How to Enroll In the Right HVAC Certification Course near Anniston Alabama
Once you have come to a decision on a career as a heating and cooling technician, the next step is to locate an HVAC trade school near Anniston AL. But with so many to pick from, how do you pick the ideal one to obtain the training that you require? A number of future students will make their selection based solely on the cost of tuition or how close the school is to their residence. While these are significant concerns, they are not the only ones to evaluate. Some of the other factors that you need to look into are the graduation completion rates of the HVAC schools, their reputations, and if they are accredited by professional trade organizations. These and other benchmarks will be covered in more detail later in this article. But before we explore 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 skilled tradesman.
Becoming an HVAC Contractor
HVAC is an acronym that is extensively used in the trade that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC contractors specialize in the installation, repair and maintenance of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are generally mandated to be licensed, though each state and local municipality has its own requirements. Acquiring professional certification is not mandatory, but a voluntary way for Anniston AL HVAC technicians to demonstrate that they are exceptionally qualified and experienced in their area of expertise. There are a number of recognized certifications within the trade that are offered. Here are some of the important ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally acknowledged certification for HVAC technicians. The certification is earned by passing a proficiency examination and can be earned in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification offers both a professional and a master specialist credential. Two years of professional experience together with passing a comprehensive examination are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have three years of experience as well as a passing result on the professional level exam. Similar to NATE, certifications are made available in various specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is necessary for techs that work with refrigerants. There are three forms of certification obtainable, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Since licensing could be required in your area, and you may also intend to acquire certification, it's important that you choose an HVAC technical school that will train you for both. And since you will probably be dealing with refrigerants, make sure that the school you select preps you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
HVAC Degree Schools
There are a variety of choices available for HVAC training in a technical or vocational school. You can earn a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Earning a certificate will take the minimum amount of time, usually completed in just 6 months, though some courses are longer. A certificate will qualify you for the majority of HVAC positions, particularly if you are licensed and have certification applicable to the position. The degree training programs can provide a competitive edge for securing employment and will provide more extensive training than the certificate programs. Below is a brief description of each credential offered near Anniston AL.
- Certificate. Generally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among entry level residential or commercial HVAC professionals. They provide a solid foundation of skills for employment within the trade.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program supplies a more comprehensive understanding of heating and a/c systems than the certificate program. Typically taking 2 years to complete, a number of degrees incorporate an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is suited more towards a career in management or even 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 study how to design them.
Choosing the ideal credential program will be dependent on what your long term career goals are, as well as the time and money that you have to commit. One possibility is to start with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after gaining some experience in the trade in Anniston AL, subsequently returning to earn a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your tactic, make sure to ask the HVAC technician school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Training Online
Enrolling in an HVAC program online is one alternative to obtaining your education and receiving a degree or certificate. Most schools will call for some attendance on campus to participate in practical training. Many also provide internship or work-study programs in addition to or as an alternative to practical lab work. But since the remainder of the classes can be attended online, this alternative may be a more practical solution for some Anniston AL students that are short on time. And many online degree programs are more economical than other on campus choices. Even commuting expenses from Anniston and study materials can be minimized, helping to make education more budget-friendly. And a large number of online programs are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your job or family obligations have left you with limited time to attend classes, maybe an HVAC online training program will make it more convenient to fit school into your active lifestyle.
Questions to Ask HVAC Training Programs
After you have decided on the type of degree or certificate that you wish to earn, either online or on campus, you can begin to narrow down your list of schools. As you are probably aware, there are many HVAC trade schools in the Anniston AL area and across the United States to select from. That's why it is extremely important to have a checklist of important qualifications when making school comparisons. As earlier stated in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will most likely be the initial 2 aspects you will look at. Following are some additional ones that you will want to research before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Many HVAC technical programs in the Anniston AL area have received either a regional or a national accreditation. They can attain Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to a specific program, for instance HVAC technology. Confirm that the school and program are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization, such as the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping make certain that you receive a quality education, it may assist in acquiring financial assistance or student loans, which are in many cases unavailable for non-accredited programs. Additionally, some states mandate that the HVAC training course 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 complete the program. A lower completion rate might indicate that students were disappointed with the program and quit. It may also mean that the teachers were not competent to instruct the students. It's similarly imperative that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive directory of alumni, which may result in more contacts for the school to utilize for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate can not only validate that the school has an excellent reputation within the industry, but additionally that it has the network of Anniston AL HVAC employers to help students obtain apprenticeships or jobs.
Apprenticeship Programs. Numerous HVAC trade programs are taught along with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating vocational and technical schools 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 relationships with local Anniston AL HVAC companies. An apprenticeship not only provides a valuable experience by providing practical training, but it also supplies job opportunities and helps to build relationships in the regional 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 working with in the field. If you are already in an internship or an apprenticeship, talk to the HVAC technician you are working under concerning what you should be looking for. If not, ask a local Anniston AL HVAC contracting company if they can provide some tips. Also bear in mind that unless you are able to move, the school must be within commuting distance of your Anniston AL home. Take note that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation costs there might be increased tuition fees compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's desirable that you receive as much individualized instruction as possible, which can be difficult in larger classes. Ask if you can monitor a few of the classes so that you can observe how large they are and witness first hand the interaction between instructors and students. Speak with several of the students and get their opinions concerning class sizes and instruction. Last, speak to some of the teachers and learn what their level of experience is and what certifications or degrees they have earned.
Flexible Scheduling. Confirm that the class schedules for the schools you are evaluating are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you are only able to attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Anniston AL, check that the schools you are reviewing provide those choices. If you can only attend part-time, be sure that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Also, ask what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, sickness or family emergencies.
Get Your HVAC Certificate or Degree
Selecting the right HVAC school course is a crucial beginning toward a gratifying career in the heating and air conditioning field. As we have addressed in this article, you should choose a Heating and Cooling training program and a degree or certificate program that are both accredited and have outstanding reputations within the HVAC trade. Other things to look for are plenty of hands-on training and modern facilities. You should check out each of the schools in person that you are most interested in to tour the campus and speak with both the faculty and current students. Try to get a feel for the quality of the teaching and the interaction between them. In addition, ask about scheduling options and whether or not evening or weekend classes are available if needed. And don't forget to inquire about financial assistance and student loan options too. If you ask the right questions as we have laid out in our guidelines for evaluating schools, you'll be able to narrow down your options so that you can make an educated decision. With the right training, hard work and dedication, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC technician in Anniston AL.