How to Choose the Right Heating and Cooling College near Queen Creek Arizona
Now that you have decided on a career as a heating and air conditioner technician, the next action is to locate an HVAC vocational school near Queen Creek AZ. But with so many to select from, how do you select the ideal one to obtain the training that you require? Many potential students will make their choice based solely on the cost of tuition or how near the school is to their home. Even though these are relevant concerns, they are not the only ones to evaluate. Just 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. These and additional criteria will be covered in more detail later in this article. But before we examine how to select an HVAC vocational school, let's take a look at what a heating and a/c professional does to become a licensed skilled tradesman.
Becoming an HVAC Professional
HVAC is an acronym that is commonly used in the trade that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC contractors provide services for the installation, repair and maintenance of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are commonly mandated to be licensed, however each state and local municipality has its own requirements. Acquiring professional certification is not mandatory, but an alternative way for Queen Creek AZ HVAC techs to establish that they are exceptionally skilled and experienced in their area of specialization. There are a number of acknowledged certifications within the trade that are available. Below are some of the significant ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally acknowledged certification for HVAC technicians. The certification is achieved by passing a competency exam and can be acquired in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification offers both a professional and a master specialist credential. 2 years of field 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 score on the professional level exam. Similar to NATE, certifications are made available in various 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 additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Since licensing might be required in your location, and you may also wish to acquire certification, it's important that you enroll in an HVAC vocational school that will train you for both. And since you will more than likely be dealing with refrigerants, make certain that the program you choose readies you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
HVAC Certificate and Degree Training Programs
There are a variety of choices available for HVAC training in a vocational or trade school. You can obtain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Obtaining a certificate will take the minimum period of time, typically completed in as little as 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 appropriate to the position. The degree training programs might provide a competitive advantage for securing employment and will provide more in-depth training than the certificate programs. Following is a brief explanation of each credential offered near Queen Creek AZ.
- Certificate. Normally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among beginning commercial or residential HVAC professionals. They furnish a strong foundation of skills for employment within the trade.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program supplies a more exhaustive knowledge of heating & cooling systems than the certificate program. Typically 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 tailored more towards a career in management as well as business ownership. Some programs require an Associate Degree, while others are a standard four year program. In addition to being taught how to service and maintain heating and air conditioning systems, you will also study how to design them.
Choosing the appropriate credential program will be based on what your future career objectives are, as well as the time and financial resources that you have to commit. One option is to begin with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after acquiring some experience in the trade in Queen Creek AZ, later going back to earn a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your tactic, be sure to ask the HVAC tech school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Online Schools
Enrolling in an HVAC program online is one option in obtaining your education and earning a certificate or degree. Almost all schools will require some attendance on campus to participate in hands on training. A number also offer internship or work-study programs in addition to or instead of practical lab work. But since the remainder of the classes can be attended via the internet, this alternative may be a more convenient solution for many Queen Creek AZ students that are pressed for time. And a number of online degree programs are less costly than other traditional alternatives. Even driving expenses from Queen Creek and study supplies can be lessened, helping to make education more affordable. And numerous online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your job or family obligations have left you with minimal time to attend classes, perhaps an online HVAC degree program will make it less complicated to accommodate school into your hectic schedule.
Questions to Ask HVAC Schools
After you have selected the type of degree or certificate that you would like to obtain, either on campus or online, you can begin to limit your list of schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are many HVAC vocational schools in the Queen Creek AZ area and throughout the Country to select from. That's why it is very important to have a checklist of relevant qualifications when making school comparisons. As formerly mentioned in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will probably be the initial 2 factors you will take into consideration. Following are some additional ones that you will want to explore before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. A large number of HVAC vocational schools in the Queen Creek AZ area have received either a regional or a national accreditation. They may acquire 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 program is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency, which includes the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping make certain that you acquire a quality education, it can help in obtaining financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently not available for non-accredited programs. Additionally, some states mandate that the HVAC training course 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 program. A lower completion rate may signify that students were disappointed with the program and quit. It could also suggest that the teachers were not competent to instruct the students. It's also important that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive directory of alumni, which can result in 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 field, but additionally that it has the network of Queen Creek AZ HVAC employers to assist grads acquire apprenticeships or jobs.
Apprenticeship Programs. Most HVAC trade programs are taught along with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating technical and vocational programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of HVAC companies or labor unions. Find out if the schools you are comparing have working relationships with local Queen Creek AZ HVAC specialists. An apprenticeship not only provides a rewarding experience by providing practical training, but it also supplies employment opportunities and helps to establish relationships in the local HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make certain that the school facilities and the equipment that you will be instructed on are up-to-date and what you will be using on the job. If you are already in an internship or an apprenticeship, check with the HVAC specialist you are working with regarding what you should be looking for. Otherwise, ask a local Queen Creek AZ HVAC contracting company if they can provide some pointers. Additionally bear in mind that unless you are able to relocate, the school needs to be within driving distance of your Queen Creek AZ residence. Take note that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides the added moving costs there can be increased tuition charges compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's important that you get as much personalized training as possible, which can be difficult in larger classes. Ask if you can monitor a few of the classes so that you can see how big they are and experience the interaction between teachers and students. Speak with several of the students and get their feedback regarding class sizes and instruction. Last, speak to some of the instructors and find out what their level of expertise is and what certifications or degrees they have earned.
Flexible Scheduling. Confirm that the class schedules for the schools you are reviewing are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Queen Creek AZ, check that the programs you are considering offer those choices. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, be sure that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Additionally, find out what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, sickness or family issues.
Get Your Heating and Cooling Training and Certification
Enrolling in the right HVAC training course is a critical first step toward a fulfilling career in the heating and cooling industry. As we have discussed in this article, you need to pick a Heating and Cooling training program and a degree or certificate program that are both accredited and have excellent reputations within the HVAC field. Other factors to search for are sufficient hands-on training and modern facilities. You should visit each of the schools in person that you are most interested in to explore the campus and talk with both the faculty and current students. Attempt to get a feel for the quality of the teaching and the interaction between them. Additionally, inquire about scheduling options and whether or not evening or weekend classes are available if needed. And remember to ask about financial assistance and student loan options too. If you ask the proper questions as we have laid out in our guidelines for evaluating 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 commitment, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC contractor in Queen Creek AZ.