How to Enroll In the Right HVAC Degree Program near Payson Arizona
Now that you have decided on a career as a heating and air conditioner specialist, the next action is to choose an HVAC trade school near Payson AZ. But with so many to pick from, how do you choose the ideal one to get the training that you require? Many potential students will make their decision based exclusively on the cost of tuition or how near the school is to their residence. Even though these are relevant factors to consider, they are not the only ones to evaluate. Some of the other factors that you need to research 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 discuss how to pick an HVAC technical school, let's look at what a heating and cooling technician does to become a licensed qualified tradesman.
Becoming an HVAC Professional
HVAC is an acronym that is extensively used in the industry that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC contractors specialize in the installation, maintenance and repair of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are typically required to be licensed, though every state and local municipality has its own criteria. Obtaining professional certification is not compulsory, but an optional means for Payson AZ HVAC technicians to demonstrate that they are highly proficient and experienced in their area of specialization. There are multiple recognized certifications within the field that are offered. Following are a few of the significant ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally acknowledged certification for HVAC techs. The certification is achieved by passing a competency exam and can be acquired in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification offers both a professional and a master specialist credential. Two years of field experience as well as passing a comprehensive exam are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have three years of experience together with a passing result on the professional level exam. As with NATE, certifications are made available in multiple specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is necessary for technicians that work with refrigerants. There are 3 forms of certification obtainable, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Because licensing may be required in your area, and you may also intend to earn certification, it's essential that you enroll in an HVAC trade school that will prepare you for both. And since you will probably be working with refrigerants, make sure that the school you pick prepares you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.
HVAC Degree and Certificate Classes
There are several choices available 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 minimum period of time, often accomplished in just 6 months, however some courses are longer. A certificate will qualify you for the majority of HVAC positions, especially if you are licensed and have certification appropriate to the position. The degree training programs may provide a competitive edge for securing employment and will provide more extensive training than the certificate programs. Below is a short summary of each option offered near Payson AZ.
- Certificate. Generally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among entry level residential or commercial HVAC technicians. They furnish a strong foundation of skills for job opportunities within the industry.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program delivers a more detailed understanding of heating and a/c systems than the certificate program. Typically taking two years to complete, a number of 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 or even business ownership. Some programs call for an Associate Degree, while others are a conventional four 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 ideal credential program will be dependent on what your future career aspirations are, as well as the time and money that you have to invest. One approach is to start with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after getting some experience in the trade in Payson AZ, eventually going back to obtain a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your tactic, be sure to ask the HVAC technician school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Online Classes
Choosing an HVAC school online is one alternative to attaining your training and receiving a degree or certificate. Nearly all schools will require some attendance on campus to complete practical 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 can be participated in on the web, this option may be a more convenient solution for many Payson AZ students that are short on time. And a number of online degree programs are less expensive than other traditional alternatives. Even driving expenses from Payson and study supplies may be reduced, helping to make education more economical. And many online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your work or family commitments have left you with little time to attend classes, maybe an HVAC online training program will make it easier to fit school into your active schedule.
Questions For HVAC Training Programs
Once you have chosen the type of degree or certificate that you desire to acquire, either online or on campus, you can start to decrease your list of schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are a large number of HVAC vocational schools in the Payson AZ area and throughout the Country to pick from. That's why it is essential to have a list of key qualifiers when making school evaluations. As previously mentioned in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will probably be the first two variables you will consider. Following are several additional ones that you need to research before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. A large number of HVAC trade programs 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 as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to a specific program, for instance HVAC technology. Confirm that the program and school are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting organization, for example the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping guarantee that you obtain a superior education, it can help in securing financial aid or student loans, which are often unavailable for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of states require that the HVAC training program be accredited for it to qualify for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the Heating and Cooling schools you are looking at what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students who enroll in and complete the program. A low completion rate could suggest that students were disappointed with the course and quit. It might also signify that the teachers were not qualified to instruct 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 alumni, 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 affirm that the school has an excellent reputation within the trade, but also that it has the network of Payson AZ HVAC employers to help graduates obtain apprenticeships or jobs.
Apprenticeship Programs. Numerous HVAC vocational programs are taught together with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating vocational and technical programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of Heating and Cooling businesses or labor unions. Check if the schools you are reviewing have working relationships with local Payson AZ HVAC companies. An apprenticeship not only offers a valuable experience by supplying hands-on training, but it also provides employment opportunities and helps to build relationships in the regional HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Confirm that the campus facilities and the tools that you will be instructed on are up-to-date and what you will be using in the field. If you are already in an internship or an apprenticeship, consult with the HVAC technician you are working with concerning what you should be looking for. Otherwise, ask a local Payson AZ HVAC contracting company if they can give you some tips. Additionally keep in mind that unless you can move, the school needs to be within driving distance of your Payson AZ home. Take note that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, besides the added moving costs there might be increased tuition fees compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's important that you receive as much one-on-one instruction as possible, which can be difficult in larger classes. Ask if you can monitor some of the classes so that you can see how big they are and experience the interaction between teachers and students. Speak with several of the students and get their opinions concerning class sizes and instruction. Finally, speak with a few of the teachers and find out what their level of experience is and what certifications or degrees they hold.
Flexible Scheduling. Make sure that the class schedules for the schools you are reviewing are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you are only able to go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Payson AZ, confirm that the schools you are comparing offer those options. If you can only attend part-time, make certain that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Finally, ask what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, sickness or family issues.
Earn Your Heating and Cooling Training and Certification
Selecting the right HVAC training course is an important beginning toward a rewarding career in the heating & cooling industry. As we have addressed in this article, you should pick 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 sufficient practical training and modern facilities. You should visit each of the schools in person that you are most interested in to inspect the campus and speak with both the faculty and current students. Attempt to get a feel for the quality of the instruction and the interaction between them. In addition, ask about scheduling options and whether or not night or weekend classes are offered if needed. And don't forget to inquire about financial aid and student loan options as well. If you ask the appropriate questions as we have detailed in our guidelines for comparing schools, you'll be able to narrow down your options so that you can make an informed decision. With the appropriate training, hard work and commitment, you can eventually become a licensed HVAC specialist in Payson AZ.