How to Pick the Right Heating and Cooling Program near New River Arizona
Now that you have come to a decision on a career as a heating and cooling professional, the next action is to look for an HVAC vocational school near New River AZ. But with so many to select from, how do you pick the right one to receive the training that you need? Many potential 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 concerns, they are not the only ones to take into account. Just some 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. Those and additional benchmarks will be covered in more detail later within this article. But before we explore 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 Tech
HVAC is an acronym that is widely used in the trade that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC technicians provide services for the installation, maintenance and repair of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are generally required to be licensed, though every state and local municipality has its own criteria. Earning professional certification is not compulsory, but a voluntary way for New River AZ HVAC specialists to prove that they are highly proficient and knowledgeable in their area of expertise. There are a number of respected certifications within the trade that are available. 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 proficiency exam and can be received in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification makes available both a professional and a master specialist credential. 2 years of professional experience as well as passing a comprehensive examination are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have 3 years of experience as well as a passing result on the professional level exam. Similar to NATE, certifications are offered in several specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is required for specialists that handle refrigerants. There are 3 types of certification offered, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Since licensing may be mandated in your location, and you may also wish to acquire certification, it's essential that you enroll in an HVAC trade school that will train you for both. And since you will most likely be handling refrigerants, make certain that the program you choose readies you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
HVAC Degree and Certificate Classes
There are several alternatives available for HVAC instruction in a technical or vocational 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 completed in just 6 months, though some programs 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 advantage in the job market and will furnish more in-depth training than the certificate programs. Below is a brief explanation of each credential offered near New River AZ.
- Certificate. Usually requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among beginning commercial or residential HVAC specialists. They provide a solid foundation of skills for job opportunities within the industry.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program provides a more detailed understanding of heating and cooling systems than the certificate program. Normally taking 2 years to complete, some degrees feature an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is geared more towards a career in management or even business ownership. Some programs call for an Associate Degree, while others are a conventional 4 year program. In addition to learning how to service and maintain heating and air conditioning systems, you will also learn how to design them.
Picking the appropriate credential program will be based on what your future career aspirations are, as well as the time and financial resources that you have to invest. One approach is to start with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after acquiring some experience in the field in New River AZ, later returning to earn a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your tactic, make certain to ask the HVAC tech school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Online Classes
Choosing an HVAC program online is one alternative to obtaining your training and earning a degree or certificate. Most schools will call for some attendance on campus to take part in hands on training. Some 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 participated in online, this approach may be a more accessible solution for some New River AZ students that are short on time. And some online degree programs are cheaper than other traditional choices. Even commuting expenses from New River and study materials may be lessened, helping to make schooling more affordable. And numerous online programs are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your job or family obligations have left you with minimal time to attend classes, perhaps an online HVAC degree program will make it easier to fit school into your active schedule.
Questions For HVAC Schools
After you have decided on the type of certificate or degree that you desire to obtain, either on campus or online, you can start to limit your selection of schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are a large number of HVAC trade schools in the New River AZ area and throughout the United States to pick from. That's why it is very important to have a list of relevant qualifiers when making school evaluations. As previously mentioned in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will most likely be the initial two factors you will consider. Following are some additional ones that you will want to investigate before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. A large number of HVAC vocational schools in the New River AZ area have acquired either a regional or a national accreditation. They may earn Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to a specific program, for instance HVAC technology. Confirm that the school and program are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization, for example the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping guarantee that you obtain an excellent education, it can assist in obtaining financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently unavailable 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 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 lower completion rate could indicate that students were disappointed with the course and quit. It might also signify that the teachers were not qualified to train the students. It's similarly important that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader list of graduates, which may produce more contacts for the school to utilize 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 trade, but also that it has the network of New River AZ HVAC employers to help grads secure apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. A large number of HVAC training programs are taught together with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating trade and vocational schools 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 referring relationships with local New River AZ HVAC specialists. An apprenticeship not only provides a valuable experience by supplying practical training, but it also furnishes employment opportunities and helps to establish relationships in the regional HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Confirm that the school facilities and the tools 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, talk to the HVAC specialist you are working with concerning what you should be looking for. Otherwise, ask a local New River AZ HVAC contractor if they can provide some pointers. Additionally keep in mind that unless you can relocate, the school must be within commuting distance of your New River AZ residence. Remember that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, besides the added moving costs there can be higher tuition charges compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's desirable that you get as much individualized training as possible, which can be challenging in larger classes. Ask if you can sit in on a few of the classes so that you can observe how large they are and experience the interaction between students and instructors. Speak with several of the students and get their feedback regarding class sizes and instruction. Finally, speak with a few of the teachers and find out what their level of experience is and what certifications or degrees they have earned.
Flexible Scheduling. Confirm that the class schedules for the programs you are evaluating are flexible enough to handle your needs. If you are only able to go to classes in the evening or on weekends near New River AZ, confirm that the programs you are considering offer those options. If you can only attend part-time, make sure that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Finally, find out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, illness or family responsibilities.
Get Your HVAC Certificate or Degree
Choosing the right HVAC training course is a crucial first step toward a rewarding career in the heating and air conditioning field. As we have discussed in this article, you should 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 factors to look for are lots of practical training and state-of-the-art facilities. You need to go to each of the schools in person 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 night or weekend classes are offered if needed. And remember to inquire about financial assistance and student loan options as well. If you ask the appropriate questions as we have laid out in our guidelines for evaluating schools, you'll be able to filter 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 professional in New River AZ.