How to Enroll In the Right HVAC Training Program near Tempe Arizona
Now that you have come to a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioning specialist, the next action is to choose an HVAC vocational school near Tempe AZ. But with so many to pick from, how do you select the best one to get the training that you require? A number of future students will make their decision based solely on the cost of tuition or how near the school is to their residence. Even though these are significant factors to consider, they are not the only ones to evaluate. 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. These and additional criteria will be discussed in more detail later in this article. But before we tackle how to choose an HVAC training program, let's take a look at what a heating and air conditioning specialist does to become a licensed skilled tradesman.
Becoming an HVAC Professional
HVAC is an acronym that is widely used in the business that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC contractors specialize in the installation, repair and maintenance of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are generally required to be licensed, although every state and regional municipality has its own criteria. Earning professional certification is not compulsory, but an optional means for Tempe AZ HVAC techs to demonstrate that they are exceptionally proficient and knowledgeable in their area of expertise. There are multiple acknowledged certifications within the field that are available. Here are some of the important ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally recognized certification for HVAC technicians. The certification is achieved by passing a competency examination 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 together with passing a comprehensive examination are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have three years of experience together with a passing score on the professional level exam. As with NATE, certifications are made available in multiple specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is mandatory for specialists 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.
Since licensing might be required in your location, and you may also wish to earn certification, it's important that you enroll in an HVAC vocational school that will prepare you for both. And since you will most likely be working with refrigerants, make sure that the school you pick preps you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
HVAC Certificate and Degree Schools
There are a variety of alternatives available for HVAC training in a vocational or trade school. You can obtain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Earning a certificate will take the lesser period of time, usually achieved in just six months, though some programs are longer. A certificate will qualify you for the majority of HVAC positions, especially if you are licensed and have certification related to the position. The degree programs may provide a competitive advantage for securing employment and will furnish more in-depth training than the certificate programs. Below is a brief explanation 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 solid foundation of skills for employment within the industry.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program provides a more extensive understanding of heating & cooling systems than the certificate program. Typically taking two years to complete, a number of degrees include an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is tailored more towards a career in management as well as business ownership. Some programs require an Associate Degree, while others are a conventional 4 year program. In addition to mastering how to service and maintain heating and air conditioning 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, in addition to the time and financial resources that you have to commit. One option is to begin with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after getting some experience in the trade in Tempe AZ, subsequently returning to obtain a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your approach, be sure to ask the HVAC technician school you are considering about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Online Training
Attending an HVAC program online is one option to getting your education and receiving a degree or certificate. Almost all schools will call for some attendance on campus to participate in hands on training. Some 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 can be attended online, this approach may be a more accessible solution for some Tempe AZ students that are short on time. And many online degree programs are cheaper than other on campus choices. Even commuting expenses from Tempe and study materials may be lessened, helping to make schooling more budget-friendly. And many online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your work or family responsibilities have left you with little time to attend classes, perhaps an online HVAC degree program will make it more convenient to accommodate school into your hectic lifestyle.
Questions to Ask HVAC Trade Schools
After you have decided on the type of certificate or degree that you want to obtain, either online or on campus, you can start to narrow down your selection of schools. As you are probably aware, there are a large number of HVAC vocational schools in the Tempe AZ area and all over the United States to pick from. That's why it is imperative to have a checklist of important qualifiers when making school evaluations. As formerly stated in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will undoubtedly be the first two factors you will take into consideration. Following are several additional ones that you should investigate before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Numerous HVAC vocational programs in the Tempe AZ area have received either a regional or a national accreditation. They may attain Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to an individual program, for example HVAC technology. Make certain that the program and school are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency, for instance the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping ensure that you acquire an excellent education, it may help in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are often unavailable for non-accredited programs. Also, some states require that the HVAC training program be accredited in order to be approved for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the HVAC schools you are reviewing what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage of students who enroll in and finish the course. A lower completion rate might signify that students were unhappy with the course and quit. It may also suggest that the instructors were not competent to instruct 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 directory of graduates, which can mean more contacts for the school to use 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 trade, but also that it has the network of Tempe AZ HVAC employers to help students obtain apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. A large number of HVAC technical programs are taught together with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating trade and vocational schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of HVAC companies or labor unions. Find out if the schools you are comparing have referring relationships with local Tempe AZ HVAC contractors. An apprenticeship not only offers a valuable experience by supplying hands-on training, but it also supplies job opportunities and helps to form relationships in the regional HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Confirm that the school facilities and the equipment that you will be instructed on are up-to-date and what you will be working with in the field. If you are presently in an internship or an apprenticeship, talk to the HVAC tech you are working with regarding what you should be looking for. If not, ask a local Tempe AZ HVAC company if they can provide some suggestions. Also keep in mind that unless you are willing to move, the school needs to 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 moving costs there can be increased tuition fees compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's important that you receive as much individualized instruction as possible, which can be difficult in bigger classes. Ask if you can sit in on a couple of the classes so that you can observe how large they are and witness first hand the interaction between students and teachers. Talk to a few of the students and get their feedback regarding class sizes and instruction. Last, speak to a few of the instructors and find out what their level of experience is and what certifications or degrees they have earned.
Flexible Scheduling. Make sure that the class schedules for the programs you are assessing are flexible enough to handle your needs. If you are only able to go to classes at night or on weekends near Tempe AZ, check that the schools you are reviewing offer those choices. If you can only attend part-time, 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 issues.
Learn More About Tempe HVAC Courses Near You
Get Your HVAC Training and Certification
Selecting the ideal HVAC school course is a critical first step toward a rewarding career in the heating and air conditioning field. As we have addressed in this article, you should select 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 factors to search for are ample hands-on training and state-of-the-art facilities. You should visit each of the schools in person 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 teaching and the interaction between them. In addition, inquire about scheduling options and whether evening or weekend classes are offered if needed. And don't forget to inquire about financial assistance and student loan options too. If you ask the proper questions as we have outlined in our checklist for evaluating schools, you'll be able to narrow down your choices so that you can make an informed decision. With the proper training, hard work and commitment, you can eventually become a licensed HVAC contractor in Tempe AZ.