How to Choose the Right Heating and Cooling Certification Class near San Tan Valley Arizona
Now that you have made a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioner technician, the next action is to choose an HVAC trade school near San Tan Valley AZ. But with so many to choose from, how do you choose the right one to receive the training that you require? Some potential students will make their decision based solely on the cost of tuition or how near the school is to their home. Although these are important factors to consider, they are not the only ones to evaluate. Some of the other details that you need to look into are the graduation rates of the HVAC schools, their reputations, and if they are accredited by professional trade organizations. These and additional benchmarks will be discussed in more detail later in this article. But before we tackle how to select an HVAC training program, let's take a look at what a heating and a/c contractor does to become a licensed professional tradesman.
Becoming an HVAC Tech
HVAC is an acronym that is frequently used in the trade that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC contractors provide services for the installation, maintenance and repair of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are commonly required to be licensed, although every state and local municipality has its own requirements. Obtaining professional certification is not required, but a voluntary means for San Tan Valley AZ HVAC techs to demonstrate that they are exceptionally skilled and knowledgeable in their area of specialization. There are many recognized certifications within the field that are available. Here are a few 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 can 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 together with passing a comprehensive examination are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have three years of experience as well as a passing result on the professional level examination. As with NATE, certifications are made available in various specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is required for technicians that work with refrigerants. There are three types of certification available, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Because licensing could be required in your location, and you may also desire to acquire 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 sure that the school you pick preps you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
HVAC Degree Classes
There are several choices 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 lesser period of time, usually completed in as little as six 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 programs may provide a competitive advantage in the job market and will furnish more extensive training than the certificate programs. Following is a brief summary of each credential offered near San Tan Valley AZ.
- Certificate. Generally 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 job opportunities within the industry.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program delivers a more exhaustive background of heating and a/c systems than the certificate program. Typically requiring 2 years to complete, many 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 standard four year program. In addition to being taught how to service and maintain heating and cooling systems, you will also study how to design them.
Choosing the right credential program will be based on what your future career goals are, together with the time and financial resources that you have to invest. One option is to start with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after getting some experience in the trade in San Tan Valley AZ, later going back to acquire a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your approach, make certain to ask the HVAC technician school you are considering about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Online Courses
Choosing an HVAC school online is one approach to getting your training and receiving a certificate or degree. Almost all schools will require some attendance on campus to take part in hands on training. Some also offer internship or work-study programs in addition to or in place of practical lab work. But since the balance of the classes can be attended via the internet, this alternative may be a more convenient solution for many San Tan Valley AZ students that are pressed for time. And many online degree programs are cheaper than other traditional alternatives. Even commuting expenses from San Tan Valley and study materials can be reduced, helping to make education more affordable. And a large number of online programs are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your career or family obligations have left you with minimal time to attend classes, perhaps an online HVAC degree program will make it more convenient to accommodate school into your busy schedule.
What to Ask HVAC Certification Classes
When you have chosen the type of degree or certificate that you wish to acquire, either online or on campus, you can start to narrow down your selection of schools. As you are probably aware, there are a large number of HVAC technical schools in the San Tan Valley AZ area and throughout the Country to choose from. That's why it is essential to have a list of important qualifications when making school evaluations. As formerly stated in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will undoubtedly be the first two factors you will look at. Following are several additional ones that you will want to research before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. A large number of HVAC vocational programs in the San Tan Valley AZ area have acquired either a regional or a national accreditation. They can receive Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs overall, 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 recognized accrediting organization, for example the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping make certain that you get a quality education, it can help in acquiring financial assistance or student loans, which are often unavailable for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of states mandate that the HVAC training course be accredited in order to be approved for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the Heating and Air Conditioning schools you are reviewing what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage of students who enroll in and complete the course. A lower completion rate could signify that students were unhappy with the course and quit. It could also mean that the teachers were not competent to instruct the students. It's similarly imperative that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive directory of graduates, which may produce 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 a good reputation within the trade, but additionally that it has the network of San Tan Valley AZ HVAC employers to help students secure apprenticeships or jobs.
Apprenticeship Programs. Many HVAC training programs are taught in conjunction with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating vocational and technical programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of HVAC businesses or labor unions. Find out if the schools you are comparing have working partnerships with local San Tan Valley AZ HVAC companies. An apprenticeship not only offers a rewarding experience by providing practical training, but it also furnishes job opportunities and helps to form relationships in the local HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make certain that the campus facilities and the tools that you will be trained on are state-of-the-art and what you will be using in the field. If you are currently in an internship or an apprenticeship, check with the HVAC technician you are working under concerning what you should be looking for. If not, ask a local San Tan Valley AZ HVAC contractor if they can provide some tips. Also keep in mind that unless you can relocate, the school needs to be within commuting distance of your San Tan Valley AZ home. Remember that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides the added moving costs there may be higher tuition fees compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's desirable that you get as much individualized training as possible, which can be challenging in larger classes. Ask if you can monitor some of the classes so that you can see how big they are and witness first hand the interaction between students and instructors. Speak to several of the students and get their feedback regarding class sizes and instruction. Last, speak to a few of the instructors and learn what their level of expertise is and what degrees or certifications they hold.
Flexible Scheduling. Make sure that the class schedules for the programs you are assessing are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near San Tan Valley AZ, verify that the schools you are looking at provide those choices. If you can only attend part-time, be sure that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Finally, find out what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, illness or family issues.
Get Your HVAC Training and Certification
Picking the right HVAC school course is a critical first step toward a gratifying 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 excellent reputations within the HVAC trade. Other things to look for are plenty of hands-on training and state-of-the-art facilities. You need to visit each of the schools personally that you are most interested in to inspect 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. Additionally, ask about scheduling choices and if evening or weekend classes are available if needed. And don't forget to inquire about financial aid and student loan options as well. If you ask the appropriate questions as we have laid out in our checklist for evaluating schools, you'll be able to narrow down your choices so that you can make an educated decision. With the appropriate training, hard work and commitment, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC technician in San Tan Valley AZ.