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How to Select the Right HVAC Certification Training near Phoenix Arizona

Phoenix Arizona home A/C condensersOnce you have decided on a career as a heating and air conditioner technician, the next action is to find an HVAC technical school near Phoenix AZ. But with so many to choose from, how do you choose the ideal one to receive the training that you require? Some potential students will make their decision based solely on the price of tuition or how near the school is to their residence. While these are important concerns, they are not the only ones to investigate. 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 benchmarks will be covered in more detail later in this article. But before we discuss how to pick an HVAC trade school, let's take a look at what a heating and air conditioning specialist does to become a licensed professional tradesman.

How to Become an HVAC Professional

Phoenix Arizona HVAC Contractor inspecting air conditioning condenserHVAC is an acronym that is frequently used in the trade 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 skilled tradesmen, they are typically required to be licensed, however each state and regional municipality has its own criteria. Earning professional certification is not mandatory, but an alternative way for Phoenix AZ HVAC technicians to prove that they are highly qualified and knowledgeable in their area of specialization. There are several respected certifications within the trade that are offered. Here are some of the important 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 acquired in one or more specialties.
  • HVAC Excellence. This certification offers both a professional and a master specialist credential. Two 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 along with a passing result on the professional level exam. As with NATE, certifications are offered in several specialties.
  • EPA Section 608. This certification is necessary for technicians that work with refrigerants. There are three forms of certification available, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.

Because licensing may be mandated in your area, and you may also wish to earn 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 certain that the school you decide on preps you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.

HVAC Degree and Certificate Courses

Phoenix Arizona home heat pump

There are several alternatives offered for HVAC instruction in a trade or technical school. You can earn a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Earning a certificate will take the least period of time, often completed in as little as 6 months, although some courses are longer. A certificate will train you for the majority of HVAC positions, particularly if you are licensed and have certification relevant to the position. The degree training programs might provide a competitive edge in the job market and will furnish more in-depth training than the certificate programs. Following is a short description of each credential offered near Phoenix AZ.

  • Certificate. Generally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among entry level commercial or residential HVAC technicians. They provide a solid foundation of skills for job opportunities within the trade.
  • Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program provides a more detailed understanding of heating and cooling systems than the certificate program. Generally requiring 2 years to complete, some degrees feature 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 require 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.

Choosing the ideal credential program will be based on what your future career goals are, along with the time and money that you have to commit. One option is to begin with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after acquiring some experience in the field in Phoenix AZ, later returning to earn a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your strategy, be sure to ask the HVAC technician school you are considering about how their returning student program works.

HVAC Courses Online

Enrolling in an HVAC school online is one alternative in obtaining your training and receiving a certificate or degree. Nearly all schools will call for some attendance on campus to complete hands on training. Many also provide internship or work-study programs in addition to or instead of practical lab work. But since the balance of the classes can be attended online, this option may be a more practical solution for many Phoenix AZ students that are pressed for time. And many online degree programs are more economical than other traditional choices. Even commuting expenses from Phoenix and study supplies may be minimized, helping to make education more budget-friendly. And many online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your career or family responsibilities have left you with little time to attend classes, perhaps an online HVAC degree program will make it easier to accommodate school into your active lifestyle.

What to Ask HVAC Trade Schools

Phoenix Arizona HVAC tech installing water heater

After you have picked the type of degree or certificate that you would like to obtain, 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 vocational schools in the Phoenix AZ area and throughout the Country to choose from. That's why it is very important to have a checklist of key qualifications when making school comparisons. As formerly stated in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will probably be the first 2 variables you will consider. Following are several additional ones that you should explore before enrolling in your school of choice.

Accreditation.  Numerous HVAC vocational programs in the Phoenix AZ area have received either a regional or a national accreditation. They can acquire Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to a specific program, for instance HVAC technology. Make sure that the school and program are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization, which includes the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping make certain that you acquire a quality education, it can help in acquiring financial assistance or student loans, which are in many cases not available for non-accredited programs. Furthermore, some states mandate that the HVAC training program be accredited for it to be approved 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 finish the program. A lower completion rate could signify that students were unhappy with the program and dropped out. It could also signify that the teachers were not qualified to instruct the students. It's similarly imperative that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader directory of graduates, which may mean more contacts for the school to employ 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 additionally that it has the network of Phoenix AZ HVAC employers to assist graduates acquire apprenticeships or jobs.

Apprenticeship Programs.  Numerous HVAC vocational programs are taught in conjunction with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating vocational and technical programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of HVAC businesses or labor unions. Ask if the schools you are comparing have working partnerships with local Phoenix AZ HVAC professionals. An apprenticeship not only provides a rewarding experience by supplying hands-on training, but it also furnishes employment opportunities and helps to establish relationships in the regional HVAC professional community.

Modern Facilities.  Confirm that the school facilities and the equipment that you will be trained 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. If not, ask a local Phoenix AZ HVAC contractor if they can provide some tips. Additionally keep in mind that unless you can relocate, the school must be within driving distance of your Phoenix AZ residence. Remember that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation costs there can be increased tuition fees compared to in-state residents.

Smaller Classes.   It's desirable that you receive as much personalized training as possible, which can be challenging in bigger classes. Ask if you can monitor a couple of the classes so that you can observe how big they are and experience the interaction between students and teachers. Speak to some of the students and get their opinions relating to class sizes and instruction. Last, talk to some of the teachers and learn what their level of experience 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 fulfill your needs. If you are only able to attend classes at night or on weekends near Phoenix AZ, verify that the programs you are looking at provide those options. If you can only attend part-time, make sure that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Finally, ask what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, sickness or family emergencies.

Learn More About Phoenix Heating and Cooling Programs In Your Area

Earn Your HVAC Certificate or Degree

Choosing the right HVAC school program is a critical first step toward a rewarding career in the heating & cooling field. As we have addressed in this article, you need to choose a Heating and Cooling training program and a certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have outstanding reputations within the HVAC community. Other things to search for are sufficient 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 explore the campus and talk with both the faculty and current students. Try to get a feel for the quality of the instruction and the interaction between them. Also, ask about scheduling options and whether night or weekend classes are available if needed. And remember to ask about financial aid and student loan options also. If you ask the proper questions as we have outlined in our guidelines for assessing schools, you'll be able to filter your options so that you can make an educated decision. With the proper training, hard work and commitment, you can eventually become a licensed HVAC contractor in Phoenix AZ.