How to Pick the Right HVAC College near New River Arizona
Now that you have decided on a career as a heating and air conditioning specialist, the next step is to look for an HVAC trade school near New River AZ. But with so many to choose from, how do you pick the ideal one to receive the training that you require? Many future students will make their choice based entirely on the cost of tuition or how near the school is to their home. While these are necessary concerns, they are not the only ones to investigate. Some of the other details 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 additional benchmarks will be discussed in more detail later within this article. But before we tackle how to pick an HVAC trade school, let's look at what a heating and air conditioning contractor does to become a licensed qualified tradesman.
Becoming an HVAC Contractor
HVAC is an acronym that is extensively used in the business that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC professionals provide services for the installation, maintenance and repair of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are generally mandated to be licensed, though each state and local municipality has its own criteria. Earning professional certification is not mandatory, but an optional means for New River AZ HVAC technicians to establish that they are exceptionally qualified and knowledgeable in their area of specialization. There are multiple acknowledged certifications within the industry that are available. Below 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 proficiency exam and may be received in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification makes available both a professional and a master specialist credential. Two years of professional experience as well as passing a comprehensive examination are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have three years of experience along with a passing result on the professional level exam. Similar to NATE, certifications are provided in various specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is necessary for specialists that work with refrigerants. There are three forms of certification available, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Since licensing may be mandated in your area, and you may also wish to acquire certification, it's important that you select an HVAC vocational school that will prepare you for both. And since you will most likely be handling refrigerants, make sure that the school you decide on prepares you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
HVAC Certificate and Degree Training Programs
There are a number of options available for HVAC instruction in a vocational or trade school. You can earn a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Obtaining a certificate will take the least amount of time, usually completed in just six months, although some courses are longer. A certificate will train you for the majority of HVAC positions, particularly if you are licensed and have certification appropriate to the position. The degree programs may provide a competitive advantage in the job market and will deliver more comprehensive training than the certificate programs. Below is a short summary of each credential offered near New River AZ.
- Certificate. Generally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among beginning commercial or residential HVAC specialists. They furnish a solid foundation of skills for employment within the trade.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program delivers a more detailed knowledge of heating and a/c systems than the certificate program. Generally requiring 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 towards a career in management or even business ownership. Some programs call for an Associate Degree, while others are a standard four year program. In addition to being taught how to service and maintain heating and air conditioning systems, you will also learn how to design them.
Selecting the ideal credential program will be based on what your future career goals are, along with 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 trade in New River AZ, later going back to earn a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your strategy, be sure to ask the HVAC technician school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Classes Online
Attending an HVAC program online is one alternative in obtaining your training and earning a certificate or degree. Almost all schools will call for some attendance on campus to participate in practical training. Some also provide internship or work-study programs in addition to or in place of practical lab work. But since the balance of the classes can be participated in via the internet, this option may be a more convenient solution for some New River AZ students that are short on time. And some online degree programs are cheaper than other traditional options. Even commuting expenses from New River and study materials may be minimized, helping to make education more budget-friendly. And many online programs are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your career or family obligations have left you with limited time to attend classes, maybe an online HVAC degree program will make it easier to fit school into your hectic schedule.
Questions For HVAC Trade Schools
After you have decided on the type of degree or certificate that you would like to obtain, either online or on campus, you can begin to narrow down your list of schools. As you are certainly aware, there are many HVAC vocational schools in the New River AZ area and throughout the United States to select from. That's why it is very important to have a checklist of relevant qualifiers when making school evaluations. As previously stated in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will probably be the initial 2 factors you will consider. Following are some additional ones that you will want to explore before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. A large number of HVAC technical programs in the New River AZ area have acquired 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 a specific program, such as HVAC technology. Confirm that the school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency, for instance the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping ensure that you get an excellent education, it can assist in securing financial assistance or student loans, which are often unavailable for non-accredited programs. Additionally, many states require that the HVAC training course be accredited for it to qualify for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the HVAC 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 might indicate that students were dissatisfied with the course and quit. It may also signify that the instructors were not competent to instruct the students. It's similarly essential that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader list of graduates, which can mean more contacts for the school to utilize for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate will not only validate that the school has an excellent reputation within the field, but additionally that it has the network of New River AZ HVAC employers to assist grads secure apprenticeships or jobs.
Apprenticeship Programs. Many HVAC training programs are taught together with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating vocational and trade schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of Heating and Cooling businesses or trade unions. Check if the schools you are considering have working partnerships with local New River AZ HVAC contractors. An apprenticeship not only offers a rewarding experience by furnishing practical training, but it also provides employment opportunities and helps to form relationships in the regional HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make sure that the campus facilities and the equipment that you will be instructed on are up-to-date and what you will be using in the field. If you are currently in an internship or an apprenticeship, talk to the HVAC tech you are working with concerning what you should be looking for. Otherwise, ask a local New River AZ HVAC contracting company if they can provide some tips. Additionally bear in mind that unless you are willing to relocate, the school needs to be within driving distance of your New River AZ residence. Remember that if you decide to attend 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 get as much personalized training as possible, which can be challenging in bigger 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 teachers. Speak to several of the students and get their feedback relating to class sizes and instruction. Last, speak to some of the teachers and learn what their level of experience is and what certifications or degrees they hold.
Flexible Scheduling. Verify that the class schedules for the programs you are assessing are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you are only able to attend classes in the evening or on weekends near New River AZ, check that the programs you are looking at offer those choices. If you can only attend part-time, be sure that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Additionally, find out what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, illness or family emergencies.
Earn Your HVAC Training and Certification
Enrolling in the right HVAC training course is an important first step toward a gratifying career in the heating & cooling field. As we have addressed in this article, you need to 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 lots of practical training and state-of-the-art facilities. You should check out each of the schools personally that you are most interested in to explore the campus and talk with both the faculty and current students. Attempt to get a feel for the quality of the training and the interaction between them. Additionally, ask about scheduling choices and if night or weekend classes are offered if needed. And don't forget to inquire about financial aid and student loan options too. If you ask the right questions as we have outlined in our guidelines for assessing schools, you'll be able to narrow down your choices so that you can make an educated decision. With the right training, hard work and commitment, you can eventually become a licensed HVAC technician in New River AZ.