How to Find the Right HVAC Degree Program near Surprise Arizona
Now that you have come to a decision on a career as a heating and cooling professional, the next step is to locate an HVAC technical school near Surprise AZ. But with so many to select from, how do you select the right one to get the training that you require? Some future students will make their selection based exclusively on the price of tuition or how near the school is to their residence. Although these are necessary concerns, they are not the only ones to investigate. A few of the other factors that you need to investigate are the graduation completion rates of the HVAC schools, their reputations, and if they are accredited by professional trade organizations. Those and additional benchmarks 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 a/c contractor does to become a licensed skilled tradesman.
How to Become an HVAC Technician
HVAC is an acronym that is commonly used in the trade that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC contractors specialize in the installation, maintenance and repair of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are commonly mandated to be licensed, though every state and local municipality has its own requirements. Attaining professional certification is not mandatory, but an alternative way for Surprise AZ HVAC techs to demonstrate that they are highly proficient and experienced in their area of specialization. There are a number of recognized certifications within the industry that are available. Below are a few of the significant ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally acknowledged certification for HVAC techs. The certification is achieved by passing a proficiency exam and may be earned in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification makes available both a professional and a master specialist credential. 2 years of field experience in addition to passing a comprehensive examination are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have 3 years of experience as well as a passing result on the professional level examination. As with NATE, certifications are made available in several specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is necessary for techs that handle refrigerants. There are three types of certification offered, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Because licensing could be required in your area, 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 more than likely be working with refrigerants, make sure that the school you choose readies you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
HVAC Certificate and Degree Courses
There are a number of alternatives offered for HVAC instruction in a trade or technical school. You can obtain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Obtaining a certificate will take the lesser period of time, typically achieved in just six months, although some courses are longer. A certificate will qualify 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 for securing employment and will deliver more extensive training than the certificate programs. Following is a brief summary of each credential offered near Surprise AZ.
- Certificate. Generally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among beginning residential or commercial HVAC professionals. They furnish a strong foundation of skills for employment within the industry.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program supplies a more comprehensive understanding of heating & cooling systems than the certificate program. Usually taking two years to finish, many degrees incorporate an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is geared more for a career in management or even business ownership. Some programs call for an Associate Degree, while others are a standard 4 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 based on what your future career objectives are, together with the time and financial resources that you have to commit. One approach is to begin with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after acquiring some experience in the trade in Surprise AZ, subsequently going back to acquire a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your tactic, be sure to ask the HVAC technician school you are considering about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Courses Online
Choosing an HVAC school online is one possibility in attaining your training and earning a degree or certificate. Nearly all schools will require some attendance on campus to take part in practical training. Many also sponsor internship or work-study programs in addition to or in place of practical lab work. But since the remainder of the classes may be participated in on the web, this option may be a more accessible solution for many Surprise AZ students that are short on time. And a number of online degree programs are cheaper than other traditional alternatives. Even commuting expenses from Surprise and study materials can be reduced, helping to make schooling more affordable. And numerous online programs are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your work or family obligations have left you with limited time to attend classes, perhaps an online HVAC degree program will make it easier to accommodate school into your active schedule.
Questions to Ask HVAC Trade Schools
As soon as you have picked the type of certificate or degree that you desire to acquire, either on campus or online, you can start to limit your list of schools. As you are probably aware, there are a large number of HVAC trade schools in the Surprise AZ area and all over the Country to select from. That's why it is imperative to have a list of key qualifications when making school assessments. As previously stated in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will undoubtedly be the first 2 aspects you will take into consideration. Following are some additional ones that you need to research before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Many HVAC technical programs in the Surprise AZ area have acquired either a regional or a national accreditation. They can attain Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs overall, 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 recognized accrediting organization, which includes the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping ensure that you acquire a superior education, it can help in acquiring financial assistance or student loans, which are in many cases unavailable for non-accredited schools. Additionally, a number of states mandate that the HVAC training program be accredited in order to qualify for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the Heating and Air Conditioning schools you are looking at what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage or portion of students who enroll in and finish the course. A low completion rate could indicate that students were unhappy with the course and dropped out. It may also suggest that the teachers were not competent to train the students. It's similarly essential that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive directory of alumni, which may produce more contacts for the school to use for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate will not only confirm that the school has an excellent reputation within the field, but also that it has the network of Surprise AZ HVAC employers to assist grads obtain apprenticeships or jobs.
Apprenticeship Programs. A large number of HVAC vocational programs are taught together with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating vocational and trade schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of HVAC contractors or trade unions. Check if the schools you are comparing have referring relationships with local Surprise AZ HVAC companies. An apprenticeship not only offers a valuable experience by supplying practical training, but it also furnishes job opportunities and helps to establish relationships in the regional HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make sure that the school facilities and the tools that you will be trained on are state-of-the-art and what you will be using in the field. If you are presently in an internship or an apprenticeship, check with the HVAC specialist you are working with regarding what you should be expecting. If not, ask a local Surprise AZ HVAC company if they can give you some pointers. Additionally bear in mind that unless you are willing to relocate, the school must be within commuting distance of your Surprise AZ residence. Take note that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides the added moving costs there may be increased tuition charges compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's important that you receive as much one-on-one 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 witness first hand the interaction between students and teachers. Speak with a few of the students and get their opinions relating to class sizes and instruction. Last, talk to a few of the instructors and find out what their level of experience is and what certifications or degrees they hold.
Flexible Scheduling. Make sure that the class schedules for the schools you are assessing are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Surprise AZ, check that the schools you are considering offer those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Additionally, check out what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, sickness or family emergencies.
Earn Your HVAC Training and Certification
Picking the ideal HVAC training program is a critical first step toward a gratifying career in the heating and air conditioning industry. As we have covered in this article, you should pick a Heating and Cooling training program and a degree or certificate program that are both accredited and have outstanding reputations within the HVAC field. Other things to search for are lots of practical training and state-of-the-art facilities. You should go to each of the schools in person that you are most interested in to inspect the campus and speak with both the faculty and current students. Try to get a feel for the quality of the training and the interaction between them. In addition, inquire about scheduling choices and if night or weekend classes are available if needed. And remember to inquire about financial assistance and student loan options as well. If you ask the appropriate questions as we have laid out in our checklist for comparing schools, you'll be able to filter your choices so that you can make an educated decision. With the right training, hard work and commitment, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC technician in Surprise AZ.