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How to Find the Right Heating and Cooling Degree Program near San Tan Valley Arizona

San Tan Valley Arizona residential air conditioning condensersOnce you have come to a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioning technician, the next action is to look for an HVAC vocational school near San Tan Valley AZ. But with so many to select from, how do you select the right one to obtain the training that you need? A number of future students will make their selection based exclusively on the cost of tuition or how near the school is to their home. While these are necessary factors to consider, they are not the only ones to investigate. Just some of the other details that you need to research 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 discussed in more detail later within this article. But before we tackle how to choose an HVAC technical school, let's take a look at what a heating and air conditioning professional does to become a licensed qualified tradesman.

How to Become an HVAC Technician

San Tan Valley Arizona HVAC Technician inspecting A/C condenserHVAC is an acronym that is commonly used in the trade that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC technicians provide services for the installation, repair and maintenance of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are typically required to be licensed, however each state and local municipality has its own prerequisites. Attaining professional certification is not mandatory, but an alternative means for San Tan Valley AZ HVAC technicians to demonstrate that they are highly proficient and knowledgeable in their area of specialization. There are many acknowledged certifications within the industry that are offered. Here are some of the significant ones.

  • North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally acknowledged certification for HVAC technicians. The certification is earned by passing a competency exam and can be acquired in one or more specialties.
  • HVAC Excellence. This certification makes available both a professional and a master specialist credential. 2 years of field experience in addition to passing a comprehensive examination are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have 3 years of experience as well as a passing result on the professional level exam. As with NATE, certifications are made available in multiple specialties.
  • EPA Section 608. This certification is required for specialists that handle refrigerants. There are three forms of certification obtainable, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.

Because licensing could be mandated in your area, and you may also intend to acquire certification, it's imperative that you choose an HVAC trade school that will prepare you for both. And since you will more than likely be handling refrigerants, make certain that the school you choose preps you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.

HVAC Certificate and Degree Classes

San Tan Valley Arizona home heating pump

There are a number of alternatives offered for HVAC instruction in a technical or vocational school. You can obtain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Earning a certificate will take the least period of time, often completed in as little as 6 months, although some programs are longer. A certificate will qualify you for most HVAC positions, particularly if you are licensed and have certification relevant to the position. The degree programs might provide a competitive edge in the job market and will provide more comprehensive 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 preferred among beginning commercial or residential HVAC technicians. They furnish a solid foundation of skills for job opportunities within the trade.
  • Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program supplies a more extensive understanding of heating and a/c systems than the certificate program. Typically taking 2 years to complete, many degrees include 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 call for an Associate Degree, while others are a conventional four year program. In addition to learning how to service and maintain heating and air conditioning systems, you will also learn how to design them.

Choosing the ideal credential program will be dependent on what your long term career aspirations are, along with the time and money that you have to commit. 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 returning to obtain a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your tactic, be sure to ask the HVAC technician school you are considering about how their returning student program works.

HVAC Schools Online

Attending an HVAC program online is one approach to obtaining your education and earning a degree or certificate. Most schools will require some attendance on campus to participate in practical training. Many also sponsor internship or work-study programs in addition to or in place of practical lab work. But since the rest of the classes can be participated in on the web, this option may be a more convenient solution for many San Tan Valley AZ students that are short on time. And some online degree programs are cheaper than other traditional alternatives. Even travelling expenses from San Tan Valley and study supplies can be minimized, helping to make education more budget-friendly. And numerous online programs are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your career or family commitments have left you with minimal time to attend classes, maybe an online HVAC degree program will make it easier to accommodate school into your active schedule.

Questions For HVAC Training Classes

San Tan Valley Arizona HVAC tech replacing water heater

Once you have decided on the type of degree or certificate that you would like to earn, either on campus or online, you can begin to limit your selection of schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are many HVAC technical schools in the San Tan Valley AZ area and across the United States to choose from. That's why it is very important to have a checklist of important qualifiers when making school evaluations. As previously stated in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will most likely be the initial two variables you will look at. Following are several additional ones that you will want to research before enrolling in your school of choice.

Accreditation.  Numerous HVAC technical programs in the San Tan Valley AZ area have received 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, for instance HVAC technology. Make certain that the program and school are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting organization, for instance the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping ensure that you acquire a superior education, it may help in securing financial assistance or student loans, which are often unavailable for non-accredited programs. Additionally, many states require that the HVAC training course be accredited for it to be approved for licensing.

High Completion Rates.  Ask the Heating and Air Conditioning schools you are considering what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage of students who enroll in and finish the course. A low completion rate might suggest that students were disappointed with the program and quit. It may also signify that the instructors were not competent 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 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 can not only affirm that the school has an excellent reputation within the industry, but additionally that it has the network of San Tan Valley AZ HVAC employers to help students acquire apprenticeships or jobs.

Apprenticeship Programs.  Most HVAC vocational programs are taught in conjunction with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating vocational and trade programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of Heating and Cooling companies or trade unions. Find out if the schools you are considering have referring partnerships with local San Tan Valley AZ HVAC professionals. An apprenticeship not only provides a rewarding experience by supplying practical training, but it also provides employment opportunities and helps to build relationships in the regional HVAC professional community.

Modern Facilities.  Confirm that the school facilities and the equipment that you will be trained on are state-of-the-art and what you will be working with in the field. If you are currently in an internship or an apprenticeship, consult with the HVAC specialist you are working under regarding what you should be looking for. Otherwise, ask a local San Tan Valley AZ HVAC contractor if they can provide some pointers. Also keep in mind that unless you are willing to move, the school needs to be within driving distance of your San Tan Valley AZ home. Remember that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to moving costs there might be higher tuition fees compared to in-state residents.

Smaller Classes.   It's desirable that you receive as much one-on-one instruction as possible, which can be difficult in bigger classes. Ask if you can monitor a few of the classes so that you can observe how big they are and experience the interaction between students and teachers. Talk to some of the students and get their opinions regarding class sizes and instruction. Last, talk with a few of the instructors and learn what their level of expertise is and what degrees or certifications they hold.

Flexible Scheduling.  Verify that the class schedules for the schools you are assessing 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, check that the programs you are reviewing provide those choices. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Finally, ask what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, illness or family responsibilities.

Find Out More About San Tan Valley Heating and Cooling Schools Near You

Earn Your Heating and Cooling Degree and Certification

Choosing the ideal HVAC training program is a crucial beginning toward a fulfilling career in the heating & cooling trade. As we have addressed in this article, you need to choose a Heating and Cooling training program and a degree or certificate program that are both accredited and have excellent reputations within the HVAC community. Other things to look for are sufficient hands-on training and state-of-the-art facilities. You should visit 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 instruction and the interaction between them. Additionally, ask about scheduling choices and if evening or weekend classes are offered if needed. And don't forget to inquire about financial aid and student loan options also. If you ask the proper questions as we have outlined in our checklist for assessing schools, you'll be able to filter 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 specialist in San Tan Valley AZ.