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How to Select the Right HVAC School near Mesa Arizona

Mesa Arizona residential air conditioning condensersNow that you have come to a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioner professional, the next action is to find an HVAC trade school near Mesa AZ. But with so many to choose from, how do you pick the right one to receive the training that you need? Many future students will make their selection based entirely on the cost of tuition or how near the school is to their residence. While these are relevant factors to consider, they are not the only ones to investigate. A few of the other things 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. These and additional criteria will be covered in more detail later within this article. But before we discuss how to select an HVAC training program, let's look at what a heating and a/c specialist does to become a licensed skilled tradesman.

How to Become an HVAC Pro

Mesa Arizona Heating and Cooling Tech servicing air conditioning condenserHVAC is an acronym that is extensively used in the business that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC contractors provide services for the installation, repair and maintenance of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are generally required to be licensed, however each state and regional municipality has its own prerequisites. Earning professional certification is not required, but an alternative way for Mesa AZ HVAC technicians to prove that they are highly qualified and accomplished in their area of specialization. There are several 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 acknowledged certification for HVAC technicians. The certification is earned by passing a competency exam 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 field experience in addition to passing a comprehensive examination are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have three years of experience in addition to a passing score on the professional level examination. Similar to NATE, certifications are offered in multiple specialties.
  • EPA Section 608. This certification is required for technicians that work with refrigerants. There are 3 types of certification available, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.

Since licensing might be mandated in your location, and you may also intend to earn certification, it's essential that you pick an HVAC trade school that will prepare you for both. And since you will most likely be working with refrigerants, make sure that the school you select prepares you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.

HVAC Certificate and Degree Schools

Mesa Arizona residential heating pump

There are a number of options offered for HVAC instruction in a technical or vocational school. You can obtain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Earning a certificate will take the lesser period of time, usually completed in as little as six months, although some courses are longer. A certificate will train you for the majority of HVAC positions, especially if you are licensed and have certification applicable to the position. The degree training programs might provide a competitive edge in the job market and will deliver more in-depth training than the certificate programs. Following is a short summary of each credential offered near Mesa AZ.

  • Certificate. Usually requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among entry level residential or commercial HVAC technicians. They furnish a strong foundation of skills for job opportunities within the trade.
  • Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program supplies a more detailed understanding of heating and cooling systems than the certificate program. Typically taking two years to finish, many degrees include 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 conventional 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.

Choosing the appropriate credential program will be based on what your future career objectives are, together with the time and financial resources that you have to commit. One possibility is to begin with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after gaining some experience in the field in Mesa AZ, eventually returning to acquire a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your approach, make certain to ask the HVAC tech school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.

HVAC Training Online

Enrolling in an HVAC program online is one option to attaining your training and receiving a degree or certificate. Most schools will require some attendance on campus to complete hands on training. Many also provide 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 practical solution for many Mesa AZ students that are pressed for time. And some online degree programs are more economical than other traditional choices. Even driving expenses from Mesa and study materials can be lessened, helping to make schooling more budget-friendly. And numerous online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your career or family obligations have left you with little time to attend classes, perhaps an HVAC online training program will make it less complicated to accommodate school into your hectic lifestyle.

Questions to Ask HVAC Training Classes

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Once you have decided on the type of certificate or degree that you wish to earn, either online or on campus, you can begin to narrow down your list of schools. As you are probably aware, there are numerous HVAC trade schools in the Mesa AZ area and across the United States to choose from. That's why it is extremely important to have a checklist of relevant qualifiers when making school assessments. As earlier mentioned in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will undoubtedly be the first 2 variables you will take into consideration. Following are some additional ones that you need to research before enrolling in your school of choice.

Accreditation.  Numerous HVAC technical programs in the Mesa AZ area have acquired either a regional or a national accreditation. They may receive Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to an individual program, for example HVAC technology. Make certain that the school and program are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency, such as the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping ensure that you receive a superior education, it can assist in securing financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently unavailable for non-accredited schools. Furthermore, some states require that the HVAC training program be accredited in order 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 portion or percentage of students who enroll in and complete the program. A low completion rate could signify that students were dissatisfied with the program and dropped out. It may also signify that the instructors were not competent to train the students. It's similarly imperative that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive list of alumni, 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 confirm that the school has an excellent reputation within the industry, but additionally that it has the network of Mesa AZ HVAC employers to help graduates acquire apprenticeships or employment.

Apprenticeship Programs.  A large number of HVAC technical programs are taught along with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating technical and vocational programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of HVAC contractors or trade unions. Find out if the schools you are reviewing have working relationships with local Mesa AZ HVAC companies. An apprenticeship not only offers a valuable experience by providing practical training, but it also provides job opportunities and helps to build 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 state-of-the-art and what you will be using on the job. If you are already in an internship or an apprenticeship, talk to the HVAC technician you are working with regarding what you should be looking for. If not, ask a local Mesa AZ HVAC contracting company if they can provide some pointers. Also bear in mind that unless you can move, the school must be within driving distance of your Mesa AZ residence. Remember that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, besides the added moving costs there may be higher tuition charges compared to in-state residents.

Smaller Classes.   It's important that you receive as much personalized instruction as possible, which can be difficult in bigger classes. Ask if you can sit in on a few of the classes so that you can see how large they are and witness first hand the interaction between students and teachers. Speak with some of the students and get their opinions regarding class sizes and instruction. Last, speak to a few of the instructors and learn what their level of experience is and what degrees or certifications they have earned.

Flexible Scheduling.  Make sure that the class schedules for the schools you are reviewing are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Mesa AZ, verify that the programs you are considering offer those choices. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Also, ask what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, sickness or family responsibilities.

Find Out More About Mesa HVAC Training Classes In Your Area

Earn Your Heating and Cooling Degree and Certification

Picking the ideal HVAC training program is an important beginning toward a fulfilling career in the heating and air conditioning industry. As we have discussed in this article, you should choose a Heating and Cooling training program and a degree or certificate program that are both accredited and have excellent reputations within the HVAC community. Other things to search for are lots of hands-on training and modern facilities. You need to go to each of the schools personally that you are most interested in to inspect the campus and speak with both the current students and faculty. Attempt to get a feel for the quality of the instruction and the interaction between them. Also, ask about scheduling options and if evening or weekend classes are offered if needed. And remember to inquire about financial assistance and student loan options also. If you ask the appropriate questions as we have detailed in our guidelines for comparing 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 commitment, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC technician in Mesa AZ.