How to Choose the Right Heating and Cooling Certification Class near Scottsdale Arizona
Now that you have come to a decision on a career as a heating and cooling specialist, the next action is to choose an HVAC technical school near Scottsdale AZ. But with so many to select from, how do you choose the ideal one to obtain the training that you need? Some potential students will make their decision based entirely on the cost of tuition or how close the school is to their home. Even though these are relevant factors to consider, they are not the only ones to evaluate. A few of the other factors that you need to research are the graduation rates of the HVAC schools, their reputations, and if they are accredited by professional trade organizations. Those and additional criteria will be covered in more detail later within this article. But before we examine how to pick an HVAC trade school, let's look at what a heating and a/c contractor does to become a licensed professional tradesman.
How to Become an HVAC Specialist
HVAC is an acronym that is extensively used in the industry that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC technicians specialize in the installation, repair and maintenance of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are typically mandated to be licensed, although every state and regional municipality has its own criteria. Acquiring professional certification is not mandatory, but an optional way for Scottsdale AZ HVAC techs to establish that they are exceptionally qualified and accomplished in their area of expertise. There are many acknowledged certifications within the trade that are offered. Following are a few of the important ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally acknowledged certification for HVAC techs. The certification is achieved by passing a proficiency exam 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 field experience in addition to passing a comprehensive examination are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have 3 years of experience in addition to a passing score on the professional level exam. As with NATE, certifications are offered in various specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is required for techs that handle refrigerants. There are 3 forms of certification available, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Because licensing might be mandated in your location, and you may also wish to acquire certification, it's essential that you select an HVAC technical school that will prepare you for both. And since you will most likely be dealing with refrigerants, make sure that the school you choose prepares you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.
HVAC Certificate and Degree Training Programs
There are several options available for HVAC instruction in a technical or trade school. You can earn a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Obtaining a certificate will take the least amount of time, usually completed in as little as 6 months, although some programs are longer. A certificate will train you for most HVAC positions, especially if you are licensed and have certification appropriate to the position. The degree programs can provide a competitive advantage in the job market and will provide more extensive training than the certificate programs. Below is a brief description of each option offered near Scottsdale AZ.
- Certificate. Usually requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among beginning commercial or residential HVAC technicians. They furnish a strong foundation of skills for employment within the trade.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program delivers a more extensive understanding of heating and a/c systems than the certificate program. Normally requiring two years to complete, a number of degrees incorporate an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is suited more for a career in management or even business ownership. Some programs call for an Associate Degree, while others are a traditional 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 appropriate credential program will be based on what your long term career aspirations are, along with the time and money that you have to invest. One option is to begin with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after getting some experience in the trade in Scottsdale AZ, eventually returning to obtain 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 Classes Online
Attending an HVAC school online is one option in getting your education and receiving a certificate or degree. Most schools will call for some attendance on campus to participate in practical training. A number also provide internship or work-study programs in addition to or as an alternative to practical lab work. But since the rest of the classes can be attended on the web, this option may be a more practical solution for many Scottsdale AZ students that are short on time. And a number of online degree programs are less costly than other traditional choices. Even commuting expenses from Scottsdale and study materials can be lessened, helping to make schooling more affordable. And many online programs are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your career or family responsibilities have left you with minimal time to attend classes, perhaps an HVAC online training program will make it less complicated to fit school into your busy schedule.
What to Ask HVAC Training Classes
After you have decided on the type of certificate or degree that you desire to obtain, either on campus or online, you can start to narrow down your list of schools. As you are certainly aware, there are a large number of HVAC vocational schools in the Scottsdale AZ area and throughout the United States to choose from. That's why it is imperative to have a checklist of important qualifiers when making school assessments. As earlier stated in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will most likely be the first two aspects you will look at. Following are some additional ones that you should investigate before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Many HVAC technical schools in the Scottsdale AZ area have attained either a regional or a national accreditation. They may attain Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to an individual program, such as HVAC technology. Make certain that the school and program are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization, for instance the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping guarantee that you get a superior education, it may help in obtaining financial assistance or student loans, which are in many cases unavailable for non-accredited programs. Furthermore, a number of 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 of students who enroll in and finish the course. A low completion rate could indicate that students were dissatisfied with the program and quit. It may also indicate that the teachers were not competent to train 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 alumni, which can result in more contacts for the school to employ for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate will not only validate that the school has an excellent reputation within the field, but additionally that it has the network of Scottsdale AZ HVAC employers to assist students obtain apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. Most HVAC vocational programs are taught in conjunction with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating trade and vocational programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of HVAC companies or labor unions. Ask if the schools you are considering have referring relationships with local Scottsdale AZ HVAC professionals. An apprenticeship not only provides a valuable experience by furnishing hands-on training, but it also furnishes job opportunities and helps to establish relationships in the local HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make certain that the campus facilities and the equipment that you will be trained on are state-of-the-art and what you will be using on the job. If you are currently in an internship or an apprenticeship, check with the HVAC specialist you are working with concerning what you should be looking for. If not, ask a local Scottsdale AZ HVAC company if they can give you some suggestions. Also keep in mind that unless you are willing to move, the school needs to be within driving distance of your Scottsdale AZ home. Take note that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, besides the added moving costs there might be increased tuition charges compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's important that you get as much personalized instruction as possible, which can be challenging in larger classes. Ask if you can monitor some of the classes so that you can observe how big they are and experience the interaction between teachers and students. Speak to some of the students and get their feedback regarding class sizes and instruction. Finally, speak with some of the instructors and find out what their level of expertise is and what certifications or degrees they hold.
Flexible Scheduling. Verify that the class schedules for the schools you are assessing are flexible enough to handle your needs. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Scottsdale AZ, verify that the programs you are reviewing provide those options. If you can only attend part-time, be sure that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Also, ask what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, sickness or family emergencies.
Get Your HVAC Training and Certification
Selecting the ideal HVAC training program is a critical beginning toward a gratifying career in the heating and air conditioning trade. As we have addressed in this article, you should choose 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 things to look for are plenty of practical training and modern facilities. You need to go to each of the schools personally that you are most interested in to explore the campus and talk with both the current students and faculty. Try to get a feel for the quality of the training and the interaction between them. Additionally, ask about scheduling choices and whether or not evening or weekend classes are available if needed. And remember to ask about financial assistance and student loan options too. If you ask the appropriate questions as we have detailed in our checklist for comparing 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 eventually become a licensed HVAC technician in Scottsdale AZ.