How to Select the Right HVAC College near Sun City Arizona
Now that you have come to a decision on a career as a heating and cooling specialist, the next step is to find an HVAC vocational school near Sun City AZ. But with so many to select from, how do you decide on the best one to receive the training that you require? Many future students will make their choice based exclusively on the cost of tuition or how near the school is to their residence. While these are significant concerns, they are not the only ones to evaluate. Just some of the other factors 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 examine how to choose an HVAC trade school, let's look at what a heating and air conditioning specialist does to become a licensed skilled tradesman.
How to Become an HVAC Contractor
HVAC is an acronym that is widely 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 skilled tradesmen, they are typically required to be licensed, although every state and regional municipality has its own requirements. Obtaining professional certification is not compulsory, but an optional way for Sun City AZ HVAC techs to establish that they are highly qualified and experienced in their area of specialization. There are several acknowledged certifications within the industry that are available. Following are some of the important ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally acknowledged certification for HVAC technicians. The certification is attained by passing a competency examination and can be acquired in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification offers both a professional and a master specialist credential. Two years of professional experience as well as passing a comprehensive examination are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have three years of experience together with a passing score on the professional level examination. Similar to NATE, certifications are made available in several specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is necessary for techs that work with refrigerants. There are three types of certification obtainable, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Since licensing could be mandated in your location, and you may also intend to acquire certification, it's imperative that you select an HVAC technical school that will prepare you for both. And since you will more than likely be dealing with refrigerants, make certain that the school you select preps you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
HVAC Degree and Certificate Classes
There are several choices available for HVAC training in a technical or vocational school. You can attain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Obtaining a certificate will take the minimum period of time, usually accomplished 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 relevant to the position. The degree programs can provide a competitive edge for securing employment and will furnish more in-depth training than the certificate programs. Following is a brief explanation of each credential offered near Sun City AZ.
- Certificate. Normally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among entry level residential or commercial HVAC specialists. They provide a strong foundation of skills for job opportunities within the industry.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program delivers a more extensive understanding of heating and cooling systems than the certificate program. Generally requiring two years to complete, a number of degrees feature 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 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 appropriate credential program will be dependent on what your long term career objectives are, as well as the time and money that you have to commit. One approach is to begin with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after getting some experience in the trade in Sun City AZ, subsequently returning to acquire a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your tactic, be sure to ask the HVAC tech school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Online Courses
Enrolling in an HVAC school online is one option to obtaining your training and receiving a certificate or degree. Most schools will require some attendance on campus to complete hands on training. A number also sponsor internship or work-study programs in addition to or in place of practical lab work. But since the balance of the classes can be participated in via the internet, this alternative may be a more practical solution for some Sun City AZ students that are pressed for time. And many online degree programs are cheaper than other on campus options. Even travelling expenses from Sun City and study supplies can be minimized, helping to make schooling more economical. And many online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your work or family commitments have left you with little time to attend classes, perhaps an HVAC online training program will make it less complicated to fit school into your busy schedule.
Questions to Ask HVAC Certification Courses
After you have selected the type of degree or certificate that you wish to earn, either on campus or online, you can begin to limit your selection of schools. As you are probably aware, there are a large number of HVAC trade schools in the Sun City AZ area and across the United States to select from. That's why it is essential to have a list of relevant qualifications when making school assessments. As formerly mentioned in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will undoubtedly 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. Numerous HVAC vocational programs in the Sun City AZ area have acquired either a regional or a national accreditation. They can attain Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to a specific program, such as HVAC technology. Verify that the program is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency, for instance the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping make certain that you receive an excellent education, it may help in securing financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently not available for non-accredited schools. Additionally, 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 reviewing what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage of students who enroll in and complete the program. A low completion rate could indicate that students were unhappy with the course and quit. It could also signify that the teachers were not qualified to instruct the students. It's also imperative that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader list of alumni, which may result in more contacts for the school to use for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate will not only validate that the school has an excellent reputation within the trade, but also that it has the network of Sun City AZ HVAC employers to help graduates secure apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. A large number of HVAC vocational programs are taught together with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating trade and technical programs 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 comparing have referring partnerships with local Sun City AZ HVAC specialists. An apprenticeship not only offers a rewarding experience by supplying practical training, but it also supplies employment opportunities and helps to build 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 presently in an internship or an apprenticeship, talk to the HVAC specialist you are working under regarding what you should be expecting. If not, ask a local Sun City AZ HVAC contractor if they can provide some pointers. Also 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 desirable that you receive as much individualized training as possible, which can be challenging in larger classes. Ask if you can monitor a couple of the classes so that you can see how large they are and witness first hand the interaction between students and instructors. Talk with some of the students and get their comments relating to class sizes and instruction. Finally, speak to some of the instructors and find out what their level of expertise is and what degrees or certifications they hold.
Flexible Scheduling. Confirm that the class schedules for the programs you are reviewing are flexible enough to handle your needs. If you are only able to go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Sun City AZ, check that the programs you are reviewing provide those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Finally, ask what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, sickness or family issues.
Earn Your Heating and Cooling Certificate or Degree
Choosing the right HVAC school course is a critical first step toward a rewarding career in the heating and cooling industry. 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 exceptional reputations within the HVAC field. Other factors to look for are ample hands-on training and state-of-the-art facilities. You should go to each of the schools personally that you are most interested in to inspect the campus and speak with both the faculty and current students. Attempt to get a feel for the quality of the instruction and the interaction between them. In addition, ask about scheduling options and if night or weekend classes are offered if needed. And don't forget to ask about financial aid and student loan options too. If you ask the proper questions as we have detailed in our checklist for evaluating 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 commitment, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC contractor in Sun City AZ.