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How to Choose the Right Heating and Cooling Certification Course near Auburn Alabama

Auburn Alabama home air conditioning condensersOnce you have decided on a career as a heating and cooling professional, the next step is to look for an HVAC trade school near Auburn AL. But with so many to choose from, how do you decide on the best one to receive the training that you require? A number of potential students will make their decision based exclusively on the price of tuition or how near the school is to their residence. While these are significant factors to consider, they are not the only ones to take into account. Some of the other details that you need to look into are the graduation rates of the HVAC schools, their reputations, and if they are accredited by professional trade organizations. These and other criteria will be covered in more detail later in this article. But before we tackle how to choose an HVAC training program, let's look at what a heating and air conditioning professional does to become a licensed skilled tradesman.

Becoming an HVAC Technician

Auburn Alabama HVAC Tech fixing air conditioning condenserHVAC is an acronym that is commonly used in the trade that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC professionals provide services for the installation, repair and maintenance of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are typically mandated to be licensed, though every state and regional municipality has its own criteria. Attaining professional certification is not mandatory, but a voluntary means for Auburn AL HVAC techs to establish that they are exceptionally qualified and experienced in their area of specialization. There are multiple acknowledged certifications within the industry that are available. Following are some 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 examination and may be earned in one or more specialties.
  • HVAC Excellence. This certification makes available both a professional and a master specialist credential. 2 years of professional experience together with passing a comprehensive examination are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have 3 years of experience along with a passing score on the professional level exam. As with NATE, certifications are provided in several specialties.
  • EPA Section 608. This certification is required for specialists that work with refrigerants. There are 3 forms of certification offered, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.

Because licensing may be mandated in your area, and you may also desire to obtain certification, it's essential that you enroll in an HVAC vocational school that will train you for both. And since you will probably be dealing with refrigerants, make sure that the school you choose preps you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.

HVAC Certificate and Degree Classes

Auburn Alabama residential heating pump

There are a variety of alternatives available for HVAC instruction in a trade or technical school. You can attain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Obtaining a certificate will take the minimum amount of time, usually achieved in just six months, however some programs are longer. A certificate will train you for the majority of HVAC positions, especially if you are licensed and have certification related to the position. The degree programs might provide a competitive advantage in the job market and will provide more comprehensive training than the certificate programs. Below is a short explanation of each option offered near Auburn AL.

  • Certificate. Generally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among entry level residential or commercial HVAC professionals. They provide a strong foundation of skills for job opportunities within the trade.
  • Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program delivers a more detailed understanding of heating & cooling systems than the certificate program. Normally taking 2 years to complete, a number of 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 as well as business ownership. Some programs require an Associate Degree, while others are a traditional four year program. In addition to being taught 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 future career objectives are, in addition to the time and financial resources 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 Auburn AL, eventually returning to earn a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your approach, make certain to ask the HVAC tech school you are considering about how their returning student program works.

HVAC Training Online

Choosing an HVAC school online is one approach in obtaining your education and receiving a degree or certificate. Nearly all schools will require some attendance on campus to take part in hands on training. A number also offer internship or work-study programs in addition to or as an alternative to practical lab work. But since the rest of the classes may be participated in on the web, this approach may be a more convenient solution for many Auburn AL students that are short on time. And many online degree programs are less costly than other traditional options. Even travelling expenses from Auburn and study supplies can be lessened, helping to make schooling more affordable. And many online programs are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your job or family obligations have left you with little time to attend classes, perhaps an HVAC online training program will make it less complicated to fit school into your busy lifestyle.

Questions to Ask HVAC Trade Schools

Auburn Alabama HVAC technician replacing water heater

As soon as you have chosen the type of degree or certificate that you want to acquire, either on campus or online, you can start to decrease your list of schools. As you are certainly aware, there are many HVAC trade schools in the Auburn AL area and throughout the Country to choose from. That's why it is imperative to have a checklist of key qualifiers when making school assessments. As earlier mentioned in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will undoubtedly be the initial 2 variables you will take into consideration. Following are several additional ones that you will want to research before enrolling in your school of choice.

Accreditation.  Many HVAC vocational programs in the Auburn AL area have earned 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 a specific program, such as HVAC technology. Make sure that the program and school are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting agency, for example the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping make certain that you receive a superior education, it can assist in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are often unavailable for non-accredited schools. Additionally, a number of states mandate that the HVAC training course be accredited for it to be approved for licensing.

High Completion Rates.  Ask the Heating and Air Conditioning schools you are considering what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students who enroll in and complete the program. A lower completion rate could signify that students were disappointed with the program and dropped out. It could also mean that the teachers were not competent to instruct the students. It's similarly essential that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader list of alumni, which can produce more contacts for the school to utilize 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 field, but additionally that it has the network of Auburn AL HVAC employers to help students acquire apprenticeships or jobs.

Apprenticeship Programs.  Most HVAC technical programs are taught together with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating vocational and technical schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of HVAC contractors or labor unions. Check if the schools you are considering have working relationships with local Auburn AL HVAC professionals. An apprenticeship not only offers a valuable experience by providing practical 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 tools that you will be instructed on are up-to-date and what you will be using on the job. If you are currently in an internship or an apprenticeship, check with the HVAC specialist you are working with concerning what you should be expecting. Otherwise, ask a local Auburn AL HVAC company if they can provide some suggestions. Additionally bear in mind that unless you are able to move, the school must be within driving distance of your Auburn AL residence. Remember that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, besides the added relocation costs there might be increased tuition charges compared to in-state residents.

Smaller Classes.   It's important that you receive as much one-on-one instruction as possible, which can be difficult in larger classes. Ask if you can monitor some of the classes so that you can observe how big they are and experience the interaction between students and instructors. Speak with some of the students and get their opinions relating to class sizes and instruction. Finally, speak with some of the teachers and learn what their level of experience is and what degrees or certifications they have earned.

Flexible Scheduling.  Make sure that the class schedules for the programs you are assessing are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you are only able to attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Auburn AL, check that the programs you are reviewing offer those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Finally, ask what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, sickness or family emergencies.

Learn More About Auburn HVAC Courses In Your Area

Get Your HVAC Degree and Certification

Choosing the right HVAC school course is an important first step 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 degree or certificate program that are both accredited and have exceptional reputations within the HVAC trade. Other things to look for are plenty of practical training and modern facilities. You need to check out each of the schools in person that you are most interested in to tour the campus and talk with both the faculty and current students. Try to get a feel for the quality of the training and the interaction between them. Additionally, ask about scheduling options and whether or not night or weekend classes are offered if needed. And remember to ask about financial assistance and student loan options too. If you ask the proper questions as we have laid out in our checklist for comparing schools, you'll be able to filter your choices so that you can make an informed decision. With the right training, hard work and commitment, you can eventually become a licensed HVAC specialist in Auburn AL.