How to Find the Right HVAC Certification Class near Phoenix Arizona
Now that you have come to a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioning specialist, the next step is to locate an HVAC vocational school near Phoenix AZ. But with so many to pick from, how do you choose the best one to get the training that you require? Many future students will make their choice based exclusively on the cost of tuition or how close the school is to their home. Although these are important considerations, they are not the only ones to evaluate. A few of the other factors 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. These and other criteria will be discussed in more detail later within this article. But before we tackle how to choose an HVAC training program, let's look at what a heating and air conditioning specialist does to become a licensed skilled tradesman.
Becoming an HVAC Tech
HVAC is an acronym that is commonly used in the trade that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC technicians provide services for the installation, repair and maintenance of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are generally mandated to be licensed, though every state and regional municipality has its own requirements. Acquiring professional certification is not mandatory, but a voluntary way for Phoenix AZ HVAC techs to prove that they are highly proficient and accomplished in their area of expertise. There are many respected certifications within the field that are offered. Following are a few 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 may be earned in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification offers both a professional and a master specialist credential. 2 years of professional experience as well as passing a comprehensive examination are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have three years of experience in addition to a passing score on the professional level examination. As with NATE, certifications are provided in several specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is required for specialists that work with refrigerants. There are 3 forms of certification offered, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Considering that licensing could be mandated in your location, and you may also desire to acquire certification, it's imperative that you select an HVAC vocational school that will prepare you for both. And since you will most likely be working with refrigerants, make certain that the school you pick readies you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
HVAC Degree and Certificate Courses
There are several options available for HVAC instruction in a technical or trade school. You can attain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Acquiring a certificate will take the least amount of time, typically accomplished in as little as six months, although 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 might provide a competitive edge for securing employment and will deliver more in-depth training than the certificate programs. Below is a brief explanation of each credential offered near Phoenix AZ.
- Certificate. Normally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among beginning residential or commercial HVAC professionals. They furnish a strong foundation of skills for employment within the trade.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program delivers a more comprehensive knowledge of heating and a/c systems than the certificate program. Usually taking 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 for a career in management as well as business ownership. Some programs require an Associate Degree, while others are a conventional four 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, along with the time and money that you have to invest. One option is to begin with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after acquiring some experience in the trade in Phoenix AZ, subsequently going back to obtain a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your approach, make certain to ask the HVAC technician school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Online Classes
Choosing an HVAC school online is one alternative to attaining your training and earning a certificate or degree. Most schools will call for 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 remainder of the classes can be attended via the internet, this option may be a more practical solution for many Phoenix AZ students that are short on time. And some online degree programs are less costly than other on campus choices. Even driving 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 obligations have left you with little time to attend classes, perhaps an HVAC online training program will make it more convenient to accommodate school into your active schedule.
Questions to Ask HVAC Training Classes
Once you have decided on the type of certificate or degree that you wish to acquire, either online or on campus, you can begin to limit your list of schools. As you are probably aware, there are a large number of HVAC vocational schools in the Phoenix AZ area and across the USA to choose from. That's why it is extremely important to have a list of relevant qualifiers when making school assessments. As earlier mentioned in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will undoubtedly be the first two variables you will take into consideration. Following are some additional ones that you will want to investigate before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Numerous HVAC vocational schools in the Phoenix AZ area have earned either a regional or a national accreditation. They may earn Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to a specific program, for example HVAC technology. Verify that the school and program are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency, which includes the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping ensure that you obtain a quality education, it may assist in securing financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently unavailable for non-accredited programs. Furthermore, a number of states mandate 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 of students who enroll in and complete the program. A low completion rate could signify that students were disappointed with the program and quit. It might also indicate that the instructors were not qualified to instruct the students. It's also important that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader list of graduates, which can mean 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 Phoenix AZ HVAC employers to assist graduates acquire apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. Most HVAC technical programs are taught together with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating technical and vocational schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of HVAC companies or labor unions. Find out if the schools you are comparing have working partnerships with local Phoenix AZ HVAC specialists. An apprenticeship not only offers a rewarding experience by furnishing hands-on training, but it also furnishes employment opportunities and helps to build relationships in the regional 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 using in the field. If you are already in an internship or an apprenticeship, check with the HVAC technician you are working under regarding what you should be expecting. If not, ask a local Phoenix AZ HVAC company if they can give you some tips. Also bear in mind that unless you are able to move, the school needs to be within commuting distance of your Phoenix AZ home. Take note that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to moving costs there can be increased tuition charges compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's important that you get as much individualized training as possible, which can be difficult in larger classes. Ask if you can sit in on a couple of the classes so that you can see how big they are and experience the interaction between students and instructors. Speak with a few of the students and get their feedback relating to class sizes and instruction. Finally, talk with a few of the instructors and find out what their level of experience is and what degrees or certifications they hold.
Flexible Scheduling. Make sure that the class schedules for the programs you are reviewing are flexible enough to handle your needs. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Phoenix AZ, confirm that the schools you are considering provide those options. If you can only attend part-time, make certain that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Also, check out what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, sickness or family emergencies.
Get Your HVAC Degree and Certification
Selecting the right HVAC school course is a crucial 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 degree or certificate program that are both accredited and have exceptional reputations within the HVAC profession. Other factors to search for are sufficient hands-on training and state-of-the-art facilities. You should go to each of the schools in person that you are most interested in to tour the campus and speak with both the current students and faculty. Attempt to get a feel for the quality of the teaching and the interaction between them. Also, ask about scheduling options and whether evening or weekend classes are available if needed. And don't forget to inquire about financial assistance and student loan options also. If you ask the right questions as we have laid out in our guidelines for comparing schools, you'll be able to narrow down your choices so that you can make an educated decision. With the appropriate training, hard work and dedication, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC technician in Phoenix AZ.