How to Select the Right HVAC Training Class near Sun City West Arizona
Now that you have come to a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioner professional, the next step is to look for an HVAC technical school near Sun City West AZ. But with so many to choose from, how do you pick the best one to get the training that you need? Many future students will make their choice based exclusively on the price of tuition or how close the school is to their home. While these are important considerations, they are not the only ones to take into account. Some of the other details that you need to investigate are the graduation rates of the HVAC schools, their reputations, and if they are accredited by professional trade organizations. These and additional benchmarks will be discussed in more detail later in this article. But before we tackle how to select an HVAC trade school, let's take a look at what a heating and air conditioning professional does to become a licensed skilled tradesman.
How to Become an HVAC Specialist
HVAC is an acronym that is frequently used in the business that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC contractors specialize in 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, although every state and local municipality has its own criteria. Attaining professional certification is not compulsory, but a voluntary means for Sun City West AZ HVAC specialists to demonstrate that they are exceptionally qualified and accomplished in their area of expertise. There are many acknowledged certifications within the field that are available. Following are some 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 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 professional experience as well as passing a comprehensive examination are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have three years of experience in addition to a passing result on the professional level examination. As with NATE, certifications are provided in multiple specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is required for specialists that work with refrigerants. There are three forms of certification offered, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Because licensing could be required in your location, and you may also wish to earn certification, it's essential that you enroll in an HVAC trade school that will prepare you for both. And since you will more than likely be working with refrigerants, make sure that the program you decide on prepares you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
HVAC Certificate and Degree Classes
There are several alternatives available for HVAC training in a technical or trade school. You can earn a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Acquiring a certificate will take the lesser amount of time, typically achieved in as little as 6 months, although some courses are longer. A certificate will train you for most HVAC positions, particularly if you are licensed and have certification appropriate to the position. The degree training programs can provide a competitive advantage for securing employment and will provide more extensive training than the certificate programs. Below is a short explanation of each credential offered near Sun City West AZ.
- Certificate. Usually requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among entry level residential or commercial HVAC technicians. They furnish a solid foundation of skills for employment within the trade.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program provides a more detailed background of heating and cooling systems than the certificate program. Normally taking two years to complete, a number of degrees feature an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is tailored more for a career in management or even business ownership. Some programs call for an Associate Degree, while others are a conventional four year program. In addition to being taught how to service and maintain heating and cooling systems, you will also learn how to design them.
Selecting the ideal credential program will be dependent on what your future career goals are, along with the time and financial resources that you have to commit. One possibility is to start with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after getting some experience in the trade in Sun City West AZ, later going back to earn a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your tactic, make certain to ask the HVAC tech school you are considering about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Courses Online
Attending an HVAC program online is one option to attaining your education and receiving a degree or certificate. Most schools will call for some attendance on campus to participate in hands on training. Some also offer internship or work-study programs in addition to or instead of practical lab work. But since the rest of the classes may be attended on the web, this alternative may be a more practical solution for many Sun City West AZ students that are pressed for time. And some online degree programs are cheaper than other on campus choices. Even commuting expenses from Sun City West and study supplies can be lessened, helping to make schooling more affordable. And numerous online programs are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your work or family commitments have left you with little time to attend classes, perhaps an HVAC online training program will make it less complicated to fit school into your active schedule.
Questions For HVAC Trade Schools
After you have picked the type of certificate or degree that you want 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 a large number of HVAC vocational schools in the Sun City West AZ area and all over the United States to select from. That's why it is imperative to have a checklist of relevant qualifiers when making school evaluations. As previously mentioned in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will undoubtedly be the first 2 aspects you will consider. Following are several additional ones that you need to research before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. A large number of HVAC vocational programs in the Sun City West AZ area have attained either a regional or a national accreditation. They may attain Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to a specific program, for instance HVAC technology. Confirm that the school and program are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization, for example the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping guarantee that you get a superior education, it may assist in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are often not available for non-accredited schools. Also, many states require that the HVAC training program be accredited in order to qualify for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the Heating and Air Conditioning 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 may indicate that students were disappointed with the program and quit. It could also indicate that the teachers were not competent to instruct 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 list of alumni, 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 affirm that the school has an excellent reputation within the trade, but also that it has the network of Sun City West AZ HVAC employers to assist graduates obtain apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. A large number of HVAC technical 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 inside their network of Heating and Cooling businesses or labor unions. Ask if the schools you are considering have referring relationships with local Sun City West AZ HVAC companies. An apprenticeship not only provides a valuable experience by furnishing hands-on training, but it also furnishes employment opportunities and helps to form relationships in the local 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 in the field. If you are presently in an internship or an apprenticeship, consult with the HVAC technician you are working under regarding what you should be looking for. Otherwise, ask a local Sun City West AZ HVAC contractor if they can give you some pointers. Additionally bear in mind that unless you can relocate, the school needs to be within driving distance of your Sun City West AZ home. Remember that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides the added relocation 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 larger classes. Ask if you can monitor some of the classes so that you can see how large they are and experience the interaction between teachers and students. Speak to a few of the students and get their feedback regarding class sizes and instruction. Finally, talk to some of the instructors and find out what their level of experience is and what certifications or degrees they have earned.
Flexible Scheduling. Confirm that the class schedules for the schools you are evaluating are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Sun City West AZ, confirm that the schools you are reviewing offer those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, be sure that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Finally, ask what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, sickness or family issues.
Get Your HVAC Training and Certification
Picking the right HVAC school program is a critical first step toward a gratifying career in the heating and air conditioning field. As we have discussed 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 exceptional reputations within the HVAC community. Other factors to look for are ample practical training and state-of-the-art facilities. You need to check out each of the schools personally that you are most interested in to inspect the campus and speak with both the current students and faculty. Try to get a feel for the quality of the training and the interaction between them. Also, ask about scheduling options and whether or not night or weekend classes are offered if needed. And remember to inquire about financial aid and student loan options also. If you ask the right questions as we have laid out in our checklist for assessing schools, you'll be able to filter your choices so that you can make an educated decision. With the appropriate training, hard work and dedication, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC professional in Sun City West AZ.