How to Select the Right HVAC Certification Course near Peoria Arizona
Now that you have come to a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioning professional, the next step is to choose an HVAC vocational school near Peoria AZ. But with so many to pick from, how do you decide on the right one to get the training that you need? A number of prospective students will make their decision based exclusively on the cost of tuition or how near the school is to their residence. Although these are important factors to consider, they are not the only ones to take into account. Some of the other things 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 other criteria will be covered in more detail later within this article. But before we tackle how to pick an HVAC technical school, let's take a look at what a heating and a/c specialist does to become a licensed qualified tradesman.
Becoming an HVAC Specialist
HVAC is an acronym that is extensively used in the business that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC contractors provide services for the installation, maintenance and repair of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are commonly mandated to be licensed, however each state and local municipality has its own criteria. Earning professional certification is not mandatory, but a voluntary way for Peoria AZ HVAC specialists to prove that they are highly proficient and knowledgeable in their area of specialization. There are multiple respected certifications within the trade that are offered. Here are a few of the significant ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally recognized certification for HVAC technicians. The certification is earned by passing a proficiency examination and can be received in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification offers both a professional and a master specialist credential. Two years of field experience in addition to passing a comprehensive exam are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have three years of experience together with a passing score on the professional level exam. As with NATE, certifications are provided in several specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is required for techs that handle refrigerants. There are three forms of certification obtainable, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Since licensing might be required in your area, and you may also wish to earn certification, it's essential that you select an HVAC technical school that will train you for both. And since you will most likely be working with refrigerants, make sure that the school you pick prepares you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.
HVAC Certificate and Degree Classes
There are a variety of choices offered for HVAC instruction in a technical or trade school. You can earn a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Obtaining a certificate will take the minimum amount of time, often completed in as little as six months, though some programs are longer. A certificate will train 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 edge for securing employment and will deliver more in-depth training than the certificate programs. Below is a short summary of each option offered near Peoria AZ.
- Certificate. Usually requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among entry level residential or commercial HVAC professionals. They provide a solid foundation of skills for employment within the trade.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program provides a more exhaustive background of heating & cooling systems than the certificate program. Generally requiring two years to complete, many degrees include an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is suited more towards a career in management as well as business ownership. Some programs call for an Associate Degree, while others are a standard 4 year program. In addition to learning how to service and maintain heating and cooling systems, you will also learn how to design them.
Selecting the ideal credential program will be dependent on what your future career goals 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 Peoria AZ, later returning to acquire a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your tactic, make certain to ask the HVAC technician school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Online Courses
Enrolling in an HVAC school online is one option in obtaining your training and earning a degree or certificate. Almost all schools will require some attendance on campus to complete hands on training. A number also provide internship or work-study programs in addition to or as an alternative to practical lab work. But since the rest of the classes may be participated in on the web, this approach may be a more convenient solution for many Peoria AZ students that are pressed for time. And some online degree programs are cheaper than other traditional alternatives. Even commuting expenses from Peoria and study materials can be minimized, helping to make education more budget-friendly. And many 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 HVAC online training program will make it more convenient to fit school into your active lifestyle.
What to Ask HVAC Trade Schools
Once you have selected the type of certificate or degree that you would like to acquire, either online or on campus, you can begin to limit your list of schools. As you are certainly aware, there are a large number of HVAC technical schools in the Peoria AZ area and across the USA to choose from. That's why it is imperative to have a checklist of relevant qualifiers when making school assessments. As formerly stated in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will undoubtedly be the first two factors you will consider. Following are several additional ones that you will want to investigate before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Many HVAC trade programs in the Peoria AZ area have earned either a regional or a national accreditation. They can receive Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to a specific program, such as HVAC technology. Make certain that the program and school are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization, such as the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping make certain that you get an excellent education, it may assist in securing financial aid or student loans, which are often unavailable for non-accredited schools. Furthermore, some states mandate that the HVAC training course be accredited in order 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 finish the program. A low completion rate might indicate that students were disappointed with the course and quit. It may also mean that the instructors were not qualified to train the students. It's also imperative 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 utilize for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate will not only confirm that the school has a good reputation within the industry, but additionally that it has the network of Peoria AZ HVAC employers to assist students acquire apprenticeships or jobs.
Apprenticeship Programs. A large number of HVAC technical programs are taught along 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. Ask if the schools you are considering have referring relationships with local Peoria AZ HVAC professionals. An apprenticeship not only provides a rewarding experience by providing hands-on training, but it also provides employment opportunities and helps to build relationships in the local HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make certain that the school 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 already in an internship or an apprenticeship, consult with the HVAC technician you are working with concerning what you should be expecting. Otherwise, ask a local Peoria AZ HVAC company if they can provide some tips. Additionally keep in mind that unless you can relocate, the school must be within commuting distance of your Peoria AZ home. Remember that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides the added moving costs there can be higher tuition fees compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's desirable that you get as much personalized training as possible, which can be difficult in larger classes. Ask if you can sit in on a few of the classes so that you can see how big they are and witness first hand the interaction between students and instructors. Talk with some of the students and get their feedback regarding class sizes and instruction. Last, talk to some of the instructors and find out what their level of experience is and what certifications or degrees they hold.
Flexible Scheduling. Confirm that the class schedules for the programs you are evaluating are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you are only able to attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Peoria AZ, verify that the programs you are reviewing offer those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, be sure that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Finally, ask what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, sickness or family responsibilities.
Get Your HVAC Certificate or Degree
Finding the ideal HVAC school course is a critical beginning toward a gratifying career in the heating & cooling trade. As we have covered 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 field. Other things to look for are sufficient hands-on training and modern facilities. You need to check out each of the schools personally that you are most interested in to explore the campus and talk 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 choices and if night or weekend classes are offered if needed. And don't forget to ask about financial aid and student loan options also. If you ask the proper questions as we have laid out in our guidelines for evaluating schools, you'll be able to filter your options so that you can make an educated decision. With the appropriate training, hard work and commitment, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC specialist in Peoria AZ.