How to Choose the Right HVAC College near New River Arizona
Once you have decided on a career as a heating and air conditioning specialist, the next step is to find an HVAC vocational school near New River AZ. But with so many to choose from, how do you pick the right one to obtain the training that you require? Some prospective students will make their choice based entirely on the cost of tuition or how close the school is to their residence. Even though these are necessary considerations, they are not the only ones to investigate. Some of the other details that you need to investigate are the graduation completion rates of the HVAC schools, their reputations, and if they are accredited by professional trade organizations. Those and other criteria will be discussed in more detail later within this article. But before we examine how to pick an HVAC vocational school, let's take a look at what a heating and cooling specialist does to become a licensed qualified 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 professionals provide services for the installation, maintenance and repair of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are commonly required to be licensed, though each state and local municipality has its own prerequisites. Acquiring professional certification is not compulsory, but an optional way for New River AZ HVAC technicians to establish that they are highly proficient and accomplished in their area of specialization. There are a number of acknowledged certifications within the field that are available. Below 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 proficiency exam and can be received in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification offers both a professional and a master specialist credential. Two years of professional experience together with passing a comprehensive examination are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have 3 years of experience along with a passing score on the professional level exam. As with NATE, certifications are made available in various specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is required for technicians that handle refrigerants. There are three forms of certification offered, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Considering that licensing might be required in your area, and you may also desire to earn certification, it's important that you choose an HVAC technical school that will prepare you for both. And since you will probably be dealing with refrigerants, make sure that the program you pick readies you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
HVAC Degree and Certificate Courses
There are a number of alternatives available for HVAC training in a trade or technical school. You can attain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Obtaining a certificate will take the lesser amount of time, usually achieved in just 6 months, although some programs are longer. A certificate will qualify you for the majority of HVAC positions, particularly if you are licensed and have certification appropriate to the position. The degree training programs might provide a competitive advantage in the job market and will provide more in-depth training than the certificate programs. Following is a brief explanation of each option offered near New River AZ.
- Certificate. Usually requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among beginning commercial or residential HVAC technicians. They provide a strong foundation of skills for employment within the industry.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program provides a more exhaustive understanding of heating and a/c systems than the certificate program. Normally requiring 2 years to complete, some degrees incorporate an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is suited more for a career in management as well as business ownership. Some programs call for an Associate Degree, while others are a traditional four 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 right credential program will be dependent on what your long term career goals are, as well as the time and money that you have to invest. One approach is to begin with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after acquiring some experience in the field in New River AZ, subsequently going back to obtain a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your strategy, make certain to ask the HVAC technician school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Online Schools
Enrolling in an HVAC program online is one alternative to obtaining your training and earning a certificate or degree. Almost all schools will require some attendance on campus to take part in hands on training. Some also offer internship or work-study programs in addition to or instead of practical lab work. But since the balance of the classes can be attended via the internet, this approach may be a more convenient solution for some New River AZ students that are pressed for time. And a number of online degree programs are more economical than other traditional choices. Even driving expenses from New River and study materials may be reduced, helping to make schooling more budget-friendly. And many online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your work or family obligations have left you with little time to attend classes, perhaps an HVAC online training program will make it easier to accommodate school into your active lifestyle.
Questions For HVAC Certification Classes
When you have selected the type of degree or certificate that you want to acquire, either online or on campus, you can start to decrease your list of schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are many HVAC vocational schools in the New River AZ area and all over the USA to choose from. That's why it is essential to have a checklist of relevant qualifications when making school evaluations. As formerly stated in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will most likely be the initial two variables you will look at. Following are several additional ones that you will want to explore before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Numerous HVAC technical schools in the New River AZ area have received either a regional or a national accreditation. They may receive Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to a specific program, for instance HVAC technology. Confirm that the school and program are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency, for example the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping ensure that you obtain an excellent education, it may help in acquiring financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently not available for non-accredited schools. Additionally, 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 considering what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage or portion of students who enroll in and complete the course. A low completion rate might indicate that students were unhappy with the course and dropped out. It may also indicate that the teachers were not competent to instruct 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 can produce more contacts for the school to use for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate can not only validate that the school has an excellent reputation within the industry, but also that it has the network of New River AZ HVAC employers to help grads obtain apprenticeships or jobs.
Apprenticeship Programs. Numerous HVAC technical programs are taught together with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating technical and vocational schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of Heating and Cooling businesses or trade unions. Ask if the schools you are considering have working relationships with local New River AZ HVAC companies. An apprenticeship not only provides a valuable experience by supplying practical training, but it also provides job opportunities and helps to establish relationships in the area HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make certain that the campus facilities and the equipment that you will be trained on are state-of-the-art and what you will be using on the job. If you are currently in an internship or an apprenticeship, check with the HVAC tech you are working with regarding what you should be expecting. Otherwise, ask a local New River AZ HVAC contracting company if they can provide some suggestions. Also keep in mind that unless you are able to relocate, the school must be within commuting distance of your New River AZ residence. Take note that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, in addition to moving costs there may be higher tuition charges compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's important that you get as much individualized training as possible, which can be challenging in larger classes. Ask if you can sit in on a couple of the classes so that you can see how big they are and witness first hand the interaction between teachers and students. Speak to a few of the students and get their opinions regarding class sizes and instruction. Last, talk with some of the instructors and find out what their level of experience is and what certifications or degrees they hold.
Flexible Scheduling. Confirm that the class schedules for the schools you are assessing are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you are only able to attend classes in the evening or on weekends near New River AZ, verify that the programs you are reviewing offer those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Also, find out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, sickness or family responsibilities.
Get Your HVAC Certificate or Degree
Enrolling in the ideal HVAC school program is an important beginning toward a fulfilling career in the heating and cooling industry. 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 outstanding reputations within the HVAC profession. Other factors to look for are ample practical training and modern facilities. You should visit each of the schools in person that you are most interested in to tour 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, inquire about scheduling choices and if evening or weekend classes are offered if needed. And remember to inquire about financial aid and student loan options also. If you ask the proper questions as we have outlined in our checklist for comparing schools, you'll be able to filter your choices so that you can make an educated decision. With the appropriate training, hard work and dedication, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC technician in New River AZ.