How to Enroll In the Right Heating and Cooling Training Program near Sun City West Arizona
Now that you have decided on a career as a heating and cooling technician, the next action is to locate an HVAC technical school near Sun City West AZ. But with so many to pick from, how do you decide on the ideal one to get the training that you need? Some prospective students will make their selection based entirely on the cost of tuition or how close the school is to their home. Although these are significant considerations, they are not the only ones to evaluate. A few of the other factors that you need to research are the graduation rates of the HVAC schools, their reputations, and if they are accredited by professional trade organizations. These and other criteria will be addressed in more detail later within this article. But before we examine how to select an HVAC technical school, let's look at what a heating and cooling professional does to become a licensed professional tradesman.
Becoming an HVAC Specialist
HVAC is an acronym that is widely used in the industry that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC contractors specialize in the installation, maintenance and repair of central 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 prerequisites. Acquiring professional certification is not required, but an alternative means for Sun City West AZ HVAC technicians to establish that they are highly skilled and knowledgeable in their area of specialization. There are many acknowledged certifications within the industry that are available. Below are some of the important ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally recognized certification for HVAC techs. The certification is achieved by passing a competency exam and can be earned in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification makes available both a professional and a master specialist credential. Two years of professional experience as well as passing a comprehensive examination are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have three years of experience in addition to a passing score on the professional level exam. Similar to NATE, certifications are provided in several specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is mandatory for specialists that work with refrigerants. There are 3 forms of certification available, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Considering that licensing may be mandated in your area, and you may also desire to acquire certification, it's essential that you choose an HVAC vocational school that will train you for both. And since you will most likely be working with refrigerants, make sure that the school you choose preps you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
HVAC Degree Schools
There are a variety of options available for HVAC training 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 lesser amount of time, typically accomplished in just six months, though some programs are longer. A certificate will train you for the majority of HVAC positions, particularly if you are licensed and have certification relevant to the position. The degree programs can provide a competitive advantage in the job market and will furnish more comprehensive training than the certificate programs. Below is a brief description of each option offered near Sun City West AZ.
- Certificate. Generally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among beginning commercial or residential HVAC specialists. They furnish a solid foundation of skills for job opportunities within the trade.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program provides a more detailed background of heating and a/c systems than the certificate program. Generally 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 geared more towards a career in management or even business ownership. Some programs call for an Associate Degree, while others are a standard four year program. In addition to mastering how to service and maintain heating and air conditioning systems, you will also learn how to design them.
Choosing the appropriate credential program will be dependent on what your future career goals are, in addition to the time and money that you have to invest. One possibility is to begin with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after gaining some experience in the trade in Sun City West AZ, later going back to acquire a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your strategy, make certain to ask the HVAC technician school you are considering about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Online Training
Enrolling in an HVAC school online is one alternative in obtaining your training and receiving a degree or certificate. Nearly all schools will require some attendance on campus to participate in hands on training. A number also sponsor internship or work-study programs in addition to or as an alternative to practical lab work. But since the balance of the classes may be participated in on the web, this alternative may be a more convenient solution for some Sun City West AZ students that are pressed for time. And some online degree programs are more economical than other on campus choices. Even commuting expenses from Sun City West and study supplies can be lessened, helping to make education more economical. And many online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your career or family obligations have left you with limited time to attend classes, maybe an online HVAC degree program will make it more convenient to accommodate school into your active lifestyle.
Questions to Ask HVAC Certification Classes
After you have picked the type of certificate or degree that you desire to obtain, either on campus or online, you can begin to narrow down your selection of schools. As you are probably aware, there are many HVAC vocational schools in the Sun City West AZ area and all over the USA to choose from. That's why it is extremely important to have a checklist of relevant qualifications when making school comparisons. As earlier stated in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will undoubtedly be the initial 2 aspects you will consider. Following are several additional ones that you need to explore before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. A large number of HVAC technical schools 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 overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to an individual program, for example HVAC technology. Confirm that the program and school are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization, such as the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping guarantee that you receive a quality education, it may help in securing financial aid or student loans, which are often not available for non-accredited schools. Additionally, many states mandate that the HVAC training program be accredited for it to qualify for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the HVAC schools you are reviewing 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 could signify that students were dissatisfied with the course and quit. It might also mean that the teachers were not competent to train the students. It's also essential that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive list of graduates, which may produce more contacts for the school to employ for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate will not only validate that the school has an excellent reputation within the industry, but also that it has the network of Sun City West AZ HVAC employers to assist students secure apprenticeships or jobs.
Apprenticeship Programs. Most HVAC vocational programs are taught together with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating vocational and technical schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of Heating and Cooling businesses or trade unions. Find out if the schools you are comparing have referring relationships with local Sun City West AZ HVAC professionals. An apprenticeship not only offers a valuable experience by supplying hands-on training, but it also supplies employment opportunities and helps to form relationships in the local HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Confirm that the campus facilities and the equipment that you will be trained on are state-of-the-art and what you will be using on the job. If you are already in an internship or an apprenticeship, talk to the HVAC tech you are working with regarding what you should be expecting. If not, ask a local Sun City West AZ HVAC contracting company if they can give you some suggestions. Also keep in mind that unless you are willing to move, the school needs to be within commuting distance of your Sun City West AZ residence. Take note that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation costs there can be higher tuition fees compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's desirable that you get as much one-on-one instruction as possible, which can be challenging in larger classes. Ask if you can sit in on a couple of the classes so that you can see how large they are and witness first hand the interaction between teachers and students. Speak with several of the students and get their opinions concerning class sizes and instruction. Finally, speak with some of the instructors and learn what their level of expertise 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 handle your needs. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Sun City West AZ, check that the programs you are reviewing provide those choices. If you can only attend part-time, make certain that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Finally, ask what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Get Your Heating and Cooling Degree and Certification
Choosing the ideal HVAC training course is a crucial first step toward a fulfilling career in the heating and cooling trade. As we have addressed in this article, you need to select a Heating and Cooling training program and a degree or certificate program that are both accredited and have excellent reputations within the HVAC field. Other things to look for are ample hands-on training and modern facilities. You should check out each of the schools personally that you are most interested in to tour the campus and talk with both the current students and faculty. Try to get a feel for the quality of the training and the interaction between them. In addition, inquire about scheduling options and whether or not 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 guidelines for evaluating 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 eventually become a licensed HVAC contractor in Sun City West AZ.