How to Enroll In the Right Heating and Cooling School near Tempe Arizona
Once you have come to a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioner technician, the next action is to choose an HVAC technical school near Tempe AZ. But with so many to select from, how do you pick the best one to obtain the training that you need? Some future students will make their decision based solely on the price of tuition or how close the school is to their residence. While these are significant considerations, they are not the only ones to take into account. Just some of the other things that you need to research 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 addressed in more detail later in this article. But before we tackle how to select an HVAC trade school, let's take a look at what a heating and a/c specialist does to become a licensed qualified tradesman.
Becoming an HVAC Pro
HVAC is an acronym that is frequently used in the industry that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC technicians provide services for 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 each state and regional municipality has its own prerequisites. Obtaining professional certification is not required, but an optional way for Tempe AZ HVAC techs to establish that they are exceptionally proficient and experienced in their area of expertise. There are multiple recognized certifications within the industry that are offered. Following are a few of the important ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally acknowledged certification for HVAC technicians. The certification is attained by passing a competency exam and can be earned 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 must have three years of experience along with a passing result on the professional level exam. Similar to NATE, certifications are provided in various specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is necessary for techs that work with refrigerants. There are 3 forms of certification available, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Because licensing could be required in your area, and you may also intend to obtain certification, it's essential that you select an HVAC technical school that will prepare you for both. And since you will most likely be handling refrigerants, make certain that the school you choose readies you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.
HVAC Degree and Certificate Training Programs
There are a variety of choices offered for HVAC training in a technical or trade school. You can attain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Obtaining a certificate will take the minimum period of time, usually achieved in just 6 months, however some courses are longer. A certificate will train you for most HVAC positions, particularly 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 brief description of each credential offered near Tempe AZ.
- Certificate. Normally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among entry level residential or commercial HVAC specialists. They provide a strong foundation of skills for job opportunities within the trade.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program delivers a more comprehensive background of heating & cooling systems than the certificate program. Normally requiring 2 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 or even business ownership. Some programs call for an Associate Degree, while others are a traditional four year program. In addition to learning how to service and maintain heating and cooling systems, you will also learn how to design them.
Selecting 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 getting some experience in the field in Tempe AZ, subsequently returning to obtain a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your strategy, 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 approach in obtaining your education and receiving a certificate or degree. Nearly all schools will require some attendance on campus to complete hands on training. Many also offer internship or work-study programs in addition to or as an alternative to practical lab work. But since the remainder of the classes may be attended via the internet, this alternative may be a more practical 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 minimized, helping to make schooling more affordable. And numerous online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your job or family responsibilities have left you with limited time to attend classes, maybe an online HVAC degree program will make it easier to accommodate school into your busy lifestyle.
Questions For HVAC Training Programs
Once you have chosen the type of degree or certificate that you wish to attain, either on campus or online, you can begin to limit your selection of schools. As you are certainly aware, there are many HVAC vocational schools in the Tempe AZ area and across the United States to select from. That's why it is essential to have a list of key qualifications when making school comparisons. As earlier stated in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will most likely be the initial 2 factors you will consider. Following are some additional ones that you will want to explore before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Many HVAC technical schools in the Tempe AZ area have earned either a regional or a national accreditation. They may acquire Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to a specific program, for instance HVAC technology. Verify that the school and program are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency, which includes the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping make certain that you obtain a quality education, it can help in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are often unavailable for non-accredited programs. Also, some states mandate that the HVAC training course be accredited in order to be approved for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the HVAC schools you are looking at what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage 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 might also indicate that the teachers were not qualified to instruct the students. It's also important that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader list of graduates, which can mean more contacts for the school to employ for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate will not only affirm that the school has a good reputation within the trade, but also that it has the network of Tempe AZ HVAC employers to help graduates secure apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. Most HVAC vocational programs are taught along with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating vocational and technical programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of Heating and Cooling companies or trade unions. Ask if the schools you are comparing have working partnerships with local Tempe AZ HVAC professionals. An apprenticeship not only provides a rewarding experience by furnishing hands-on training, but it also furnishes job opportunities and helps to build relationships in the area HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make certain that the campus facilities and the tools that you will be instructed on are state-of-the-art and what you will be working with on the job. If you are presently in an internship or an apprenticeship, check with the HVAC tech you are working with regarding what you should be looking for. Otherwise, ask a local Tempe AZ HVAC company if they can provide some pointers. Also keep in mind that unless you are able to relocate, the school must be within commuting distance of your Tempe AZ home. Take note that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, besides the added relocation costs there might be increased tuition fees compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's desirable that you get as much individualized 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 big they are and experience the interaction between teachers and students. Speak with several of the students and get their feedback regarding class sizes and instruction. Last, speak with some of the instructors and learn what their level of expertise is and what degrees or certifications they have earned.
Flexible Scheduling. Make sure that the class schedules for the schools you are evaluating are flexible enough to handle your needs. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Tempe AZ, verify that the schools you are reviewing offer those choices. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Also, check out what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, illness or family issues.
Earn Your Heating and Cooling Certificate or Degree
Selecting the right HVAC training course is a critical beginning toward a rewarding career in the heating & cooling field. As we have discussed 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 exceptional reputations within the HVAC field. Other things to search for are lots of practical training and state-of-the-art facilities. You should check out each of the schools personally that you are most interested in to explore the campus and talk with both the faculty and current students. Attempt to get a feel for the quality of the teaching and the interaction between them. In addition, ask about scheduling choices and if evening or weekend classes are available if needed. And remember to inquire about financial aid and student loan options also. If you ask the proper questions as we have detailed in our guidelines for assessing schools, you'll be able to narrow down your choices so that you can make an educated decision. With the appropriate training, hard work and dedication, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC specialist in Tempe AZ.