How to Choose the Right Heating and Cooling Training Program near Mesa Arizona
Now that you have decided on a career as a heating and air conditioner specialist, the next action is to choose an HVAC technical school near Mesa AZ. But with so many to select from, how do you decide on the ideal one to receive the training that you need? A number of prospective students will make their selection based exclusively on the price of tuition or how near the school is to their home. Although these are significant considerations, they are not the only ones to take into account. Some of the other details 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. These and additional criteria will be discussed in more detail later within this article. But before we examine how to choose an HVAC trade school, let's take a look at what a heating and cooling technician does to become a licensed skilled tradesman.
How to Become an HVAC Pro
HVAC is an acronym that is commonly used in the business that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC technicians specialize in the installation, repair and maintenance of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are generally required to be licensed, although every state and local municipality has its own prerequisites. Attaining professional certification is not mandatory, but an alternative way for Mesa AZ HVAC specialists to demonstrate that they are highly skilled and knowledgeable in their area of expertise. There are a number of recognized certifications within the trade that are offered. Following are some of the important 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 may be earned in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification offers both a professional and a master specialist credential. 2 years of field experience in addition to passing a comprehensive exam are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have 3 years of experience together with a passing score on the professional level examination. As with NATE, certifications are made available in multiple specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is necessary for techs that work with refrigerants. There are three forms of certification obtainable, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Because licensing could be mandated in your location, and you may also intend to earn certification, it's important 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 select preps you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.
HVAC Degree and Certificate Courses
There are a number of choices offered for HVAC instruction 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 lesser period of time, often achieved in as little as six months, although some programs are longer. A certificate will train you for most HVAC positions, especially if you are licensed and have certification applicable to the position. The degree programs may provide a competitive edge for securing employment and will furnish more comprehensive training than the certificate programs. Below is a brief explanation of each credential offered near Mesa AZ.
- Certificate. Generally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among beginning commercial or residential HVAC specialists. They provide a strong foundation of skills for job opportunities within the industry.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program supplies a more comprehensive background of heating & cooling systems than the certificate program. Generally requiring 2 years to finish, a number of 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 call for an Associate Degree, while others are a conventional four year program. In addition to mastering how to service and maintain heating and cooling systems, you will also learn how to design them.
Choosing the appropriate credential program will be dependent on what your future career aspirations are, as well as the time and money that you have to invest. One possibility is to begin with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after getting some experience in the trade in Mesa AZ, subsequently going back to acquire a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your strategy, be sure to ask the HVAC technician school you are considering about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Schools Online
Choosing an HVAC program online is one alternative to getting your training and receiving a degree or certificate. Most schools will require some attendance on campus to complete practical training. Some also provide internship or work-study programs in addition to or as an alternative to practical lab work. But since the rest of the classes can be attended via the internet, this alternative may be a more practical solution for some Mesa AZ students that are pressed for time. And many online degree programs are less expensive than other on campus alternatives. Even travelling expenses from Mesa and study materials can be reduced, helping to make schooling more economical. And a large number of online programs are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your work or family obligations have left you with minimal time to attend classes, maybe an HVAC online training program will make it easier to accommodate school into your hectic lifestyle.
What to Ask HVAC Training Programs
Once you have decided on the type of degree or certificate that you desire to obtain, either online or on campus, you can start to narrow down your selection of schools. As you are probably aware, there are many HVAC vocational schools in the Mesa AZ area and across the United States to select from. That's why it is extremely important to have a checklist of important qualifications when making school evaluations. As formerly mentioned in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will probably be the initial two factors you will take into consideration. Following are several additional ones that you will want to investigate before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. A large number of HVAC trade programs in the Mesa AZ area have earned either a regional or a national accreditation. They may attain Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to an individual program, such as HVAC technology. Confirm that the school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization, for example the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping make certain that you receive a superior education, it may assist in acquiring financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently not available for non-accredited programs. Additionally, a number of states require that the HVAC training course be accredited in order to be approved for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the Heating and Air Conditioning schools you are reviewing what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage of students who enroll in and finish the program. A low completion rate may suggest that students were dissatisfied with the course and quit. It might also suggest that the teachers were not competent to instruct the students. It's similarly essential that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive list of graduates, which can produce more contacts for the school to utilize for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate can not only validate that the school has a good reputation within the field, but also that it has the network of Mesa AZ HVAC employers to assist graduates obtain apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. A large number of HVAC training programs are taught together with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating vocational and technical programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of HVAC contractors or labor unions. Ask if the schools you are considering have referring partnerships with local Mesa AZ HVAC companies. An apprenticeship not only provides a valuable experience by furnishing practical training, but it also provides employment opportunities and helps to establish relationships in the regional HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make sure that the school facilities and the equipment that you will be trained on are up-to-date and what you will be working with in the field. If you are presently in an internship or an apprenticeship, check with the HVAC tech you are working under concerning what you should be looking for. Otherwise, ask a local Mesa AZ HVAC contractor if they can provide some pointers. Additionally bear in mind that unless you can relocate, the school needs to be within commuting distance of your Mesa AZ residence. Remember that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation costs there might be increased tuition charges compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's important that you get as much individualized training as possible, which can be difficult in larger classes. Ask if you can monitor a couple of the classes so that you can observe how big they are and witness first hand the interaction between instructors and students. Talk with a few of the students and get their comments regarding class sizes and instruction. Finally, talk with some of the instructors and learn what their level of expertise is and what certifications or degrees they hold.
Flexible Scheduling. Confirm that the class schedules for the programs you are reviewing are flexible enough to handle your needs. If you are only able to attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Mesa AZ, verify that the schools you are reviewing offer those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure 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 responsibilities.
Find Out More About Mesa HVAC Courses In Your Area
Get Your Heating and Cooling Certificate or Degree
Finding the right HVAC school course is an important first step toward a gratifying career in the heating and cooling trade. As we have covered in this article, you should select a Heating and Cooling training program and a certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have excellent reputations within the HVAC profession. Other factors to search for are lots of practical training and state-of-the-art facilities. You need to go to each of the schools personally that you are most interested in to tour the campus and speak with both the faculty and current students. Try to get a feel for the quality of the teaching and the interaction between them. In addition, ask about scheduling choices and whether night or weekend classes are offered if needed. And don't forget to inquire about financial assistance and student loan options too. If you ask the proper questions as we have laid out in our guidelines for assessing schools, you'll be able to narrow down your choices so that you can make an informed decision. With the right training, hard work and commitment, you can eventually become a licensed HVAC contractor in Mesa AZ.