How to Choose the Right HVAC Certification Training near Surprise Arizona
Now that you have come to a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioning specialist, the next step is to find an HVAC trade school near Surprise AZ. But with so many to pick from, how do you pick the best one to get the training that you require? Some prospective students will make their selection based entirely on the price of tuition or how close the school is to their home. Even though 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 rates of the HVAC schools, their reputations, and if they are accredited by professional trade organizations. These and other benchmarks will be covered in more detail later in this article. But before we tackle how to pick an HVAC vocational school, let's take a look at what a heating and a/c professional does to become a licensed skilled tradesman.
How to Become an HVAC Technician
HVAC is an acronym that is commonly used in the industry that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC technicians provide services for the installation, maintenance and repair of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are generally required to be licensed, however each state and regional municipality has its own prerequisites. Obtaining professional certification is not required, but an optional means for Surprise AZ HVAC technicians to establish that they are exceptionally proficient and experienced in their area of expertise. There are many respected certifications within the industry that are offered. Here are some of the important ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally recognized certification for HVAC technicians. The certification is attained by passing a proficiency examination and may 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 together with passing a comprehensive examination are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have three years of experience as well as a passing score on the professional level exam. As with NATE, certifications are offered in several specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is necessary for technicians that handle refrigerants. There are 3 forms of certification offered, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Considering that licensing may be required in your area, and you may also intend to earn certification, it's important that you select an HVAC vocational school that will train you for both. And since you will probably be handling refrigerants, make sure that the program you decide on preps you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
HVAC Degree and Certificate Courses
There are a variety of alternatives available for HVAC instruction in a technical or vocational school. You can obtain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Acquiring a certificate will take the lesser period of time, typically completed in as little as six months, however some courses are longer. A certificate will qualify you for most HVAC positions, especially if you are licensed and have certification related to the position. The degree training programs may provide a competitive edge for securing employment and will provide 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 preferred among entry level residential or commercial HVAC specialists. They provide a strong foundation of skills for employment within the trade.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program supplies a more extensive understanding of heating & cooling systems than the certificate program. Normally requiring 2 years to finish, many degrees incorporate an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is tailored 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 air conditioning systems, you will also learn how to design them.
Choosing the ideal credential program will be based on what your future career goals are, along with the time and financial resources that you have to invest. One approach is to begin with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after acquiring some experience in the field in Surprise AZ, eventually going back to earn a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your approach, make certain to ask the HVAC tech school you are considering about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Online Training
Attending an HVAC program online is one approach in getting your education and receiving a certificate or degree. Almost all schools will require some attendance on campus to participate in practical training. A number also offer internship or work-study programs in addition to or as an alternative to practical lab work. But since the rest of the classes may be participated in online, this option may be a more convenient solution for many Surprise AZ students that are short on time. And a number of online degree programs are less costly than other on campus choices. Even travelling expenses from Surprise 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 job or family commitments have left you with little time to attend classes, maybe an online HVAC degree program will make it more convenient to accommodate school into your hectic lifestyle.
What to Ask HVAC Training Programs
When you have picked the type of certificate or degree that you desire to obtain, either on campus or online, you can begin to limit your list of schools. As you are probably aware, there are numerous HVAC vocational schools in the Surprise AZ area and across the United States to choose from. That's why it is imperative to have a list of relevant qualifications when making school evaluations. As previously mentioned in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will probably be the first 2 variables you will look at. Following are some additional ones that you need to research before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Numerous HVAC trade programs in the Surprise 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 an individual program, such as HVAC technology. Confirm that the program and school are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization, which includes the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping make certain that you get a superior education, it can assist in obtaining financial assistance or student loans, which are often not available for non-accredited programs. Additionally, some states require that the HVAC training course be accredited for it to be approved for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the Heating and Air Conditioning schools you are considering what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage or portion of students who enroll in and complete the program. A lower completion rate may signify that students were dissatisfied with the program and quit. It could also indicate 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 more extensive list of graduates, which may 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 field, but also that it has the network of Surprise AZ HVAC employers to help students obtain apprenticeships or jobs.
Apprenticeship Programs. Many HVAC vocational programs are taught together with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating technical and vocational schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of HVAC companies or trade unions. Check if the schools you are comparing have referring partnerships with local Surprise AZ HVAC companies. An apprenticeship not only offers a rewarding experience by furnishing 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 equipment that you will be trained on are up-to-date and what you will be using in the field. If you are currently in an internship or an apprenticeship, check with the HVAC technician you are working under regarding what you should be looking for. Otherwise, ask a local Surprise 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 Surprise AZ residence. Remember that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, besides the added relocation costs there may be increased tuition charges compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's desirable that you receive as much one-on-one instruction as possible, which can be challenging in bigger classes. Ask if you can monitor some of the classes so that you can see how big they are and experience the interaction between students and instructors. Speak with a few of the students and get their opinions relating to class sizes and instruction. Finally, talk to a few of the instructors and learn what their level of experience is and what certifications or degrees they have earned.
Flexible Scheduling. Confirm that the class schedules for the programs you are evaluating are flexible enough to handle your needs. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Surprise AZ, check that the schools you are looking at offer those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Also, find out what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, illness or family issues.
Get Your Heating and Cooling Training and Certification
Enrolling in the ideal HVAC training course is a crucial first step toward a rewarding career in the heating & cooling industry. As we have addressed in this article, you need to select a Heating and Cooling training program and a certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have exceptional reputations within the HVAC profession. Other things to look for are plenty of hands-on training and state-of-the-art facilities. You should check out each of the schools personally that you are most interested in to explore the campus and speak with both the current students and faculty. Try to get a feel for the quality of the instruction and the interaction between them. Also, inquire about scheduling options and if night or weekend classes are available if needed. And remember to inquire about financial assistance and student loan options also. If you ask the right questions as we have outlined in our guidelines for comparing schools, you'll be able to filter your options so that you can make an informed decision. With the appropriate training, hard work and commitment, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC contractor in Surprise AZ.