How to Select the Right Heating and Cooling Certificate Program near Scottsdale Arizona
Once you have decided on a career as a heating and air conditioning professional, the next step is to look for an HVAC vocational school near Scottsdale AZ. But with so many to choose from, how do you select the best one to obtain the training that you need? A number of future students will make their selection based exclusively on the price of tuition or how near the school is to their residence. While these are relevant factors to consider, they are not the only ones to take into account. Just some of the other factors that you need to investigate are the graduation rates of the HVAC schools, their reputations, and if they are accredited by professional trade organizations. Those and additional benchmarks will be discussed in more detail later within this article. But before we discuss how to select an HVAC trade school, let's take a look at what a heating and a/c contractor does to become a licensed skilled tradesman.
How to Become an HVAC Tech
HVAC is an acronym that is widely used in the industry 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 skilled tradesmen, they are typically required to be licensed, though each state and regional municipality has its own requirements. Earning professional certification is not required, but a voluntary means for Scottsdale AZ HVAC techs to prove that they are highly proficient and experienced in their area of specialization. There are several respected certifications within the field that are available. Below are a few of the important ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally acknowledged certification for HVAC technicians. The certification is earned by passing a competency examination and can be earned in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification makes available both a professional and a master specialist credential. 2 years of professional experience in addition to passing a comprehensive exam are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have three years of experience along with a passing score on the professional level exam. As with NATE, certifications are offered in multiple specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is required for specialists that work with refrigerants. There are 3 types of certification obtainable, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Since licensing could be required in your area, and you may also intend to acquire certification, it's essential that you enroll in an HVAC technical school that will prepare you for both. And since you will probably be working with refrigerants, make sure that the program you choose preps you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.
HVAC Certificate and Degree Courses
There are a variety of alternatives available for HVAC instruction 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 least amount of time, typically accomplished in as little as 6 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 relevant to the position. The degree training programs might provide a competitive advantage in the job market and will deliver more comprehensive training than the certificate programs. Following is a short explanation of each credential offered near Scottsdale AZ.
- Certificate. Normally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among beginning commercial or residential HVAC professionals. They provide a solid foundation of skills for job opportunities within the industry.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program supplies a more comprehensive background of heating and cooling systems than the certificate program. Typically taking 2 years to finish, many 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 or even business ownership. Some programs call for an Associate Degree, while others are a traditional four year program. In addition to learning how to service and maintain heating and air conditioning 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 financial resources that you have to invest. One option is to begin with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after gaining some experience in the field in Scottsdale AZ, eventually returning to acquire a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your tactic, make certain to ask the HVAC technician school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Online Classes
Choosing an HVAC school online is one approach to getting your training and earning a certificate or degree. Nearly all schools will require some attendance on campus to take part in practical training. A number also offer internship or work-study programs in addition to or in place of practical lab work. But since the rest of the classes can be attended via the internet, this option may be a more accessible solution for many Scottsdale AZ students that are short on time. And a number of online degree programs are more economical than other traditional options. Even commuting expenses from Scottsdale and study materials can be lessened, helping to make education more economical. And numerous online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your job or family obligations have left you with little time to attend classes, maybe an HVAC online training program will make it easier to accommodate school into your hectic schedule.
Questions to Ask HVAC Training Classes
After you have decided on the type of certificate or degree that you desire to attain, either online or on campus, you can begin to narrow down your list of schools. As you are certainly aware, there are many HVAC technical schools in the Scottsdale AZ area and throughout the Country to select from. That's why it is imperative to have a list of key qualifiers when making school comparisons. As earlier stated in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will probably be the first two factors you will consider. Following are several additional ones that you need to explore before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Numerous HVAC trade programs in the Scottsdale AZ area have received either a regional or a national accreditation. They can attain Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to a specific program, for example HVAC technology. Verify that the school and program are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency, for instance the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping ensure that you receive a superior education, it may help in securing financial assistance or student loans, which are in many cases not available for non-accredited schools. Furthermore, some states mandate that the HVAC training course be accredited for it to qualify 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 finish the course. A low completion rate may suggest that students were dissatisfied with the program and quit. It might also indicate that the teachers 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 broader list 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 will not only affirm that the school has an excellent reputation within the industry, but additionally that it has the network of Scottsdale AZ HVAC employers to assist students secure apprenticeships or jobs.
Apprenticeship Programs. Numerous HVAC technical programs are taught together with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating technical and vocational programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of HVAC businesses or trade unions. Check if the schools you are reviewing have working relationships with local Scottsdale AZ HVAC companies. An apprenticeship not only provides a valuable experience by providing hands-on training, but it also supplies employment opportunities and helps to form relationships in the area 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 already in an internship or an apprenticeship, talk to the HVAC tech you are working with concerning what you should be expecting. If not, ask a local Scottsdale AZ HVAC contracting company if they can give you some suggestions. Also bear in mind that unless you can relocate, the school must be within driving distance of your Scottsdale AZ home. Remember that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides the added relocation costs there may be higher tuition fees compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's important that you receive as much one-on-one training as possible, which can be challenging in bigger classes. Ask if you can sit in on a few of the classes so that you can see how big they are and experience the interaction between students and teachers. Talk to a few of the students and get their feedback concerning class sizes and instruction. Last, talk to some of the instructors and find out what their level of experience is and what certifications or degrees they hold.
Flexible Scheduling. Make sure that the class schedules for the programs you are reviewing are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Scottsdale AZ, confirm that the schools you are reviewing offer those choices. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Additionally, check out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, illness or family issues.
Earn Your HVAC Training and Certification
Finding the right HVAC training course is an important beginning toward a rewarding career in the heating & cooling field. As we have covered in this article, you should pick a Heating and Cooling training program and a certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have exceptional reputations within the HVAC trade. Other features to look for are ample hands-on training and modern 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. In addition, ask about scheduling choices and if night or weekend classes are available if needed. And don't forget to ask about financial assistance and student loan options as well. If you ask the right questions as we have laid out in our guidelines for comparing 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 eventually become a licensed HVAC professional in Scottsdale AZ.