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

Peoria Arizona home air conditioning condensersOnce you have made a decision on a career as a heating and cooling specialist, the next action is to locate an HVAC technical school near Peoria AZ. But with so many to pick from, how do you select the best one to obtain the training that you require? Many potential students will make their decision based solely on the price of tuition or how near the school is to their home. Although these are necessary considerations, they are not the only ones to take into account. Just some of the other factors that you need to research are the graduation rates of the HVAC schools, their reputations, and if they are accredited by professional trade organizations. These and other criteria will be discussed in more detail later within this article. But before we discuss how to choose an HVAC training program, let's look at what a heating and air conditioning contractor does to become a licensed professional tradesman.

How to Become an HVAC Pro

Peoria Arizona Heating and Cooling Technician fixing A/C condenserHVAC 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 central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are commonly mandated to be licensed, though each state and regional municipality has its own prerequisites. Earning professional certification is not required, but a voluntary way for Peoria AZ HVAC techs to establish that they are highly skilled and knowledgeable in their area of specialization. There are a number of acknowledged certifications within the industry that are offered. Following are some of the significant ones.

  • North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally recognized certification for HVAC technicians. The certification is achieved by passing a proficiency exam and may be acquired in one or more specialties.
  • HVAC Excellence. This certification offers both a professional and a master specialist credential. 2 years of field experience as well as passing a comprehensive examination are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have 3 years of experience as well as a passing result on the professional level examination. Similar to NATE, certifications are offered in several specialties.
  • EPA Section 608. This certification is necessary for specialists that work with refrigerants. There are three types of certification obtainable, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.

Considering that licensing may be mandated in your location, and you may also wish to earn certification, it's important that you pick an HVAC vocational school that will prepare you for both. And since you will probably be working with refrigerants, make sure that the school you choose preps you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.

HVAC Degree Training Programs

Peoria Arizona residential heat pump

There are a number of choices offered for HVAC training in a technical or vocational school. You can earn a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Obtaining a certificate will take the lesser period of time, often accomplished in as little as six months, although some programs are longer. A certificate will train you for most HVAC positions, especially if you are licensed and have certification relevant to the position. The degree training programs may provide a competitive edge in the job market and will furnish more extensive training than the certificate programs. Following is a short explanation of each option offered near Peoria AZ.

  • Certificate. Generally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among beginning commercial or residential HVAC technicians. They furnish a strong foundation of skills for employment within the trade.
  • Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program delivers a more detailed understanding of heating & cooling systems than the certificate program. Typically requiring two years to finish, some 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 require an Associate Degree, while others are a standard 4 year program. In addition to mastering how to service and maintain heating and cooling systems, you will also study how to design them.

Selecting the ideal credential program will be dependent on what your long term career goals are, along with the time and money that you have to invest. One option is to begin with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after gaining some experience in the trade in Peoria AZ, later returning to acquire 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 Courses

Enrolling in an HVAC school online is one approach in attaining your education and earning a degree or certificate. Almost all schools will call for some attendance on campus to complete hands on training. A number also offer internship or work-study programs in addition to or as an alternative to practical lab work. But since the rest of the classes can be participated in via the internet, this option may be a more convenient solution for some Peoria AZ students that are short on time. And some online degree programs are more economical than other on campus choices. Even commuting expenses from Peoria and study materials can be reduced, helping to make schooling more affordable. And many online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your job or family commitments have left you with little time to attend classes, perhaps an HVAC online training program will make it less complicated to accommodate school into your hectic lifestyle.

Questions For HVAC Training Programs

Peoria Arizona HVAC contractor installing water heater

As soon as you have selected the type of certificate or degree that you desire to attain, either online or on campus, you can begin to limit your selection of schools. As you are probably aware, there are numerous HVAC vocational schools in the Peoria AZ area and across the Country to pick from. That's why it is essential to have a list of important qualifications when making school evaluations. As earlier stated in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will undoubtedly be the initial two aspects you will take into consideration. Following are some additional ones that you need to explore before enrolling in your school of choice.

Accreditation.  Numerous HVAC technical programs in the Peoria AZ area have received either a regional or a national accreditation. They may earn Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to a specific program, for example HVAC technology. Verify that the program is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting organization, which includes the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping make certain that you receive an excellent education, it may help in acquiring financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently unavailable for non-accredited programs. Also, a number of states mandate that the HVAC training program be accredited in order 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 portion or percentage of students who enroll in and complete the program. A lower completion rate could suggest that students were unhappy with the program and quit. It could also indicate that the instructors were not qualified to train the students. It's also essential 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 employ for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate will not only affirm that the school has a good reputation within the field, but also that it has the network of Peoria AZ HVAC employers to help grads acquire apprenticeships or jobs.

Apprenticeship Programs.  Numerous HVAC trade programs are taught in conjunction with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating trade and vocational programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of Heating and Cooling companies or trade unions. Ask if the schools you are considering have working relationships with local Peoria AZ HVAC professionals. An apprenticeship not only provides a valuable experience by furnishing practical training, but it also provides employment opportunities and helps to form relationships in the area HVAC professional community.

Modern Facilities.  Confirm that the campus facilities and the equipment that you will be instructed on are up-to-date and what you will be working with in the field. If you are already in an internship or an apprenticeship, check with the HVAC tech you are working under regarding what you should be expecting. If not, ask a local Peoria AZ HVAC contractor if they can give you some suggestions. Additionally keep in mind that unless you are able to relocate, the school must be within driving distance of your Peoria AZ home. Remember that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to moving costs there may be higher tuition charges compared to in-state residents.

Smaller Classes.   It's desirable that you receive as much personalized training as possible, which can be difficult in bigger classes. Ask if you can monitor a few of the classes so that you can see how large they are and witness first hand the interaction between students and teachers. Speak to several of the students and get their opinions relating to class sizes and instruction. Finally, speak with some of the instructors and find out what their level of expertise is and what degrees or certifications 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 can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Peoria AZ, confirm that the schools you are comparing provide those options. If you can only attend part-time, make certain that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Finally, check out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, illness or family issues.

Learn More About Peoria Heating and Cooling Training Classes Near You

Earn Your Heating and Cooling Degree and Certification

Finding the right HVAC school course is an important first step toward a rewarding career in the heating & cooling trade. As we have covered in this article, you should select a Heating and Cooling training program and a certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have exceptional reputations within the HVAC trade. Other factors to look for are plenty of practical training and state-of-the-art facilities. You need to go to each of the schools personally that you are most interested in to inspect 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. Additionally, ask about scheduling options and if night or weekend classes are available if needed. And don't forget to inquire about financial assistance and student loan options as well. If you ask the right questions as we have outlined in our checklist 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 dedication, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC specialist in Peoria AZ.