How to Pick the Right Heating and Cooling Program near Prescott Valley Arizona
Once you have decided on a career as a heating and air conditioner professional, the next step is to locate an HVAC technical school near Prescott Valley AZ. But with so many to select from, how do you select the ideal one to obtain the training that you need? Many future students will make their choice based entirely on the price of tuition or how close the school is to their residence. Although these are necessary factors to consider, they are not the only ones to take into account. A few 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. These and additional benchmarks will be addressed in more detail later within this article. But before we tackle how to select an HVAC trade school, let's take a look at what a heating and cooling professional does to become a licensed qualified tradesman.
How to Become an HVAC Specialist
HVAC is an acronym that is frequently used in the industry that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC techs specialize in the installation, repair and maintenance of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are generally required to be licensed, although every state and regional municipality has its own requirements. Earning professional certification is not compulsory, but a voluntary way for Prescott Valley AZ HVAC specialists to establish that they are highly proficient and experienced in their area of specialization. There are multiple acknowledged certifications within the industry that are offered. Below are some of the important ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally acknowledged certification for HVAC technicians. The certification is achieved by passing a proficiency examination and can be acquired in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification makes available both a professional and a master specialist credential. 2 years of professional experience together with passing a comprehensive examination are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have 3 years of experience as well as a passing score on the professional level exam. As with NATE, certifications are offered in multiple specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is mandatory for specialists that handle refrigerants. There are 3 forms of certification obtainable, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Because licensing might be required in your area, and you may also desire to earn certification, it's important that you pick an HVAC trade school that will train you for both. And since you will most likely be working with refrigerants, make certain that the program you select prepares you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.
HVAC Degree Courses
There are a variety of alternatives offered for HVAC instruction in a technical or vocational school. You can attain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Acquiring a certificate will take the lesser amount of time, often achieved in as little as six months, though some programs are longer. A certificate will train you for most HVAC positions, especially if you are licensed and have certification related to the position. The degree programs may provide a competitive edge for securing employment and will deliver more comprehensive training than the certificate programs. Following is a brief description of each credential offered near Prescott Valley AZ.
- Certificate. Usually requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among entry level commercial or residential HVAC technicians. They furnish a strong foundation of skills for job opportunities within the industry.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program delivers a more exhaustive understanding of heating & cooling systems than the certificate program. Usually requiring two years to complete, a number of degrees incorporate an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is suited more towards a career in management or even business ownership. Some programs require an Associate Degree, while others are a traditional four year program. In addition to learning how to service and maintain heating and cooling systems, you will also study how to design them.
Choosing the ideal credential program will be based on what your future career goals are, in addition to the time and financial resources that you have to invest. One approach is to begin with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after gaining some experience in the field in Prescott Valley AZ, subsequently returning to earn a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your approach, make certain to ask the HVAC technician school you are considering about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Schools Online
Enrolling in an HVAC school online is one option in attaining your education and earning a certificate or degree. Almost all schools will require some attendance on campus to participate in hands on training. Some also offer internship or work-study programs in addition to or instead of practical lab work. But since the remainder of the classes may be participated in via the internet, this alternative may be a more practical solution for some Prescott Valley AZ students that are pressed for time. And many online degree programs are cheaper than other on campus options. Even travelling expenses from Prescott Valley and study materials may be minimized, helping to make schooling more economical. And numerous online schools 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 easier to accommodate school into your active lifestyle.
What to Ask HVAC Training Programs
Once you have selected the type of degree or certificate that you want to acquire, either online or on campus, you can begin to narrow down your list of schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are many HVAC trade schools in the Prescott Valley AZ area and throughout the USA to pick from. That's why it is extremely important to have a checklist of important qualifications when making school evaluations. As formerly mentioned in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will probably be the initial 2 aspects you will take into consideration. Following are several additional ones that you need to research before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Numerous HVAC technical schools in the Prescott Valley AZ area have acquired either a regional or a national accreditation. They may attain Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to an individual program, for example HVAC technology. Make sure that the program is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization, for example the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping make certain that you obtain a quality education, it can assist in obtaining financial assistance or student loans, which are in many cases unavailable for non-accredited schools. Additionally, a number of states mandate that the HVAC training course be accredited in order to qualify for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the Heating and Air Conditioning 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 program. A low completion rate may signify that students were disappointed with the course and quit. It could also signify that the instructors were not qualified to instruct the students. It's also imperative that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive directory of graduates, which can mean more contacts for the school to utilize for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate can not only affirm that the school has a good reputation within the industry, but also that it has the network of Prescott Valley AZ HVAC employers to assist students obtain apprenticeships or jobs.
Apprenticeship Programs. Numerous HVAC training 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 HVAC businesses or labor unions. Ask if the schools you are considering have working relationships with local Prescott Valley AZ HVAC companies. An apprenticeship not only offers a rewarding experience by providing practical training, but it also supplies employment opportunities and helps to build relationships in the local HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make sure that the campus facilities and the tools that you will be trained on are state-of-the-art and what you will be working with on the job. If you are presently in an internship or an apprenticeship, check with the HVAC specialist you are working with concerning what you should be looking for. Otherwise, ask a local Prescott Valley AZ HVAC contracting company if they can give you some tips. Also bear in mind that unless you are willing to move, the school needs to be within driving distance of your Prescott Valley AZ home. Remember that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides the added relocation costs there may be increased tuition fees compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's important that you get as much one-on-one instruction as possible, which can be challenging in bigger classes. Ask if you can monitor some of the classes so that you can observe how big they are and experience the interaction between students and teachers. Speak with a few of the students and get their feedback regarding class sizes and instruction. Finally, talk with a few of the instructors and learn what their level of expertise 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 meet your needs. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Prescott Valley AZ, check that the schools you are comparing offer those options. If you can only attend part-time, make certain that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Additionally, ask what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, illness or family issues.
Find Out More About Prescott Valley Heating and Cooling Courses In Your Area
Earn Your HVAC Certificate or Degree
Choosing the right HVAC training course is an important first step toward a gratifying career in the heating and 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 outstanding reputations within the HVAC trade. Other features to search for are lots of practical training and modern facilities. You should 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 training and the interaction between them. Also, ask about scheduling choices and whether evening or weekend classes are available if needed. And don't forget to ask about financial assistance and student loan options as well. If you ask the proper questions as we have outlined in our guidelines for evaluating schools, you'll be able to filter your options so that you can make an educated decision. With the proper training, hard work and dedication, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC professional in Prescott Valley AZ.