How to Enroll In the Right HVAC Certification Class near Prescott Arizona
Once you have decided on a career as a heating and air conditioner professional, the next step is to choose an HVAC technical school near Prescott AZ. But with so many to choose from, how do you pick the best one to obtain the training that you need? A number of potential students will make their selection based exclusively on the cost of tuition or how close the school is to their residence. Although these are important concerns, they are not the only ones to take into account. A few of the other details 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 other criteria will be addressed in more detail later in this article. But before we tackle how to select an HVAC trade school, let's take a look at what a heating and air conditioning professional does to become a licensed professional tradesman.
Becoming an HVAC Tech
HVAC is an acronym that is commonly used in the trade that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC professionals provide services for the installation, repair and maintenance of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are commonly mandated to be licensed, though each state and regional municipality has its own requirements. Attaining professional certification is not compulsory, but a voluntary means for Prescott AZ HVAC techs to establish that they are exceptionally proficient and accomplished in their area of expertise. There are a number of respected certifications within the trade that are available. Here 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 exam and may be received in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification offers both a professional and a master specialist credential. Two years of professional experience as well as passing a comprehensive examination are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have three years of experience together with a passing result on the professional level exam. As with NATE, certifications are made available in various specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is mandatory for techs that handle refrigerants. There are 3 forms of certification available, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Considering that licensing might be required in your location, and you may also intend to acquire certification, it's important that you select an HVAC technical school that will train you for both. And since you will most likely be working with refrigerants, make sure that the program you pick readies you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
HVAC Degree Training Programs
There are a variety of options offered for HVAC training in a technical or trade school. You can attain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Obtaining a certificate will take the least amount of time, typically achieved in just 6 months, although some courses are longer. A certificate will qualify you for most HVAC positions, particularly if you are licensed and have certification applicable to the position. The degree programs might provide a competitive edge for securing employment and will deliver more comprehensive training than the certificate programs. Following is a short description of each option offered near Prescott AZ.
- Certificate. Normally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among beginning residential or commercial HVAC professionals. They furnish a strong foundation of skills for employment within the industry.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program supplies a more exhaustive understanding of heating and a/c systems than the certificate program. Normally requiring 2 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 for a career in management as well as business ownership. Some programs call for an Associate Degree, while others are a standard 4 year program. In addition to mastering how to service and maintain heating and cooling systems, you will also learn how to design them.
Choosing the ideal credential program will be based on what your future career objectives are, along with the time and financial resources that you have to invest. One possibility is to begin with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after getting some experience in the trade in Prescott 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 Courses
Enrolling in an HVAC school online is one alternative to attaining your training and receiving a degree or certificate. Almost all schools will call for some attendance on campus to take part in hands on training. Some also provide internship or work-study programs in addition to or in place of practical lab work. But since the balance of the classes may be attended online, this approach may be a more convenient solution for some Prescott AZ students that are pressed for time. And a number of online degree programs are cheaper than other traditional alternatives. Even driving expenses from Prescott and study materials can be minimized, helping to make schooling more budget-friendly. And a large number of online programs are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your work or family commitments have left you with little time to attend classes, maybe an online HVAC degree program will make it more convenient to fit school into your active lifestyle.
Questions For HVAC Certification Classes
After you have chosen the type of degree or certificate that you desire to acquire, either on campus or online, you can begin to decrease your selection of schools. As you are probably aware, there are numerous HVAC trade schools in the Prescott AZ area and throughout the Country to pick from. That's why it is extremely important to have a checklist of key qualifications when making school comparisons. As earlier mentioned in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will probably be the first two aspects you will take into consideration. Following are several additional ones that you need to research before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. A large number of HVAC technical schools in the Prescott AZ area have received either a regional or a national accreditation. They may earn Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to an individual program, for example HVAC technology. Make sure that the school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization, such as the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping guarantee that you get a quality education, it can assist in securing financial aid or student loans, which are in many cases not available for non-accredited schools. Additionally, a number of states require that the HVAC training program be accredited in order to qualify for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the Heating and Air Conditioning schools you are looking at what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage or portion of students who enroll in and complete the program. A lower completion rate might suggest that students were dissatisfied with the course and dropped out. It might also signify that the teachers were not competent to train the students. It's also essential that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader list of graduates, which can result in more contacts for the school to utilize for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate can not only validate that the school has a good reputation within the industry, but additionally that it has the network of Prescott AZ HVAC employers to assist graduates secure apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. Most HVAC vocational programs are taught together with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating vocational and technical programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of Heating and Cooling companies or trade unions. Check if the schools you are comparing have referring relationships with local Prescott AZ HVAC professionals. An apprenticeship not only offers a valuable experience by supplying hands-on training, but it also supplies job opportunities and helps to form relationships in the local HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Confirm that the school facilities and the tools that you will be trained on are state-of-the-art and what you will be using on the job. If you are currently in an internship or an apprenticeship, consult with the HVAC technician you are working under regarding what you should be expecting. If not, ask a local Prescott AZ HVAC company if they can give you some suggestions. Additionally bear in mind that unless you are able to move, the school must be within commuting distance of your Prescott AZ residence. Take note that if you decide to attend 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 desirable that you get as much personalized instruction as possible, which can be challenging in bigger classes. Ask if you can sit in on a couple of the classes so that you can see how large 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 learn what their level of experience is and what degrees or certifications they have earned.
Flexible Scheduling. Confirm that the class schedules for the programs you are evaluating are flexible enough to handle your needs. If you are only able to go to classes at night or on weekends near Prescott AZ, check that the schools you are considering provide those choices. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, be sure that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Finally, check out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, sickness or family responsibilities.
Get Your Heating and Cooling Training and Certification
Selecting the right HVAC school course is a critical beginning toward a rewarding career in the heating & cooling industry. As we have covered 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 field. Other things to search for are lots of practical training and modern facilities. You should visit each of the schools in person that you are most interested in to tour the campus and talk with both the current students and faculty. Try to get a feel for the quality of the training and the interaction between them. Additionally, ask about scheduling options and if evening or weekend classes are available if needed. And don't forget to ask about financial assistance and student loan options too. If you ask the right questions as we have laid out in our checklist for comparing schools, you'll be able to narrow down your options so that you can make an educated decision. With the proper training, hard work and commitment, you can eventually become a licensed HVAC contractor in Prescott AZ.