How to Enroll In the Right Heating and Cooling Certification Class near Prescott Valley Arizona
Once you have made a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioner technician, the next action is to find an HVAC vocational school near Prescott Valley AZ. But with so many to choose from, how do you pick the right one to obtain the training that you require? A number of future students will make their selection based solely on the cost of tuition or how close the school is to their home. Although these are important concerns, they are not the only ones to take into account. Just 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. Those and additional benchmarks will be discussed in more detail later in this article. But before we explore how to select an HVAC vocational school, let's look at what a heating and air conditioning technician does to become a licensed professional tradesman.
Becoming an HVAC Technician
HVAC is an acronym that is widely used in the business that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC technicians specialize in the installation, repair and maintenance of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are typically required to be licensed, however every state and local municipality has its own criteria. Obtaining professional certification is not compulsory, but a voluntary way for Prescott Valley AZ HVAC techs to establish that they are exceptionally proficient and experienced in their area of specialization. There are several respected certifications within the field that are available. Below are some of the important ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally acknowledged certification for HVAC techs. The certification is earned 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 exam are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have three years of experience in addition to a passing result on the professional level examination. As with NATE, certifications are made available in multiple specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is mandatory for specialists that work with refrigerants. There are 3 forms of certification offered, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Because licensing could be required in your area, and you may also desire to obtain certification, it's imperative that you choose an HVAC technical school that will train you for both. And since you will most likely be handling refrigerants, make sure that the program you decide on prepares you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
HVAC Degree and Certificate Classes
There are a variety of choices 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, usually accomplished in just six 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 applicable to the position. The degree programs might provide a competitive edge in the job market and will deliver more extensive training than the certificate programs. Below is a short summary of each credential offered near Prescott Valley AZ.
- Certificate. Normally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among beginning commercial or residential HVAC specialists. They furnish a strong foundation of skills for employment within the industry.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program delivers a more comprehensive understanding of heating & cooling systems than the certificate program. Typically taking two years to finish, many degrees incorporate an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is geared 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 being taught 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 long term career goals are, as well as the time and money that you have to invest. One approach is to start with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after gaining some experience in the field in Prescott Valley AZ, eventually going back to earn a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your strategy, make sure to ask the HVAC tech school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Training Online
Enrolling in an HVAC program online is one alternative in attaining your education and receiving a certificate or degree. Nearly all schools will call for some attendance on campus to participate in practical training. Many also offer internship or work-study programs in addition to or as an alternative to practical lab work. But since the balance of the classes can be participated in on the web, 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 more economical than other on campus choices. Even commuting expenses from Prescott Valley and study materials can be reduced, helping to make education more economical. And a large number of 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 HVAC online training program will make it more convenient to accommodate school into your hectic schedule.
Questions For HVAC Certification Courses
Once you have picked the type of degree or certificate that you desire to attain, either on campus or online, you can begin to narrow down your list of schools. As you are certainly aware, there are many HVAC trade schools in the Prescott Valley AZ area and throughout the United States to choose from. That's why it is essential to have a list of important qualifiers when making school comparisons. As earlier stated in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will most likely be the initial 2 factors you will consider. Following are several additional ones that you should explore before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Numerous 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. Confirm that the program and school are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting organization, for instance the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping guarantee that you get an excellent education, it may assist in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are frequently unavailable for non-accredited programs. Furthermore, many states require that the HVAC training program 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 percentage or portion of students who enroll in and finish the program. A low completion rate might signify that students were disappointed with the program and quit. It might also suggest that the instructors were not competent to instruct the students. It's similarly imperative that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader directory of graduates, which can produce 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 an excellent reputation within the trade, but also that it has the network of Prescott Valley AZ HVAC employers to assist grads secure apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. Numerous HVAC technical programs are taught along with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating vocational and technical schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of Heating and Cooling companies or trade unions. Ask if the schools you are comparing have referring relationships with local Prescott Valley AZ HVAC contractors. An apprenticeship not only offers a rewarding experience by supplying hands-on training, but it also supplies job opportunities and helps to form 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 up-to-date and what you will be working with in the field. If you are already in an internship or an apprenticeship, consult with the HVAC specialist you are working with concerning what you should be expecting. If not, ask a local Prescott Valley AZ HVAC contractor if they can provide some pointers. Also bear in mind that unless you can move, the school must be within driving 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 might be higher tuition fees compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's important that you get as much one-on-one training as possible, which can be difficult in larger classes. Ask if you can monitor a few of the classes so that you can observe how big they are and witness first hand the interaction between instructors and students. Speak to several of the students and get their opinions regarding class sizes and instruction. Finally, speak with some of the teachers and find out what their level of experience is and what degrees or certifications they have earned.
Flexible Scheduling. Confirm that the class schedules for the schools you are evaluating are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you are only able to attend classes at night or on weekends near Prescott Valley AZ, confirm that the schools you are comparing offer those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Also, find out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, illness or family issues.
Learn More About Prescott Valley Heating and Cooling Schools In Your Area
Earn Your Heating and Cooling Certificate or Degree
Picking the right HVAC school program is a critical beginning toward a rewarding career in the heating and cooling field. As we have discussed in this article, you need to select a Heating and Cooling training program and a certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have exceptional reputations within the HVAC profession. Other factors to search for are plenty of hands-on training and modern facilities. You should visit each of the schools personally that you are most interested in to explore the campus and speak 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, ask about scheduling options and if evening or weekend classes are offered if needed. And don't forget to inquire about financial assistance and student loan options too. If you ask the proper questions as we have outlined in our guidelines for assessing schools, you'll be able to narrow down your choices so that you can make an educated decision. With the appropriate training, hard work and commitment, you can eventually become a licensed HVAC technician in Prescott Valley AZ.