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How to Pick the Right HVAC Certificate Program near Prescott Arizona

Prescott Arizona residential air conditioning condensersOnce you have decided on a career as a heating and air conditioner specialist, the next action is to look for an HVAC vocational school near Prescott AZ. But with so many to choose from, how do you decide on the best one to obtain the training that you need? A number of prospective students will make their decision based solely on the cost of tuition or how close the school is to their home. While these are significant concerns, they are not the only ones to evaluate. Some of the other things 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 additional benchmarks 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 a/c professional does to become a licensed professional tradesman.

How to Become an HVAC Tech

Prescott Arizona HVAC Contractor inspecting air conditioning condenserHVAC is an acronym that is frequently used in the trade that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC contractors specialize in the installation, maintenance and repair of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are typically mandated to be licensed, however each state and local municipality has its own requirements. Attaining professional certification is not mandatory, but a voluntary way for Prescott AZ HVAC technicians to demonstrate that they are exceptionally qualified and knowledgeable in their area of specialization. There are many acknowledged 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 achieved by passing a competency exam and may be earned in one or more specialties.
  • HVAC Excellence. This certification offers both a professional and a master specialist credential. 2 years of field experience in addition to passing a comprehensive exam are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have three years of experience together with a passing score on the professional level examination. Similar to NATE, certifications are provided in multiple specialties.
  • EPA Section 608. This certification is required for techs that handle refrigerants. There are 3 forms of certification offered, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.

Because licensing might be mandated in your location, and you may also desire to obtain certification, it's imperative that you select an HVAC technical school that will train you for both. And since you will more than likely be handling refrigerants, make sure that the school you select readies you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.

HVAC Degree Classes

Prescott Arizona residential heater

There are a number of options offered for HVAC instruction in a vocational or trade school. You can obtain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Earning a certificate will take the minimum amount of time, often accomplished in just 6 months, however some programs are longer. A certificate will train you for the majority of HVAC positions, especially if you are licensed and have certification related to the position. The degree training programs might provide a competitive edge in the job market and will furnish more extensive training than the certificate programs. Following is a short description of each option offered near Prescott AZ.

  • Certificate. Generally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among entry level commercial or residential HVAC professionals. They provide a strong foundation of skills for employment within the industry.
  • Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program delivers a more exhaustive understanding of heating & cooling systems than the certificate program. Generally requiring two years to complete, some degrees feature an internship or work-study program.
  • Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is suited more towards a career in management as well as business ownership. Some programs require an Associate Degree, while others are a conventional four year program. In addition to learning how to service and maintain heating and cooling systems, you will also study how to design them.

Picking the ideal credential program will be based on what your future career aspirations are, as well as the time and money that you have to invest. One approach is to begin with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after acquiring some experience in the field in Prescott AZ, subsequently returning to obtain a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your approach, be sure to ask the HVAC technician school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.

HVAC Schools Online

Choosing an HVAC program online is one possibility in attaining your education and earning a degree or certificate. Almost all schools will require some attendance on campus to take part 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 may be participated in on the web, this approach may be a more convenient solution for some Prescott AZ students that are pressed for time. And some online degree programs are less costly than other traditional choices. Even driving expenses from Prescott and study materials can be lessened, helping to make schooling more economical. And numerous online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your job or family responsibilities have left you with limited time to attend classes, maybe an online HVAC degree program will make it less complicated to accommodate school into your hectic lifestyle.

Questions For HVAC Training Classes

Prescott Arizona HVAC tech replacing water heater

After you have selected the type of degree or certificate that you want to earn, either online or on campus, you can begin to narrow down your selection of schools. As you are probably aware, there are numerous HVAC vocational schools in the Prescott AZ area and across the United States to choose from. That's why it is extremely important to have a list of important qualifiers when making school assessments. As formerly stated in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will probably be the initial 2 factors you will look at. Following are several additional ones that you will want to investigate before enrolling in your school of choice.

Accreditation.  A large number of HVAC technical schools in the Prescott AZ area have acquired 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. Make sure that the school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting agency, which includes the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping ensure that you acquire a quality education, it can help in obtaining financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently unavailable for non-accredited programs. Furthermore, some states mandate that the HVAC training course be accredited in order to qualify for licensing.

High Completion Rates.  Ask the HVAC schools you are considering what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students who enroll in and finish the course. A lower completion rate could signify that students were dissatisfied with the program and dropped out. It might also signify that the teachers were not competent to instruct the students. It's similarly essential that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive directory of graduates, 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 affirm that the school has an excellent reputation within the field, but additionally that it has the network of Prescott AZ HVAC employers to assist graduates obtain apprenticeships or jobs.

Apprenticeship Programs.  Many HVAC vocational programs are taught along with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating trade and vocational schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of HVAC contractors or labor unions. Find out if the schools you are reviewing have working partnerships with local Prescott AZ HVAC contractors. An apprenticeship not only offers a valuable experience by furnishing practical training, but it also supplies job opportunities and helps to establish relationships in the area HVAC professional community.

Modern Facilities.  Confirm that the school facilities and the tools that you will be trained on are up-to-date and what you will be using on the job. If you are already in an internship or an apprenticeship, talk to the HVAC tech you are working under regarding what you should be looking for. Otherwise, ask a local Prescott AZ HVAC contracting company if they can give you some tips. Also bear in mind that unless you are willing to relocate, the school must be within commuting distance of your Prescott AZ residence. Remember that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation costs there might be increased tuition charges compared to in-state residents.

Smaller Classes.   It's important that you get as much personalized instruction as possible, which can be challenging in larger classes. Ask if you can sit in on a couple of the classes so that you can observe how big they are and witness first hand the interaction between instructors and students. Speak with some of the students and get their feedback relating to class sizes and instruction. Last, speak with a few of the teachers and learn what their level of experience is and what certifications or degrees they have earned.

Flexible Scheduling.  Verify that the class schedules for the schools you are evaluating are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Prescott AZ, verify that the schools you are comparing provide those choices. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, be sure that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Also, check out what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, sickness or family responsibilities.

Find Out More About Prescott HVAC Programs In Your Area

Earn Your Heating and Cooling Training and Certification

Choosing the right HVAC training course is a crucial first step toward a rewarding career in the heating and cooling industry. 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 things to look for are sufficient practical training and state-of-the-art facilities. You need to check out each of the schools in person 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 teaching and the interaction between them. In addition, inquire about scheduling choices and whether evening or weekend classes are available if needed. And remember to ask about financial assistance and student loan options also. If you ask the proper questions as we have laid out in our checklist for evaluating schools, you'll be able to narrow down your options so that you can make an informed decision. With the appropriate training, hard work and commitment, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC specialist in Prescott AZ.