How to Choose the Right Heating and Cooling Training Class near Peoria Arizona
Once you have decided on a career as a heating and air conditioner technician, the next step is to locate an HVAC vocational school near Peoria AZ. But with so many to choose from, how do you decide on the ideal one to get the training that you need? Some future students will make their decision based solely on the price of tuition or how near the school is to their home. While these are relevant factors to consider, they are not the only ones to take into account. A few of the other factors that you need to investigate are the graduation rates of the HVAC schools, their reputations, and if they are accredited by professional trade organizations. These and additional benchmarks will be addressed in more detail later within this article. But before we explore how to pick an HVAC trade school, let's take a look at what a heating and a/c contractor does to become a licensed professional tradesman.
How to Become an HVAC Specialist
HVAC is an acronym that is commonly used in the business that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC technicians provide services for the installation, maintenance and repair of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are commonly required to be licensed, though each state and local municipality has its own criteria. Acquiring professional certification is not required, but an optional means for Peoria AZ HVAC specialists to prove that they are exceptionally qualified and experienced in their area of expertise. There are many recognized certifications within the field that are available. Following are some of the significant 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 can be received in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification offers both a professional and a master specialist credential. 2 years of field experience in addition to passing a comprehensive examination are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have three years of experience along with a passing result on the professional level examination. As with NATE, certifications are made available in various specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is necessary for specialists that handle refrigerants. There are three forms of certification offered, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Since licensing could 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 train you for both. And since you will most likely be handling refrigerants, make sure that the program you pick prepares you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
HVAC Degree Classes
There are a variety of alternatives offered for HVAC instruction in a vocational or trade school. You can earn a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Acquiring a certificate will take the least period of time, often completed in just 6 months, however some courses are longer. A certificate will train you for most HVAC positions, especially if you are licensed and have certification appropriate to the position. The degree programs might provide a competitive edge in the job market and will provide more in-depth training than the certificate programs. Following is a brief summary of each credential offered near Peoria AZ.
- Certificate. Generally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among beginning residential or commercial HVAC specialists. They furnish a solid foundation of skills for job opportunities within the trade.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program delivers a more extensive knowledge of heating & cooling systems than the certificate program. Usually requiring 2 years to complete, some degrees include 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 require an Associate Degree, while others are a standard 4 year program. In addition to learning how to service and maintain heating and air conditioning systems, you will also learn how to design them.
Picking the right 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 possibility is to begin with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after acquiring some experience in the field in Peoria AZ, subsequently returning to earn a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your tactic, make sure to ask the HVAC technician school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Classes Online
Choosing an HVAC school online is one possibility in obtaining your education and earning a certificate or degree. Nearly all schools will require some attendance on campus to complete practical training. A number 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 can be attended online, this alternative may be a more practical solution for many Peoria AZ students that are pressed for time. And many online degree programs are less expensive than other traditional options. Even commuting expenses from Peoria and study materials can be lessened, helping to make education more economical. And a large number of online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your work or family commitments have left you with minimal time to attend classes, maybe an HVAC online training program will make it more convenient to fit school into your busy lifestyle.
What to Ask HVAC Training Classes
Once you have picked the type of certificate or degree that you wish to attain, either online or on campus, you can start to decrease your selection of schools. As you are probably aware, there are a large number of HVAC trade schools in the Peoria AZ area and throughout the Country to select from. That's why it is extremely important 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 2 aspects you will consider. Following are some additional ones that you will want to investigate before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Many HVAC technical programs in the Peoria AZ area have attained either a regional or a national accreditation. They may attain Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to a specific program, such as HVAC technology. Confirm that the school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting organization, for example the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping make certain that you obtain a superior education, it may assist in securing financial assistance or student loans, which are in many cases unavailable for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of states mandate that the HVAC training program be accredited in order to be approved 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 percentage or portion of students who enroll in and finish the course. A low completion rate might indicate that students were unhappy with the course and quit. It may also signify 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 graduates, which may mean 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 industry, but additionally that it has the network of Peoria AZ HVAC employers to assist grads obtain apprenticeships or jobs.
Apprenticeship Programs. Numerous HVAC trade programs are taught in conjunction with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating vocational and technical schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of Heating and Cooling businesses or labor unions. Check if the schools you are reviewing have working relationships with local Peoria AZ HVAC specialists. An apprenticeship not only provides a rewarding experience by furnishing hands-on training, but it also furnishes employment opportunities and helps to build relationships in the local 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 currently in an internship or an apprenticeship, check with the HVAC specialist you are working with concerning what you should be looking for. If not, ask a local Peoria AZ HVAC contracting company if they can provide some pointers. Additionally keep in mind that unless you can relocate, the school needs to be within driving distance of your Peoria AZ residence. Remember that if you decide to enroll in 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 personalized instruction as possible, which can be challenging in bigger classes. Ask if you can sit in on a few of the classes so that you can see how large they are and experience the interaction between students and teachers. Speak with a few of the students and get their comments regarding class sizes and instruction. Finally, talk to a few of the instructors and find out what their level of experience is and what degrees or certifications they hold.
Flexible Scheduling. Confirm that the class schedules for the programs you are reviewing are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Peoria AZ, check that the programs you are looking at provide those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, be sure that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Finally, check out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, illness or family responsibilities.
Earn Your HVAC Degree and Certification
Choosing the ideal HVAC school course is a critical first step toward a gratifying career in the heating and air conditioning trade. As we have addressed in this article, you need to select a Heating and Cooling training program and a degree or certificate program that are both accredited and have outstanding reputations within the HVAC community. Other factors to look for are sufficient hands-on training and state-of-the-art facilities. You should visit each of the schools personally that you are most interested in to explore the campus and speak with both the current students and faculty. Try to get a feel for the quality of the instruction and the interaction between them. In addition, inquire about scheduling options and whether night or weekend classes are available if needed. And remember to inquire about financial aid and student loan options too. If you ask the appropriate questions as we have detailed in our checklist for assessing schools, you'll be able to filter your choices 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 Peoria AZ.