How to Enroll In the Right HVAC Certificate Program near Phoenix Arizona
Now that you have decided on a career as a heating and cooling professional, the next action is to locate an HVAC technical school near Phoenix AZ. But with so many to choose from, how do you choose the best one to get the training that you need? Some prospective students will make their choice based entirely on the cost of tuition or how close the school is to their home. Even though these are important factors to consider, they are not the only ones to investigate. Just some of the other things that you need to research are the graduation completion 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 in this article. But before we explore how to select an HVAC trade school, let's look at what a heating and cooling professional does to become a licensed qualified tradesman.
How to Become an HVAC Tech
HVAC is an acronym that is frequently used in the business that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC professionals specialize in the installation, repair and maintenance of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are generally mandated to be licensed, however every state and regional municipality has its own prerequisites. Earning professional certification is not required, but an optional means for Phoenix AZ HVAC specialists to prove that they are highly qualified and experienced in their area of specialization. There are a number of recognized certifications within the field that are offered. Following are a few of the significant ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally acknowledged certification for HVAC techs. The certification is earned by passing a proficiency examination and can be received in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification makes available both a professional and a master specialist credential. 2 years of field experience as well as passing a comprehensive exam are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have 3 years of experience as well as a passing score on the professional level exam. As with NATE, certifications are made available in multiple specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is required for specialists that handle refrigerants. There are 3 forms of certification offered, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Since licensing may be mandated in your area, and you may also intend to obtain certification, it's important that you enroll in an HVAC technical school that will train you for both. And since you will more than likely be working with refrigerants, make sure that the program you choose preps you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.
HVAC Degree and Certificate Schools
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. Obtaining a certificate will take the least period of time, usually achieved in just six months, though some courses are longer. A certificate will train you for most HVAC positions, particularly if you are licensed and have certification relevant to the position. The degree training programs may provide a competitive advantage in the job market and will furnish more extensive training than the certificate programs. Following is a short summary of each option offered near Phoenix AZ.
- Certificate. Usually requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among beginning residential or commercial HVAC specialists. They provide a strong foundation of skills for employment within the trade.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program delivers a more extensive knowledge of heating and cooling systems than the certificate program. Typically taking two years to finish, a number of degrees include an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is geared more for a career in management or even business ownership. Some programs call for 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 learn how to design them.
Picking the appropriate credential program will be dependent on what your future career objectives are, together with the time and money that you have to commit. One possibility is to begin with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after gaining some experience in the trade in Phoenix AZ, eventually going back to obtain a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your tactic, make sure to ask the HVAC tech school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Classes Online
Choosing an HVAC school online is one possibility to getting your training and receiving a degree or certificate. Most schools will require some attendance on campus to take part in hands on training. A number also provide internship or work-study programs in addition to or in place of practical lab work. But since the balance of the classes may be attended via the internet, this alternative may be a more practical solution for many Phoenix AZ students that are pressed for time. And some online degree programs are cheaper than other traditional options. Even travelling expenses from Phoenix and study supplies may be lessened, helping to make schooling more budget-friendly. 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 limited time to attend classes, maybe an HVAC online training program will make it easier to fit school into your busy schedule.
Questions For HVAC Trade Schools
When you have decided on the type of certificate or degree that you desire to attain, either online or on campus, you can begin to decrease your list of schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are numerous HVAC trade schools in the Phoenix AZ area and throughout the Country to pick from. That's why it is very important to have a checklist of relevant qualifiers when making school assessments. As previously stated in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will most likely be the initial 2 aspects you will look at. Following are several additional ones that you need to research before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Numerous HVAC technical schools in the Phoenix AZ area have acquired either a regional or a national accreditation. They may receive Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to a specific program, such as HVAC technology. Make certain that the program and school are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization, such as the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping guarantee that you receive an excellent education, it can assist in obtaining financial assistance or student loans, which are often not available for non-accredited programs. Also, a number of states require that the HVAC training program be accredited for it 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 or portion of students who enroll in and finish the program. A lower completion rate might signify that students were unhappy with the course and quit. It might also signify that the teachers were not competent to train the students. It's also essential that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader list of graduates, which may mean more contacts for the school to utilize for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate can not only confirm that the school has an excellent reputation within the industry, but also that it has the network of Phoenix AZ HVAC employers to help grads obtain apprenticeships or jobs.
Apprenticeship Programs. Most HVAC trade programs are taught together with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating trade and vocational programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of HVAC businesses or trade unions. Check if the schools you are comparing have referring partnerships with local Phoenix AZ HVAC specialists. An apprenticeship not only offers a rewarding experience by supplying hands-on training, but it also supplies employment opportunities and helps to build relationships in the local HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make sure that the campus facilities and the tools that you will be instructed on are state-of-the-art and what you will be working with in the field. If you are already in an internship or an apprenticeship, consult with the HVAC specialist you are working with concerning what you should be looking for. Otherwise, ask a local Phoenix AZ HVAC contractor if they can provide some tips. Additionally keep in mind that unless you are willing to relocate, the school needs to be within driving distance of your Phoenix AZ home. Take note that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, in addition to moving costs there can be higher tuition charges compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's desirable that you get as much one-on-one instruction as possible, which can be challenging in bigger classes. Ask if you can monitor some of the classes so that you can see how big they are and experience the interaction between students and teachers. Talk to some of the students and get their feedback relating to class sizes and instruction. Last, talk to a few of the teachers and learn what their level of expertise is and what degrees or certifications they have earned.
Flexible Scheduling. Confirm that the class schedules for the programs you are reviewing are flexible enough to handle your needs. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Phoenix AZ, check that the schools you are considering provide those choices. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Finally, find out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, sickness or family emergencies.
Find Out More About Phoenix Heating and Cooling Schools Near You
Earn Your HVAC Degree and Certification
Enrolling in the ideal HVAC training program is an important first step toward a gratifying career in the heating & cooling trade. As we have discussed in this article, you need to 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 features to look for are plenty of practical training and modern facilities. You should go to each of the schools personally that you are most interested in to inspect the campus and talk with both the faculty and current students. Attempt to get a feel for the quality of the training and the interaction between them. In addition, ask about scheduling options and if night or weekend classes are offered if needed. And remember to ask about financial assistance and student loan options too. If you ask the proper 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 educated decision. With the right training, hard work and dedication, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC technician in Phoenix AZ.