How to Pick the Right HVAC Program near Scottsdale Arizona
Once you have decided on a career as a heating and air conditioning technician, the next action is to look for an HVAC trade school near Scottsdale AZ. But with so many to select from, how do you choose the best one to get the training that you require? A number of potential students will make their decision based entirely on the cost of tuition or how close the school is to their residence. Even though these are relevant considerations, they are not the only ones to investigate. Just some of the other details 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. Those and additional criteria will be addressed in more detail later within this article. But before we discuss how to select an HVAC technical school, let's take a look at what a heating and cooling professional does to become a licensed qualified tradesman.
How to Become an HVAC Professional
HVAC 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, repair and maintenance of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are commonly mandated to be licensed, however every state and local municipality has its own requirements. Attaining professional certification is not mandatory, but a voluntary means for Scottsdale AZ HVAC techs to prove that they are highly skilled and experienced in their area of specialization. There are multiple recognized certifications within the industry that are available. Below are a few of the significant ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally recognized certification for HVAC technicians. The certification is attained by passing a proficiency exam and may be received in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification makes available both a professional and a master specialist credential. Two years of field experience together with passing a comprehensive examination are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have 3 years of experience together with a passing result on the professional level examination. Similar to NATE, certifications are provided in various specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is mandatory for technicians that handle refrigerants. There are three types of certification obtainable, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Since licensing may be required in your location, and you may also desire to earn certification, it's imperative that you pick an HVAC vocational school that will train you for both. And since you will more than likely be dealing with refrigerants, make certain that the school you pick prepares you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
HVAC Degree and Certificate Courses
There are several choices offered for HVAC instruction in a vocational or trade school. You can obtain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Obtaining a certificate will take the least period of time, often achieved in as little as 6 months, although some programs are longer. A certificate will qualify you for the majority of HVAC positions, particularly if you are licensed and have certification applicable to the position. The degree training programs might provide a competitive edge for securing employment and will deliver more in-depth training than the certificate programs. Following is a short description of each option offered near Scottsdale AZ.
- Certificate. Generally 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 industry.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program provides a more detailed knowledge of heating and cooling systems than the certificate program. Normally requiring two years to finish, a number of 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 as well as business ownership. Some programs require an Associate Degree, while others are a traditional four year program. In addition to being taught how to service and maintain heating and air conditioning systems, you will also learn how to design them.
Picking the appropriate credential program will be based on what your future career goals are, together with the time and money that you have to invest. One possibility is to begin with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after getting some experience in the trade in Scottsdale AZ, subsequently returning to earn a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your tactic, be sure to ask the HVAC technician school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Online Courses
Choosing an HVAC school online is one option to getting your education and earning a certificate or degree. Nearly all schools will require some attendance on campus to complete practical training. A number also provide 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 on the web, 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 less expensive than other traditional alternatives. Even travelling expenses from Scottsdale and study materials can be lessened, helping to make schooling more economical. And numerous online programs are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your work or family obligations have left you with limited time to attend classes, perhaps an online HVAC degree program will make it easier to fit school into your hectic schedule.
What to Ask HVAC Trade Schools
Once you have chosen the type of certificate or degree that you would like to acquire, either online or on campus, you can begin to decrease your list of schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are numerous HVAC technical schools in the Scottsdale AZ area and all over the United States to pick from. That's why it is imperative to have a list of relevant qualifications when making school assessments. As earlier mentioned in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will probably be the first two aspects you will take into consideration. Following are several additional ones that you need to investigate before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Numerous HVAC technical programs in the Scottsdale AZ area have acquired either a regional or a national accreditation. They may attain Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to a specific program, such as HVAC technology. Verify that the school is 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 obtain an excellent education, it can help in obtaining financial assistance or student loans, which are often unavailable for non-accredited programs. Also, some states mandate that the HVAC training program be accredited for it to qualify for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the Heating and Cooling schools you are reviewing what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage of students who enroll in and complete the program. A low completion rate could suggest that students were unhappy with the program and dropped out. It could also signify that the instructors were not qualified to train the students. It's similarly essential that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader directory of graduates, which may produce 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 field, but also that it has the network of Scottsdale AZ HVAC employers to help graduates secure apprenticeships or jobs.
Apprenticeship Programs. Many HVAC training programs are taught along with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating trade and technical programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of Heating and Cooling contractors or trade unions. Check if the schools you are reviewing have working relationships with local Scottsdale AZ HVAC contractors. An apprenticeship not only provides a valuable experience by providing hands-on training, but it also supplies job opportunities and helps to form relationships in the local HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Confirm that the school facilities and the equipment that you will be trained on are up-to-date and what you will be using on the job. If you are currently 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 contractor if they can give you some pointers. Also bear in mind that unless you are willing to move, the school must be within commuting distance of your Scottsdale AZ home. Take note that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides the added relocation costs there can be higher tuition fees compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's desirable that you receive as much individualized instruction as possible, which can be challenging in bigger classes. Ask if you can monitor some of the classes so that you can observe how big they are and witness first hand the interaction between instructors and students. Talk to several of the students and get their comments regarding class sizes and instruction. Last, talk to some of the teachers 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 reviewing are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you are only able to attend classes at night or on weekends near Scottsdale AZ, check that the programs you are reviewing offer those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Finally, check out what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, illness or family emergencies.
Get Your HVAC Training and Certification
Picking the ideal HVAC training program is a crucial beginning toward a gratifying career in the heating and air conditioning industry. As we have covered in this article, you should select a Heating and Cooling training program and a certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have excellent reputations within the HVAC profession. Other things to search for are plenty of practical training and modern facilities. You should 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. Attempt to get a feel for the quality of the instruction and the interaction between them. In addition, ask about scheduling options and whether night or weekend classes are offered if needed. And remember to ask about financial assistance and student loan options too. If you ask the proper questions as we have outlined in our checklist for comparing schools, you'll be able to filter your options so that you can make an educated decision. With the appropriate training, hard work and commitment, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC contractor in Scottsdale AZ.