How to Choose the Right HVAC Program near Peoria Arizona
Now that you have come to a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioner technician, the next action is to locate an HVAC trade school near Peoria AZ. But with so many to pick from, how do you decide on the best one to obtain the training that you require? Some potential students will make their decision based solely 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 evaluate. 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 other benchmarks will be covered in more detail later in this article. But before we tackle how to pick an HVAC trade school, let's take a look at what a heating and a/c technician does to become a licensed professional tradesman.
Becoming an HVAC Technician
HVAC is an acronym that is extensively used in the business that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC techs specialize in the installation, maintenance and repair of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are generally required to be licensed, although each state and local municipality has its own prerequisites. Attaining professional certification is not required, but an alternative way for Peoria AZ HVAC techs to establish that they are highly skilled and accomplished in their area of specialization. There are multiple respected certifications within the industry that are offered. Following are some 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 examination and can be earned 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 exam are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have 3 years of experience as well as a passing score on the professional level examination. Similar to NATE, certifications are made available in multiple specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is required for technicians that handle refrigerants. There are 3 forms of certification offered, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Since licensing might be mandated in your location, and you may also wish to earn certification, it's important that you enroll in an HVAC vocational school that will train you for both. And since you will probably be handling refrigerants, make certain that the school you select readies you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
HVAC Degree Courses
There are a variety of options offered for HVAC instruction in a technical or trade school. You can attain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Earning a certificate will take the least amount of time, usually accomplished in as little as six months, however some programs are longer. A certificate will qualify you for the majority of HVAC positions, especially if you are licensed and have certification related to the position. The degree training programs may provide a competitive advantage for securing employment and will provide more comprehensive training than the certificate programs. Below is a short explanation of each credential offered near Peoria AZ.
- Certificate. Usually requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among beginning commercial or residential HVAC professionals. They furnish a solid foundation of skills for employment within the trade.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program provides a more comprehensive background of heating & cooling systems than the certificate program. Generally taking two years to finish, a number of degrees feature an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is tailored more for a career in management as well as business ownership. Some programs require 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 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 commit. One possibility is to begin with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after getting some experience in the trade in Peoria AZ, subsequently returning to earn a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your approach, make certain to ask the HVAC tech school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Online Classes
Enrolling in an HVAC school online is one alternative to getting your training and receiving a certificate or degree. Almost all schools will require some attendance on campus to take part in practical training. Many also sponsor internship or work-study programs in addition to or as an alternative to practical lab work. But since the balance of the classes may be attended online, this approach may be a more accessible solution for many Peoria AZ students that are pressed for time. And some online degree programs are less expensive than other traditional choices. Even commuting expenses from Peoria and study materials can 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 career or family responsibilities have left you with minimal time to attend classes, maybe an online HVAC degree program will make it more convenient to accommodate school into your busy lifestyle.
Questions to Ask HVAC Training Classes
As soon as you have selected the type of certificate or degree that you desire to obtain, either on campus or online, you can start to narrow down your selection of schools. As you are certainly aware, there are a large number of HVAC trade schools in the Peoria AZ area and across the USA to choose from. That's why it is essential to have a checklist of important qualifiers when making school comparisons. As earlier stated in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will undoubtedly be the initial two factors you will take into consideration. Following are several additional ones that you should investigate before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Numerous HVAC trade programs in the Peoria AZ area have attained either a regional or a national accreditation. They can receive Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to a specific program, such as HVAC technology. Make certain that the school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization, for example the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping ensure that you obtain a quality education, it can assist in acquiring financial assistance or student loans, which are often unavailable for non-accredited programs. Furthermore, some states require that the HVAC training course be accredited in order to qualify for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the HVAC schools you are considering what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage of students who enroll in and finish the course. A lower completion rate might signify that students were disappointed with the course and quit. It might also suggest that the teachers were not qualified 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 more extensive directory of alumni, which may produce more contacts for the school to utilize 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 industry, but also that it has the network of Peoria AZ HVAC employers to assist grads obtain apprenticeships or jobs.
Apprenticeship Programs. Most HVAC trade programs are taught in conjunction with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating technical and vocational programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of HVAC companies or trade unions. Ask if the schools you are comparing have referring relationships with local Peoria AZ HVAC contractors. An apprenticeship not only provides a valuable experience by supplying practical training, but it also provides employment opportunities and helps to form relationships in the local HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make sure that the school facilities and the tools that you will be trained on are state-of-the-art and what you will be using in the field. If you are currently in an internship or an apprenticeship, check with the HVAC technician you are working with regarding what you should be looking for. If not, ask a local Peoria AZ HVAC contractor 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 home. Take note that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to moving costs there can be increased tuition charges compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's important that you get as much personalized training as possible, which can be challenging in bigger classes. Ask if you can monitor some of the classes so that you can see how large they are and experience the interaction between students and teachers. Speak to several of the students and get their comments concerning class sizes and instruction. Last, talk with some of the teachers 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 reviewing are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Peoria AZ, verify that the schools you are reviewing offer those choices. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, be sure that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Finally, check out what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, illness or family emergencies.
Get Your Heating and Cooling Training and Certification
Enrolling in the right HVAC school course is a critical first step toward a fulfilling career in the heating and cooling industry. As we have addressed in this article, you need to select 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 things to search for are plenty of hands-on training and modern facilities. You should check out each of the schools personally that you are most interested in to tour the campus and speak with both the current students and faculty. Try to get a feel for the quality of the teaching and the interaction between them. Additionally, ask about scheduling choices and whether evening or weekend classes are offered if needed. And remember to ask about financial aid and student loan options also. If you ask the appropriate questions as we have laid out in our checklist for comparing schools, you'll be able to filter your choices so that you can make an educated decision. With the appropriate training, hard work and commitment, you can eventually become a licensed HVAC technician in Peoria AZ.