How to Choose the Right Heating and Cooling Program near Scottsdale Arizona
Once you have decided on a career as a heating and air conditioning technician, the next step is to look for an HVAC technical school near Scottsdale AZ. But with so many to choose from, how do you select the right one to get the training that you need? Some potential students will make their choice based solely on the cost of tuition or how close the school is to their residence. Even though these are necessary concerns, 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. These and other benchmarks will be discussed in more detail later in this article. But before we examine how to pick an HVAC vocational school, let's take a look at what a heating and air conditioning technician does to become a licensed skilled tradesman.
How to Become an HVAC Professional
HVAC is an acronym that is frequently used in the industry that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC techs 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 generally required to be licensed, though every state and regional municipality has its own criteria. Obtaining professional certification is not mandatory, but a voluntary means for Scottsdale AZ HVAC technicians to prove that they are exceptionally skilled and accomplished in their area of expertise. There are multiple respected certifications within the trade that are available. Here are a few of the significant ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally recognized certification for HVAC technicians. The certification is earned by passing a competency examination and may be acquired in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification offers both a professional and a master specialist credential. Two years of field experience together with passing a comprehensive exam are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have three years of experience in addition to a passing score on the professional level exam. Similar to NATE, certifications are provided in multiple specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is required for techs that work with refrigerants. There are three types of certification available, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Because licensing may be required in your location, and you may also intend to acquire certification, it's imperative that you choose an HVAC technical school that will train you for both. And since you will probably be dealing with refrigerants, make sure that the school you decide on preps you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.
HVAC Degree and Certificate Schools
There are several alternatives offered for HVAC instruction in a trade or technical school. You can earn a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Earning a certificate will take the lesser amount of time, often completed in as little as six months, although some programs are longer. A certificate will train you for the majority of HVAC positions, particularly if you are licensed and have certification relevant to the position. The degree programs can provide a competitive edge for securing employment and will provide more comprehensive training than the certificate programs. Below is a short explanation of each option offered near Scottsdale AZ.
- Certificate. Usually requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among entry level residential or commercial HVAC specialists. They furnish a strong foundation of skills for employment within the trade.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program delivers a more detailed understanding of heating & cooling systems than the certificate program. Typically requiring 2 years to complete, some degrees feature an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is suited 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.
Picking the right credential program will be based on what your future career objectives are, along with the time and money that you have to commit. One option is to begin with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after getting some experience in the field in Scottsdale AZ, later going back to earn 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 Schools
Attending an HVAC school online is one alternative in getting your training and earning a certificate or degree. Nearly all schools will call for some attendance on campus to complete practical training. A number also sponsor internship or work-study programs in addition to or instead of practical lab work. But since the remainder of the classes can be participated in via the internet, this approach may be a more practical solution for many Scottsdale AZ students that are short on time. And many online degree programs are less costly than other traditional options. Even driving expenses from Scottsdale and study supplies can be reduced, helping to make schooling more budget-friendly. And a large number of online programs are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your work or family responsibilities have left you with little time to attend classes, maybe an HVAC online training program will make it more convenient to accommodate school into your hectic schedule.
Questions For HVAC Training Programs
When you have decided on the type of degree or certificate that you would like to acquire, either online or on campus, you can start to narrow down your selection of schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are many HVAC technical schools in the Scottsdale AZ area and throughout the Country to choose from. That's why it is essential to have a checklist of relevant qualifiers when making school comparisons. As earlier stated in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will probably be the first 2 variables you will consider. Following are some additional ones that you should research before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Many HVAC technical schools in the Scottsdale AZ area have earned either a regional or a national accreditation. They may receive Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to a specific program, for example HVAC technology. Confirm that the school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency, which includes the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping ensure that you acquire an excellent education, it may help in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are frequently unavailable for non-accredited programs. Furthermore, some states mandate that the HVAC training program be accredited for it 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 disappointed with the course and dropped out. It might also indicate that the teachers were not competent to train the students. It's also essential that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive directory of graduates, which can produce more contacts for the school to utilize for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate can 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 help graduates secure apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. Most HVAC vocational programs are taught together with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating vocational and technical programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of HVAC businesses or labor unions. Find out if the schools you are reviewing have working relationships with local Scottsdale AZ HVAC contractors. An apprenticeship not only provides a rewarding experience by furnishing practical training, but it also provides employment opportunities and helps to establish relationships in the regional HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Confirm that the campus facilities and the equipment that you will be instructed on are state-of-the-art and what you will be using on the job. If you are presently in an internship or an apprenticeship, check with the HVAC technician you are working under regarding what you should be looking for. Otherwise, ask a local Scottsdale AZ HVAC contracting company if they can give you some pointers. Also bear in mind that unless you can move, the school must be within driving distance of your Scottsdale AZ home. Take note that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation costs there may be increased tuition charges compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's desirable that you receive as much personalized training as possible, which can be difficult in larger classes. Ask if you can sit in on a couple of the classes so that you can see how large they are and experience the interaction between instructors and students. Talk to a few of the students and get their feedback concerning 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. Confirm that the class schedules for the programs you are assessing are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Scottsdale AZ, verify that the schools you are looking at offer those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Also, check out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, sickness or family responsibilities.
Earn Your HVAC Certificate or Degree
Choosing the ideal HVAC school program is a crucial first step toward a gratifying career in the heating & cooling industry. As we have addressed in this article, you need to choose a Heating and Cooling training program and a certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have outstanding reputations within the HVAC profession. Other things to look for are plenty of practical training and modern facilities. You should visit each of the schools in person that you are most interested in to explore the campus and talk 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, inquire about scheduling options and if night or weekend classes are available if needed. And don't forget to inquire about financial aid and student loan options as well. If you ask the appropriate questions as we have outlined in our guidelines for comparing schools, you'll be able to narrow down your options so that you can make an informed decision. With the appropriate training, hard work and dedication, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC technician in Scottsdale AZ.