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How to Find the Right Heating and Cooling College near Surprise Arizona

Surprise Arizona home A/C condensersOnce you have decided on a career as a heating and air conditioner professional, the next action is to choose an HVAC technical school near Surprise AZ. But with so many to choose from, how do you decide on the best one to receive the training that you need? A number of prospective students will make their selection based exclusively on the price of tuition or how close the school is to their residence. Even though these are necessary concerns, they are not the only ones to take into account. Some of the other details that you need to investigate are the graduation rates of the HVAC schools, their reputations, and if they are accredited by professional trade organizations. Those and other benchmarks will be discussed in more detail later in this article. But before we tackle how to choose an HVAC trade school, let's look at what a heating and a/c professional does to become a licensed qualified tradesman.

How to Become an HVAC Specialist

Surprise Arizona Heating and Cooling Tech servicing A/C condenserHVAC is an acronym that is frequently used in the trade that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC techs specialize in the installation, repair and maintenance of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are commonly required to be licensed, although every state and regional municipality has its own prerequisites. Acquiring professional certification is not mandatory, but an alternative means for Surprise AZ HVAC specialists to establish that they are exceptionally proficient and accomplished in their area of specialization. There are several recognized certifications within the field that are available. Following are some of the significant ones.

  • North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally recognized certification for HVAC technicians. The certification is earned by passing a proficiency exam and can be acquired in one or more specialties.
  • HVAC Excellence. This certification makes available both a professional and a master specialist credential. Two years of field experience together with passing a comprehensive exam are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have three years of experience together with a passing result on the professional level examination. Similar to NATE, certifications are provided in multiple specialties.
  • EPA Section 608. This certification is necessary for specialists that handle refrigerants. There are 3 types of certification obtainable, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.

Because licensing could be mandated in your location, and you may also intend to acquire certification, it's important that you pick an HVAC technical school that will prepare you for both. And since you will most likely be working with refrigerants, make sure that the program you select prepares you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.

HVAC Certificate and Degree Classes

Surprise Arizona residential heat pump

There are a variety of options offered for HVAC instruction in a trade or technical school. You can earn a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Obtaining a certificate will take the minimum amount of time, often accomplished in just 6 months, although some programs are longer. A certificate will train 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 edge for securing employment and will deliver more comprehensive training than the certificate programs. Below is a brief summary 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 solid foundation of skills for job opportunities within the industry.
  • Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program supplies a more exhaustive knowledge of heating and cooling systems than the certificate program. Normally requiring 2 years to complete, some degrees feature 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 require an Associate Degree, while others are a conventional four year program. In addition to learning how to service and maintain heating and air conditioning systems, you will also learn how to design them.

Picking the appropriate credential program will be based on what your long term career objectives are, as well as the time and money that you have to invest. One option is to start with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after gaining some experience in the trade in Surprise AZ, later going back to obtain a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your approach, be sure to ask the HVAC tech school you are considering about how their returning student program works.

HVAC Schools Online

Enrolling in an HVAC program online is one option in getting your education and receiving a degree or certificate. Nearly all schools will call for some attendance on campus to participate in practical training. A number also offer internship or work-study programs in addition to or instead of practical lab work. But since the balance of the classes may be attended on the web, this option may be a more accessible solution for some Surprise AZ students that are short on time. And many online degree programs are less costly than other on campus options. Even driving expenses from Surprise and study materials may be reduced, helping to make schooling more economical. And a large number of online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your career or family responsibilities have left you with little time to attend classes, perhaps an HVAC online training program will make it more convenient to fit school into your hectic schedule.

What to Ask HVAC Schools

Surprise Arizona HVAC contractor replacing water heater

Once you have chosen the type of degree or certificate that you would like to obtain, either online or on campus, you can start to narrow down your list of schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are a large number of HVAC vocational schools in the Surprise AZ area and throughout the USA to choose from. That's why it is essential to have a list of important qualifiers when making school evaluations. As formerly mentioned in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will most likely be the first two factors you will look at. Following are several additional ones that you should explore before enrolling in your school of choice.

Accreditation.  Many HVAC technical programs in the Surprise AZ area have attained either a regional or a national accreditation. They can acquire Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to an individual program, for instance HVAC technology. Confirm that the program is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting agency, which includes the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping guarantee that you get a quality education, it may assist in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are frequently unavailable for non-accredited schools. Additionally, a number of states mandate that the HVAC training program be accredited for it to qualify for licensing.

High Completion Rates.  Ask the HVAC 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 lower completion rate could suggest that students were disappointed with the course and dropped out. It may also signify that the instructors were not competent to train the students. It's also important that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive list of alumni, which can mean 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 an excellent reputation within the industry, but also that it has the network of Surprise AZ HVAC employers to help students secure apprenticeships or employment.

Apprenticeship Programs.  A large number of HVAC technical programs are taught in conjunction with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating trade and technical schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of Heating and Cooling companies or trade unions. Check if the schools you are considering have working partnerships with local Surprise AZ HVAC specialists. An apprenticeship not only offers a valuable experience by supplying hands-on training, but it also supplies employment opportunities and helps to form relationships in the area HVAC professional community.

Modern Facilities.  Confirm that the campus facilities and the equipment that you will be instructed on are up-to-date and what you will be using on the job. If you are currently in an internship or an apprenticeship, check with the HVAC tech you are working under concerning what you should be expecting. If not, ask a local Surprise AZ HVAC contracting company if they can give you some pointers. Also bear in mind that unless you can move, the school needs to be within driving distance of your Surprise AZ home. Remember that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation costs there may be increased tuition fees compared to in-state residents.

Smaller Classes.   It's desirable that you receive as much individualized training as possible, which can be difficult in larger classes. Ask if you can sit in on some of the classes so that you can observe how large they are and witness first hand the interaction between students and instructors. Talk with several of the students and get their comments regarding class sizes and instruction. Last, talk to some of the teachers and find out what their level of expertise is and what degrees or certifications they hold.

Flexible Scheduling.  Make sure that the class schedules for the programs you are assessing are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you are only able to go to classes at night or on weekends near Surprise AZ, verify that the programs you are reviewing offer those choices. If you can only attend part-time, make certain that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Additionally, check out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, illness or family issues.

Find Out More About Surprise HVAC Trade Schools In Your Area

Earn Your Heating and Cooling Training and Certification

Finding the ideal HVAC training program is a crucial beginning toward a fulfilling career in the heating and cooling field. As we have discussed in this article, you should pick a Heating and Cooling training program and a certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have excellent reputations within the HVAC field. Other things to search for are lots of hands-on training and modern facilities. You should visit each of the schools personally that you are most interested in to inspect the campus and speak with both the current students and faculty. Try to get a feel for the quality of the training and the interaction between them. Also, ask about scheduling options and whether or not evening or weekend classes are offered if needed. And remember to inquire about financial aid and student loan options also. If you ask the appropriate questions as we have laid out in our checklist for assessing schools, you'll be able to filter your options 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 Surprise AZ.