How to Choose the Right HVAC Training Class near Prescott Valley Arizona
Once you have come to a decision on a career as a heating and cooling technician, the next action is to locate an HVAC trade school near Prescott Valley AZ. But with so many to select from, how do you pick the right one to obtain the training that you need? A number of potential students will make their selection based solely on the price of tuition or how close the school is to their home. While these are significant considerations, they are not the only ones to take into account. Some of the other factors that you need to investigate 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 discussed in more detail later within this article. But before we discuss how to pick an HVAC technical school, let's look at what a heating and air conditioning professional does to become a licensed qualified tradesman.
How to Become an HVAC Technician
HVAC is an acronym that is widely used in the trade that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC contractors provide services for the installation, repair and maintenance of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are commonly mandated to be licensed, though every state and regional municipality has its own criteria. Attaining professional certification is not compulsory, but an optional way for Prescott Valley AZ HVAC technicians to establish that they are exceptionally proficient and knowledgeable in their area of specialization. There are a number of respected certifications within the field that are available. Following are some of the important ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally acknowledged certification for HVAC technicians. The certification is earned by passing a competency examination and may be earned in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification makes available 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 need to have three years of experience as well as a passing score on the professional level examination. Similar to NATE, certifications are provided in multiple specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is necessary for techs that work with refrigerants. There are 3 forms of certification obtainable, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Because licensing might be mandated in your location, and you may also desire to obtain certification, it's important that you enroll in an HVAC trade school that will train you for both. And since you will more than likely be working with refrigerants, make sure that the program you decide on preps you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
HVAC Degree and Certificate Training Programs
There are a number of alternatives offered for HVAC training in a technical or trade school. You can obtain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Earning a certificate will take the least period of time, typically accomplished in just 6 months, although some courses are longer. A certificate will qualify you for the majority of HVAC positions, particularly if you are licensed and have certification appropriate to the position. The degree programs might provide a competitive advantage in the job market and will furnish more extensive training than the certificate programs. Below is a brief description of each option offered near Prescott Valley AZ.
- Certificate. Normally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among entry level residential or commercial HVAC professionals. They provide a solid foundation of skills for employment within the industry.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program provides a more extensive understanding of heating & cooling systems than the certificate program. Normally requiring two years to complete, a number of degrees feature 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 standard 4 year program. In addition to being taught how to service and maintain heating and air conditioning systems, you will also study how to design them.
Selecting the appropriate credential program will be dependent on what your future career goals are, as well as the time and money that you have to commit. One option is to begin with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after gaining some experience in the field in Prescott Valley AZ, eventually going back to acquire a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your approach, make certain to ask the HVAC tech school you are considering about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Online Schools
Attending an HVAC program online is one approach to obtaining your training and receiving a certificate or degree. Almost all schools will call for some attendance on campus to take part in practical training. A number also sponsor internship or work-study programs in addition to or instead of practical lab work. But since the remainder of the classes may be attended via the internet, this option may be a more convenient solution for many Prescott Valley AZ students that are short on time. And some online degree programs are less expensive than other traditional options. Even driving expenses from Prescott Valley and study materials may be lessened, helping to make education more economical. And numerous online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your career or family commitments have left you with limited time to attend classes, maybe an online HVAC degree program will make it more convenient to fit school into your active lifestyle.
Questions For HVAC Training Programs
When you have decided on the type of certificate or degree that you wish to acquire, either on campus or online, you can begin to limit your list of schools. As you are probably aware, there are numerous HVAC technical schools in the Prescott Valley AZ area and across the USA to pick from. That's why it is essential to have a list of important qualifications when making school assessments. As previously stated in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will probably be the initial two factors you will consider. Following are several 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 attained either a regional or a national accreditation. They can acquire Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to an individual program, for instance HVAC technology. Verify that the school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting organization, such as the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping guarantee that you receive a quality education, it can help in securing financial aid or student loans, which are often unavailable for non-accredited schools. Furthermore, some states require that the HVAC training course be accredited for it to qualify for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the HVAC schools you are looking at what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage of students who enroll in and finish the program. A lower completion rate may suggest that students were dissatisfied with the course and dropped out. It could also mean that the instructors 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 more extensive directory of graduates, which may produce more contacts for the school to use for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate can not only validate that the school has a good reputation within the industry, but also that it has the network of Prescott Valley AZ HVAC employers to help grads acquire apprenticeships or jobs.
Apprenticeship Programs. Numerous HVAC trade programs are taught along with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating vocational and technical programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of HVAC businesses or trade unions. Ask if the schools you are reviewing have working relationships with local Prescott Valley AZ HVAC specialists. An apprenticeship not only offers a valuable experience by furnishing hands-on training, but it also furnishes job opportunities and helps to form relationships in the local HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make sure that the campus facilities and the equipment that you will be instructed on are state-of-the-art and what you will be working with in the field. If you are presently in an internship or an apprenticeship, talk to the HVAC specialist you are working with regarding what you should be expecting. If not, ask a local Prescott Valley AZ HVAC company if they can provide some tips. Additionally keep in mind that unless you can move, the school must be within driving distance of your Prescott Valley AZ home. Remember that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation 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 training as possible, which can be challenging in bigger classes. Ask if you can monitor some of the classes so that you can observe how large they are and witness first hand the interaction between students and teachers. Speak to some of the students and get their opinions regarding 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 have earned.
Flexible Scheduling. Make sure that the class schedules for the schools you are evaluating are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Prescott Valley AZ, check that the programs you are reviewing offer those choices. If you can only attend part-time, be sure that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Also, ask what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, sickness or family issues.
Get Your Heating and Cooling Degree and Certification
Selecting the ideal HVAC training program is an important beginning toward a rewarding career in the heating and cooling trade. As we have addressed in this article, you should pick a Heating and Cooling training program and a degree or certificate program that are both accredited and have excellent reputations within the HVAC community. Other things to search for are lots of hands-on training and modern facilities. You need to go to each of the schools in person that you are most interested in to inspect the campus and talk with both the faculty and current students. Try to get a feel for the quality of the teaching and the interaction between them. Also, inquire about scheduling choices and whether evening or weekend classes are offered if needed. And remember to ask about financial assistance and student loan options too. If you ask the right questions as we have laid out in our checklist for assessing schools, you'll be able to filter your choices so that you can make an educated decision. With the right training, hard work and commitment, you can eventually become a licensed HVAC technician in Prescott Valley AZ.