How to Choose the Right HVAC School near Sun City Arizona
Once you have decided on a career as a heating and cooling technician, the next action is to locate an HVAC vocational school near Sun City AZ. But with so many to pick from, how do you pick the best one to obtain the training that you need? A number of prospective students will make their decision based exclusively on the cost of tuition or how near the school is to their home. Although these are relevant factors to consider, they are not the only ones to evaluate. Some of the other things 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 other criteria will be addressed in more detail later in this article. But before we examine how to pick an HVAC training program, let's look at what a heating and air conditioning specialist does to become a licensed professional tradesman.
Becoming an HVAC Specialist
HVAC is an acronym that is widely used in the trade that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC contractors specialize in the installation, maintenance and repair of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are typically mandated to be licensed, though each state and regional municipality has its own criteria. Obtaining professional certification is not required, but a voluntary means for Sun City AZ HVAC techs to demonstrate that they are exceptionally qualified and experienced in their area of expertise. There are many recognized certifications within the industry that are offered. Following are some of the important ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally acknowledged certification for HVAC techs. The certification is attained by passing a competency examination 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 together with passing a comprehensive exam are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have three years of experience along with a passing result on the professional level examination. As with NATE, certifications are provided in multiple specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is necessary for techs that work with refrigerants. There are 3 types of certification offered, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Since licensing may be mandated in your location, and you may also intend to acquire certification, it's essential that you enroll in an HVAC technical school that will train you for both. And since you will most likely be dealing with refrigerants, make certain that the program you select prepares you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
HVAC Certificate and Degree Schools
There are a variety of options available for HVAC instruction in a trade or technical school. You can earn a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Earning a certificate will take the lesser amount of time, often achieved in just 6 months, though some programs are longer. A certificate will qualify you for most HVAC positions, particularly if you are licensed and have certification applicable to the position. The degree training programs can provide a competitive advantage for securing employment and will furnish more comprehensive training than the certificate programs. Following is a brief explanation of each credential offered near Sun City AZ.
- Certificate. Generally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among beginning residential or commercial HVAC professionals. They provide a solid foundation of skills for employment within the trade.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program supplies a more exhaustive background of heating & cooling systems than the certificate program. Typically taking two years to complete, many degrees incorporate an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is tailored more towards a career in management as well as business ownership. Some programs call for an Associate Degree, while others are a standard 4 year program. In addition to being taught 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 future career aspirations are, together with the time and financial resources that you have to commit. One option is to begin with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after acquiring some experience in the trade in Sun City AZ, eventually returning to acquire a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your approach, make certain to ask the HVAC tech school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Training Online
Attending an HVAC program online is one alternative in getting your training and receiving a degree or certificate. Most schools will require some attendance on campus to take part in hands on training. Many also provide internship or work-study programs in addition to or instead of practical lab work. But since the balance of the classes may be attended on the web, this alternative may be a more practical solution for many Sun City AZ students that are pressed for time. And a number of online degree programs are cheaper than other traditional choices. Even travelling expenses from Sun City and study materials can be lessened, helping to make schooling more budget-friendly. And many online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your job or family commitments have left you with little time to attend classes, perhaps an online HVAC degree program will make it easier to fit school into your busy lifestyle.
What to Ask HVAC Training Classes
After you have picked the type of certificate or degree that you want to obtain, either on campus or online, you can start to limit your list of schools. As you are certainly aware, there are numerous HVAC technical schools in the Sun City AZ area and all over the United States to select from. That's why it is very important to have a checklist of relevant qualifiers when making school evaluations. As formerly stated in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will most likely be the initial 2 factors you will take into consideration. Following are several additional ones that you will want to explore before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. A large number of HVAC technical programs in the Sun City AZ area have received either a regional or a national accreditation. They can earn Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to a specific program, such as HVAC technology. Verify that the school and program are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency, for example the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping guarantee that you receive an excellent education, it may assist in securing financial aid or student loans, which are often unavailable for non-accredited programs. Additionally, many states mandate that the HVAC training course be accredited for it to be approved for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the Heating and Cooling schools you are reviewing what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage of students who enroll in and complete the course. A low completion rate may signify that students were dissatisfied with the program and quit. It may also suggest that the teachers were not competent to instruct the students. It's similarly imperative that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive directory of alumni, which can result in more contacts for the school to employ for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate can not only confirm that the school has a good reputation within the trade, but additionally that it has the network of Sun City AZ HVAC employers to assist students acquire apprenticeships or jobs.
Apprenticeship Programs. Numerous HVAC vocational programs are taught along with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating trade and vocational programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of Heating and Cooling businesses or labor unions. Find out if the schools you are comparing have working partnerships with local Sun City AZ HVAC companies. An apprenticeship not only provides a valuable experience by furnishing hands-on training, but it also furnishes employment opportunities and helps to form relationships in the local HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Confirm that the campus facilities and the tools that you will be trained on are up-to-date and what you will be working with in the field. If you are currently in an internship or an apprenticeship, consult with the HVAC technician you are working with concerning what you should be expecting. If not, ask a local Sun City AZ HVAC contractor if they can give you some tips. Additionally bear in mind that unless you can relocate, the school needs to be within commuting distance of your Sun City AZ residence. Remember that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation costs there may be increased 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 see how large they are and experience the interaction between instructors and students. Talk with some of the students and get their comments relating to class sizes and instruction. Last, talk with a few of the instructors and find out what their level of expertise is and what certifications or degrees they have earned.
Flexible Scheduling. Confirm that the class schedules for the schools you are evaluating are flexible enough to handle your needs. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Sun City AZ, check that the programs you are comparing offer those choices. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Also, ask what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, sickness or family issues.
Get Your HVAC Certificate or Degree
Choosing the right HVAC training course is a crucial beginning toward a gratifying career in the heating and air conditioning trade. As we have covered in this article, you should choose a Heating and Cooling training program and a certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have outstanding reputations within the HVAC profession. Other factors to look for are lots of practical training and state-of-the-art facilities. You should check out each of the schools in person that you are most interested in to explore the campus and talk with both the faculty and current students. Try to get a feel for the quality of the teaching and the interaction between them. In addition, ask about scheduling choices and whether or not evening or weekend classes are offered if needed. And don't forget to inquire about financial assistance and student loan options too. If you ask the right questions as we have laid out in our checklist for comparing schools, you'll be able to filter your options so that you can make an educated decision. With the proper training, hard work and commitment, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC contractor in Sun City AZ.