How to Enroll In the Right HVAC Certification Course near Mesa Arizona
Once you have decided on a career as a heating and cooling professional, the next action is to locate an HVAC trade school near Mesa AZ. But with so many to select from, how do you pick the best one to receive the training that you require? A number of prospective students will make their decision based exclusively on the price of tuition or how near the school is to their home. Although these are necessary factors to consider, they are not the only ones to investigate. A few of the other details 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 other benchmarks will be covered in more detail later within this article. But before we explore how to select an HVAC vocational school, let's take a look at what a heating and cooling specialist does to become a licensed professional tradesman.
Becoming an HVAC Pro
HVAC is an acronym that is frequently used in the trade that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC professionals 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, however each state and local municipality has its own requirements. Acquiring professional certification is not mandatory, but an alternative means for Mesa AZ HVAC technicians to prove that they are highly qualified and knowledgeable in their area of expertise. There are a number of acknowledged certifications within the industry that are available. Following are a few of the important ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally recognized certification for HVAC techs. The certification is earned by passing a proficiency examination and may be earned in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification makes available both a professional and a master specialist credential. Two years of professional experience as well as passing a comprehensive examination are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have 3 years of experience as well as a passing result on the professional level examination. As with NATE, certifications are provided in various specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is mandatory for specialists that work with refrigerants. There are three types of certification offered, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Because licensing could be mandated in your area, and you may also intend to obtain certification, it's essential that you pick an HVAC technical school that will prepare you for both. And since you will probably be dealing with refrigerants, make sure that the school you choose preps you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.
HVAC Degree and Certificate Training Programs
There are several options offered for HVAC training in a trade or technical school. You can attain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Earning a certificate will take the minimum amount of time, typically accomplished in as little as 6 months, although some programs are longer. A certificate will qualify you for most HVAC positions, especially if you are licensed and have certification relevant to the position. The degree training programs can provide a competitive edge in the job market and will furnish more comprehensive training than the certificate programs. Following is a short explanation of each credential offered near Mesa AZ.
- Certificate. Generally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among beginning residential or commercial HVAC professionals. They furnish a solid foundation of skills for job opportunities within the trade.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program delivers a more exhaustive understanding of heating and cooling systems than the certificate program. Generally requiring 2 years to finish, a number of degrees feature 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 call for an Associate Degree, while others are a traditional 4 year program. In addition to being taught how to service and maintain heating and air conditioning systems, you will also study how to design them.
Choosing the appropriate credential program will be based on what your long term career aspirations are, in addition to 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 trade in Mesa AZ, subsequently returning to obtain a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your tactic, make certain to ask the HVAC technician school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Courses Online
Choosing an HVAC program online is one approach in attaining your education and earning a degree or certificate. Almost all schools will require some attendance on campus to take part in hands on training. Many also provide internship or work-study programs in addition to or as an alternative to practical lab work. But since the balance of the classes can be attended on the web, this alternative may be a more accessible solution for many Mesa AZ students that are pressed for time. And some online degree programs are more economical than other traditional alternatives. Even driving expenses from Mesa and study supplies may be minimized, helping to make education more budget-friendly. And numerous online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your career or family commitments have left you with little time to attend classes, perhaps an online HVAC degree program will make it more convenient to fit school into your busy schedule.
Questions to Ask HVAC Schools
Once you have selected the type of certificate or degree that you desire to earn, either online or on campus, you can begin to decrease your list of schools. As you are certainly aware, there are many HVAC vocational schools in the Mesa AZ area and throughout the United States to select from. That's why it is very important to have a list of important qualifiers when making school evaluations. As previously stated in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will probably be the initial two factors you will look at. Following are some additional ones that you need to investigate before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. A large number of HVAC technical schools in the Mesa AZ area have earned either a regional or a national accreditation. They may receive Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to an individual program, such as HVAC technology. Confirm that the program and school are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting organization, for instance the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping make certain that you acquire a quality education, it can help in securing financial aid or student loans, which are in many cases not available for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of states require that the HVAC training course be accredited for it 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 complete the course. A low completion rate may suggest that students were disappointed with the course and dropped out. It could also signify that the teachers were not competent to train the students. It's similarly essential that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader directory of graduates, which can produce 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 an excellent reputation within the field, but also that it has the network of Mesa AZ HVAC employers to help graduates acquire apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. Numerous HVAC trade programs are taught together with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating vocational and trade schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of HVAC contractors or trade unions. Check if the schools you are considering have working relationships with local Mesa AZ HVAC contractors. An apprenticeship not only offers a valuable experience by providing hands-on training, but it also supplies employment opportunities and helps to form relationships in the local 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 on the job. If you are already in an internship or an apprenticeship, consult with the HVAC tech you are working under concerning what you should be looking for. Otherwise, ask a local Mesa AZ HVAC company if they can provide some suggestions. Additionally bear in mind that unless you are able to relocate, the school must be within commuting distance of your Mesa AZ home. Remember that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to moving costs there might be higher tuition fees compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's important that you receive as much one-on-one training as possible, which can be difficult in bigger classes. Ask if you can monitor a couple of the classes so that you can observe how large they are and experience the interaction between instructors and students. Talk to a few of the students and get their comments relating to class sizes and instruction. Finally, speak with some of the teachers and find out what their level of experience is and what certifications or degrees they have earned.
Flexible Scheduling. Verify that the class schedules for the schools you are reviewing are flexible enough to handle your needs. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Mesa AZ, verify that the schools you are comparing offer those choices. If you can only attend part-time, make sure that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Finally, ask what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Learn More About Mesa Heating and Cooling Trade Schools In Your Area
Get Your HVAC Degree and Certification
Enrolling in the ideal HVAC training course is an important first step toward a rewarding career in the heating and cooling field. As we have discussed in this article, you should pick 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 things to look for are sufficient practical training and state-of-the-art facilities. You should visit each of the schools in person that you are most interested in to inspect 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, inquire about scheduling choices and if night or weekend classes are available if needed. And don't forget to inquire about financial aid and student loan options also. If you ask the right questions as we have laid out in our guidelines for comparing schools, you'll be able to filter your options so that you can make an informed decision. With the appropriate training, hard work and commitment, you can eventually become a licensed HVAC specialist in Mesa AZ.