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How to Pick the Right HVAC Certification Course near Tempe Arizona

Tempe Arizona home A/C condensersNow that you have made a decision on a career as a heating and cooling technician, the next step is to look for an HVAC trade school near Tempe AZ. But with so many to pick from, how do you decide on the right one to get the training that you need? Some future students will make their selection based entirely on the price of tuition or how close the school is to their home. Although these are important concerns, they are not the only ones to investigate. A few 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. Those and additional benchmarks will be discussed in more detail later in this article. But before we examine how to pick an HVAC vocational school, let's take a look at what a heating and a/c technician does to become a licensed professional tradesman.

How to Become an HVAC Pro

Tempe Arizona HVAC Contractor servicing A/C condenserHVAC is an acronym that is commonly used in the industry that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC techs 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, although every state and local municipality has its own requirements. Obtaining professional certification is not compulsory, but a voluntary way for Tempe AZ HVAC technicians to demonstrate that they are exceptionally skilled and experienced in their area of specialization. There are several recognized certifications within the trade that are available. Following are a few of the important ones.

  • North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally recognized certification for HVAC technicians. The certification is earned by passing a competency exam and can be acquired in one or more specialties.
  • HVAC Excellence. This certification makes available both a professional and a master specialist credential. 2 years of field experience as well as passing a comprehensive exam are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have three years of experience in addition to a passing score on the professional level examination. As with NATE, certifications are offered in several specialties.
  • EPA Section 608. This certification is required for specialists that work with refrigerants. There are 3 types of certification available, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.

Since licensing might be required in your area, and you may also wish to earn certification, it's essential that you choose an HVAC technical school that will train you for both. And since you will more than likely be dealing with refrigerants, make certain that the program you select preps you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.

HVAC Degree Training Programs

Tempe Arizona residential heating pump

There are several choices available for HVAC instruction in a technical or vocational school. You can obtain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Earning a certificate will take the least amount of time, usually achieved in as little as 6 months, though some programs are longer. A certificate will train you for the majority of HVAC positions, especially if you are licensed and have certification relevant to the position. The degree programs might provide a competitive edge in the job market and will furnish more extensive training than the certificate programs. Following is a short description of each credential offered near Tempe AZ.

  • Certificate. Normally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among beginning residential or commercial HVAC technicians. They furnish a solid 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 requiring two years to finish, many 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 require an Associate Degree, while others are a traditional four 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 appropriate credential program will be dependent on what your long term career objectives are, together with the time and money that you have to commit. One option is to begin with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after gaining some experience in the trade in Tempe AZ, subsequently going back to acquire a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your approach, make sure to ask the HVAC tech school you are considering about how their returning student program works.

HVAC Online Training

Enrolling in an HVAC program online is one alternative to attaining your education and earning a certificate or degree. Almost all schools will require some attendance on campus to participate in hands on training. A number also provide 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 approach may be a more practical solution for many Tempe AZ students that are short on time. And many online degree programs are more economical than other on campus options. Even commuting expenses from Tempe and study supplies can be lessened, helping to make education more affordable. And many online programs are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your work or family responsibilities have left you with little time to attend classes, maybe an online HVAC degree program will make it less complicated to accommodate school into your busy lifestyle.

Questions For HVAC Trade Schools

Tempe Arizona Heating and Cooling technician replacing water heater

As soon as you have decided on the type of certificate or degree that you would like to obtain, either online or on campus, you can start to limit your list of schools. As you are probably aware, there are many HVAC trade schools in the Tempe AZ area and all over the United States to pick from. That's why it is essential to have a list of key qualifications when making school evaluations. As earlier stated in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will undoubtedly be the first 2 aspects you will consider. Following are several additional ones that you should research before enrolling in your school of choice.

Accreditation.  Numerous HVAC trade programs in the Tempe AZ area have acquired 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 relates to a specific program, such as HVAC technology. Make sure that the school and program are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency, which includes the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping ensure that you acquire a quality education, it may assist in acquiring financial assistance or student loans, which are in many cases unavailable for non-accredited programs. Furthermore, many states mandate 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 reviewing what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage of students who enroll in and finish the program. A lower completion rate might suggest that students were dissatisfied with the course and dropped out. It might also indicate that the instructors were not qualified to instruct the students. It's similarly important that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader directory 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 validate that the school has an excellent reputation within the field, but also that it has the network of Tempe AZ HVAC employers to help students secure apprenticeships or jobs.

Apprenticeship Programs.  A large number of HVAC vocational programs are taught in conjunction with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating trade and vocational schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of Heating and Cooling contractors or labor unions. Find out if the schools you are comparing have referring relationships with local Tempe AZ HVAC professionals. An apprenticeship not only offers a rewarding 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.  Make sure 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 already in an internship or an apprenticeship, talk to the HVAC technician you are working with concerning what you should be expecting. If not, ask a local Tempe AZ HVAC contractor if they can provide some tips. Also keep in mind that unless you are able to move, the school needs to be within commuting distance of your Tempe AZ home. Take note that if you decide to attend 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 desirable that you receive as much personalized training as possible, which can be challenging in larger classes. Ask if you can sit in on a few 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 concerning class sizes and instruction. Finally, talk to some of the teachers and learn what their level of experience is and what degrees or certifications they have earned.

Flexible Scheduling.  Verify that the class schedules for the programs you are evaluating are flexible enough to handle your needs. If you are only able to attend classes at night or on weekends near Tempe AZ, verify that the schools you are comparing provide those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Also, ask what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, illness or family emergencies.

Find Out More About Tempe HVAC Training Programs In Your Area

Earn Your Heating and Cooling Training and Certification

Picking the right HVAC school course is an important first step toward a fulfilling career in the heating and cooling trade. As we have addressed in this article, you should choose a Heating and Cooling training program and a degree or certificate program that are both accredited and have outstanding reputations within the HVAC trade. Other features to look for are plenty of practical training and modern facilities. You need to check out each of the schools in person that you are most interested in to inspect the campus and talk with both the current students and faculty. Try to get a feel for the quality of the instruction and the interaction between them. In addition, ask about scheduling choices and whether or not evening or weekend classes are offered if needed. And remember to ask about financial assistance and student loan options too. If you ask the right questions as we have outlined in our checklist for evaluating schools, you'll be able to filter your options so that you can make an educated decision. With the proper training, hard work and dedication, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC technician in Tempe AZ.