How to Find the Right HVAC School near Sun City West Arizona
Now that you have made a decision on a career as a heating and cooling technician, the next action is to look for an HVAC technical school near Sun City West AZ. But with so many to pick from, how do you select the ideal one to receive the training that you require? Many prospective students will make their choice based solely on the cost of tuition or how near the school is to their home. Even though these are necessary concerns, they are not the only ones to evaluate. Just some 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 discussed in more detail later within this article. But before we tackle how to select an HVAC trade school, let's look at what a heating and cooling contractor does to become a licensed qualified tradesman.
Becoming an HVAC Professional
HVAC is an acronym that is extensively used in the trade that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC professionals provide services for the installation, maintenance and repair of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are typically required to be licensed, however each state and local municipality has its own prerequisites. Acquiring professional certification is not required, but an alternative means for Sun City West AZ HVAC technicians to prove that they are exceptionally skilled and experienced in their area of specialization. There are multiple respected certifications within the trade that are offered. Here are a few of the important ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally recognized certification for HVAC technicians. The certification is achieved by passing a proficiency exam and can be acquired 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 exam are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have three years of experience in addition to a passing result on the professional level exam. Similar to NATE, certifications are provided in several specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is necessary for techs that handle refrigerants. There are 3 types of certification obtainable, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Considering that licensing could be required in your area, and you may also desire to acquire certification, it's imperative that you choose an HVAC trade school that will prepare you for both. And since you will more than likely be dealing with refrigerants, make sure that the school you select preps you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.
HVAC Degree and Certificate Training Programs
There are a variety of choices available for HVAC instruction in a vocational or trade school. You can attain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Acquiring a certificate will take the lesser amount of time, typically achieved in just six months, however some courses 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 can provide a competitive edge in the job market and will deliver more in-depth training than the certificate programs. Following is a brief explanation of each credential offered near Sun City West AZ.
- Certificate. Normally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among beginning commercial or residential HVAC specialists. They provide a strong foundation of skills for employment within the industry.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program supplies a more comprehensive knowledge of heating & cooling systems than the certificate program. Generally taking 2 years to complete, some degrees include 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 mastering how to service and maintain heating and air conditioning systems, you will also learn how to design them.
Picking the right credential program will be dependent on what your future 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 gaining some experience in the field in Sun City West AZ, eventually going back to acquire a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your approach, make sure to ask the HVAC tech school you are considering about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Classes Online
Choosing an HVAC program online is one approach to getting your training and earning a degree or certificate. Most schools will call for some attendance on campus to take part in hands on training. A number also offer internship or work-study programs in addition to or in place of practical lab work. But since the rest of the classes can be attended online, this alternative may be a more accessible solution for some Sun City West AZ students that are short on time. And many online degree programs are more economical than other traditional choices. Even commuting expenses from Sun City West and study supplies can be reduced, helping to make schooling more economical. And numerous online programs 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 active lifestyle.
Questions to Ask HVAC Training Classes
After you have picked the type of degree or certificate that you desire to earn, either on campus or online, you can start to limit your selection of schools. As you are certainly aware, there are numerous 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 qualifiers when making school comparisons. As earlier mentioned in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will undoubtedly be the initial two variables you will take into consideration. Following are some additional ones that you will want to investigate before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Many HVAC vocational schools in the Sun City West AZ area have earned either a regional or a national accreditation. They can acquire Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to a specific program, such as HVAC technology. Confirm that the program is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency, which includes the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping make certain that you obtain a superior education, it may assist in obtaining financial assistance or student loans, which are often not available for non-accredited programs. Also, a number of states mandate that the HVAC training course be accredited in order to qualify for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the Heating and Air Conditioning schools you are considering what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage or portion of students who enroll in and complete the course. A low completion rate may suggest that students were dissatisfied with the program and quit. It might also suggest that the teachers were not competent to instruct 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 can result in 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 field, but additionally that it has the network of Sun City West AZ HVAC employers to help students acquire apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. Numerous HVAC trade programs are taught together with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating trade and technical schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of HVAC businesses or labor unions. Ask if the schools you are reviewing have referring partnerships with local Sun City West AZ HVAC contractors. An apprenticeship not only offers a valuable experience by supplying practical training, but it also furnishes employment opportunities and helps to form relationships in the local 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 on the job. If you are currently in an internship or an apprenticeship, talk to the HVAC technician you are working under concerning what you should be expecting. If not, ask a local Sun City West AZ HVAC contracting company if they can give you some pointers. Additionally bear in mind that unless you are able to move, the school needs to be within driving distance of your Sun City West AZ residence. Remember that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation costs there may be higher tuition fees compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's desirable that you get as much individualized instruction as possible, which can be difficult in bigger classes. Ask if you can monitor some of the classes so that you can see how big they are and witness first hand the interaction between students and teachers. Talk to several of the students and get their feedback concerning class sizes and instruction. Finally, speak to some of the instructors and find out what their level of expertise is and what certifications or degrees they have earned.
Flexible Scheduling. Make sure that the class schedules for the programs you are assessing are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Sun City West AZ, verify that the schools you are considering offer those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Also, check out what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, illness or family issues.
Earn Your Heating and Cooling Degree and Certification
Picking the right HVAC school course is a crucial first step toward a rewarding career in the heating & cooling trade. As we have discussed in this article, you need to choose a Heating and Cooling training program and a degree or certificate program that are both accredited and have excellent reputations within the HVAC trade. Other factors to search for are lots of practical training and modern facilities. You need to check out each of the schools personally that you are most interested in to tour the campus and speak with both the current students and faculty. Attempt to get a feel for the quality of the teaching and the interaction between them. Also, inquire about scheduling choices and whether night or weekend classes are offered if needed. And don't forget to ask about financial assistance and student loan options also. If you ask the appropriate questions as we have laid out in our guidelines for assessing schools, you'll be able to narrow down your choices so that you can make an educated decision. With the appropriate training, hard work and dedication, you can eventually become a licensed HVAC contractor in Sun City West AZ.