How to Choose the Right Heating and Cooling School near Sun City Arizona
Now that you have come to 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 AZ. But with so many to select from, how do you choose the best one to receive the training that you require? A number of future students will make their choice based solely on the price of tuition or how near the school is to their residence. Although these are relevant factors to consider, they are not the only ones to evaluate. A few of the other things 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 additional benchmarks will be addressed in more detail later within this article. But before we examine how to pick an HVAC trade school, let's look at what a heating and cooling specialist does to become a licensed professional tradesman.
How to Become an HVAC Specialist
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, repair and maintenance of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are typically required to be licensed, though each state and regional municipality has its own prerequisites. Earning professional certification is not compulsory, but an alternative means for Sun City AZ HVAC techs to establish that they are exceptionally skilled and knowledgeable in their area of expertise. There are a number of 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 technicians. The certification is earned by passing a proficiency examination and can be earned in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification offers both a professional and a master specialist credential. Two years of professional experience together with passing a comprehensive exam are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have three years of experience as well as a passing score on the professional level examination. As with NATE, certifications are made available in multiple specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is mandatory for technicians that handle refrigerants. There are three forms of certification available, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Because licensing could be mandated in your area, and you may also wish to acquire certification, it's imperative that you pick an HVAC vocational school that will prepare you for both. And since you will more than likely be working with refrigerants, make certain that the program you choose prepares you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.
HVAC Degree and Certificate Schools
There are a number of options offered for HVAC instruction in a technical or trade school. You can obtain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Acquiring a certificate will take the minimum amount of time, often achieved in just six months, however some courses are longer. A certificate will train you for the majority of HVAC positions, especially if you are licensed and have certification applicable to the position. The degree programs can provide a competitive edge in the job market and will provide more comprehensive training than the certificate programs. Following is a brief description of each option offered near Sun City AZ.
- Certificate. Usually requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among beginning commercial or residential HVAC specialists. They furnish a solid foundation of skills for job opportunities within the industry.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program supplies a more comprehensive understanding of heating & cooling systems than the certificate program. Normally requiring 2 years to complete, a number of degrees feature 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 require an Associate Degree, while others are a conventional 4 year program. In addition to mastering how to service and maintain heating and air conditioning systems, you will also learn how to design them.
Selecting the ideal credential program will be based on what your long term career aspirations are, as well as the time and money that you have to invest. One approach is to begin with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after acquiring some experience in the field in Sun City AZ, subsequently going back to obtain a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your tactic, make certain to ask the HVAC technician school you are considering about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Classes Online
Choosing an HVAC program online is one possibility in getting your training and earning a certificate or degree. Most schools will call for some attendance on campus to complete practical training. Some also offer 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 approach may be a more accessible solution for some Sun City AZ students that are pressed for time. And a number of online degree programs are less costly than other on campus alternatives. Even travelling expenses from Sun City and study supplies may be reduced, helping to make education more economical. And a large number of online programs are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your job or family commitments have left you with minimal time to attend classes, perhaps an online HVAC degree program will make it less complicated to accommodate school into your active lifestyle.
Questions to Ask HVAC Schools
When you have picked the type of certificate or degree that you want to obtain, either on campus or online, you can start to narrow down your selection of schools. As you are certainly aware, there are many HVAC trade schools in the Sun City AZ area and throughout the USA to choose from. That's why it is very important to have a list of important qualifications when making school evaluations. As previously mentioned in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will most likely be the initial 2 variables you will take into consideration. Following are some additional ones that you need to explore before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Numerous HVAC vocational programs in the Sun City 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 relates to a specific program, for example HVAC technology. Verify that the program and school are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency, for example the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping ensure that you obtain a quality education, it can help in securing financial assistance or student loans, which are often not available for non-accredited programs. Additionally, some states require that the HVAC training program be accredited in order to be approved for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the Heating and Cooling schools you are looking at what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students who enroll in and complete the course. A low completion rate could suggest that students were disappointed with the program and quit. It could also mean that the teachers were not qualified to train the students. It's also important that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader list of alumni, which may produce more contacts for the school to utilize for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate can not only confirm that the school has an excellent reputation within the field, but additionally that it has the network of Sun City AZ HVAC employers to assist grads obtain apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. A large number of HVAC technical programs are taught along 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 Heating and Cooling companies or labor unions. Ask if the schools you are reviewing have referring relationships with local Sun City AZ HVAC contractors. An apprenticeship not only offers a valuable experience by providing practical training, but it also furnishes employment opportunities and helps to establish relationships in the local HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Confirm that the campus facilities and the tools that you will be instructed on are up-to-date and what you will be working with 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. If not, ask a local Sun City AZ HVAC contractor 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 AZ residence. Take note that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides the added relocation costs there can be higher tuition charges compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's important that you get as much personalized training as possible, which can be challenging in bigger classes. Ask if you can monitor some of the classes so that you can observe how big they are and witness first hand the interaction between students and teachers. Talk with some of the students and get their feedback concerning class sizes and instruction. Last, speak to a few of the instructors and learn what their level of expertise is and what degrees or certifications they have earned.
Flexible Scheduling. Verify 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 at night or on weekends near Sun City AZ, verify that the programs you are looking at provide those choices. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, be sure that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Finally, find out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, illness or family issues.
Get Your Heating and Cooling Certificate or Degree
Choosing the right HVAC training program is a critical first step toward a rewarding career in the heating and cooling industry. As we have discussed in this article, you should select 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 modern facilities. You need to check out each of the schools in person that you are most interested in to explore 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. In addition, inquire about scheduling options and whether or not night or weekend classes are offered if needed. And remember to ask about financial aid and student loan options too. If you ask the appropriate questions as we have outlined in our checklist for comparing schools, you'll be able to filter your options so that you can make an informed decision. With the proper training, hard work and commitment, you can eventually become a licensed HVAC technician in Sun City AZ.