How to Find the Right HVAC Training Class near Prescott Valley Arizona
Once you have made a decision on a career as a heating and cooling specialist, the next step is to find an HVAC trade school near Prescott Valley AZ. But with so many to select from, how do you decide on the right one to obtain the training that you need? Many potential students will make their decision based entirely on the price of tuition or how near the school is to their residence. Although these are significant concerns, they are not the only ones to take into account. Some of the other factors that you need to look into are the graduation completion rates of the HVAC schools, their reputations, and if they are accredited by professional trade organizations. Those and other benchmarks will be addressed in more detail later within this article. But before we examine how to choose an HVAC technical school, let's look at what a heating and a/c contractor does to become a licensed professional tradesman.
How to Become an HVAC Tech
HVAC is an acronym that is commonly used in the business that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC contractors specialize in the installation, repair and maintenance of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are generally mandated to be licensed, though each state and regional municipality has its own requirements. Acquiring professional certification is not compulsory, but an alternative way for Prescott Valley AZ HVAC specialists to prove that they are exceptionally skilled and experienced in their area of specialization. There are multiple respected certifications within the field that are available. Following are some of the important ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally recognized certification for HVAC techs. The certification is achieved by passing a proficiency exam and may be received in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification offers both a professional and a master specialist credential. Two years of field experience together with passing a comprehensive examination are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have three years of experience along with a passing score on the professional level exam. As with NATE, certifications are provided in several specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is required for specialists that work with refrigerants. There are three types of certification available, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Since licensing may be mandated in your area, and you may also desire to acquire certification, it's essential that you choose an HVAC vocational school that will prepare you for both. And since you will probably be dealing with refrigerants, make certain that the school you decide on prepares you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.
HVAC Degree and Certificate Courses
There are several alternatives offered for HVAC training in a trade or technical school. You can earn a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Acquiring a certificate will take the lesser period of time, typically achieved in as little as six months, however 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 programs may provide a competitive advantage in the job market and will provide more comprehensive training than the certificate programs. Below is a short description of each credential offered near Prescott Valley AZ.
- Certificate. Generally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among entry level commercial or residential HVAC professionals. They furnish a solid foundation of skills for job opportunities within the industry.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program delivers a more comprehensive background of heating & cooling systems than the certificate program. Typically requiring two years to complete, many degrees incorporate an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is geared 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 being taught how to service and maintain heating and cooling systems, you will also study how to design them.
Choosing the ideal credential program will be dependent on what your future career aspirations are, in addition to 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 getting some experience in the field in Prescott Valley AZ, eventually going back to acquire a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your tactic, be sure to ask the HVAC technician school you are considering about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Online Training
Attending an HVAC program online is one approach in attaining your training and earning a certificate or degree. Almost all schools will call for some attendance on campus to complete hands on training. Some also offer internship or work-study programs in addition to or instead of practical lab work. But since the balance of the classes can be participated in online, this approach may be a more accessible solution for many Prescott Valley AZ students that are short on time. And many online degree programs are less expensive than other on campus options. Even driving expenses from Prescott Valley and study materials may be reduced, helping to make schooling more affordable. And numerous online programs are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your work or family obligations have left you with minimal time to attend classes, maybe an HVAC online training program will make it easier to fit school into your busy schedule.
What to Ask HVAC Training Programs
When you have decided on the type of certificate or degree that you want to earn, either on campus or online, you can start to decrease your selection of schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are numerous HVAC vocational schools in the Prescott Valley AZ area and all over the United States to pick from. That's why it is imperative to have a list of relevant qualifiers when making school assessments. As earlier stated in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will most likely be the first two variables you will take into consideration. Following are several additional ones that you will want to investigate before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Numerous HVAC trade programs in the Prescott Valley AZ area have attained either a regional or a national accreditation. They can earn 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 school and program are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization, which includes the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping guarantee that you get an excellent education, it may help in obtaining financial assistance or student loans, which are in many cases not available for non-accredited programs. Additionally, some states mandate that the HVAC training program be accredited in order 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 portion or percentage of students who enroll in and finish the program. A lower completion rate might signify that students were disappointed with the program and dropped out. It could also mean that the teachers were not qualified to instruct the students. It's also imperative that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader directory of alumni, which may mean more contacts for the school to use 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 field, but additionally that it has the network of Prescott Valley AZ HVAC employers to assist graduates secure apprenticeships or jobs.
Apprenticeship Programs. Numerous HVAC trade programs are taught along with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating vocational and trade programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of Heating and Cooling companies or labor unions. Ask if the schools you are considering have working partnerships with local Prescott Valley AZ HVAC companies. An apprenticeship not only provides a rewarding experience by furnishing practical training, but it also furnishes job opportunities and helps to build relationships in the regional HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Confirm that the campus facilities and the tools that you will be instructed on are state-of-the-art and what you will be using in the field. If you are currently in an internship or an apprenticeship, talk to the HVAC specialist you are working with concerning what you should be looking for. Otherwise, ask a local Prescott Valley AZ HVAC company if they can provide some tips. Also keep in mind that unless you are able to move, the school needs to be within commuting distance of your Prescott Valley AZ home. Take note 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 important that you receive as much individualized instruction as possible, which can be difficult in bigger classes. Ask if you can monitor a couple of the classes so that you can see how large they are and experience the interaction between students and teachers. Talk to several of the students and get their opinions relating to class sizes and instruction. Finally, speak to a few of the instructors and find out what their level of expertise is and what degrees or certifications they hold.
Flexible Scheduling. Verify that the class schedules for the programs you are reviewing are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you are only able to go to classes at night or on weekends near Prescott Valley AZ, check that the programs you are reviewing offer those options. If you can only attend part-time, be sure that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Also, find out what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, illness or family emergencies.
Earn Your Heating and Cooling Degree and Certification
Finding the ideal HVAC school course is a crucial beginning toward a gratifying career in the heating & cooling industry. As we have discussed in this article, you should choose a Heating and Cooling training program and a certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have exceptional reputations within the HVAC profession. Other things to search for are ample practical training and modern facilities. You need to check out each of the schools personally that you are most interested in to tour the campus and speak with both the current students and faculty. Try to get a feel for the quality of the teaching and the interaction between them. Also, ask about scheduling choices and whether or not night or weekend classes are available if needed. And don't forget to ask about financial aid and student loan options as well. If you ask the proper questions as we have laid out in our guidelines for assessing schools, you'll be able to narrow down your choices so that you can make an educated decision. With the proper training, hard work and dedication, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC specialist in Prescott Valley AZ.