How to Find the Right HVAC Certification Training near Prescott Valley Arizona
Now that you have come to a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioning technician, the next action is to look for an HVAC vocational school near Prescott Valley AZ. But with so many to select from, how do you select the best one to obtain the training that you require? Some prospective students will make their choice based solely on the price of tuition or how near the school is to their home. While these are necessary factors to consider, they are not the only ones to investigate. Some of the other things 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 criteria will be addressed in more detail later within this article. But before we discuss how to select an HVAC vocational school, let's take a look at what a heating and cooling specialist does to become a licensed qualified tradesman.
Becoming an HVAC Contractor
HVAC is an acronym that is commonly used in the industry that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC contractors provide services for 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, however each state and regional municipality has its own requirements. Earning professional certification is not mandatory, but a voluntary way for Prescott Valley AZ HVAC techs to establish that they are highly skilled and knowledgeable in their area of specialization. There are many recognized certifications within the field that are offered. Below are a few of the important ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally recognized certification for HVAC technicians. The certification is earned by passing a competency exam and may be received in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification makes available both a professional and a master specialist credential. Two years of professional experience in addition to passing a comprehensive examination are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have 3 years of experience in addition to a passing score on the professional level exam. Similar to NATE, certifications are provided in various specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is mandatory for techs that handle refrigerants. There are 3 types of certification offered, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Since licensing might be mandated in your area, and you may also wish to acquire certification, it's important that you choose an HVAC technical school that will prepare you for both. And since you will more than likely be working with refrigerants, make sure that the program you pick readies you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.
HVAC Degree Courses
There are a number of alternatives available for HVAC training in a vocational or trade school. You can earn a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Earning a certificate will take the least amount of time, often accomplished in just 6 months, although some programs are longer. A certificate will qualify you for most HVAC positions, especially if you are licensed and have certification related to the position. The degree programs may provide a competitive advantage for securing employment and will provide more comprehensive training than the certificate programs. Following is a short explanation of each option offered near Prescott Valley AZ.
- Certificate. Generally 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 employment within the industry.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program supplies a more extensive knowledge of heating and a/c systems than the certificate program. Generally taking 2 years to finish, some 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 four 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 long term career aspirations are, as well as the time and money that you have to invest. One possibility 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 going back to earn a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your strategy, make sure to ask the HVAC technician school you are considering about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Online Classes
Enrolling in an HVAC school online is one approach to obtaining your education and receiving a degree or certificate. Most schools will require some attendance on campus to participate in 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 can be participated in online, 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 less expensive than other on campus alternatives. Even driving expenses from Prescott Valley and study supplies can be minimized, helping to make schooling more economical. And many online programs are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your work or family obligations have left you with little time to attend classes, maybe an online HVAC degree program will make it easier to accommodate school into your busy schedule.
Questions For HVAC Certification Courses
As soon as you have selected the type of degree or certificate that you want to obtain, either on campus or online, you can begin to decrease your selection of schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are a large number of HVAC vocational schools in the Prescott Valley AZ area and across the USA to pick from. That's why it is imperative to have a checklist of relevant qualifications when making school comparisons. As earlier stated in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will undoubtedly be the initial 2 factors you will look at. Following are some additional ones that you need to research before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Many HVAC trade schools in the Prescott Valley AZ area have attained either a regional or a national accreditation. They can attain Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to an individual program, for example 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 ensure that you acquire a quality education, it may help in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are in many cases not available for non-accredited schools. Additionally, some states mandate that the HVAC training program be accredited for it to be approved for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the HVAC schools you are considering what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage or portion of students who enroll in and finish the course. A low completion rate could signify that students were unhappy with the program and dropped out. It could also suggest that the teachers were not competent to instruct the students. It's also essential that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive list of graduates, which may mean 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 an excellent reputation within the industry, but also that it has the network of Prescott Valley AZ HVAC employers to assist grads obtain apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. Most HVAC training programs are taught in conjunction with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating vocational and technical schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of HVAC contractors or trade unions. Find out if the schools you are considering have referring partnerships with local Prescott Valley AZ HVAC companies. An apprenticeship not only provides a rewarding experience by furnishing practical training, but it also provides employment opportunities and helps to build relationships in the local HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Confirm that the campus facilities and the equipment that you will be trained on are up-to-date and what you will be using in the field. If you are presently in an internship or an apprenticeship, talk to the HVAC specialist you are working under regarding what you should be expecting. Otherwise, ask a local Prescott Valley AZ HVAC company if they can give you some pointers. Additionally keep in mind that unless you can relocate, the school needs to 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 can be higher tuition charges compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's important that you get as much individualized training as possible, which can be difficult in larger classes. Ask if you can monitor a few of the classes so that you can see how big they are and experience the interaction between students and instructors. Talk to several of the students and get their comments regarding class sizes and instruction. Last, speak to a few of the instructors and find out what their level of experience is and what degrees or certifications they hold.
Flexible Scheduling. Make sure that the class schedules for the programs you are assessing are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you are only able to attend classes at night or on weekends near Prescott Valley AZ, check that the schools you are looking at offer those options. If you can only attend part-time, be sure that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Additionally, ask what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, illness or family responsibilities.
Find Out More About Prescott Valley Heating and Cooling Training Programs Near You
Earn Your Heating and Cooling Certificate or Degree
Enrolling in the ideal HVAC training program is an important 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 degree or certificate program that are both accredited and have exceptional reputations within the HVAC profession. Other factors to look for are plenty of hands-on training and modern facilities. You need to visit 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 training and the interaction between them. Additionally, inquire about scheduling options and whether night or weekend classes are available if needed. And don't forget to inquire about financial aid and student loan options too. If you ask the right questions as we have laid out in our guidelines for comparing schools, you'll be able to narrow down your choices so that you can make an educated decision. With the right training, hard work and dedication, you can eventually become a licensed HVAC contractor in Prescott Valley AZ.