How to Select the Right HVAC Training Program near Payson Arizona
Now that you have come to a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioning professional, the next step is to find an HVAC vocational school near Payson AZ. But with so many to choose from, how do you decide on the best one to receive the training that you need? Some prospective students will make their choice based exclusively on the price of tuition or how near the school is to their residence. While these are significant factors to consider, they are not the only ones to investigate. Some of the other things that you need to look into are the graduation completion rates of the HVAC schools, their reputations, and if they are accredited by professional trade organizations. These and additional benchmarks will be covered in more detail later in this article. But before we tackle how to select an HVAC technical school, let's take a look at what a heating and cooling professional does to become a licensed skilled tradesman.
Becoming an HVAC Pro
HVAC is an acronym that is widely used in the trade that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC professionals specialize in the installation, maintenance and repair of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are typically required to be licensed, though every state and local municipality has its own criteria. Earning professional certification is not required, but an alternative means for Payson AZ HVAC technicians to establish that they are exceptionally proficient and experienced in their area of expertise. There are many recognized certifications within the industry that are offered. Below are a few of the important 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 acquired in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification offers both a professional and a master specialist credential. 2 years of professional experience in addition to passing a comprehensive examination are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have 3 years of experience together with a passing score on the professional level examination. Similar to NATE, certifications are provided in various specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is necessary for technicians that work with refrigerants. There are 3 types of certification offered, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Considering that licensing could be mandated in your location, and you may also wish to acquire certification, it's important that you enroll in an HVAC trade school that will train you for both. And since you will more than likely be dealing with refrigerants, make sure that the school you decide on readies you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.
HVAC Degree Schools
There are several choices offered for HVAC instruction in a vocational or trade school. You can obtain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Earning a certificate will take the minimum amount of time, often achieved in as little as 6 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 can provide a competitive edge for securing employment and will furnish more comprehensive training than the certificate programs. Following is a brief summary of each option offered near Payson AZ.
- Certificate. Generally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among entry level commercial or residential HVAC professionals. They furnish a solid foundation of skills for job opportunities within the trade.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program provides a more extensive knowledge of heating & cooling systems than the certificate program. Usually requiring two years to finish, 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 or even business ownership. Some programs require an Associate Degree, while others are a conventional 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 future career aspirations are, together with the time and money that you have to invest. One possibility is to start with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after getting some experience in the trade in Payson AZ, subsequently going back to earn a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your approach, make certain to ask the HVAC tech school you are considering about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Online Training
Attending an HVAC school online is one approach in obtaining your training and receiving a certificate or degree. Most 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 remainder of the classes may be participated in via the internet, this approach may be a more convenient solution for many Payson AZ students that are short on time. And many online degree programs are cheaper than other traditional choices. Even travelling expenses from Payson and study materials may be minimized, helping to make schooling more economical. And a large number of online programs are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your job or family responsibilities have left you with limited time to attend classes, maybe an online HVAC degree program will make it less complicated to accommodate school into your hectic schedule.
Questions For HVAC Training Programs
Once you have selected the type of degree or certificate that you would like to earn, either on campus or online, you can begin to narrow down your selection of schools. As you are certainly aware, there are numerous HVAC technical schools in the Payson AZ area and throughout the Country to choose from. That's why it is imperative to have a checklist of important qualifiers when making school comparisons. As earlier stated in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will most likely be the initial two factors you will consider. Following are several additional ones that you should explore before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Many HVAC technical programs in the Payson AZ area have received either a regional or a national accreditation. They may acquire Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to an individual program, for example HVAC technology. Make certain that the school and program are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization, such as the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping ensure that you get an excellent education, it may assist in securing financial assistance or student loans, which are in many cases unavailable for non-accredited programs. Furthermore, a number of states require that the HVAC training course be accredited in order 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 of students who enroll in and finish the program. A low completion rate could suggest that students were disappointed with the course and dropped out. It could also suggest that the teachers were not qualified to train the students. It's similarly essential 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 employ for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate will not only affirm that the school has an excellent reputation within the field, but additionally that it has the network of Payson AZ HVAC employers to assist students secure apprenticeships or jobs.
Apprenticeship Programs. Numerous HVAC trade programs are taught along with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating technical and vocational schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of HVAC contractors or labor unions. Ask if the schools you are comparing have referring partnerships with local Payson AZ HVAC professionals. An apprenticeship not only offers a rewarding experience by supplying hands-on training, but it also provides job opportunities and helps to build relationships in the local 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 in the field. If you are presently in an internship or an apprenticeship, talk to the HVAC tech you are working under regarding what you should be expecting. If not, ask a local Payson AZ HVAC contractor if they can provide some suggestions. Additionally keep in mind that unless you can move, the school must be within commuting distance of your Payson AZ residence. Take note that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, besides the added moving costs there can be increased tuition charges compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's important that you get as much individualized instruction as possible, which can be difficult in bigger classes. Ask if you can sit in on a few of the classes so that you can see how big they are and experience the interaction between students and instructors. Talk with a few of the students and get their feedback concerning class sizes and instruction. Last, speak to a few of the instructors and find out 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 assessing are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you are only able to attend classes at night or on weekends near Payson AZ, check that the schools you are considering offer those choices. If you can only attend part-time, be sure that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Additionally, find out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, sickness or family issues.
Earn Your Heating and Cooling Degree and Certification
Picking the right HVAC school course is a crucial beginning toward a gratifying career in the heating and air conditioning trade. As we have addressed in this article, you need to pick 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 things to look for are ample practical training and modern facilities. You should go to each of the schools personally 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 teaching and the interaction between them. In addition, inquire about scheduling options and whether night or weekend classes are available if needed. And don't forget to inquire about financial aid and student loan options as well. If you ask the proper questions as we have detailed in our guidelines for comparing schools, you'll be able to filter your options so that you can make an educated decision. With the right training, hard work and dedication, you can eventually become a licensed HVAC technician in Payson AZ.