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How to Enroll In the Right Heating and Cooling Program near Surprise Arizona

Surprise Arizona home air conditioning condensersOnce you have decided on a career as a heating and air conditioner technician, the next step is to choose an HVAC technical school near Surprise AZ. But with so many to choose from, how do you pick the ideal one to receive the training that you need? Many potential students will make their selection based entirely on the cost of tuition or how near the school is to their home. Although these are necessary factors to consider, they are not the only ones to evaluate. A few of the other details 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. These and other criteria will be discussed in more detail later within this article. But before we explore how to select an HVAC vocational school, let's take a look at what a heating and air conditioning technician does to become a licensed professional tradesman.

Becoming an HVAC Pro

Surprise Arizona HVAC Contractor fixing air conditioning condenserHVAC is an acronym that is extensively used in the trade that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC professionals specialize in the installation, maintenance and repair of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are commonly mandated to be licensed, however every state and local municipality has its own prerequisites. Attaining professional certification is not mandatory, but a voluntary means for Surprise AZ HVAC technicians to establish that they are highly qualified and accomplished in their area of specialization. There are a number of recognized certifications within the trade that are available. Below are a few 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 proficiency examination and may be earned in one or more specialties.
  • HVAC Excellence. This certification offers both a professional and a master specialist credential. 2 years of field experience in addition to passing a comprehensive exam 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 exam. As with NATE, certifications are provided in several specialties.
  • EPA Section 608. This certification is mandatory for specialists that work with refrigerants. There are three types of certification available, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.

Considering that licensing may be required in your location, and you may also intend to obtain certification, it's important that you choose an HVAC technical school that will prepare you for both. And since you will more than likely be working with refrigerants, make certain that the program you decide on prepares you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.

HVAC Degree and Certificate Training Programs

Surprise Arizona home heater

There are a number of choices available for HVAC training in a trade or technical school. You can obtain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Acquiring a certificate will take the least period of time, often achieved in just 6 months, however some programs are longer. A certificate will train you for the majority of HVAC positions, especially if you are licensed and have certification appropriate to the position. The degree programs might provide a competitive advantage in the job market and will provide more in-depth training than the certificate programs. Below is a short explanation of each option offered near Surprise AZ.

  • Certificate. Generally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among entry level commercial or residential HVAC technicians. They furnish a strong foundation of skills for employment within the trade.
  • Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program provides a more comprehensive knowledge of heating and a/c systems than the certificate program. Usually requiring two years to finish, many degrees incorporate 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.

Choosing the right credential program will be based on what your future career objectives are, along with the time and money that you have to invest. One possibility is to start with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after gaining some experience in the field in Surprise AZ, eventually returning to obtain a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your strategy, be sure to ask the HVAC technician school you are considering about how their returning student program works.

HVAC Online Schools

Attending an HVAC school online is one option in obtaining your education and receiving a certificate or degree. Most schools will require some attendance on campus to take part in hands on training. Many also sponsor internship or work-study programs in addition to or in place of practical lab work. But since the balance of the classes may be participated in on the web, this option may be a more convenient solution for some Surprise AZ students that are short on time. And a number of online degree programs are less expensive than other traditional alternatives. Even driving expenses from Surprise and study supplies may be lessened, helping to make schooling more budget-friendly. And numerous online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your work or family obligations have left you with little time to attend classes, maybe an HVAC online training program will make it easier to fit school into your busy lifestyle.

What to Ask HVAC Certification Courses

Surprise Arizona Heating and Cooling technician installing water heater

Once you have selected the type of degree or certificate that you would like to obtain, either on campus or online, you can start to narrow down your list of schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are numerous HVAC technical schools in the Surprise AZ area and throughout the Country to choose from. That's why it is imperative to have a checklist of important qualifications when making school assessments. As previously mentioned in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will undoubtedly be the initial 2 variables you will consider. Following are several additional ones that you will want to research before enrolling in your school of choice.

Accreditation.  Many HVAC trade schools in the Surprise AZ area have earned either a regional or a national accreditation. They can receive Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to an individual program, for example HVAC technology. Verify that the program is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency, such as the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping ensure that you obtain a superior education, it can help in obtaining financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently unavailable for non-accredited schools. Furthermore, some states mandate that the HVAC training program be accredited in order 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 or portion of students who enroll in and finish the course. A lower completion rate might suggest that students were disappointed with the course and quit. It might also suggest that the teachers were not competent to train the students. It's also essential that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader list of alumni, which can result in more contacts for the school to employ for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate will not only validate that the school has a good reputation within the trade, but also that it has the network of Surprise AZ HVAC employers to help graduates secure apprenticeships or employment.

Apprenticeship Programs.  Numerous HVAC technical programs are taught in conjunction with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating technical and vocational schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of HVAC companies or labor unions. Check if the schools you are reviewing have referring relationships with local Surprise AZ HVAC professionals. An apprenticeship not only provides a valuable experience by supplying hands-on training, but it also furnishes employment opportunities and helps to form relationships in the regional HVAC professional community.

Modern Facilities.  Confirm that the school facilities and the tools that you will be instructed on are state-of-the-art and what you will be using on the job. If you are already in an internship or an apprenticeship, check with the HVAC technician you are working with concerning what you should be looking for. Otherwise, ask a local Surprise AZ HVAC contracting company if they can provide some tips. Also bear in mind that unless you are willing to move, the school must be within driving distance of your Surprise AZ residence. Take note that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, besides the added moving costs there might be increased tuition charges compared to in-state residents.

Smaller Classes.   It's important that you get as much personalized instruction as possible, which can be difficult in bigger classes. Ask if you can monitor some of the classes so that you can observe how big they are and witness first hand the interaction between students and teachers. Speak to a few of the students and get their opinions relating to class sizes and instruction. Last, talk with some of the instructors and find out what their level of experience is and what degrees or certifications they hold.

Flexible Scheduling.  Confirm that the class schedules for the programs you are assessing are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Surprise AZ, verify that the programs you are comparing provide those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, be sure that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Also, check out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, sickness or family responsibilities.

Learn More About Surprise Heating and Cooling Training In Your Area

Get Your Heating and Cooling Degree and Certification

Enrolling in the right HVAC school course is a crucial beginning toward a rewarding career in the heating and air conditioning trade. As we have discussed in this article, you should choose a Heating and Cooling training program and a degree or certificate program that are both accredited and have exceptional reputations within the HVAC trade. Other things to search for are sufficient 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 tour the campus and talk with both the current students and faculty. Attempt to get a feel for the quality of the instruction and the interaction between them. Also, inquire about scheduling choices and whether night or weekend classes are available if needed. And remember to ask about financial assistance and student loan options as well. If you ask the right questions as we have outlined in our checklist for comparing schools, you'll be able to narrow down your choices so that you can make an educated decision. With the proper training, hard work and dedication, you can eventually become a licensed HVAC technician in Surprise AZ.