How to Pick the Right HVAC Certification Course near Maricopa Arizona
Now that you have decided on a career as a heating and cooling professional, the next action is to locate an HVAC technical school near Maricopa AZ. But with so many to choose from, how do you decide on the best one to obtain the training that you need? A number of prospective students will make their decision based entirely on the price of tuition or how near the school is to their residence. Even though these are significant concerns, they are not the only ones to evaluate. A few 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 additional criteria will be covered in more detail later within this article. But before we discuss how to pick an HVAC training program, let's take a look at what a heating and a/c professional does to become a licensed professional tradesman.
How to Become an HVAC Tech
HVAC is an acronym that is widely used in the industry that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC technicians specialize in 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 every state and local municipality has its own prerequisites. Acquiring professional certification is not compulsory, but an alternative way for Maricopa AZ HVAC specialists to establish that they are exceptionally qualified and accomplished in their area of specialization. There are many acknowledged certifications within the industry that are offered. Below are some of the significant ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally acknowledged certification for HVAC technicians. The certification is attained by passing a competency exam and can be acquired in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification makes available both a professional and a master specialist credential. 2 years of professional experience together with passing a comprehensive exam are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have 3 years of experience along with a passing score on the professional level examination. As with NATE, certifications are made available in several specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is mandatory for specialists that work with refrigerants. There are three forms of certification offered, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Because licensing might be required in your location, and you may also desire to earn certification, it's important that you select an HVAC technical school that will train you for both. And since you will more than likely be handling refrigerants, make certain that the program you select prepares you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.
HVAC Degree and Certificate Training Programs
There are several alternatives offered for HVAC training in a technical or vocational school. You can earn a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Acquiring a certificate will take the least amount of time, typically achieved in just six months, though some courses are longer. A certificate will qualify you for most HVAC positions, particularly if you are licensed and have certification applicable to the position. The degree training programs may provide a competitive edge in the job market and will provide more extensive training than the certificate programs. Following is a brief summary of each option offered near Maricopa AZ.
- Certificate. Normally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among entry level residential or commercial HVAC professionals. They provide a solid 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. Usually 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 as well as business ownership. Some programs require an Associate Degree, while others are a standard 4 year program. In addition to being taught how to service and maintain heating and cooling systems, you will also learn how to design them.
Selecting the ideal credential program will be dependent on what your future career goals are, in addition to the time and financial resources that you have to invest. One approach is to start with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after gaining some experience in the trade in Maricopa AZ, later returning to earn a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your strategy, be sure to ask the HVAC technician school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Online Schools
Choosing an HVAC program online is one option to getting your training and earning a degree or certificate. Nearly all schools will require some attendance on campus to take part in hands on training. A number also sponsor internship or work-study programs in addition to or instead of practical lab work. But since the rest of the classes can be attended on the web, this alternative may be a more accessible solution for some Maricopa AZ students that are pressed for time. And some online degree programs are more economical than other on campus alternatives. Even driving expenses from Maricopa and study materials can be minimized, helping to make education more budget-friendly. And many online programs are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your job or family responsibilities have left you with limited time to attend classes, perhaps an online HVAC degree program will make it easier to accommodate school into your hectic schedule.
Questions For HVAC Training Classes
Once you have selected the type of certificate or degree that you desire to attain, either online or on campus, you can start to decrease your selection of schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are many HVAC trade schools in the Maricopa AZ area and all over the USA to pick from. That's why it is very important to have a checklist of key qualifiers when making school comparisons. As earlier stated in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will probably be the initial 2 variables you will take into consideration. Following are several additional ones that you should research before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Many HVAC technical schools in the Maricopa AZ area have attained either a regional or a national accreditation. They may 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 school and program 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 acquire a superior education, it may assist in acquiring financial assistance or student loans, which are in many cases not available for non-accredited schools. Furthermore, a number of states require that the HVAC training program 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 of students who enroll in and finish the course. A lower completion rate might suggest that students were unhappy with the program and dropped out. It could also signify that the instructors were not qualified to train the students. It's similarly imperative that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader 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 affirm that the school has a good reputation within the industry, but also that it has the network of Maricopa AZ HVAC employers to assist grads obtain apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. Many HVAC vocational programs are taught in conjunction with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating trade and technical schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of Heating and Cooling contractors or trade unions. Ask if the schools you are reviewing have referring partnerships with local Maricopa AZ HVAC professionals. An apprenticeship not only provides a rewarding experience by furnishing hands-on training, but it also provides employment opportunities and helps to establish relationships in the local HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make sure 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, consult with the HVAC tech you are working with regarding what you should be looking for. Otherwise, ask a local Maricopa AZ HVAC contractor if they can provide some suggestions. Additionally keep in mind that unless you are willing to move, 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, 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 personalized training as possible, which can be challenging in larger classes. Ask if you can monitor some of the classes so that you can see how big they are and witness first hand the interaction between teachers and students. Talk with a few of the students and get their opinions relating to class sizes and instruction. Last, talk with a few of the instructors and learn what their level of experience is and what certifications or degrees they have earned.
Flexible Scheduling. Confirm 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 Maricopa AZ, verify that the programs you are considering offer those options. 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 because of work, illness or family issues.
Earn Your HVAC Training and Certification
Choosing the right HVAC training course is a crucial first step toward a rewarding career in the heating & 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 excellent reputations within the HVAC profession. Other features to look for are ample hands-on training and modern facilities. You should check out each of the schools personally that you are most interested in to tour the campus and talk with both the current students and faculty. Attempt to get a feel for the quality of the instruction and the interaction between them. Additionally, ask about scheduling options and if night or weekend classes are offered if needed. And remember to ask about financial aid and student loan options too. If you ask the appropriate questions as we have detailed in our checklist for evaluating schools, you'll be able to narrow down your choices so that you can make an informed decision. With the proper training, hard work and dedication, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC contractor in Maricopa AZ.