How to Enroll In the Right Heating and Cooling School near Sun City Arizona
Once you have made a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioning professional, the next action is to locate an HVAC trade school near Sun City AZ. But with so many to choose from, how do you select the best one to get the training that you require? Some future students will make their decision based exclusively on the price of tuition or how near the school is to their home. While these are significant factors to consider, they are not the only ones to evaluate. A few of the other things that you need to look into 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 addressed in more detail later within this article. But before we discuss how to choose an HVAC trade school, let's take a look at what a heating and air conditioning professional does to become a licensed skilled tradesman.
Becoming an HVAC Technician
HVAC is an acronym that is extensively used in the trade that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC technicians specialize in the installation, maintenance and repair of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are generally required to be licensed, however each state and local municipality has its own prerequisites. Acquiring professional certification is not required, but an alternative way for Sun City AZ HVAC specialists to establish that they are exceptionally qualified and experienced in their area of specialization. There are a number of respected certifications within the industry that are available. Below are a few of the significant ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally recognized certification for HVAC techs. The certification is achieved 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 field experience as well as passing a comprehensive examination are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have three years of experience as well as a passing result on the professional level exam. Similar to NATE, certifications are provided in multiple specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is necessary for techs that handle refrigerants. There are three types of certification available, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Because licensing could be mandated in your location, and you may also desire to acquire certification, it's imperative that you choose an HVAC trade school that will train you for both. And since you will most likely be handling refrigerants, make sure that the school you select prepares you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.
HVAC Degree and Certificate Training Programs
There are a variety of choices available for HVAC training in a technical or vocational school. You can earn a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Acquiring a certificate will take the minimum period of time, usually accomplished in just 6 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 related to the position. The degree programs might provide a competitive edge in the job market and will furnish more extensive training than the certificate programs. Following is a short description of each credential offered near Sun City AZ.
- Certificate. Normally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among beginning commercial or residential HVAC technicians. They provide a strong foundation of skills for job opportunities within the industry.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program supplies a more detailed background of heating and 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 suited more towards a career in management as well as business ownership. Some programs require an Associate Degree, while others are a traditional four year program. In addition to mastering how to service and maintain heating and cooling systems, you will also study how to design them.
Picking the appropriate credential program will be dependent on what your long term career goals are, along with the time and money that you have to invest. One approach is to start with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after getting some experience in the trade in Sun City AZ, subsequently returning to obtain a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your approach, make certain to ask the HVAC technician school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Training Online
Choosing an HVAC program online is one possibility in obtaining your education and receiving a certificate or degree. Almost all schools will call for some attendance on campus to participate 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 may be attended on the web, this option may be a more accessible solution for some Sun City AZ students that are short on time. And many online degree programs are cheaper than other traditional choices. Even driving expenses from Sun City and study materials may be minimized, helping to make schooling more budget-friendly. And a large number of online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your job or family obligations 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 hectic lifestyle.
What to Ask HVAC Training Classes
When you have chosen the type of certificate or degree that you desire to earn, either on campus or online, you can start to limit your list of schools. As you are certainly aware, there are many HVAC trade 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 key qualifications when making school assessments. As earlier mentioned in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will probably be the initial 2 aspects you will take into consideration. Following are several additional ones that you should explore before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. A large number of HVAC vocational programs in the Sun City AZ area have received either a regional or a national accreditation. They may earn Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to a specific program, such as HVAC technology. Confirm that the program and school are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency, such as the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping make certain that you get an excellent education, it can help in securing financial aid or student loans, which are frequently not available for non-accredited programs. Additionally, many states mandate that the HVAC training course be accredited in order to qualify for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the Heating and Cooling schools you are considering 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 disappointed with the program and quit. It may also signify that the instructors were not qualified 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 list of alumni, which can mean 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 a good reputation within the field, but additionally that it has the network of Sun City AZ HVAC employers to assist students secure apprenticeships or jobs.
Apprenticeship Programs. Numerous HVAC technical 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 HVAC businesses or labor unions. Check if the schools you are reviewing have referring relationships with local Sun City AZ HVAC specialists. An apprenticeship not only offers a valuable experience by furnishing hands-on training, but it also provides 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 in the field. If you are already in an internship or an apprenticeship, check with the HVAC tech you are working under concerning what you should be looking for. If not, ask a local Sun City AZ HVAC contractor if they can give you some suggestions. Also keep in mind that unless you are able to move, the school needs to be within commuting distance of your Sun City AZ home. Remember that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to moving costs there may be higher tuition fees compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's desirable that you receive as much one-on-one instruction as possible, which can be difficult in larger classes. Ask if you can sit in on some of the classes so that you can observe how big they are and witness first hand the interaction between teachers and students. Speak to a few of the students and get their opinions relating to class sizes and instruction. Finally, speak with some of the instructors and learn what their level of expertise is and what degrees or certifications they have earned.
Flexible Scheduling. Confirm that the class schedules for the schools you are evaluating 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, confirm that the schools you are looking at offer those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, be sure that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Also, check out what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, illness or family responsibilities.
Earn Your Heating and Cooling Degree and Certification
Enrolling in the right HVAC school program is an important beginning toward a gratifying career in the heating and air conditioning field. As we have discussed in this article, you should choose a Heating and Cooling training program and a certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have excellent reputations within the HVAC community. Other features to search for are plenty of hands-on training and state-of-the-art facilities. You should visit each of the schools in person that you are most interested in to inspect the campus and talk with both the current students and faculty. Attempt to get a feel for the quality of the teaching and the interaction between them. Additionally, inquire about scheduling choices and if evening or weekend classes are available if needed. And remember to inquire about financial aid and student loan options too. If you ask the proper questions as we have outlined in our guidelines for comparing schools, you'll be able to narrow down your choices so that you can make an informed decision. With the proper training, hard work and commitment, you can eventually become a licensed HVAC specialist in Sun City AZ.