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How to Choose the Right Heating and Cooling Training Program near Peoria Arizona

Peoria Arizona residential air conditioning condensersOnce you have made a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioning professional, the next action is to find an HVAC vocational school near Peoria AZ. But with so many to pick from, how do you decide on the ideal one to obtain the training that you require? Some future students will make their decision based exclusively on the cost of tuition or how close the school is to their home. While these are necessary considerations, they are not the only ones to investigate. Just 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. Those and additional criteria will be covered in more detail later in this article. But before we tackle how to select an HVAC vocational school, let's take a look at what a heating and air conditioning technician does to become a licensed professional tradesman.

How to Become an HVAC Pro

Peoria Arizona Heating and Cooling Tech fixing air conditioning condenserHVAC is an acronym that is frequently used in the industry that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC technicians provide services for the installation, maintenance and repair of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are commonly required to be licensed, although each state and local municipality has its own criteria. Earning professional certification is not required, but an alternative way for Peoria AZ HVAC techs to prove that they are exceptionally skilled and accomplished in their area of expertise. There are a number of respected certifications within the industry that are available. Below are a few of the important ones.

  • North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally recognized certification for HVAC technicians. The certification is earned by passing a competency examination and may be earned 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 needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have three years of experience together with a passing score on the professional level examination. As with NATE, certifications are offered in multiple specialties.
  • EPA Section 608. This certification is required for technicians that work with refrigerants. There are three forms of certification offered, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.

Considering that licensing could be required in your location, and you may also desire to obtain certification, it's imperative that you pick an HVAC vocational school that will prepare you for both. And since you will probably be handling refrigerants, make sure that the school you pick prepares you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.

HVAC Certificate and Degree Courses

Peoria Arizona home heating pump

There are a number of choices available for HVAC training in a technical or vocational school. You can obtain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Acquiring a certificate will take the least amount of time, typically completed in just six months, however some courses are longer. A certificate will train you for the majority of HVAC positions, particularly if you are licensed and have certification applicable to the position. The degree training programs might provide a competitive edge in the job market and will furnish more extensive training than the certificate programs. Below is a short explanation of each option offered near Peoria AZ.

  • Certificate. Usually requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among entry level commercial or residential HVAC technicians. They furnish a strong foundation of skills for employment within the industry.
  • Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program provides a more detailed knowledge of heating and cooling systems than the certificate program. Generally taking two years to finish, some degrees incorporate an internship or work-study program.
  • Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is geared more towards a career in management as well as business ownership. Some programs call for an Associate Degree, while others are a conventional 4 year program. In addition to being taught how to service and maintain heating and cooling systems, you will also learn how to design them.

Choosing the ideal credential program will be based on what your future career objectives are, as well as the time and money that you have to invest. One option is to start with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after acquiring some experience in the trade in Peoria AZ, subsequently returning to obtain a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your strategy, make certain to ask the HVAC tech school you are considering about how their returning student program works.

HVAC Training Online

Attending an HVAC program online is one option to obtaining your education and earning a degree or certificate. Most schools will require some attendance on campus to complete practical training. Some also offer internship or work-study programs in addition to or instead of practical lab work. But since the rest of the classes can be attended on the web, this option may be a more convenient solution for many Peoria AZ students that are short on time. And some online degree programs are less expensive than other traditional alternatives. Even driving expenses from Peoria and study materials can be reduced, helping to make education more budget-friendly. And numerous online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your career or family responsibilities have left you with minimal time to attend classes, maybe an HVAC online training program will make it less complicated to fit school into your hectic schedule.

What to Ask HVAC Training Programs

Peoria Arizona HVAC contractor installing water heater

After you have chosen the type of degree or certificate that you wish to obtain, either on campus or online, you can start to decrease your selection of schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are numerous HVAC technical schools in the Peoria AZ area and across the Country to choose from. That's why it is extremely important to have a checklist of relevant qualifications when making school comparisons. As formerly mentioned in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will most likely be the first 2 factors you will take into consideration. Following are some additional ones that you will want to explore before enrolling in your school of choice.

Accreditation.  Many HVAC trade schools in the Peoria AZ area have earned either a regional or a national accreditation. They may receive Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to an individual program, for example HVAC technology. Verify that the school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization, such as the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping ensure that you obtain a quality education, it can help in acquiring financial assistance or student loans, which are in many cases not available for non-accredited schools. Also, some states mandate that the HVAC training course be accredited for it to qualify for licensing.

High Completion Rates.  Ask the Heating and Cooling schools you are reviewing what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage or portion of students who enroll in and finish the program. A low completion rate may suggest that students were dissatisfied with the course and quit. It could also indicate that the instructors were not competent to instruct the students. It's also essential that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive list of alumni, which can mean more contacts for the school to use for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate can not only validate that the school has a good reputation within the trade, but additionally that it has the network of Peoria AZ HVAC employers to assist graduates secure apprenticeships or employment.

Apprenticeship Programs.  A large number of HVAC vocational programs are taught in conjunction with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating trade and technical schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of Heating and Cooling contractors or trade unions. Check if the schools you are comparing have referring relationships with local Peoria AZ HVAC professionals. An apprenticeship not only offers a rewarding experience by supplying hands-on training, but it also supplies job opportunities and helps to form relationships in the area HVAC professional community.

Modern Facilities.  Make sure that the school facilities and the tools that you will be instructed on are state-of-the-art and what you will be working with on the job. If you are presently in an internship or an apprenticeship, talk to the HVAC technician you are working with regarding what you should be expecting. If not, ask a local Peoria AZ HVAC contracting company if they can give you some tips. Additionally keep in mind that unless you are willing to move, the school must be within commuting distance of your Peoria 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 fees compared to in-state residents.

Smaller Classes.   It's important that you get as much personalized instruction as possible, which can be challenging in bigger classes. Ask if you can monitor a few of the classes so that you can observe how big they are and witness first hand the interaction between students and instructors. Speak with several of the students and get their comments concerning class sizes and instruction. Finally, talk with some of the instructors and learn what their level of experience is and what certifications or degrees they have earned.

Flexible Scheduling.  Confirm that the class schedules for the schools you are evaluating are flexible enough to handle your needs. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Peoria AZ, verify that the programs you are reviewing offer those choices. If you can only attend part-time, be sure that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Additionally, check out what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, illness or family responsibilities.

Learn More About Peoria HVAC Training Programs In Your Area

Get Your Heating and Cooling Degree and Certification

Picking the right HVAC training program is a crucial beginning toward a fulfilling career in the heating and cooling trade. 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 excellent reputations within the HVAC trade. Other factors to look for are sufficient hands-on training and state-of-the-art facilities. You need to visit each of the schools personally 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, inquire about scheduling choices and if evening or weekend classes are offered if needed. And remember to inquire about financial aid and student loan options too. If you ask the right questions as we have laid out in our guidelines for comparing schools, you'll be able to filter your options so that you can make an educated decision. With the proper training, hard work and dedication, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC contractor in Peoria AZ.