How to Pick the Right HVAC Certification Training near Scottsdale Arizona
Once you have made a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioning professional, the next step is to choose an HVAC trade school near Scottsdale AZ. But with so many to pick from, how do you decide on the best one to obtain the training that you need? A number of future students will make their decision based solely on the cost of tuition or how near the school is to their home. Although these are important concerns, they are not the only ones to investigate. 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. These and additional benchmarks will be covered in more detail later within this article. But before we explore how to select an HVAC vocational school, let's take a look at what a heating and air conditioning technician does to become a licensed professional tradesman.
How to Become an HVAC Specialist
HVAC is an acronym that is widely used in the industry that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC techs specialize in the installation, maintenance and repair of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are commonly required to be licensed, however every state and regional municipality has its own prerequisites. Earning professional certification is not compulsory, but an optional means for Scottsdale AZ HVAC technicians to prove that they are exceptionally proficient and knowledgeable in their area of expertise. There are multiple respected certifications within the industry that are available. Following 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 proficiency exam and can be received in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification offers both a professional and a master specialist credential. Two years of field experience as well as passing a comprehensive exam are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have 3 years of experience as well as a passing result on the professional level examination. Similar to NATE, certifications are made available in several specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is required for techs 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.
Considering that licensing may be required in your area, and you may also intend to obtain certification, it's essential that you select an HVAC technical school that will train you for both. And since you will more than likely be working with refrigerants, make sure that the program you choose prepares you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
HVAC Degree Schools
There are several options offered for HVAC training in a technical or trade school. You can attain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Earning a certificate will take the minimum amount of time, typically accomplished in just 6 months, however some programs are longer. A certificate will qualify you for the majority of HVAC positions, especially if you are licensed and have certification related to the position. The degree training programs may provide a competitive advantage for securing employment and will furnish more extensive 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 residential or commercial HVAC specialists. They furnish a strong foundation of skills for job opportunities within the trade.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program delivers a more detailed background of heating and a/c systems than the certificate program. Typically taking 2 years to finish, 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 as well as business ownership. Some programs require an Associate Degree, while others are a traditional 4 year program. In addition to learning how to service and maintain heating and cooling systems, you will also study how to design them.
Picking the right credential program will be based on what your long term career goals are, as well as the time and money that you have to commit. One approach is to begin with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after gaining some experience in the trade in Scottsdale AZ, subsequently returning to earn a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your approach, make certain to ask the HVAC technician school you are considering about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Online Courses
Enrolling in an HVAC program online is one option in obtaining your training and earning a degree or certificate. Almost all schools will call for some attendance on campus to complete hands on training. Some also sponsor internship or work-study programs in addition to or as an alternative to practical lab work. But since the rest of the classes may be participated in via the internet, this option may be a more practical solution for some Scottsdale AZ students that are short on time. And many online degree programs are cheaper than other on campus options. Even driving expenses from Scottsdale and study materials may be minimized, helping to make education more affordable. And a large number of online programs are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your job or family obligations have left you with little time to attend classes, perhaps an online HVAC degree program will make it less complicated to accommodate school into your hectic schedule.
Questions to Ask HVAC Schools
As soon as you have selected the type of certificate or degree that you wish to attain, either online or on campus, you can begin to limit your selection of schools. As you are certainly aware, there are many HVAC technical schools in the Scottsdale AZ area and all over the United States to pick from. That's why it is very important to have a list of relevant qualifiers when making school assessments. As previously mentioned in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will probably be the initial 2 aspects you will consider. Following are some additional ones that you need to research before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Numerous HVAC trade programs in the Scottsdale AZ area have acquired either a regional or a national accreditation. They may earn Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to an individual program, for instance HVAC technology. Make sure that the program is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting organization, for instance the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping make certain that you get a quality education, it can assist in securing financial aid or student loans, which are in many cases not available for non-accredited schools. Also, many states require that the HVAC training course be accredited for it to be approved for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the Heating and Air Conditioning 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 lower completion rate may indicate that students were disappointed with the course and dropped out. It could 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 more extensive directory 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 can not only validate that the school has a good reputation within the trade, but also that it has the network of Scottsdale AZ HVAC employers to help grads acquire apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. A large number of HVAC vocational programs are taught in conjunction with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating trade and vocational programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of Heating and Cooling businesses or trade unions. Check if the schools you are reviewing have working partnerships with local Scottsdale AZ HVAC professionals. An apprenticeship not only offers a valuable experience by supplying practical training, but it also furnishes job opportunities and helps to build relationships in the regional 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 working with on the job. If you are already in an internship or an apprenticeship, consult with the HVAC tech you are working under concerning what you should be looking for. Otherwise, ask a local Scottsdale AZ HVAC company if they can give you some tips. Also bear in mind that unless you are able to move, the school must be within driving distance of your Scottsdale AZ home. Take note that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation costs there may be higher tuition fees compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's desirable that you receive as much personalized training as possible, which can be challenging in larger classes. Ask if you can monitor a couple of the classes so that you can see how big they are and experience the interaction between instructors and students. Speak with several of the students and get their comments relating to class sizes and instruction. Last, speak to a few of the instructors and find out what their level of expertise is and what degrees or certifications they hold.
Flexible Scheduling. Make sure that the class schedules for the schools you are assessing are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Scottsdale AZ, check that the programs you are looking at offer those choices. If you can only attend part-time, make certain that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Also, check out what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, sickness or family issues.
Earn Your Heating and Cooling Certificate or Degree
Finding the ideal HVAC training course is an important beginning toward a rewarding career in the heating and air conditioning industry. As we have addressed in this article, you should choose a Heating and Cooling training program and a degree or certificate program that are both accredited and have excellent reputations within the HVAC trade. Other features to search for are sufficient practical training and state-of-the-art facilities. You need to visit each of the schools in person that you are most interested in to inspect the campus and talk with both the current students and faculty. Attempt to get a feel for the quality of the instruction and the interaction between them. Additionally, inquire about scheduling options and whether night or weekend classes are available if needed. And don't forget to inquire about financial aid and student loan options too. If you ask the appropriate questions as we have detailed in our guidelines for comparing schools, you'll be able to filter your choices so that you can make an educated decision. With the proper training, hard work and commitment, you can eventually become a licensed HVAC professional in Scottsdale AZ.