How to Select the Right HVAC School near New River Arizona
Once you have decided on a career as a heating and cooling specialist, the next step is to look for an HVAC vocational school near New River AZ. But with so many to pick from, how do you select the right one to obtain the training that you need? Many future students will make their selection based solely on the price of tuition or how near the school is to their home. Even though these are relevant factors to consider, they are not the only ones to take into account. A few of the other factors that you need to investigate are the graduation rates of the HVAC schools, their reputations, and if they are accredited by professional trade organizations. These and other criteria will be addressed in more detail later in this article. But before we examine how to select an HVAC trade school, let's take a look at what a heating and a/c specialist does to become a licensed skilled tradesman.
Becoming an HVAC Professional
HVAC is an acronym that is frequently used in the trade that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC contractors provide services for the installation, maintenance and repair of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are commonly mandated to be licensed, though every state and regional municipality has its own requirements. Earning professional certification is not compulsory, but an optional way for New River AZ HVAC techs to prove that they are highly proficient and experienced in their area of specialization. There are multiple acknowledged certifications within the field that are offered. Below are some of the significant ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally recognized certification for HVAC techs. The certification is achieved by passing a proficiency examination and may be earned in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification offers both a professional and a master specialist credential. Two years of field experience together with passing a comprehensive examination are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have 3 years of experience in addition to a passing result on the professional level examination. Similar to NATE, certifications are made available in several specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is necessary for technicians that handle refrigerants. There are 3 types of certification obtainable, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Because licensing might be mandated in your area, and you may also wish to earn certification, it's imperative that you choose an HVAC trade school that will prepare you for both. And since you will probably be dealing with refrigerants, make sure that the program you choose prepares you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.
HVAC Degree and Certificate Courses
There are several options offered for HVAC training in a technical or trade school. You can obtain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Obtaining a certificate will take the minimum period of time, typically achieved in just 6 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 can provide a competitive edge for securing employment and will provide more comprehensive training than the certificate programs. Below is a brief description of each credential offered near New River AZ.
- Certificate. Usually requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among entry level commercial or residential HVAC technicians. They furnish a strong foundation of skills for job opportunities within the trade.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program delivers a more comprehensive background of heating and cooling systems than the certificate program. Usually taking two years to complete, many 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 as well as business ownership. Some programs call for an Associate Degree, while others are a standard 4 year program. In addition to mastering how to service and maintain heating and air conditioning systems, you will also study how to design them.
Picking the appropriate credential program will be dependent on what your long term career aspirations are, in addition to the time and financial resources that you have to commit. One option is to begin with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after gaining some experience in the field in New River AZ, eventually going back 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 Online Classes
Attending an HVAC program online is one alternative to attaining your training and earning a certificate or degree. Almost all schools will call for 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 rest of the classes can be participated in on the web, this alternative may be a more accessible solution for many New River AZ students that are pressed for time. And many online degree programs are less expensive than other on campus alternatives. Even travelling expenses from New River and study materials can be lessened, helping to make education more economical. And many online programs are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your work or family responsibilities have left you with little time to attend classes, perhaps an online HVAC degree program will make it less complicated to accommodate school into your active lifestyle.
Questions For HVAC Training Programs
When you have selected the type of certificate or degree that you desire to obtain, either on campus or online, you can begin to narrow down your selection of schools. As you are probably aware, there are many HVAC trade schools in the New River AZ area and across the Country to choose from. That's why it is very important to have a checklist of key qualifiers when making school evaluations. As formerly mentioned in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will probably be the initial two factors you will look at. Following are several additional ones that you will want to explore before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. A large number of HVAC trade programs in the New River AZ area have attained either a regional or a national accreditation. They may attain Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to an individual program, for example HVAC technology. Verify that the program and school are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization, for instance the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping make certain that you acquire a superior education, it can assist in obtaining financial assistance or student loans, which are often unavailable for non-accredited schools. Furthermore, some states require that the HVAC training course be accredited for it 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 percentage or portion of students who enroll in and finish the course. A low completion rate could indicate that students were unhappy with the program and dropped out. It may also signify that the instructors were not qualified to train the students. It's also imperative that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive directory of alumni, which may result in more contacts for the school to utilize for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate will not only confirm that the school has an excellent reputation within the trade, but also that it has the network of New River AZ HVAC employers to help grads acquire apprenticeships or jobs.
Apprenticeship Programs. A large number of HVAC technical programs are taught in conjunction with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating vocational and trade programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of Heating and Cooling companies or trade unions. Find out if the schools you are considering have working relationships with local New River AZ HVAC contractors. An apprenticeship not only offers a valuable experience by supplying hands-on training, but it also furnishes job opportunities and helps to build relationships in the regional HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Confirm that the campus facilities and the tools that you will be instructed on are state-of-the-art and what you will be working with on the job. If you are currently in an internship or an apprenticeship, consult with the HVAC specialist you are working with concerning what you should be looking for. If not, ask a local New River AZ HVAC contracting company if they can provide some pointers. Additionally keep in mind that unless you can move, the school needs to be within driving distance of your New River AZ residence. Remember that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, in addition to moving costs there might be increased tuition charges compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's desirable that you receive as much personalized instruction as possible, which can be challenging in larger classes. Ask if you can sit in on some of the classes so that you can observe how large they are and witness first hand the interaction between students and instructors. Talk to a few of the students and get their comments concerning class sizes and instruction. Last, speak with some of the teachers and find out what their level of experience is and what degrees or certifications they have earned.
Flexible Scheduling. Confirm that the class schedules for the schools you are evaluating are flexible enough to handle your needs. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near New River AZ, verify that the programs you are looking at offer those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Additionally, ask what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, sickness or family emergencies.
Get Your HVAC Degree and Certification
Finding the right HVAC school program is a crucial first step toward a rewarding career in the heating & cooling trade. As we have discussed in this article, you need to choose a Heating and Cooling training program and a degree or certificate program that are both accredited and have exceptional reputations within the HVAC community. Other features to look for are ample practical training and state-of-the-art facilities. You need to visit each of the schools in person that you are most interested in to inspect the campus and speak with both the faculty and current students. Try to get a feel for the quality of the training 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 ask about financial aid and student loan options too. If you ask the appropriate questions as we have outlined in our checklist for assessing 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 contractor in New River AZ.