How to Select the Right HVAC Certification Class near Sun City Arizona
Now that you have come to a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioner technician, the next step is to choose an HVAC trade school near Sun City AZ. But with so many to choose from, how do you pick the right one to receive the training that you require? Some future students will make their choice based entirely on the price of tuition or how near the school is to their residence. While these are necessary factors to consider, they are not the only ones to investigate. Some of the other details that you need to research 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 covered in more detail later within this article. But before we discuss how to select an HVAC trade school, let's look at what a heating and air conditioning specialist does to become a licensed professional tradesman.
Becoming an HVAC Contractor
HVAC is an acronym that is frequently used in the industry that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC contractors specialize in the installation, maintenance and repair of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are typically mandated to be licensed, though each state and local municipality has its own prerequisites. Obtaining professional certification is not compulsory, but an optional means for Sun City AZ HVAC specialists to prove that they are highly proficient and accomplished in their area of specialization. There are many recognized certifications within the industry that are offered. Below are a few 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 received 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 exam are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have three years of experience together with a passing score on the professional level examination. As with NATE, certifications are made available in several specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is required for techs that handle refrigerants. There are 3 types of certification available, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Since licensing may be mandated in your location, and you may also intend to obtain certification, it's important that you choose an HVAC trade school that will prepare you for both. And since you will most likely be handling refrigerants, make sure that the program you choose preps you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
HVAC Degree Classes
There are a variety of choices offered 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 minimum amount of time, often accomplished in just 6 months, however some courses are longer. A certificate will train you for most HVAC positions, especially 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 extensive training than the certificate programs. Below is a short explanation of each option offered near Sun City AZ.
- Certificate. Usually requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among beginning commercial or residential HVAC specialists. They furnish a solid foundation of skills for employment within the industry.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program delivers a more comprehensive background of heating & cooling systems than the certificate program. Generally requiring two years to complete, many degrees include an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is geared more towards 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 learn how to design them.
Selecting the right credential program will be dependent on what your long term career aspirations are, in addition to the time and financial resources that you have to commit. One possibility is to begin with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after acquiring some experience in the trade in Sun City AZ, eventually going back 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 Online Training
Choosing an HVAC school online is one possibility to getting your education and earning a degree or certificate. Most schools will require some attendance on campus to complete hands on training. Some also offer internship or work-study programs in addition to or as an alternative to practical lab work. But since the rest of the classes can be participated in via the internet, this approach may be a more convenient solution for many Sun City AZ students that are short on time. And many online degree programs are more economical than other traditional choices. Even travelling expenses from Sun City and study supplies may be lessened, helping to make education more economical. And a large number of online programs are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your work or family responsibilities have left you with little time to attend classes, perhaps an HVAC online training program will make it more convenient to fit school into your active schedule.
Questions to Ask HVAC Certification Courses
After you have picked the type of certificate or degree that you wish to obtain, either online or on campus, you can start to decrease your selection of schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are many HVAC technical schools in the Sun City AZ area and all over the United States to choose from. That's why it is extremely important to have a checklist of relevant qualifiers when making school comparisons. As formerly stated in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will probably be the first 2 factors 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 trade programs in the Sun City AZ area have received either a regional or a national accreditation. They can attain Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to an individual program, for instance HVAC technology. Make certain that the program and school are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization, for example the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping ensure that you receive a quality education, it can help in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are frequently not available for non-accredited schools. Also, some states require that the HVAC training course be accredited for it 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 of students who enroll in and finish the program. A lower completion rate may indicate that students were dissatisfied with the program and quit. It may also indicate that the teachers were not competent to train 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 result in 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 a good reputation within the trade, but additionally that it has the network of Sun City AZ HVAC employers to help grads secure apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. Many HVAC vocational programs are taught together with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating trade and vocational schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of Heating and Cooling companies or trade unions. Check if the schools you are reviewing have referring relationships with local Sun City AZ HVAC contractors. An apprenticeship not only offers a rewarding experience by providing practical training, but it also furnishes job opportunities and helps to form relationships in the regional HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make certain that the school facilities and the tools that you will be trained on are up-to-date and what you will be working with on the job. If you are already in an internship or an apprenticeship, check with the HVAC specialist you are working under concerning what you should be looking for. If not, ask a local Sun City AZ HVAC contracting company if they can give you some pointers. Additionally bear in mind that unless you can relocate, the school must be within driving distance of your Sun City AZ residence. Take note 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 important that you get as much one-on-one instruction as possible, which can be challenging in bigger classes. Ask if you can sit in on a few of the classes so that you can observe how large they are and experience the interaction between students and instructors. Talk to several of the students and get their comments regarding class sizes and instruction. Last, speak to some of the teachers and learn what their level of experience is and what degrees or certifications they hold.
Flexible Scheduling. Make sure that the class schedules for the programs you are reviewing are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you are only able to attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Sun City AZ, verify that the programs you are looking at provide those options. If you can only attend part-time, be sure that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Also, find out what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, illness or family emergencies.
Find Out More About Sun City Heating and Cooling Training Near You
Earn Your HVAC Training and Certification
Choosing the ideal HVAC training program is an important beginning toward a rewarding career in the heating and cooling trade. 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 trade. Other things to search for are sufficient practical 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 faculty and current students. Attempt to get a feel for the quality of the training and the interaction between them. Also, inquire about scheduling choices and whether evening or weekend classes are available if needed. And don't forget to inquire about financial assistance and student loan options also. If you ask the appropriate questions as we have outlined in our guidelines for comparing 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 eventually become a licensed HVAC professional in Sun City AZ.