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How to Enroll In the Right HVAC Program near Prescott Valley Arizona

Prescott Valley Arizona residential air conditioning condensersOnce you have decided on a career as a heating and cooling professional, the next step is to choose an HVAC vocational school near Prescott Valley AZ. But with so many to pick from, how do you choose the right one to receive the training that you require? A number of potential students will make their selection based entirely on the price of tuition or how close the school is to their residence. Even though 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 rates of the HVAC schools, their reputations, and if they are accredited by professional trade organizations. Those and additional benchmarks will be addressed in more detail later in this article. But before we discuss how to select an HVAC vocational school, let's take a look at what a heating and a/c contractor does to become a licensed skilled tradesman.

How to Become an HVAC Tech

Prescott Valley Arizona Heating and Cooling Technician inspecting A/C condenserHVAC is an acronym that is commonly used in the industry that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC professionals specialize in the installation, repair and maintenance of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are commonly required to be licensed, although every state and local municipality has its own criteria. Attaining professional certification is not required, but an optional means for Prescott Valley AZ HVAC specialists to establish that they are exceptionally skilled and accomplished in their area of specialization. There are multiple acknowledged certifications within the trade 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 attained by passing a proficiency examination and can be received in one or more specialties.
  • HVAC Excellence. This certification makes available both a professional and a master specialist credential. Two years of field experience together with passing a comprehensive examination are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have 3 years of experience as well as a passing score on the professional level examination. As with NATE, certifications are offered in multiple specialties.
  • EPA Section 608. This certification is mandatory for techs that handle refrigerants. There are 3 types of certification obtainable, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.

Considering that licensing may be mandated in your location, and you may also intend to earn certification, it's important that you pick an HVAC trade school that will prepare you for both. And since you will most likely be working with refrigerants, make sure that the school you choose prepares you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.

HVAC Degree and Certificate Classes

Prescott Valley Arizona home heat pump

There are a variety of options available for HVAC instruction in a technical or trade school. You can obtain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Acquiring a certificate will take the least amount of time, often accomplished in just 6 months, although some courses are longer. A certificate will train you for the majority of HVAC positions, particularly if you are licensed and have certification related to the position. The degree programs can provide a competitive advantage in the job market and will provide more comprehensive training than the certificate programs. Following is a short summary of each credential offered near Prescott Valley AZ.

  • Certificate. Usually requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among beginning commercial or residential HVAC specialists. They provide a strong foundation of skills for job opportunities within the industry.
  • Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program delivers a more extensive background of heating and cooling systems than the certificate program. Typically taking two years to finish, 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 as well as business ownership. Some programs call for an Associate Degree, while others are a conventional 4 year program. In addition to learning how to service and maintain heating and cooling systems, you will also learn how to design them.

Picking the right credential program will be based on what your future career goals are, together with the time and money that you have to invest. One possibility is to begin with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after acquiring some experience in the field in Prescott Valley AZ, subsequently going back to acquire a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your tactic, make certain to ask the HVAC tech school you are considering about how their returning student program works.

HVAC Online Classes

Choosing an HVAC program online is one approach to attaining your education and receiving a degree or certificate. Almost all schools will call for some attendance on campus to complete hands on training. A number also offer internship or work-study programs in addition to or in place of practical lab work. But since the balance of the classes may be participated in online, this alternative may be a more practical solution for many Prescott Valley AZ students that are pressed for time. And some online degree programs are more economical than other on campus choices. Even commuting expenses from Prescott Valley and study supplies can be minimized, helping to make schooling more budget-friendly. And a large number of online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your job or family responsibilities have left you with limited time to attend classes, perhaps an HVAC online training program will make it more convenient to accommodate school into your hectic schedule.

What to Ask HVAC Training Programs

Prescott Valley Arizona HVAC technician replacing water heater

When you have picked the type of degree or certificate that you desire to obtain, either on campus or online, you can begin to decrease your selection of schools. As you are certainly aware, there are numerous HVAC vocational schools in the Prescott Valley AZ area and all over the USA to pick from. That's why it is very important to have a checklist of relevant qualifications when making school assessments. As previously stated in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will undoubtedly be the initial 2 aspects you will look at. Following are some additional ones that you need to research before enrolling in your school of choice.

Accreditation.  Many HVAC technical programs in the Prescott Valley AZ area have received either a regional or a national accreditation. They can earn Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to an individual program, for instance HVAC technology. Confirm that the program and school are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency, for example the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping ensure that you receive an excellent education, it may assist in securing financial assistance or student loans, which are often not available for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of states require that the HVAC training course be accredited in order to qualify for licensing.

High Completion Rates.  Ask the Heating and Cooling schools you are reviewing what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students who enroll in and complete the program. A lower completion rate might suggest that students were unhappy with the course and quit. It could also signify that the instructors were not competent to train the students. It's similarly essential that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive directory of graduates, which may result in more contacts for the school to use for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate can not only affirm that the school has an excellent reputation within the industry, but also that it has the network of Prescott Valley AZ HVAC employers to help graduates secure apprenticeships or jobs.

Apprenticeship Programs.  Many HVAC trade 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 inside their network of HVAC contractors or labor unions. Ask if the schools you are considering have working partnerships with local Prescott Valley AZ HVAC contractors. An apprenticeship not only offers a rewarding experience by furnishing practical training, but it also supplies job 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 state-of-the-art and what you will be using on the job. If you are already in an internship or an apprenticeship, talk to the HVAC technician you are working under regarding what you should be expecting. Otherwise, ask a local Prescott Valley AZ HVAC contracting company if they can give you some suggestions. Also bear in mind that unless you are willing to relocate, the school must be within commuting distance of your Prescott Valley AZ residence. Remember that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation costs there may be increased tuition fees compared to in-state residents.

Smaller Classes.   It's important that you receive as much individualized training as possible, which can be challenging in larger classes. Ask if you can sit in on a few of the classes so that you can observe how big they are and witness first hand the interaction between students and teachers. Talk to several of the students and get their comments relating to class sizes and instruction. Last, talk to some of the teachers 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 schools you are evaluating are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Prescott Valley AZ, confirm that the schools you are reviewing provide those choices. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Additionally, find out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, sickness or family emergencies.

Learn More About Prescott Valley Heating and Cooling Training Near You

Get Your HVAC Training and Certification

Picking the right HVAC training program is a crucial beginning toward a gratifying career in the heating and air conditioning industry. As we have addressed in this article, you need to choose 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 features to look for are ample practical training and modern facilities. You should check out each of the schools in person that you are most interested in to explore the campus and talk with both the current students and faculty. Attempt to get a feel for the quality of the training and the interaction between them. In addition, inquire about scheduling options and if evening or weekend classes are offered if needed. And don't forget to inquire about financial aid and student loan options as well. If you ask the right questions as we have outlined in our guidelines for comparing schools, you'll be able to filter your options so that you can make an informed decision. With the appropriate training, hard work and commitment, you can eventually become a licensed HVAC specialist in Prescott Valley AZ.