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How to Select the Right Heating and Cooling Certification Class near Prescott Valley Arizona

Prescott Valley Arizona home A/C condensersOnce you have decided on a career as a heating and air conditioner technician, the next step is to choose an HVAC trade school near Prescott Valley AZ. But with so many to choose from, how do you choose the best one to get the training that you require? Some potential students will make their choice based exclusively on the cost of tuition or how near the school is to their residence. While these are relevant concerns, they are not the only ones to investigate. Some 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 in this article. But before we examine how to pick an HVAC technical school, let's look at what a heating and cooling specialist does to become a licensed professional tradesman.

Becoming an HVAC Technician

Prescott Valley Arizona HVAC Technician repairing A/C condenserHVAC is an acronym that is widely used in the business that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC technicians provide services for the installation, repair and maintenance of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are generally required to be licensed, however each state and regional municipality has its own prerequisites. Attaining professional certification is not mandatory, but an alternative way for Prescott Valley AZ HVAC technicians to demonstrate that they are exceptionally proficient and knowledgeable in their area of specialization. There are a number of recognized certifications within the industry that are available. Below are some of the important ones.

  • North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally recognized certification for HVAC technicians. The certification is attained by passing a competency exam and may be acquired in one or more specialties.
  • HVAC Excellence. This certification makes available both a professional and a master specialist credential. 2 years of field experience as well as passing a comprehensive examination are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have 3 years of experience together with a passing result on the professional level exam. Similar to NATE, certifications are provided in multiple specialties.
  • EPA Section 608. This certification is necessary for techs that handle refrigerants. There are three types of certification obtainable, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.

Considering that licensing might be mandated in your area, and you may also intend to obtain certification, it's imperative that you pick an HVAC trade school that will train you for both. And since you will most likely be handling refrigerants, make certain that the school you choose readies you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.

HVAC Certificate and Degree Courses

Prescott Valley Arizona home heater

There are a variety of choices available for HVAC training in a trade or technical school. You can earn a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Earning a certificate will take the least amount of time, typically completed in just 6 months, although some programs are longer. A certificate will train you for the majority of HVAC positions, particularly if you are licensed and have certification applicable to the position. The degree programs may provide a competitive advantage for securing employment and will provide more in-depth training than the certificate programs. Below is a short explanation of each credential offered near Prescott Valley AZ.

  • Certificate. Usually requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among beginning residential or commercial HVAC specialists. They furnish a strong foundation of skills for job opportunities within the industry.
  • Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program delivers a more extensive knowledge of heating and cooling systems than the certificate program. Typically taking 2 years to finish, some 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 or even business ownership. Some programs require an Associate Degree, while others are a traditional 4 year program. In addition to mastering how to service and maintain heating and air conditioning systems, you will also learn how to design them.

Choosing the right credential program will be dependent on what your long term career objectives are, together with the time and financial resources that you have to invest. One approach is to start with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after acquiring some experience in the field in Prescott Valley AZ, eventually going back to earn a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your approach, make sure to ask the HVAC tech school you are considering about how their returning student program works.

HVAC Online Classes

Choosing an HVAC school online is one alternative in getting your education and earning a degree or certificate. Most schools will call for some attendance on campus to complete hands on training. A number also sponsor internship or work-study programs in addition to or in place of practical lab work. But since the rest of the classes may be attended via the internet, this approach may be a more accessible solution for some Prescott Valley AZ students that are short on time. And many online degree programs are cheaper than other traditional choices. Even commuting expenses from Prescott Valley and study supplies may be lessened, helping to make education more budget-friendly. And numerous online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your work or family obligations have left you with little time to attend classes, perhaps an online HVAC degree program will make it easier to fit school into your active schedule.

What to Ask HVAC Certification Courses

Prescott Valley Arizona Heating and Cooling contractor servicing water heater

Once you have picked the type of degree or certificate that you wish to obtain, either on campus or online, you can start to decrease your list of schools. As you are probably aware, there are numerous HVAC trade schools in the Prescott Valley AZ area and across the USA to select from. That's why it is imperative to have a checklist of key qualifications when making school assessments. As earlier mentioned in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will probably be the initial two aspects you will look at. Following are several additional ones that you should investigate before enrolling in your school of choice.

Accreditation.  A large number of HVAC technical programs 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 overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to a specific program, for example HVAC technology. Make certain that the program is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency, for instance the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping guarantee that you receive an excellent education, it may assist in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are frequently unavailable for non-accredited programs. Additionally, many states require that the HVAC training program be accredited for it 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 percentage of students who enroll in and complete the program. A lower completion rate might indicate that students were unhappy with the program and dropped out. It could also signify that the instructors were not competent to train the students. It's also imperative that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader list of alumni, 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 validate that the school has a good reputation within the industry, but additionally that it has the network of Prescott Valley AZ HVAC employers to assist grads obtain apprenticeships or employment.

Apprenticeship Programs.  Most HVAC technical programs are taught in conjunction with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating trade and technical schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of HVAC contractors or trade unions. Check if the schools you are considering have working relationships with local Prescott Valley AZ HVAC companies. An apprenticeship not only offers a valuable experience by providing hands-on training, but it also supplies employment opportunities and helps to establish relationships in the regional HVAC professional community.

Modern Facilities.  Make certain that the campus facilities and the tools 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, consult with the HVAC specialist you are working under regarding what you should be looking for. If not, ask a local Prescott Valley AZ HVAC contractor if they can provide some suggestions. Also keep in mind that unless you can move, the school must be within driving distance of your Prescott Valley AZ residence. Take note that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation costs there might be higher 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 a couple of the classes so that you can observe how big they are and witness first hand the interaction between teachers and students. Talk to some of the students and get their comments concerning class sizes and instruction. Finally, speak to some of the instructors and find out what their level of expertise is and what certifications or degrees they hold.

Flexible Scheduling.  Verify that the class schedules for the schools you are assessing are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you are only able to go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Prescott Valley AZ, check that the schools you are comparing provide those choices. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Finally, find out what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, illness or family responsibilities.

Find Out More About Prescott Valley Heating and Cooling Training In Your Area

Get Your HVAC Degree and Certification

Choosing the right HVAC school course is an important beginning toward a fulfilling career in the heating & cooling field. As we have covered in this article, you need to select 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 things to look for are lots of practical training and modern facilities. You need to visit each of the schools in person that you are most interested in to explore the campus and speak with both the faculty and current students. Attempt to get a feel for the quality of the instruction and the interaction between them. In addition, inquire about scheduling options and whether night or weekend classes are offered if needed. And don't forget to inquire about financial assistance and student loan options as well. If you ask the appropriate questions as we have detailed in our guidelines for assessing schools, you'll be able to narrow down your choices so that you can make an informed decision. With the right training, hard work and dedication, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC contractor in Prescott Valley AZ.