How to Pick the Right HVAC Degree Program near Scottsdale Arizona
Now that you have decided on a career as a heating and air conditioner specialist, the next step is to look for an HVAC technical school near Scottsdale AZ. But with so many to choose from, how do you pick the right one to get the training that you need? Some future students will make their selection based entirely on the price of tuition or how near the school is to their home. Even though these are necessary factors to consider, they are not the only ones to take into account. Some of the other details that you need to investigate 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 discussed in more detail later within this article. But before we discuss how to pick an HVAC vocational school, let's look at what a heating and air conditioning specialist does to become a licensed qualified tradesman.
Becoming an HVAC Tech
HVAC is an acronym that is commonly used in the industry that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC techs provide services for the installation, repair and maintenance of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are generally required to be licensed, however every state and local municipality has its own prerequisites. Attaining professional certification is not compulsory, but an alternative way for Scottsdale AZ HVAC techs to prove that they are exceptionally proficient and accomplished in their area of specialization. There are a number of respected certifications within the trade that are offered. Here are some 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 competency exam and can be acquired in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification makes available both a professional and a master specialist credential. Two years of field experience in addition to passing a comprehensive examination are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have 3 years of experience along with a passing score on the professional level exam. As with NATE, certifications are made available in various specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is necessary for specialists that work with refrigerants. There are three types of certification obtainable, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Because licensing could be mandated in your location, and you may also intend to obtain certification, it's important that you enroll in an HVAC technical school that will prepare you for both. And since you will probably be dealing with refrigerants, make certain that the program you choose readies you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.
HVAC Degree and Certificate Courses
There are a number of options available for HVAC instruction in a vocational or trade school. You can earn a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Acquiring a certificate will take the least period of time, usually completed in as little as six months, though some courses are longer. A certificate will train you for most HVAC positions, particularly if you are licensed and have certification related to the position. The degree training programs may provide a competitive edge for securing employment and will provide more comprehensive training than the certificate programs. Following is a brief description of each option offered near Scottsdale AZ.
- Certificate. Normally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among entry level residential or commercial HVAC professionals. They furnish a strong foundation of skills for job opportunities within the industry.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program delivers a more detailed background of heating and a/c systems than the certificate program. Generally requiring two years to finish, a number of degrees include an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is suited more for a career in management as well as business ownership. Some programs call for an Associate Degree, while others are a conventional 4 year program. In addition to being taught how to service and maintain heating and cooling systems, you will also study how to design them.
Choosing the right credential program will be based on what your long term career aspirations are, together with the time and money that you have to commit. One possibility is to start with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after acquiring some experience in the trade in Scottsdale AZ, eventually returning to acquire 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 Classes
Attending an HVAC school online is one alternative in getting your training and earning a certificate or degree. Almost 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 in place of practical lab work. But since the rest of the classes can 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 some online degree programs are cheaper than other traditional choices. Even driving expenses from Scottsdale and study materials may be minimized, 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 commitments have left you with limited time to attend classes, perhaps an HVAC online training program will make it more convenient to accommodate school into your active schedule.
What to Ask HVAC Schools
As soon as you have selected the type of degree or certificate that you desire to attain, either on campus or online, you can begin to decrease your selection of schools. As you are certainly aware, there are a large number of HVAC technical schools in the Scottsdale AZ area and across the USA to select from. That's why it is essential to have a checklist of relevant qualifiers when making school evaluations. As earlier mentioned in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will probably be the first 2 variables you will consider. Following are several additional ones that you will want to explore before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Many HVAC trade schools in the Scottsdale AZ area have received 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, for example HVAC technology. Verify 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. In addition to helping ensure that you receive an excellent education, it can assist in securing financial assistance or student loans, which are often not available for non-accredited schools. Furthermore, a number of states mandate that the HVAC training course be accredited in order to be approved for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the Heating and Cooling schools you are considering what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage of students who enroll in and finish the program. A low completion rate might indicate that students were disappointed with the course and dropped out. It might also indicate that the instructors were not competent to instruct the students. It's also important that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader directory of graduates, which can mean more contacts for the school to use for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate can not only affirm that the school has an excellent reputation within the industry, but also that it has the network of Scottsdale AZ HVAC employers to help students secure apprenticeships or jobs.
Apprenticeship Programs. Most HVAC vocational programs are taught along with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating trade and technical schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of HVAC businesses or trade unions. Check if the schools you are considering have referring partnerships with local Scottsdale AZ HVAC professionals. An apprenticeship not only provides a rewarding experience by providing practical training, but it also provides job opportunities and helps to form relationships in the regional HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Confirm that the school facilities and the tools that you will be instructed on are state-of-the-art and what you will be working with on the job. If you are currently in an internship or an apprenticeship, consult with the HVAC specialist you are working under regarding what you should be expecting. Otherwise, ask a local Scottsdale AZ HVAC contractor if they can provide some pointers. Also keep in mind that unless you are able to relocate, the school must be within driving distance of your Scottsdale AZ residence. Take note that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, in addition to moving costs there may be higher tuition fees compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's important that you get as much individualized training as possible, which can be difficult in bigger classes. Ask if you can monitor a few of the classes so that you can see how big they are and witness first hand the interaction between students and instructors. Talk to a few of the students and get their feedback relating to class sizes and instruction. Last, talk with some of the instructors and learn what their level of experience is and what certifications or degrees they have earned.
Flexible Scheduling. Verify that the class schedules for the programs you are reviewing are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Scottsdale AZ, confirm that the programs you are considering offer those options. If you can only attend part-time, make certain that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Finally, find out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, sickness or family emergencies.
Find Out More About Scottsdale HVAC Programs In Your Area
Get Your HVAC Certificate or Degree
Selecting the right HVAC school program is a critical beginning toward a fulfilling career in the heating and air conditioning trade. As we have covered in this article, you need to pick a Heating and Cooling training program and a certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have outstanding reputations within the HVAC community. Other factors to search for are ample hands-on 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 instruction and the interaction between them. In addition, inquire about scheduling options and if evening or weekend classes are offered if needed. And don't forget to ask about financial assistance and student loan options as well. If you ask the proper questions as we have outlined in our checklist for evaluating schools, you'll be able to filter your choices so that you can make an informed decision. With the right training, hard work and commitment, you can eventually become a licensed HVAC technician in Scottsdale AZ.