How to Pick the Right Heating and Cooling Certificate Program near Queen Creek Arizona
Now that you have decided on a career as a heating and air conditioning technician, the next step is to choose an HVAC vocational school near Queen Creek AZ. But with so many to pick from, how do you decide on the right one to obtain the training that you require? Some future students will make their choice based solely on the price of tuition or how close the school is to their residence. Even though these are necessary factors to consider, they are not the only ones to evaluate. 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. These and other benchmarks will be addressed in more detail later within this article. But before we discuss how to select an HVAC trade school, let's look at what a heating and a/c contractor does to become a licensed skilled tradesman.
Becoming an HVAC Technician
HVAC is an acronym that is frequently used in the business that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC professionals provide services for the installation, maintenance and repair of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are typically mandated to be licensed, though every state and regional municipality has its own prerequisites. Attaining professional certification is not compulsory, but an optional means for Queen Creek AZ HVAC specialists to establish that they are exceptionally qualified and knowledgeable in their area of expertise. There are several acknowledged certifications within the trade that are available. Here are some of the significant ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally recognized certification for HVAC technicians. The certification is earned by passing a proficiency examination 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 together with passing a comprehensive examination are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have 3 years of experience along with a passing score on the professional level exam. Similar to NATE, certifications are made available in multiple specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is mandatory for techs that handle refrigerants. There are 3 types of certification obtainable, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Considering that licensing could be required in your area, and you may also desire to earn certification, it's essential that you select an HVAC trade school that will prepare you for both. And since you will probably be handling refrigerants, make certain that the program you choose prepares you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
HVAC Degree and Certificate Classes
There are a variety of options offered for HVAC training in a technical or vocational school. You can obtain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Obtaining a certificate will take the least amount of time, typically achieved in just six months, although some programs are longer. A certificate will train you for most HVAC positions, especially if you are licensed and have certification appropriate to the position. The degree programs can provide a competitive advantage for securing employment and will furnish more comprehensive training than the certificate programs. Following is a short explanation of each credential offered near Queen Creek AZ.
- Certificate. Normally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among entry level residential or commercial HVAC technicians. They furnish a strong foundation of skills for job opportunities 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. Generally taking two years to finish, some 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 or even business ownership. Some programs require an Associate Degree, while others are a conventional 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 right credential program will be dependent on what your long term career aspirations are, in addition to the time and money that you have to commit. One possibility is to start with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after acquiring some experience in the field in Queen Creek AZ, subsequently returning to acquire a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your strategy, be sure to ask the HVAC technician school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Training Online
Choosing an HVAC program online is one alternative in getting your education and earning a certificate or degree. Most schools will require some attendance on campus to complete hands on training. A number also offer internship or work-study programs in addition to or instead of practical lab work. But since the balance of the classes can be attended online, this alternative may be a more accessible solution for many Queen Creek AZ students that are short on time. And a number of online degree programs are less costly than other on campus alternatives. Even driving expenses from Queen Creek and study materials can be reduced, helping to make schooling more budget-friendly. And many online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your work or family responsibilities have left you with limited time to attend classes, perhaps an online HVAC degree program will make it more convenient to accommodate school into your busy lifestyle.
Questions to Ask HVAC Training Programs
As soon as you have selected the type of certificate or degree that you wish to earn, either on campus or online, you can start 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 all over the United States to pick from. That's why it is very important to have a list of key qualifiers when making school assessments. As formerly mentioned in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will undoubtedly be the initial two variables you will consider. Following are some additional ones that you will want to research before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Many HVAC trade schools in the Queen Creek AZ area have acquired either a regional or a national accreditation. They can earn Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to an individual program, for example HVAC technology. Make sure that the program and school are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting agency, which includes the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping ensure that you obtain a superior education, it can assist in securing financial aid or student loans, which are frequently unavailable for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of states require that the HVAC training course be accredited in order to be approved for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the HVAC schools you are considering what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage of students who enroll in and complete the course. A lower completion rate may indicate that students were disappointed with the program and quit. It could also suggest 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 more extensive list of alumni, which may produce more contacts for the school to use for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate will not only confirm that the school has a good reputation within the industry, but additionally that it has the network of Queen Creek AZ HVAC employers to help graduates secure apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. Many HVAC technical programs are taught in conjunction with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating vocational and trade programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of Heating and Cooling businesses or labor unions. Check if the schools you are considering have referring relationships with local Queen Creek AZ HVAC companies. An apprenticeship not only provides a rewarding experience by supplying hands-on training, but it also provides employment opportunities and helps to form relationships in the area HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Confirm that the campus facilities and the tools that you will be trained on are state-of-the-art and what you will be working with in the field. If you are already in an internship or an apprenticeship, consult with the HVAC tech you are working under concerning what you should be looking for. If not, ask a local Queen Creek AZ HVAC company if they can give you some tips. Also bear in mind that unless you are able to relocate, the school must be within driving distance of your Queen Creek AZ home. Take note 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 desirable that you receive as much personalized instruction as possible, which can be difficult in larger classes. Ask if you can sit in on a couple of the classes so that you can see how large they are and experience the interaction between teachers and students. Speak to several of the students and get their comments concerning class sizes and instruction. Finally, speak with some of the teachers and find out what their level of expertise is and what certifications or degrees they hold.
Flexible Scheduling. Make sure that the class schedules for the schools you are assessing are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Queen Creek AZ, confirm that the schools you are reviewing offer those choices. If you can only attend part-time, make sure that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Additionally, find out what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, sickness or family responsibilities.
Get Your HVAC Degree and Certification
Picking the right HVAC training program is a crucial beginning toward a rewarding career in the heating & cooling field. As we have covered in this article, you need to pick a Heating and Cooling training program and a certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have excellent reputations within the HVAC profession. Other things to search for are ample hands-on training and state-of-the-art facilities. You need to check out each of the schools personally that you are most interested in to tour the campus and speak with both the faculty and current students. Try to get a feel for the quality of the teaching and the interaction between them. Also, ask about scheduling choices and if evening or weekend classes are offered if needed. And remember to ask about financial assistance and student loan options too. If you ask the proper questions as we have outlined in our guidelines for evaluating schools, you'll be able to filter your options so that you can make an informed decision. With the right training, hard work and dedication, you can eventually become a licensed HVAC technician in Queen Creek AZ.