How to Enroll In the Right Heating and Cooling College near San Tan Valley Arizona
Now that you have decided on a career as a heating and air conditioner professional, the next action is to choose an HVAC vocational school near San Tan Valley AZ. But with so many to choose from, how do you choose the right one to obtain the training that you need? A number of potential students will make their selection based entirely on the cost of tuition or how close the school is to their home. While these are important concerns, they are not the only ones to take into account. A few of the other factors 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. Those and other benchmarks will be discussed in more detail later within this article. But before we discuss how to select an HVAC vocational school, let's look at what a heating and air conditioning technician does to become a licensed skilled tradesman.
Becoming an HVAC Contractor
HVAC is an acronym that is commonly used in the business that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC technicians provide services for the installation, maintenance and repair of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are generally mandated to be licensed, although each state and local municipality has its own criteria. Attaining professional certification is not mandatory, but a voluntary way for San Tan Valley AZ HVAC technicians to establish that they are exceptionally skilled and knowledgeable in their area of expertise. There are several acknowledged certifications within the trade that are offered. Below are some of the significant ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally acknowledged certification for HVAC techs. The certification is earned by passing a proficiency examination and may be earned in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification makes available both a professional and a master specialist credential. Two 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 together with a passing score on the professional level examination. As with NATE, certifications are made available in several specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is required for specialists that handle refrigerants. There are 3 types of certification offered, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Considering that licensing could be required in your location, and you may also intend to earn certification, it's essential that you enroll in an HVAC trade school that will prepare you for both. And since you will more than likely be handling refrigerants, make sure that the program you select prepares you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.
HVAC Degree and Certificate Courses
There are a variety of choices offered for HVAC training in a vocational or trade school. You can earn a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Acquiring a certificate will take the lesser period of time, often achieved in as little as 6 months, however some courses are longer. A certificate will train you for the majority of HVAC positions, especially if you are licensed and have certification applicable to the position. The degree training programs may provide a competitive edge in the job market and will deliver more extensive training than the certificate programs. Following is a brief description of each credential offered near San Tan Valley AZ.
- Certificate. Generally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among beginning residential or commercial HVAC professionals. They provide a strong foundation of skills for job opportunities within the industry.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program delivers a more extensive background of heating and cooling systems than the certificate program. Normally taking two years to finish, many degrees feature 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 call for an Associate Degree, while others are a conventional 4 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.
Picking the ideal credential program will be based on what your long term career objectives are, together with the time and financial resources that you have to invest. One approach is to start with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after acquiring some experience in the field in San Tan Valley AZ, subsequently going back to obtain a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your approach, be sure to ask the HVAC technician school you are considering about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Online Classes
Choosing an HVAC program online is one approach to obtaining your training and earning a certificate or degree. Nearly all schools will call for some attendance on campus to participate in hands on training. Many also sponsor internship or work-study programs in addition to or in place of practical lab work. But since the remainder of the classes may be participated in on the web, this alternative may be a more practical solution for many San Tan Valley AZ students that are short on time. And some online degree programs are more economical than other traditional alternatives. Even driving expenses from San Tan Valley and study materials may be lessened, helping to make schooling more affordable. And many online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your career or family obligations have left you with limited time to attend classes, perhaps an online HVAC degree program will make it less complicated to accommodate school into your hectic lifestyle.
Questions For HVAC Training Programs
When you have decided on the type of certificate or degree that you wish to earn, either online or on campus, you can begin to limit your list of schools. As you are probably aware, there are numerous HVAC trade schools in the San Tan Valley AZ area and across the United States to choose from. That's why it is imperative to have a checklist of relevant qualifications when making school assessments. As previously stated in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will most likely be the first 2 variables you will look at. Following are some additional ones that you need to investigate before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Numerous HVAC technical schools in the San Tan Valley AZ area have attained either a regional or a national accreditation. They can acquire Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to a specific program, for instance HVAC technology. Verify that the program is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency, such as the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping make certain that you receive a superior education, it may help in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are in many cases not available for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of states require that the HVAC training program be accredited in order to qualify for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the HVAC schools you are reviewing what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage or portion of students who enroll in and complete the program. A low completion rate may signify that students were unhappy with the program and quit. It may also suggest that the instructors were not competent to train 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 list of alumni, which can result in more contacts for the school to utilize for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate can not only confirm that the school has an excellent reputation within the field, but also that it has the network of San Tan Valley AZ HVAC employers to help graduates acquire apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. Many HVAC trade programs are taught in conjunction with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating trade and technical schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of HVAC contractors or trade unions. Ask if the schools you are comparing have referring relationships with local San Tan Valley AZ HVAC contractors. An apprenticeship not only offers a valuable experience by furnishing hands-on training, but it also furnishes job opportunities and helps to form relationships in the local HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make sure that the campus facilities and the equipment that you will be instructed on are up-to-date and what you will be working with in the field. If you are currently in an internship or an apprenticeship, talk to the HVAC tech you are working with concerning what you should be looking for. Otherwise, ask a local San Tan Valley AZ HVAC company if they can give you some tips. Additionally bear in mind that unless you can relocate, the school needs to be within commuting distance of your San Tan Valley AZ residence. Take note that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation costs there might be increased tuition fees compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's desirable that you get as much one-on-one training as possible, which can be challenging 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 instructors and students. Talk to some of the students and get their feedback concerning class sizes and instruction. Finally, talk with a few of the instructors and find out what their level of experience is and what certifications or degrees they have earned.
Flexible Scheduling. Verify that the class schedules for the schools you are evaluating are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near San Tan Valley AZ, confirm that the schools you are considering provide those options. If you can only attend part-time, make sure that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Also, find out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, sickness or family emergencies.
Get Your Heating and Cooling Certificate or Degree
Picking the right HVAC training program is a crucial first step toward a fulfilling career in the heating and cooling industry. As we have discussed in this article, you should select a Heating and Cooling training program and a degree or certificate program that are both accredited and have exceptional reputations within the HVAC trade. Other features to look for are lots of practical training and state-of-the-art facilities. You need to check out each of the schools personally that you are most interested in to explore the campus and speak with both the faculty and current students. Try to get a feel for the quality of the training and the interaction between them. Additionally, inquire about scheduling options and if evening or weekend classes are offered if needed. And don't forget to inquire about financial assistance and student loan options too. If you ask the proper questions as we have detailed in our checklist for evaluating schools, you'll be able to narrow down your choices so that you can make an informed decision. With the proper training, hard work and commitment, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC professional in San Tan Valley AZ.