How to Select the Right HVAC Certificate Program near Tempe Arizona
Now that you have come to a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioner professional, the next step is to locate an HVAC trade school near Tempe AZ. But with so many to select from, how do you decide on the right one to get the training that you require? A number of potential students will make their decision based solely on the price of tuition or how close the school is to their home. While these are necessary concerns, they are not the only ones to evaluate. Just some of the other factors 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 other criteria will be discussed in more detail later in this article. But before we examine how to pick an HVAC technical school, let's take a look at what a heating and cooling contractor does to become a licensed professional tradesman.
How to Become an HVAC Specialist
HVAC is an acronym that is frequently used in the trade that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC professionals specialize in the installation, repair and maintenance of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are typically mandated to be licensed, however every state and regional municipality has its own prerequisites. Obtaining professional certification is not compulsory, but an alternative way for Tempe AZ HVAC technicians to prove that they are exceptionally qualified and accomplished in their area of expertise. There are many respected certifications within the industry that are offered. Here are some of the significant ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally recognized certification for HVAC techs. The certification is attained by passing a competency exam and can be received in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification makes available both a professional and a master specialist credential. Two years of professional experience together with passing a comprehensive exam are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have 3 years of experience along with a passing result on the professional level examination. Similar to NATE, certifications are provided in multiple specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is required for specialists that handle refrigerants. There are 3 forms 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 location, and you may also wish to acquire certification, it's imperative that you choose an HVAC vocational school that will train you for both. And since you will probably be working with refrigerants, make sure that the school you decide on preps you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.
HVAC Degree Schools
There are a variety of choices available 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 lesser amount of time, typically accomplished in as little as six months, however some courses are longer. A certificate will train you for most HVAC positions, particularly if you are licensed and have certification applicable to the position. The degree programs can provide a competitive advantage in the job market and will provide more in-depth training than the certificate programs. Following is a short summary of each credential offered near Tempe AZ.
- Certificate. Usually requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among beginning commercial or residential HVAC specialists. They furnish a solid foundation of skills for employment within the industry.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program delivers a more extensive background of heating and cooling systems than the certificate program. Normally taking 2 years to finish, some degrees feature an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is tailored more for a career in management or even business ownership. Some programs call for an Associate Degree, while others are a conventional 4 year program. In addition to mastering how to service and maintain heating and cooling systems, you will also learn how to design them.
Selecting the ideal 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 possibility is to begin with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after acquiring some experience in the trade in Tempe AZ, later going back to acquire a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your tactic, make sure to ask the HVAC technician school you are considering about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Schools Online
Enrolling in an HVAC school online is one alternative in attaining your education and earning a certificate or degree. Nearly all schools will require some attendance on campus to take part in practical training. Some also provide internship or work-study programs in addition to or as an alternative to practical lab work. But since the balance of the classes may be participated in on the web, this option may be a more practical solution for some Tempe AZ students that are pressed for time. And a number of online degree programs are cheaper than other on campus alternatives. Even commuting expenses from Tempe and study materials can be lessened, helping to make education more economical. And numerous online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your career or family responsibilities have left you with minimal time to attend classes, perhaps an online HVAC degree program will make it less complicated to fit school into your busy lifestyle.
What to Ask HVAC Training Classes
After you have decided on the type of degree or certificate that you would like to attain, either online or on campus, you can begin to limit your selection of schools. As you are certainly aware, there are numerous HVAC vocational schools in the Tempe AZ area and all over the USA to pick from. That's why it is very important to have a list of key qualifications when making school assessments. As formerly mentioned in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will undoubtedly be the first two aspects you will look at. Following are some additional ones that you should explore before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. A large number of HVAC technical schools in the Tempe AZ area have received either a regional or a national accreditation. They can attain Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to an individual program, for instance HVAC technology. Verify that the program is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency, for example the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping guarantee that you receive an excellent education, it may help in obtaining financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently not available for non-accredited programs. Additionally, some states mandate that the HVAC training program be accredited for it to be approved for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the Heating and Cooling schools you are considering what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage or portion of students who enroll in and finish the course. A low completion rate could suggest that students were disappointed with the program and quit. It could also signify 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 more extensive directory of alumni, which can produce 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 an excellent reputation within the trade, but also that it has the network of Tempe AZ HVAC employers to help graduates secure apprenticeships or jobs.
Apprenticeship Programs. Numerous HVAC vocational 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 within their network of Heating and Cooling businesses or trade unions. Find out if the schools you are reviewing have working partnerships with local Tempe AZ HVAC companies. An apprenticeship not only offers a rewarding experience by providing practical training, but it also furnishes employment opportunities and helps to build relationships in the local HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Confirm that the campus 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 tech you are working with regarding what you should be expecting. If not, ask a local Tempe AZ HVAC contractor if they can provide some pointers. Also keep in mind that unless you can relocate, the school must be within commuting distance of your Tempe AZ home. Take note that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation costs there might be higher tuition charges compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's important that you get as much individualized training as possible, which can be challenging in bigger classes. Ask if you can sit in on a few of the classes so that you can see how large they are and witness first hand the interaction between students and instructors. Talk with some of the students and get their feedback relating to class sizes and instruction. Finally, talk to a few of the instructors and learn 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 reviewing are flexible enough to handle your needs. If you are only able to attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Tempe AZ, check that the schools you are comparing provide those choices. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Also, ask what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, sickness or family responsibilities.
Learn More About Tempe HVAC Training Classes In Your Area
Get Your Heating and Cooling Degree and Certification
Picking the ideal HVAC school course is a crucial beginning toward a rewarding career in the heating & cooling trade. As we have addressed in this article, you should pick a Heating and Cooling training program and a certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have exceptional reputations within the HVAC profession. Other features to search for are sufficient hands-on training and modern facilities. You need to go to each of the schools personally that you are most interested in to tour the campus and talk with both the faculty and current students. Attempt to get a feel for the quality of the training and the interaction between them. Also, inquire about scheduling choices and if night or weekend classes are offered if needed. And don't forget to inquire about financial assistance and student loan options also. If you ask the right questions as we have laid out in our guidelines for evaluating schools, you'll be able to filter your options so that you can make an educated decision. With the appropriate training, hard work and dedication, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC professional in Tempe AZ.