How to Pick the Right Heating and Cooling Certificate Program near New River Arizona
Once you have decided on a career as a heating and cooling professional, the next step is to look for an HVAC vocational school near New River AZ. But with so many to select from, how do you decide on the right one to receive the training that you require? A number of future students will make their decision based exclusively on the cost of tuition or how close the school is to their residence. Although these are necessary factors to consider, they are not the only ones to evaluate. Some of the other things that you need to research are the graduation 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 choose an HVAC trade school, let's look at what a heating and air conditioning specialist does to become a licensed qualified tradesman.
How to Become an HVAC Professional
HVAC is an acronym that is frequently used in the industry 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 professional tradesmen, they are generally required to be licensed, however every state and local municipality has its own prerequisites. Earning professional certification is not required, but an optional way for New River AZ HVAC technicians to prove that they are highly qualified and knowledgeable in their area of expertise. There are multiple respected certifications within the trade that are offered. Following are some of the important ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally acknowledged certification for HVAC technicians. The certification is achieved 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. 2 years of field experience together with passing a comprehensive exam 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 various specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is required for technicians that handle refrigerants. There are 3 forms of certification obtainable, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Since licensing could be mandated in your area, and you may also intend to obtain certification, it's essential that you enroll in an HVAC trade school that will train you for both. And since you will more than likely be handling refrigerants, make certain that the school you select readies you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
HVAC Degree and Certificate Training Programs
There are a number of options offered for HVAC instruction in a vocational or trade school. You can obtain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Obtaining a certificate will take the lesser amount of time, often accomplished 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 advantage for securing employment and will deliver 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 beginning residential or commercial HVAC specialists. They furnish a strong foundation of skills for employment within the industry.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program delivers a more comprehensive understanding of heating and a/c systems than the certificate program. Usually taking 2 years to finish, a number of 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 require 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 learn how to design them.
Choosing the ideal credential program will be dependent on what your long term career aspirations are, in addition to the time and money that you have to commit. One approach is to begin with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after gaining some experience in the trade in New River AZ, later going back to obtain a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your strategy, make sure to ask the HVAC technician school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Online Classes
Attending an HVAC program online is one approach to attaining your education and receiving a degree or certificate. Almost all schools will require some attendance on campus to take part in hands on training. Many also offer internship or work-study programs in addition to or as an alternative to practical lab work. But since the rest of the classes may be attended online, this alternative may be a more practical solution for many New River AZ students that are pressed for time. And some online degree programs are cheaper than other on campus options. Even driving expenses from New River and study materials can be minimized, helping to make schooling more budget-friendly. And a large number of online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your work or family commitments have left you with limited time to attend classes, maybe an HVAC online training program will make it more convenient to fit school into your hectic schedule.
Questions to Ask HVAC Training Classes
After you have selected the type of degree or certificate that you wish to attain, either on campus or online, you can start to decrease your selection of schools. As you are certainly aware, there are numerous HVAC trade schools in the New River AZ area and across the United States to select 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 probably be the first two factors you will look at. Following are several additional ones that you need to research before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Many HVAC technical programs in the New River AZ area have received either a regional or a national accreditation. They can acquire Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to an individual program, for instance HVAC technology. Confirm that the school and program are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency, for instance the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping ensure that you obtain a superior education, it may help in obtaining financial assistance or student loans, which are often not available for non-accredited schools. Furthermore, a number of states require that the HVAC training program be accredited in order to be approved for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the Heating and Air Conditioning schools you are reviewing 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 suggest that students were unhappy with the program and quit. It may also mean that the teachers were not competent to train 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 alumni, which may mean 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 trade, but additionally that it has the network of New River AZ HVAC employers to assist graduates secure apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. Many HVAC vocational programs are taught together with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating trade and vocational programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of HVAC businesses or trade unions. Check if the schools you are considering have referring partnerships with local New River AZ HVAC contractors. An apprenticeship not only provides a rewarding experience by providing hands-on training, but it also provides employment opportunities and helps to establish relationships in the local HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make sure that the campus facilities and the tools that you will be instructed on are up-to-date and what you will be working with on the job. If you are currently in an internship or an apprenticeship, talk to the HVAC tech you are working under concerning what you should be looking for. Otherwise, ask a local New River AZ HVAC contracting company if they can give you some pointers. Additionally bear in mind that unless you are able to move, the school needs to be within commuting distance of your New River AZ residence. Remember that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides the added relocation costs there can be higher tuition charges compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's desirable that you receive as much individualized instruction as possible, which can be challenging in bigger classes. Ask if you can sit in on a couple of the classes so that you can observe how big they are and witness first hand the interaction between students and instructors. Speak with some of the students and get their opinions relating to class sizes and instruction. Last, talk to some of the instructors and find out what their level of experience is and what degrees or certifications they have earned.
Flexible Scheduling. Make sure that the class schedules for the programs you are reviewing 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 provide those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Additionally, check out what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, illness or family issues.
Find Out More About New River Heating and Cooling Schools Near You
Earn Your Heating and Cooling Certificate or Degree
Picking the ideal HVAC training program is a critical beginning toward a rewarding career in the heating and air conditioning industry. As we have discussed 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 community. Other features to look for are sufficient hands-on training and state-of-the-art facilities. You need to check out each of the schools personally that you are most interested in to tour 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. In addition, ask about scheduling choices and if evening or weekend classes are offered if needed. And remember to ask about financial assistance and student loan options too. If you ask the right questions as we have outlined in our checklist for comparing 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 ultimately become a licensed HVAC contractor in New River AZ.