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How to Choose the Right Heating and Cooling Certification Course near Tempe Arizona

Tempe Arizona home air conditioning condensersNow that you have made a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioner specialist, the next action is to find an HVAC trade school near Tempe AZ. But with so many to choose from, how do you select the ideal one to obtain the training that you need? Many prospective students will make their choice based entirely on the cost of tuition or how near the school is to their residence. While these are necessary factors to consider, they are not the only ones to take into account. A few of the other details 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 covered in more detail later within this article. But before we examine how to select an HVAC trade school, let's take a look at what a heating and air conditioning professional does to become a licensed skilled tradesman.

How to Become an HVAC Technician

Tempe Arizona HVAC Tech servicing air conditioning condenserHVAC is an acronym that is commonly used in the industry that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC professionals specialize in the installation, repair and maintenance of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are typically mandated to be licensed, though each state and regional municipality has its own prerequisites. Earning professional certification is not compulsory, but a voluntary means for Tempe AZ HVAC technicians to establish that they are exceptionally proficient and experienced in their area of expertise. There are a number of recognized certifications within the industry that are offered. Following are some of the significant ones.

  • North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally recognized certification for HVAC technicians. The certification is achieved by passing a proficiency exam and may 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 in addition to passing a comprehensive examination are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have 3 years of experience in addition to a passing result on the professional level exam. Similar to NATE, certifications are provided in various specialties.
  • EPA Section 608. This certification is required for techs that work with refrigerants. There are three types of certification offered, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.

Considering that licensing may be mandated in your area, and you may also desire to obtain certification, it's important that you pick an HVAC vocational school that will prepare you for both. And since you will more than likely be handling refrigerants, make certain that the program you select readies you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.

HVAC Degree and Certificate Courses

Tempe Arizona home heating pump

There are a variety of options offered for HVAC instruction in a technical or vocational school. You can earn a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Obtaining a certificate will take the lesser period of time, typically achieved in as little as six months, however some courses are longer. A certificate will train you for the majority of HVAC positions, particularly 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 in-depth training than the certificate programs. Below is a short summary of each option offered near Tempe AZ.

  • Certificate. Generally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among beginning residential or commercial HVAC technicians. They provide a solid foundation of skills for job opportunities within the industry.
  • Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program provides a more detailed understanding of heating and cooling systems than the certificate program. Normally requiring 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 geared more towards 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 being taught how to service and maintain heating and air conditioning systems, you will also study how to design them.

Picking the ideal credential program will be based on what your long term career aspirations are, together with the time and financial resources that you have to commit. One option is to start with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after gaining some experience in the field in Tempe AZ, subsequently going back to obtain a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your strategy, make certain to ask the HVAC technician school you are considering about how their returning student program works.

HVAC Online Training

Choosing an HVAC school online is one approach to getting your training and earning a certificate or degree. Nearly all schools will require some attendance on campus to complete hands on training. Many 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 attended on the web, this approach may be a more accessible solution for many Tempe AZ students that are short on time. And many online degree programs are cheaper than other on campus alternatives. Even travelling expenses from Tempe and study materials can be reduced, helping to make schooling more affordable. And many online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your work or family obligations have left you with minimal time to attend classes, maybe an HVAC online training program will make it less complicated to fit school into your hectic lifestyle.

Questions to Ask HVAC Schools

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Once you have chosen the type of degree or certificate that you want to earn, either online or on campus, you can begin to narrow down your selection of schools. As you are probably aware, there are numerous HVAC technical schools in the Tempe AZ area and across the Country to choose from. That's why it is essential to have a list of important qualifiers when making school assessments. As earlier stated in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will undoubtedly be the initial two factors you will look at. Following are several additional ones that you need to explore before enrolling in your school of choice.

Accreditation.  A large number of HVAC technical programs in the Tempe AZ area have received either a regional or a national accreditation. They may receive Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to an individual program, for instance HVAC technology. Verify that the school and program are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting organization, for instance the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping make certain that you receive an excellent education, it may help in obtaining financial assistance or student loans, which are in many cases not available for non-accredited programs. Furthermore, some states mandate that the HVAC training course be accredited in order to qualify 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 of students who enroll in and finish the program. A low completion rate might suggest that students were dissatisfied with the course and dropped out. It might also mean that the instructors were not qualified 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 more extensive list of alumni, which may produce 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 a good reputation within the industry, but additionally that it has the network of Tempe AZ HVAC employers to assist graduates secure apprenticeships or jobs.

Apprenticeship Programs.  Many HVAC trade programs are taught in conjunction with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating trade and vocational programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of HVAC businesses or trade unions. Check if the schools you are considering have referring partnerships with local Tempe AZ HVAC contractors. An apprenticeship not only provides a rewarding experience by providing practical training, but it also furnishes employment opportunities and helps to build relationships in the area HVAC professional community.

Modern Facilities.  Make sure that the school 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 presently in an internship or an apprenticeship, talk to the HVAC specialist you are working with regarding what you should be looking for. Otherwise, ask a local Tempe AZ HVAC contracting company if they can provide some suggestions. Also bear in mind that unless you can move, the school needs to be within driving distance of your Tempe AZ residence. Take note that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, in addition to moving costs there may be increased tuition charges compared to in-state residents.

Smaller Classes.   It's important that you receive as much one-on-one training as possible, which can be challenging in bigger classes. Ask if you can monitor a few of the classes so that you can observe how big they are and experience the interaction between students and instructors. Talk to several 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 expertise 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 meet your needs. If you are only able to attend classes at night or on weekends near Tempe AZ, verify that the schools you are reviewing offer those options. If you can only attend part-time, make sure that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Finally, find out what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, sickness or family responsibilities.

Learn More About Tempe HVAC Courses In Your Area

Earn Your Heating and Cooling Training and Certification

Finding the ideal HVAC training program is an important beginning toward a gratifying career in the heating and cooling industry. As we have addressed in this article, you need to pick a Heating and Cooling training program and a certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have outstanding reputations within the HVAC community. Other features to look for are sufficient hands-on training and state-of-the-art facilities. You need to visit each of the schools personally that you are most interested in to explore the campus and speak with both the current students and faculty. Attempt to get a feel for the quality of the instruction and the interaction between them. Also, ask about scheduling choices and whether night or weekend classes are available if needed. And don't forget to ask about financial assistance and student loan options too. If you ask the proper 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 educated decision. With the right training, hard work and commitment, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC specialist in Tempe AZ.