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How to Select the Right Heating and Cooling Certificate Program near Payson Arizona

Payson Arizona residential A/C condensersNow that you have come to a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioner specialist, the next action is to locate an HVAC technical school near Payson AZ. But with so many to pick from, how do you pick the ideal one to obtain the training that you need? Many prospective students will make their decision based entirely on the cost of tuition or how close the school is to their home. Although these are necessary concerns, they are not the only ones to investigate. A few of the other things that you need to look into are the graduation rates of the HVAC schools, their reputations, and if they are accredited by professional trade organizations. Those and additional criteria will be covered in more detail later within this article. But before we examine how to select an HVAC vocational school, let's take a look at what a heating and cooling professional does to become a licensed skilled tradesman.

How to Become an HVAC Contractor

Payson Arizona HVAC Technician inspecting A/C condenserHVAC is an acronym that is widely used in the trade that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC professionals provide services for the installation, repair and maintenance of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are typically mandated to be licensed, however every state and local municipality has its own prerequisites. Attaining professional certification is not compulsory, but a voluntary way for Payson AZ HVAC specialists to demonstrate that they are exceptionally proficient and accomplished in their area of expertise. There are many respected certifications within the industry that are available. Following are a few of the significant ones.

  • North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally acknowledged certification for HVAC technicians. 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 professional experience in addition to passing a comprehensive examination are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have three years of experience together with 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 specialists that work with refrigerants. There are 3 types of certification offered, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.

Because licensing may be mandated in your area, and you may also intend to acquire certification, it's essential that you enroll in an HVAC vocational school that will prepare you for both. And since you will more than likely be dealing with refrigerants, make sure that the program you decide on prepares you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.

HVAC Degree Training Programs

Payson Arizona residential heater

There are a number of choices available for HVAC training in a technical or trade school. You can attain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Acquiring a certificate will take the minimum period of time, usually achieved in as little as 6 months, however some programs are longer. A certificate will train you for the majority of HVAC positions, particularly if you are licensed and have certification related to the position. The degree programs may provide a competitive edge for securing employment and will provide more extensive training than the certificate programs. Below is a brief summary of each credential offered near Payson AZ.

  • Certificate. Usually requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among entry level commercial or residential HVAC professionals. They furnish a strong foundation of skills for job opportunities within the industry.
  • Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program provides a more extensive knowledge of heating & cooling systems than the certificate program. Typically taking 2 years to finish, a number of degrees feature 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 require an Associate Degree, while others are a traditional 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.

Picking the appropriate credential program will be dependent on what your long term career aspirations are, as well as the time and money 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 trade in Payson AZ, later going back to obtain a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your tactic, be sure to ask the HVAC tech school you are considering about how their returning student program works.

HVAC Online Classes

Choosing an HVAC school online is one approach to obtaining your education and receiving a degree or certificate. Nearly all schools will require some attendance on campus to complete hands on training. Many also provide internship or work-study programs in addition to or in place of practical lab work. But since the rest of the classes may be attended via the internet, this approach may be a more accessible solution for many Payson AZ students that are pressed for time. And many online degree programs are cheaper than other on campus choices. Even commuting expenses from Payson and study materials may be lessened, helping to make education more economical. And a large number of online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your job or family responsibilities have left you with minimal time to attend classes, perhaps an online HVAC degree program will make it easier to accommodate school into your hectic schedule.

What to Ask HVAC Trade Schools

Payson Arizona Heating and Cooling technician replacing water heater

Once you have decided on the type of certificate or degree that you wish to obtain, either online or on campus, you can begin to limit your list of schools. As you are probably aware, there are a large number of HVAC trade schools in the Payson AZ area and across the Country to pick from. That's why it is essential to have a list of relevant qualifications when making school evaluations. As earlier mentioned in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will probably be the initial two variables you will take into consideration. Following are some additional ones that you will want to investigate before enrolling in your school of choice.

Accreditation.  Numerous HVAC vocational schools in the Payson AZ area have attained either a regional or a national accreditation. They can attain Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to a specific program, such as HVAC technology. Make sure that the program is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization, for example the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping make certain that you get a superior education, it may assist in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are frequently not available for non-accredited schools. Furthermore, many states require that the HVAC training course be accredited for it to be approved for licensing.

High Completion Rates.  Ask the HVAC schools you are reviewing what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage of students who enroll in and complete the program. A lower completion rate might indicate that students were unhappy with the course and dropped out. It could also signify that the instructors were not qualified to train the students. It's also important that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive directory of graduates, which can result in more contacts for the school to use 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 trade, but also that it has the network of Payson AZ HVAC employers to help grads obtain apprenticeships or jobs.

Apprenticeship Programs.  A large number of HVAC vocational programs are taught in conjunction with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating trade and vocational programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of HVAC businesses or labor unions. Ask if the schools you are reviewing have referring partnerships with local Payson AZ HVAC companies. An apprenticeship not only provides a rewarding experience by supplying hands-on training, but it also provides job opportunities and helps to form relationships in the area HVAC professional community.

Modern Facilities.  Make certain that the campus facilities and the tools that you will be instructed on are up-to-date and what you will be using on the job. If you are presently in an internship or an apprenticeship, consult with the HVAC tech you are working under regarding what you should be looking for. Otherwise, ask a local Payson AZ HVAC contractor if they can provide some pointers. Additionally bear in mind that unless you can relocate, the school must be within commuting distance of your Payson AZ home. Remember that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides the added relocation costs there might be increased tuition fees compared to in-state residents.

Smaller Classes.   It's important that you get as much one-on-one training 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 big they are and experience the interaction between students and instructors. Speak with several of the students and get their feedback concerning class sizes and instruction. Last, speak to some of the teachers and learn what their level of experience is and what degrees or certifications they hold.

Flexible Scheduling.  Make sure that the class schedules for the programs you are reviewing are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Payson AZ, verify that the schools you are comparing provide those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Finally, find out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, sickness or family emergencies.

Learn More About Payson HVAC Programs In Your Area

Get Your Heating and Cooling Certificate or Degree

Enrolling in the ideal HVAC school program is an important beginning toward a rewarding career in the heating and cooling trade. As we have discussed in this article, you should pick a Heating and Cooling training program and a certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have exceptional reputations within the HVAC trade. Other features to search for are sufficient practical training and modern facilities. You should go to each of the schools in person that you are most interested in to tour the campus and speak 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 available if needed. And remember to ask about financial assistance and student loan options as well. If you ask the proper questions as we have outlined in our guidelines for evaluating schools, you'll be able to narrow down your options so that you can make an informed decision. With the proper training, hard work and commitment, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC technician in Payson AZ.