How to Find the Right HVAC School near Surprise Arizona
Now that you have come to a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioner professional, the next step is to look for an HVAC trade school near Surprise AZ. But with so many to select from, how do you decide on the ideal one to obtain the training that you require? Many future students will make their choice based exclusively on the price of tuition or how near the school is to their home. Even though these are significant factors to consider, they are not the only ones to evaluate. Just some of the other factors 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 explore how to pick an HVAC technical school, let's look at what a heating and a/c specialist does to become a licensed qualified tradesman.
Becoming an HVAC Professional
HVAC is an acronym that is commonly used in the business 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 professional tradesmen, they are typically mandated to be licensed, however each state and regional municipality has its own criteria. Acquiring professional certification is not required, but an alternative means for Surprise AZ HVAC technicians to establish that they are highly qualified and knowledgeable in their area of expertise. There are a number of respected 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 techs. The certification is achieved by passing a competency 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 exam are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have three years of experience along with a passing score on the professional level exam. Similar to NATE, certifications are provided in various specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is necessary for specialists that handle refrigerants. There are three forms of certification obtainable, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Because licensing could be mandated in your area, and you may also desire to earn 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 handling refrigerants, make sure that the program you decide on prepares you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
HVAC Degree and Certificate Classes
There are a variety of alternatives available for HVAC training 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 minimum period of time, usually accomplished in just six months, however some courses are longer. A certificate will qualify you for the majority of HVAC positions, particularly if you are licensed and have certification applicable to the position. The degree training programs may provide a competitive advantage in the job market and will furnish more extensive training than the certificate programs. Following is a brief description of each credential offered near Surprise AZ.
- Certificate. Generally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among entry level commercial or residential HVAC specialists. They furnish a solid foundation of skills for job opportunities within the industry.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program supplies a more detailed background of heating & cooling systems than the certificate program. Generally taking 2 years to complete, a number of degrees include an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is suited more for 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 mastering how to service and maintain heating and cooling systems, you will also learn how to design them.
Selecting the appropriate credential program will be based on what your future career objectives are, as well as the time and financial resources that you have to commit. One option is to start with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after acquiring some experience in the trade in Surprise AZ, eventually returning to obtain a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your approach, be sure to ask the HVAC tech school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Classes Online
Enrolling in an HVAC school online is one possibility in getting your training and receiving a certificate or degree. Almost all 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 rest 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 some online degree programs are cheaper than other on campus alternatives. Even travelling expenses from Surprise and study materials can be minimized, helping to make education more affordable. And a large number of online programs are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your career or family obligations have left you with limited time to attend classes, maybe an HVAC online training program will make it more convenient to accommodate school into your active schedule.
Questions to Ask HVAC Training Programs
Once you have selected the type of certificate or degree that you wish to acquire, either on campus or online, you can begin to decrease your selection of schools. As you are probably aware, there are many HVAC trade schools in the Surprise AZ area and across the Country to pick from. That's why it is imperative to have a list of important qualifications when making school assessments. As previously mentioned in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will probably be the initial 2 aspects you will consider. Following are several additional ones that you need to investigate before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Numerous HVAC trade programs in the Surprise AZ area have acquired either a regional or a national accreditation. They may acquire Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to an individual program, such as HVAC technology. Make sure that the program is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting organization, for instance the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping guarantee that you get an excellent education, it can assist in securing financial aid or student loans, which are frequently unavailable for non-accredited programs. Additionally, many states require that the HVAC training course be accredited for it to qualify 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 or portion of students who enroll in and finish the course. A low completion rate might signify that students were disappointed with the course and quit. It may also mean 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 broader directory of alumni, which can produce more contacts for the school to use for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate can not only affirm that the school has a good reputation within the field, but additionally that it has the network of Surprise AZ HVAC employers to help grads secure apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. A large number of HVAC vocational programs are taught in conjunction with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating trade and vocational schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of Heating and Cooling companies or labor unions. Check if the schools you are reviewing have referring relationships with local Surprise AZ HVAC contractors. An apprenticeship not only offers a valuable experience by furnishing practical training, but it also supplies employment 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 state-of-the-art and what you will be working with in the field. If you are already in an internship or an apprenticeship, talk to the HVAC specialist you are working under concerning what you should be expecting. Otherwise, ask a local Surprise AZ HVAC contractor if they can provide some suggestions. Additionally bear in mind that unless you are willing to relocate, the school needs to be within commuting distance of your Surprise AZ home. Take note that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation costs there can be higher tuition fees compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's important that you receive as much personalized instruction as possible, which can be challenging in larger 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. Speak with a few of the students and get their comments concerning class sizes and instruction. Finally, talk to some of the teachers and learn what their level of expertise is and what degrees or certifications they have earned.
Flexible Scheduling. Verify that the class schedules for the programs you are reviewing are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Surprise AZ, confirm that the programs you are looking at offer those options. If you can only attend part-time, be sure that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Finally, check out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Learn More About Surprise HVAC Training Programs Near You
Get Your HVAC Degree and Certification
Picking the right HVAC school program is a crucial beginning toward a rewarding career in the heating and air conditioning industry. As we have discussed in this article, you need to select a Heating and Cooling training program and a degree or certificate program that are both accredited and have excellent reputations within the HVAC community. Other features to search for are sufficient hands-on training and modern facilities. You should go to each of the schools personally that you are most interested in to tour the campus and speak with both the faculty and current students. Try to get a feel for the quality of the instruction and the interaction between them. Also, inquire about scheduling choices and if evening or weekend classes are available if needed. And don't forget to inquire about financial aid and student loan options too. If you ask the proper questions as we have laid out in our guidelines for assessing schools, you'll be able to narrow down your choices so that you can make an informed decision. With the appropriate training, hard work and dedication, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC specialist in Surprise AZ.