How to Pick the Right HVAC Training Class near Sun City West Arizona
Once you have made a decision on a career as a heating and cooling technician, the next step is to find an HVAC technical school near Sun City West AZ. But with so many to pick from, how do you pick the ideal one to get the training that you require? A number of prospective 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 important factors to consider, they are not the only ones to take into account. A few of the other details that you need to look into are the graduation rates of the HVAC schools, their reputations, and if they are accredited by professional trade organizations. Those and other benchmarks will be addressed in more detail later in this article. But before we tackle how to choose an HVAC trade school, let's look at what a heating and a/c contractor does to become a licensed skilled tradesman.
Becoming an HVAC Tech
HVAC is an acronym that is extensively used in the trade that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC techs specialize in the installation, repair and maintenance of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are generally required to be licensed, though each state and regional municipality has its own requirements. Acquiring professional certification is not compulsory, but a voluntary way for Sun City West AZ HVAC techs to prove that they are exceptionally qualified and experienced in their area of expertise. There are a number of respected certifications within the trade that are offered. Following are some of the significant ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally recognized certification for HVAC techs. The certification is achieved by passing a proficiency exam and may be earned in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification makes available both a professional and a master specialist credential. 2 years of professional experience in addition to passing a comprehensive examination are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have three years of experience along with a passing score on the professional level exam. Similar to NATE, certifications are offered in multiple specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is mandatory for techs that handle refrigerants. There are 3 forms of certification obtainable, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Considering that licensing might be required in your location, and you may also intend to acquire certification, it's imperative that you enroll in an HVAC technical school that will prepare you for both. And since you will most likely be working with refrigerants, make sure that the program you pick prepares you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.
HVAC Degree Schools
There are several choices available for HVAC training in a trade or technical school. You can earn a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Acquiring a certificate will take the lesser period of time, usually accomplished in just six months, however some programs are longer. A certificate will qualify you for most HVAC positions, particularly if you are licensed and have certification relevant to the position. The degree programs might provide a competitive edge for securing employment and will provide more extensive training than the certificate programs. Following is a brief summary of each option offered near Sun City West AZ.
- Certificate. Generally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among beginning commercial or residential HVAC specialists. They furnish a strong foundation of skills for job opportunities within the trade.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program supplies a more extensive knowledge of heating and cooling systems than the certificate program. Typically taking 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 geared more towards a career in management or even business ownership. Some programs require an Associate Degree, while others are a conventional 4 year program. In addition to learning how to service and maintain heating and air conditioning systems, you will also study how to design them.
Selecting the appropriate credential program will be based on what your long term career goals are, as well as the time and financial resources that you have to commit. One option is to start with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after acquiring some experience in the trade in Sun City West AZ, later returning to acquire a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your tactic, make sure to ask the HVAC tech school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Courses Online
Attending an HVAC school online is one approach in attaining your training and receiving a degree or certificate. Most schools will call for some attendance on campus to take part in hands on training. Some also offer internship or work-study programs in addition to or instead of practical lab work. But since the remainder of the classes may be attended via the internet, this option may be a more practical solution for many Sun City West AZ students that are pressed for time. And many online degree programs are less expensive than other on campus options. Even travelling expenses from Sun City West and study supplies can be lessened, helping to make schooling more affordable. And numerous online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your work or family responsibilities have left you with limited time to attend classes, maybe an HVAC online training program will make it less complicated to fit school into your busy schedule.
What to Ask HVAC Training Programs
As soon as you have selected the type of certificate or degree that you want to acquire, either online or on campus, you can start to limit your selection of schools. As you are probably aware, there are a large number of HVAC vocational schools in the Sun City West AZ area and across the Country to select from. That's why it is very important to have a checklist of important qualifications when making school comparisons. As formerly stated in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will probably be the initial 2 factors 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 Sun City West AZ area have acquired either a regional or a national accreditation. They can acquire Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to an individual program, for instance HVAC technology. Make sure that the school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency, which includes the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping guarantee that you acquire a superior education, it can assist in securing financial assistance or student loans, which are in many cases unavailable for non-accredited programs. Additionally, a number of states require that the HVAC training course be accredited in order to be approved for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the HVAC schools you are looking at what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage or portion of students who enroll in and complete the program. A lower completion rate may suggest that students were dissatisfied with the program and quit. It may also suggest that the teachers were not qualified to instruct the students. It's similarly important that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader list of graduates, which may result in more contacts for the school to use for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate can not only validate that the school has an excellent reputation within the field, but additionally that it has the network of Sun City West AZ HVAC employers to help grads obtain apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. Numerous HVAC technical programs are taught in conjunction with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating vocational and trade programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of Heating and Cooling contractors or labor unions. Find out if the schools you are considering have working relationships with local Sun City West AZ HVAC contractors. An apprenticeship not only provides a valuable experience by supplying hands-on training, but it also provides employment opportunities and helps to form relationships in the regional HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make sure that the campus facilities and the tools that you will be instructed on are up-to-date and what you will be using in the field. If you are presently in an internship or an apprenticeship, check with the HVAC tech you are working with concerning what you should be looking for. Otherwise, ask a local Sun City West AZ HVAC company if they can give you some tips. Additionally keep in mind that unless you are able to move, the school must be within driving distance of your Sun City West AZ home. Take note that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, besides the added relocation costs there may be increased tuition charges compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's important 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 teachers and students. Speak with several of the students and get their comments concerning class sizes and instruction. Last, speak with a few of the teachers and learn what their level of expertise is and what degrees or certifications they have earned.
Flexible Scheduling. Confirm that the class schedules for the schools you are assessing are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Sun City West AZ, check that the schools you are comparing provide those options. If you can only attend part-time, make certain that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Additionally, find out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, sickness or family responsibilities.
Find Out More About Sun City West Heating and Cooling Training Programs Near You
Earn Your Heating and Cooling Degree and Certification
Finding the ideal HVAC school program is a critical first step toward a gratifying career in the heating and air conditioning trade. As we have addressed in this article, you should choose 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 lots of practical training and modern facilities. You need to check out each of the schools in person 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 teaching and the interaction between them. Also, inquire about scheduling choices and whether or not evening or weekend classes are available if needed. And don't forget to inquire about financial assistance and student loan options too. If you ask the appropriate questions as we have detailed in our guidelines for assessing schools, you'll be able to narrow down your options so that you can make an educated decision. With the proper training, hard work and dedication, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC specialist in Sun City West AZ.