In order to impress potential employers and clients requires you to be able to demonstrate that you are competent at your job. You may feel confident in your abilities, be familiar with all of the HVAC terminology, tools and methods, yet all of this means very little to a complete stranger.
Today in the industry HVAC certification is often what can make or break you, without it, it can give the impression that something is amiss and with it you leave a lasting impression and stand head and shoulders above your competition.
However, not all HVAC certification is the same and the truth is that some offer more than others. With this in mind, in this article we are going to explore some of the most popular courses and how they compare with one another. So if you are asking “what is the best HVAC school near me?” we’ve got you covered.
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If you are thinking about acquiring certification and signing up to a program near you, there are a number of important considerations for you to make before jumping in. Here are some of them:
After considering all of these important questions, you will know exactly what you want to achieve and therefore be better equipped to select a course to reach your goals.
How Can You determine if a HVAC Program is good?
Today, there are many institutions offering HVAC certification programs and understandably this can cause a lot of confusion when it comes to selecting one. In reality, not all of the courses are offering the same thing, nor are they of the same quality, so it’s helpful to know what to look for when assessing a program that interests you.
Here are some of the most important criteria of all reputable and good quality HVAC training programs:
Is it accredited?
No matter what training program you attend, it’s essential that it has been accredited, since often this is a condition of attaining licensing within certain jurisdictions and being able to practice as a HVAC technician. A course that has not been accredited is also unlikely to be up to date with the latest industry guidelines and could even potentially be lacking adequate training in certain subject areas.
Accredited programs will have been assessed by an independent, third party, typically made up of industry experts. Accrediting bodies include the likes of HVAC excellence and the Building Performance Institute (BPI). Some programs may have been accredited at the regional level too, which enables Schools to issue diplomas and degrees.
Does it offer practical experience?
Theoretical knowledge is obviously important and being able to pass your EPA 608 tests is crucial to attaining certification. However being prepared for real work is also equally important, so programs that offer you the opportunity to acquire hands on experience via on-site labs and workshops are recommended.
By attending an accredited HVAC training program you can be sure you will receive the required technical training and gain theoretical knowledge, but what about preparing you for the job market? All good programs often offer employment and certification readiness class.
In addition, make sure the program helps prepare you to take your certification exams and attain licensing in your jurisdiction. These will be attained off-site and not on campus, therefore, make sure to ask about these when you enquire about the program that interests you.
How much does it cost?
The cost of the program is another important factor to consider. Thankfully, if you can’t afford to pay for the course immediately, the majority of programs allow you to pay in a series of instalments and many also offer some form of financial assistance. This commonly includes things like scholarship programs and loans and you will usually be able to get solid advice and support with regards to the financial side of things from the program staff.
Admittedly a training program can feel like an expensive burden, however, you have to remind yourself that it in the long term it will pay for itself when you secure a new career as a HVAC technician or contractor.
The bottom line is that HVAC certification confirms to clients and employers that you know your stuff and that you are competent at your job. This is becoming more important as competition increases and it’s very likely that most sensible people are going to opt for an HVAC technician that is certified as opposed to one that isn’t. It’s only natural for people to want that peace of mind when making a financial commitment.
It’s always a good idea to look at some great examples of good HVAC programs, so that you can make an accurate comparison when you are looking for a school near your home. OF course, if you live one of these schools we recommend you check them out, but if not, you can still learn a lot by checking out their programs content and structure.
The North Michigan University HVACR Program
The HVACR program run by the North Michigan University is two years in duration and is a comprehensive course covering all the essentials of HVAC work. The program covers both residential and commercial aspects of heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration systems, which therefore allows you to gain knowledge and experience in two huge job markets within the HVACR sector. This course is a healthy mix of theoretical classroom learning and practical, hands on experience.
In terms of cost, the program at NMU is $14,500 for in-state tuition and $22,500 for out-of state tuition. The price may seem high compared to some, however, the course is in-depth, reputable and a leader in the field, taught by experienced instructors.
Miami Dade College – HVAC Systems Technology
The Miami Dade provides a program that enables you to work towards a full associate’s degree in HVAC technologies. In total, the program takes between 2 and 3 years to complete and allows those enrolled to undertake some segments of the course online.
As well as HVAC fundamentals, such as heating and refrigeration, the course structure also includes topics you may not ever associate with HVAC, such as communications. However, this enriches the program in so many ways and allows students to improve on their communication, which is essential for success in the HVAC industry.
The course costs $4,000 each term for non-state residents and $1,500 for FL state residents. Therefore, in order to undertake the full course will come to a grand total of $7,800.
Midwest Technical Institute HVAC Training Program
The Midwest Technical Institute also runs a fantastic training program that can be completed in as little as 9 months. It is a vocational program that covers all areas of heating, air conditioning, ventilation and refrigeration. On this course, you will learn how to repair, install and maintain the most common HVAC systems and will gain hands on experience via an on-site HVAC lab.
The course also includes employment and certification readiness classes that prepare you for the day you will complete the course. This will help equip you with all of the essential interview and resume skills expected of you, as well as getting you ready to take your EPA certification tests that you are required to sit and pass.
If a attending a course is not suitable for your circumstances, then there are other options available to you. A popular alternative being online HVAC programs that allow you to train and prep for HVAC certification completely online.
Of course gaining real-life, practical experience is essential for any aspiring HVAC worker, yet training online may be practical in numerous different scenarios. For example, if you already have a job in the industry or are undertaking a HVAC apprenticeship.
A few courses provide guidance from actual instructors, while others are simply mean to guide and provide resources for exam preparation.
Air Conditioning Contractors of America
The ACCA operates as a professional body in the HVAC industry. The body provides a range of resources and study materials for aspiring HVAC technicians. There is a membership fee to gain access, which as of writing this is $39 per month.
The certification prep offered includes EPA certification materials, but also extends to other types of industry certification too. Even though it is not as comprehensive as a complete school program it definitely holds a lot of value.
Another great option for those who can’t attend a school program is the Ferris Universities online bachelor’s degree. The structure of the course includes HVAC systems, installation and repair principles. There are very few institutions that offer a degree in HVAC and Ferris is one of them.
What also makes this course so great is that it also requires you to gain hands-on experience via a full week workshop you have to attend on an annual basis. Even though it doesn’t offer the practical experience a full school program does, it’s certainly the next best thing.
Whatever stage of your career, there is bound to be a training program to suit your exact circumstances. From those of you just starting out, to those who have been working in the industry for many years.
The only way to really know if a course will help you achieve your goals is to examine the course structure and see exactly what it entails. Remember that an accredited course that offers both taught and hand-s on experience is advised.