How to Pick the Right Heating and Cooling Certification Training near San Tan Valley Arizona
Once you have decided on a career as a heating and cooling specialist, the next action is to locate an HVAC technical school near San Tan Valley AZ. But with so many to pick from, how do you select the right one to receive the training that you require? Some prospective students will make their decision based entirely on the price of tuition or how near the school is to their residence. Although these are relevant concerns, they are not the only ones to evaluate. A few of the other things that you need to research 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 within this article. But before we discuss how to select an HVAC technical school, let's take a look at what a heating and cooling contractor does to become a licensed qualified tradesman.
How to Become an HVAC Pro
HVAC is an acronym that is frequently used in the trade that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC techs provide services for the installation, repair and maintenance of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are generally mandated to be licensed, although every state and local municipality has its own requirements. Acquiring professional certification is not compulsory, but an alternative means for San Tan Valley AZ HVAC specialists to establish that they are exceptionally skilled and knowledgeable in their area of expertise. There are a number of respected certifications within the trade that are offered. Here are some of the significant ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally recognized certification for HVAC techs. The certification is achieved by passing a proficiency exam and can be received in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification makes available both a professional and a master specialist credential. 2 years of field experience as well as passing a comprehensive examination are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have three years of experience in addition to a passing result on the professional level exam. As with NATE, certifications are made available in multiple specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is mandatory for specialists that handle refrigerants. There are 3 forms of certification offered, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Because licensing may be mandated in your area, and you may also intend to earn certification, it's essential that you choose an HVAC trade school that will train you for both. And since you will more than likely be working with refrigerants, make certain that the program you choose prepares you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.
HVAC Degree and Certificate Classes
There are a number of alternatives offered for HVAC instruction in a vocational or trade school. You can attain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Earning a certificate will take the least amount of time, typically accomplished in just six months, though some courses are longer. A certificate will train you for the majority of HVAC positions, particularly if you are licensed and have certification applicable to the position. The degree programs might provide a competitive advantage in the job market and will furnish more in-depth training than the certificate programs. Following is a brief summary of each credential offered near San Tan Valley AZ.
- Certificate. Normally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among entry level commercial or residential HVAC professionals. They provide a strong foundation of skills for employment within the trade.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program supplies a more comprehensive background of heating and cooling systems than the certificate program. Normally requiring 2 years to finish, some degrees include an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is geared more towards a career in management as well as business ownership. Some programs call for an Associate Degree, while others are a traditional four year program. In addition to mastering how to service and maintain heating and cooling systems, you will also learn how to design them.
Picking the appropriate credential program will be based on what your long term career aspirations are, together with the time and money that you have to commit. One approach is to start with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after gaining some experience in the field in San Tan Valley AZ, eventually 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 Schools Online
Choosing an HVAC school online is one approach to attaining your education and earning a certificate or degree. Nearly all schools will require some attendance on campus to take part in hands on training. A number also provide internship or work-study programs in addition to or as an alternative to practical lab work. But since the remainder of the classes can be participated in via the internet, this alternative may be a more accessible solution for many San Tan Valley AZ students that are pressed for time. And some online degree programs are more economical than other traditional alternatives. Even commuting expenses from San Tan Valley and study materials may be lessened, helping to make education more affordable. And many online programs are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your job or family obligations have left you with little time to attend classes, perhaps an HVAC online training program will make it easier to fit school into your active lifestyle.
Questions to Ask HVAC Trade Schools
When you have picked the type of certificate or degree that you want to attain, either on campus or online, you can start to decrease your selection of schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are a large number of HVAC trade schools in the San Tan Valley AZ area and throughout the United States to choose from. That's why it is essential to have a checklist of important qualifiers when making school assessments. As previously mentioned in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will undoubtedly be the first two factors you will take into consideration. Following are some additional ones that you need to research before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. A large number of HVAC trade schools in the San Tan Valley AZ area have received either a regional or a national accreditation. They may attain Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to an individual program, such as HVAC technology. Verify that the school and program are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting agency, for instance the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping guarantee that you obtain an excellent education, it may assist in securing financial aid or student loans, which are often not available for non-accredited programs. Also, many states mandate that the HVAC training program be accredited in order 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 percentage or portion of students who enroll in and complete the course. A low completion rate might indicate that students were disappointed with the program and quit. It might also signify that the instructors were not qualified to instruct the students. It's also imperative that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader list of graduates, which can produce more contacts for the school to use 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 trade, but also that it has the network of San Tan Valley AZ HVAC employers to help grads secure apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. A large number of HVAC technical programs are taught along with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating vocational and technical schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of Heating and Cooling contractors or labor unions. Check if the schools you are reviewing have referring relationships with local San Tan Valley AZ HVAC contractors. An apprenticeship not only provides a valuable experience by supplying hands-on training, but it also supplies employment opportunities and helps to establish relationships in the regional HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Confirm that the school facilities and the equipment that you will be trained on are up-to-date and what you will be working with on the job. If you are presently in an internship or an apprenticeship, talk to the HVAC tech you are working with regarding what you should be expecting. If not, ask a local San Tan Valley AZ HVAC company if they can provide some pointers. Also keep in mind that unless you are able to relocate, the school needs to be within commuting distance of your San Tan Valley AZ home. Take note that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation costs there may be higher tuition fees compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's important that you get as much individualized instruction as possible, which can be challenging in larger classes. Ask if you can monitor a couple of the classes so that you can observe how large they are and experience the interaction between teachers and students. Talk to some of the students and get their comments regarding class sizes and instruction. Finally, talk with a few of the instructors and find out what their level of expertise is and what degrees or certifications they have earned.
Flexible Scheduling. Confirm that the class schedules for the schools you are evaluating are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near San Tan Valley AZ, confirm that the programs you are reviewing offer those options. If you can only attend part-time, make sure that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Additionally, find out what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, sickness or family responsibilities.
Learn More About San Tan Valley Heating and Cooling Training Classes Near You
Earn Your Heating and Cooling Training and Certification
Picking the right HVAC school program is a critical first step toward a fulfilling career in the heating and cooling field. As we have addressed 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 exceptional reputations within the HVAC community. Other factors to look for are sufficient hands-on training and state-of-the-art facilities. You should check out each of the schools in person that you are most interested in to inspect the campus and talk with both the current students and faculty. Attempt to get a feel for the quality of the instruction and the interaction between them. Additionally, inquire about scheduling choices and if night or weekend classes are available if needed. And don't forget to ask about financial aid and student loan options also. If you ask the right questions as we have laid out in our guidelines for evaluating 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 commitment, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC professional in San Tan Valley AZ.