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How to Enroll In the Right HVAC Certification Course near Scottsdale Arizona

Scottsdale Arizona home air conditioning condensersOnce you have made a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioner professional, the next action is to choose an HVAC vocational school near Scottsdale AZ. But with so many to choose from, how do you decide on the best one to get the training that you require? Many prospective students will make their choice based solely on the price of tuition or how close the school is to their home. Even though these are necessary considerations, they are not the only ones to evaluate. Some of the other factors 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 other benchmarks will be addressed in more detail later within this article. But before we tackle how to pick an HVAC technical school, let's look at what a heating and cooling professional does to become a licensed qualified tradesman.

Becoming an HVAC Professional

Scottsdale Arizona Heating and Cooling Contractor fixing A/C condenserHVAC is an acronym that is frequently used in the trade that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC professionals provide services for the installation, maintenance and repair of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are generally required to be licensed, although every state and local municipality has its own criteria. Earning professional certification is not required, but a voluntary means for Scottsdale AZ HVAC technicians to demonstrate that they are exceptionally qualified and experienced in their area of specialization. There are many recognized certifications within the field that are offered. 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 attained by passing a competency examination and can be earned in one or more specialties.
  • HVAC Excellence. This certification offers both a professional and a master specialist credential. Two years of professional experience together with passing a comprehensive examination are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have three years of experience in addition to a passing score on the professional level exam. As with NATE, certifications are made available in several specialties.
  • EPA Section 608. This certification is necessary for technicians that handle refrigerants. There are three forms of certification offered, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.

Since licensing may be mandated in your area, and you may also desire to obtain certification, it's imperative that you enroll in an HVAC vocational school that will train you for both. And since you will most likely be dealing with refrigerants, make sure that the school you select preps you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.

HVAC Certificate and Degree Courses

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There are several alternatives offered for HVAC training in a trade or technical school. You can attain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Earning a certificate will take the minimum amount of time, often completed in just six months, although some courses are longer. A certificate will qualify you for the majority of HVAC positions, especially if you are licensed and have certification appropriate to the position. The degree programs may provide a competitive edge for securing employment and will deliver more comprehensive training than the certificate programs. Below is a short summary of each credential offered near Scottsdale AZ.

  • Certificate. Generally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular 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 delivers a more detailed background of heating & cooling systems than the certificate program. Typically requiring 2 years to finish, some degrees incorporate an internship or work-study program.
  • Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is tailored more towards a career in management or even business ownership. Some programs require an Associate Degree, while others are a traditional four year program. In addition to learning how to service and maintain heating and cooling systems, you will also study how to design them.

Choosing the ideal credential program will be dependent on what your future career aspirations are, along with the time and financial resources that you have to commit. One possibility is to begin with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after gaining some experience in the trade in Scottsdale AZ, later returning to earn a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your strategy, make sure to ask the HVAC technician school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.

HVAC Schools Online

Enrolling in an HVAC program online is one approach in attaining your education and earning a degree or certificate. Almost all schools will call for some attendance on campus to take part in hands on training. Many also offer internship or work-study programs in addition to or as an alternative to practical lab work. But since the balance of the classes can be attended via the internet, this alternative may be a more accessible solution for many Scottsdale AZ students that are short on time. And many online degree programs are more economical than other traditional options. Even commuting expenses from Scottsdale and study materials can be lessened, helping to make schooling more affordable. And a large number of online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your job or family responsibilities have left you with limited time to attend classes, perhaps an HVAC online training program will make it more convenient to fit school into your hectic lifestyle.

Questions For HVAC Certification Courses

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After you have decided on the type of certificate or degree that you wish to attain, either on campus or online, you can start to limit your selection of schools. As you are probably aware, there are many HVAC trade schools in the Scottsdale AZ area and across the Country to choose from. That's why it is very important to have a checklist of relevant qualifications when making school assessments. As earlier stated in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will undoubtedly be the first 2 factors you will consider. Following are some additional ones that you need to investigate before enrolling in your school of choice.

Accreditation.  Numerous HVAC trade programs in the Scottsdale AZ area have attained either a regional or a national accreditation. They can receive Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to a specific program, for instance HVAC technology. Verify that the program and school are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting organization, for example the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping ensure that you obtain a superior education, it may assist in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are frequently unavailable for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of states mandate that the HVAC training course be accredited in order to be approved for licensing.

High Completion Rates.  Ask the HVAC schools you are reviewing what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students who enroll in and complete the program. A lower completion rate could suggest that students were dissatisfied with the course and dropped out. It may also indicate that the instructors were not qualified to train the students. It's also important that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive directory of alumni, which may mean 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 a good reputation within the industry, but additionally that it has the network of Scottsdale AZ HVAC employers to assist graduates secure apprenticeships or employment.

Apprenticeship Programs.  A large number of HVAC vocational programs are taught together with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating vocational and trade schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of HVAC companies or trade unions. Ask if the schools you are considering have working partnerships with local Scottsdale AZ HVAC contractors. An apprenticeship not only offers a rewarding experience by furnishing practical training, but it also furnishes job opportunities and helps to build 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 on the job. If you are currently in an internship or an apprenticeship, talk to the HVAC tech you are working under regarding what you should be expecting. Otherwise, ask a local Scottsdale AZ HVAC company if they can provide some tips. Additionally bear in mind that unless you are able to relocate, the school must be within commuting distance of your Scottsdale AZ residence. Take note that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides the added relocation costs there might be higher tuition fees compared to in-state residents.

Smaller Classes.   It's desirable that you get as much individualized instruction as possible, which can be challenging in larger classes. Ask if you can monitor a few of the classes so that you can see how big they are and experience the interaction between students and teachers. Talk to several of the students and get their comments regarding class sizes and instruction. Last, talk with some of the teachers 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 assessing are flexible enough to handle your needs. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Scottsdale AZ, check that the schools you are considering offer those choices. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Finally, check out what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, sickness or family responsibilities.

Learn More About Scottsdale Heating and Cooling Training Programs In Your Area

Earn Your HVAC Degree and Certification

Selecting the ideal HVAC school program is an important beginning toward a fulfilling career in the heating and air conditioning trade. As we have covered in this article, you should choose a Heating and Cooling training program and a degree or certificate program that are both accredited and have exceptional reputations within the HVAC field. Other things to search for are lots of practical training and modern facilities. You need to visit each of the schools personally that you are most interested in to inspect the campus and speak with both the faculty and current students. Attempt to get a feel for the quality of the training and the interaction between them. In addition, inquire about scheduling options and if night or weekend classes are offered if needed. And remember to inquire about financial assistance and student loan options too. If you ask the proper questions as we have outlined in our guidelines for comparing schools, you'll be able to filter your options so that you can make an educated decision. With the proper training, hard work and dedication, you can eventually become a licensed HVAC technician in Scottsdale AZ.