How to Select the Right HVAC Certificate Program near Prescott Arizona
Now that you have decided on a career as a heating and air conditioner technician, the next step is to look for an HVAC vocational school near Prescott AZ. But with so many to select from, how do you select the best one to get the training that you need? A number of future students will make their selection based entirely on the cost of tuition or how close the school is to their residence. Even though these are important concerns, they are not the only ones to take into account. Some of the other things that you need to investigate are the graduation rates of the HVAC schools, their reputations, and if they are accredited by professional trade organizations. These and additional criteria will be discussed in more detail later in this article. But before we discuss how to pick an HVAC training program, let's take a look at what a heating and a/c technician does to become a licensed qualified tradesman.
How to Become an HVAC Professional
HVAC is an acronym that is extensively used in the industry that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC contractors specialize in the installation, repair and maintenance of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are typically required to be licensed, though every state and local municipality has its own requirements. Acquiring professional certification is not required, but a voluntary way for Prescott AZ HVAC technicians to establish that they are highly proficient and experienced in their area of expertise. There are many recognized certifications within the trade that are available. Below are a few of the important ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally recognized certification for HVAC techs. The certification is attained 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. 2 years of professional experience as well as passing a comprehensive exam are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have 3 years of experience in addition to a passing result on the professional level exam. Similar to NATE, certifications are provided in several specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is mandatory for techs that work with refrigerants. There are 3 types of certification available, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Considering that licensing may be required in your area, and you may also intend to earn certification, it's imperative that you select an HVAC trade school that will train you for both. And since you will probably be dealing with refrigerants, make certain that the program you pick prepares you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.
HVAC Degree and Certificate Courses
There are a number of options available for HVAC instruction in a technical or trade school. You can earn a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Acquiring a certificate will take the lesser period of time, often accomplished in just 6 months, although some courses are longer. A certificate will train you for most HVAC positions, especially 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 furnish more in-depth training than the certificate programs. Below is a short description of each credential offered near Prescott AZ.
- Certificate. Normally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among entry level residential or commercial HVAC technicians. They provide a strong foundation of skills for employment within the trade.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program supplies a more comprehensive understanding of heating and cooling systems than the certificate program. Normally requiring 2 years to complete, many 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 traditional 4 year program. In addition to learning how to service and maintain heating and cooling systems, you will also study how to design them.
Selecting the appropriate credential program will be dependent on what your long term career objectives are, as well as the time and financial resources that you have to invest. One option is to start with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after getting some experience in the field in Prescott AZ, eventually returning to obtain a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your tactic, make sure to ask the HVAC technician school you are considering about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Training Online
Choosing an HVAC program online is one approach in getting your education and receiving a certificate or degree. Almost all schools will call for some attendance on campus to participate in hands on training. A number 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 via the internet, this alternative may be a more convenient solution for many Prescott AZ students that are short on time. And many online degree programs are less costly than other traditional alternatives. Even travelling expenses from Prescott and study materials may be minimized, helping to make education more affordable. And a large number of online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your career or family responsibilities have left you with little time to attend classes, maybe an online HVAC degree program will make it less complicated to fit school into your busy schedule.
Questions to Ask HVAC Certification Courses
When you have picked the type of degree or certificate that you desire to earn, either online or on campus, you can start to decrease your selection of schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are many HVAC trade schools in the Prescott AZ area and all over the USA to pick from. That's why it is very important to have a checklist of key qualifiers when making school assessments. As earlier mentioned in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will most likely be the initial 2 variables you will consider. Following are several additional ones that you need to research before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Many HVAC technical programs in the Prescott AZ area have earned either a regional or a national accreditation. They can receive Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to a specific program, such as HVAC technology. Confirm that the program and school are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization, for example the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping guarantee that you receive an excellent education, it can help in securing financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently not available for non-accredited programs. Also, 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 looking at what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students who enroll in and complete the course. A lower completion rate may signify that students were unhappy with the course and quit. It might also indicate that the teachers were not qualified 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 can produce more contacts for the school to employ for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate can not only confirm that the school has a good reputation within the trade, but additionally that it has the network of Prescott AZ HVAC employers to help grads secure apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. Numerous HVAC technical programs are taught in conjunction with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating trade and vocational programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of HVAC companies or labor unions. Check if the schools you are considering have working relationships with local Prescott AZ HVAC companies. An apprenticeship not only provides a valuable experience by providing hands-on training, but it also supplies employment opportunities and helps to build relationships in the area HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Confirm that the campus facilities and the tools that you will be instructed on are state-of-the-art and what you will be using in the field. If you are presently in an internship or an apprenticeship, consult with the HVAC technician you are working under regarding what you should be expecting. Otherwise, ask a local Prescott AZ HVAC contracting company if they can provide some suggestions. Also bear in mind that unless you are willing to relocate, the school must be within driving distance of your Prescott AZ home. Take note that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides the added moving costs there can be higher tuition charges 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 some of the classes so that you can observe how large they are and experience the interaction between students and teachers. Talk to several of the students and get their comments regarding class sizes and instruction. Last, speak with a few of the teachers and find out what their level of experience is and what degrees or certifications they have earned.
Flexible Scheduling. Verify that the class schedules for the programs you are reviewing are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Prescott AZ, check that the programs you are comparing offer those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Also, check 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 Heating and Cooling Courses Near You
Get Your Heating and Cooling Certificate or Degree
Picking the ideal HVAC training program is a critical first step toward a fulfilling career in the heating and cooling industry. As we have addressed in this article, you should select a Heating and Cooling training program and a certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have outstanding reputations within the HVAC profession. Other features to search for are sufficient practical training and state-of-the-art facilities. You need to 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. In addition, ask about scheduling options and if night or weekend classes are offered if needed. And don't forget to ask about financial assistance and student loan options also. If you ask the appropriate questions as we have detailed 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 dedication, you can eventually become a licensed HVAC professional in Prescott AZ.