How to Pick the Right HVAC Certification Course near Prescott Valley Arizona
Now that you have decided on a career as a heating and air conditioning technician, the next action is to choose an HVAC technical school near Prescott Valley AZ. But with so many to pick from, how do you choose the ideal one to obtain the training that you need? Some future students will make their selection based entirely on the price of tuition or how near the school is to their residence. While these are important factors to consider, they are not the only ones to evaluate. A few of the other details 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 explore how to pick an HVAC trade school, let's look at what a heating and cooling technician does to become a licensed professional tradesman.
How to Become an HVAC Professional
HVAC is an acronym that is widely used in the business that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC techs specialize in the installation, repair and maintenance of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are generally mandated to be licensed, however each state and regional municipality has its own criteria. Attaining professional certification is not mandatory, but an alternative way for Prescott Valley AZ HVAC technicians to demonstrate that they are highly qualified and experienced in their area of specialization. There are a number of recognized certifications within the industry that are offered. Below 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 may be acquired in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification offers both a professional and a master specialist credential. Two years of professional experience together with passing a comprehensive exam are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have 3 years of experience together with a passing score on the professional level examination. Similar to NATE, certifications are provided in various specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is mandatory for techs that work with refrigerants. There are 3 forms of certification available, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Considering that licensing might be mandated in your location, and you may also intend to obtain certification, it's imperative that you select an HVAC trade school that will train you for both. And since you will more than likely be handling refrigerants, make sure that the program you select preps you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.
HVAC Certificate and Degree Classes
There are a number of options available for HVAC training in a vocational or trade school. You can earn a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Obtaining a certificate will take the least amount of time, usually accomplished in as little as 6 months, however some programs are longer. A certificate will qualify you for the majority of HVAC positions, particularly if you are licensed and have certification applicable to the position. The degree training programs can provide a competitive advantage for securing employment and will deliver more comprehensive training than the certificate programs. Following is a brief description of each option offered near Prescott Valley AZ.
- Certificate. Generally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among beginning commercial or residential HVAC professionals. They provide a strong foundation of skills for employment within the industry.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program supplies a more exhaustive understanding of heating and cooling systems than the certificate program. Typically requiring two years to finish, a number of degrees feature an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is geared more towards 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 air conditioning systems, you will also learn how to design them.
Selecting the ideal credential program will be dependent on what your future career goals are, in addition to the time and money that you have to invest. One possibility is to start with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after acquiring some experience in the trade in Prescott Valley AZ, eventually returning to earn a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your tactic, make certain to ask the HVAC tech school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Classes Online
Choosing an HVAC program online is one option to obtaining your training and earning a degree or certificate. 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 as an alternative to practical lab work. But since the balance of the classes can be attended on the web, this alternative may be a more convenient solution for some Prescott Valley AZ students that are pressed for time. And a number of online degree programs are less expensive than other on campus choices. Even commuting expenses from Prescott Valley and study materials may be lessened, helping to make schooling more affordable. And many online programs are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your career or family responsibilities have left you with minimal time to attend classes, maybe an online HVAC degree program will make it more convenient to fit school into your hectic lifestyle.
Questions to Ask HVAC Schools
When you have picked the type of certificate or degree that you wish to attain, either on campus or online, you can begin to decrease your list of schools. As you are probably aware, there are numerous HVAC vocational schools in the Prescott Valley AZ area and throughout the USA to select from. That's why it is imperative to have a checklist of key qualifications when making school evaluations. As formerly mentioned in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will probably be the first two variables you will take into consideration. Following are some additional ones that you need to research before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. A large number of HVAC technical schools in the Prescott Valley AZ area have received either a regional or a national accreditation. They can receive Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to an individual program, for example HVAC technology. Verify that the program and school are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency, such as the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping ensure that you get an excellent education, it may help in obtaining financial assistance or student loans, which are in many cases unavailable for non-accredited programs. Additionally, many states require that the HVAC training course be accredited in order to be approved for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the Heating and Cooling schools you are considering what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students who enroll in and finish the course. A low completion rate may suggest that students were unhappy with the program and dropped out. It might also signify that the teachers were not qualified to train 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 graduates, which may result in 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 trade, but also that it has the network of Prescott Valley AZ HVAC employers to assist graduates obtain apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. A large number of 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 inside their network of HVAC businesses or labor unions. Check if the schools you are reviewing have working partnerships with local Prescott Valley AZ HVAC contractors. An apprenticeship not only provides a valuable experience by providing practical training, but it also furnishes job opportunities and helps to build relationships in the area HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make certain 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 presently 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 Prescott Valley AZ HVAC company if they can provide some suggestions. Also keep in mind that unless you can move, the school needs to be within commuting distance of your Prescott Valley AZ residence. Take note that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, in addition to moving costs there can be increased tuition fees compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's desirable that you receive as much individualized instruction 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 instructors and students. Speak with some of the students and get their comments relating to class sizes and instruction. Finally, talk to some of the teachers and find out what their level of expertise is and what certifications or degrees they hold.
Flexible Scheduling. Make sure that the class schedules for the programs you are reviewing are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Prescott Valley AZ, confirm that the programs you are looking at provide those options. If you can only attend part-time, make certain that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Finally, ask what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, sickness or family issues.
Get Your HVAC Degree and Certification
Finding the ideal HVAC training program is an important first step toward a gratifying career in the heating & cooling trade. As we have addressed in this article, you should select a Heating and Cooling training program and a certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have excellent reputations within the HVAC community. Other factors to search for are sufficient hands-on training and modern facilities. You should go to each of the schools personally that you are most interested in to tour the campus and speak with both the faculty and current students. Try to get a feel for the quality of the teaching and the interaction between them. In addition, inquire about scheduling choices and whether or not night or weekend classes are available if needed. And remember to ask about financial assistance and student loan options also. If you ask the appropriate questions as we have laid out in our guidelines for comparing schools, you'll be able to filter your options so that you can make an educated decision. With the appropriate training, hard work and commitment, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC professional in Prescott Valley AZ.