to commit. One approach is to begin with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after acquiring some experience in the field in Maricopa AZ, later returning to earn a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your strategy, be sure to ask the HVAC tech school you are considering about how their returning student program works.

HVAC Schools Online

Choosing an HVAC program online is one option in getting your training and receiving a degree or certificate. Nearly all schools will call for some attendance on campus to complete practical training. Many also offer internship or work-study programs in addition to or in place of practical lab work. But since the rest of the classes may be attended on the web, this option may be a more practical solution for many Maricopa AZ students that are pressed for time. And some online degree programs are cheaper than other on campus options. Even driving expenses from Maricopa and study supplies can be minimized, helping to make schooling more economical. And many online programs are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your career or family commitments have left you with minimal time to attend classes, maybe an online HVAC degree program will make it less complicated to fit school into your hectic schedule.

Questions For HVAC Training Classes

Maricopa Arizona Heating and Cooling technician installing water heater

As soon as you have selected the type of degree or certificate that you desire to obtain, either online or on campus, you can begin to limit your selection of schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are a large number of HVAC trade schools in the Maricopa AZ area and throughout the United States to select from. That's why it is extremely important to have a list of important qualifications when making school comparisons. As formerly stated in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will undoubtedly be the initial 2 factors you will take into consideration. Following are some additional ones that you need to investigate before enrolling in your school of choice.

Accreditation.  A large number of HVAC vocational schools in the Maricopa AZ area have acquired either a regional or a national accreditation. They can acquire Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to a specific program, for instance HVAC technology. Confirm that the program and school are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency, such as the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping ensure that you receive a quality education, it can help in securing financial aid or student loans, which are often unavailable for non-accredited programs. Furthermore, some states require that the HVAC training course be accredited for it to qualify for licensing.

High Completion Rates.  Ask the Heating and Cooling schools you are considering what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage or portion of students who enroll in and finish the program. A low completion rate may signify that students were unhappy with the course and quit. It may also signify that the teachers were not qualified to train the students. It's also important that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive list of alumni, which can mean more contacts for the school to employ for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate will not only confirm that the school has a good reputation within the trade, but additionally that it has the network of Maricopa AZ HVAC employers to assist students acquire apprenticeships or jobs.

Apprenticeship Programs.  Many HVAC training programs are taught along with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating vocational and technical programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of Heating and Cooling businesses or labor unions. Check if the schools you are comparing have referring relationships with local Maricopa AZ HVAC professionals. An apprenticeship not only offers a valuable experience by supplying hands-on training, but it also supplies job opportunities and helps to form relationships in the area HVAC professional community.

Modern Facilities.  Confirm that the campus facilities and the tools that you will be trained on are state-of-the-art and what you will be using in the field. If you are currently in an internship or an apprenticeship, check with the HVAC specialist you are working with concerning what you should be looking for. Otherwise, ask a local Maricopa AZ HVAC contracting company if they can provide some pointers. Also keep in mind that unless you can relocate, the school needs to be within commuting distance of your Maricopa AZ home. Take note that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides the added relocation costs there might be increased tuition charges compared to in-state residents.

Smaller Classes.   It's desirable that you get as much one-on-one training as possible, which can be difficult in bigger classes. Ask if you can monitor a few of the classes so that you can see how large they are and experience the interaction between instructors and students. Talk to some of the students and get their comments concerning class sizes and instruction. Last, talk with a few of the instructors and learn what their level of expertise is and what degrees or certifications they have earned.

Flexible Scheduling.  Verify that the class schedules for the programs you are reviewing are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you are only able to attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Maricopa AZ, confirm that the programs you are considering provide those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Additionally, find out what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, sickness or family responsibilities.

Learn More About Maricopa HVAC Schools In Your Area

Earn Your HVAC Certificate or Degree

Choosing the ideal HVAC school course is an important first step toward a fulfilling career in the heating and air conditioning 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 community. Other factors to look for are sufficient hands-on training and modern facilities. You should visit each of the schools personally that you are most interested in to explore the campus and talk with both the current students and faculty. Attempt to get a feel for the quality of the teaching and the interaction between them. Additionally, ask about scheduling choices and whether or not evening or weekend classes are offered if needed. And remember to ask about financial aid and student loan options as well. If you ask the right questions as we have outlined in our guidelines for evaluating schools, you'll be able to narrow down your choices so that you can make an educated decision. With the proper training, hard work and commitment, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC professional in Maricopa AZ.