How to Find the Right Heating and Cooling Training Class near Auburn Alabama
Once you have come to a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioner professional, the next step is to look for an HVAC vocational school near Auburn AL. But with so many to select from, how do you pick the ideal one to get the training that you require? Many future students will make their decision based entirely 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. 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 additional criteria will be covered in more detail later within this article. But before we examine how to pick an HVAC trade school, let's take a look at what a heating and air conditioning technician does to become a licensed qualified tradesman.
How to Become an HVAC Tech
HVAC is an acronym that is commonly used in the trade that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC techs specialize in the installation, repair and maintenance of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are generally mandated to be licensed, however every state and local municipality has its own requirements. Earning professional certification is not required, but a voluntary means for Auburn AL HVAC technicians to prove that they are highly proficient and knowledgeable in their area of expertise. There are multiple respected certifications within the field 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 earned 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. Two years of field experience in addition to passing a comprehensive examination are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have 3 years of experience in addition to a passing score on the professional level exam. As with NATE, certifications are made available in various specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is required for specialists that handle refrigerants. There are three types of certification available, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Since licensing might be mandated in your location, and you may also desire to earn certification, it's essential that you enroll in an HVAC technical school that will prepare you for both. And since you will probably be dealing with refrigerants, make sure that the program you decide on readies you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.
HVAC Degree and Certificate Classes
There are a number of alternatives available for HVAC instruction in a trade or technical school. You can obtain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Acquiring a certificate will take the minimum amount of time, usually achieved in as little as 6 months, although some programs 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 may provide a competitive advantage in the job market and will deliver more in-depth training than the certificate programs. Following is a short description of each credential offered near Auburn AL.
- Certificate. Normally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among entry level commercial or residential HVAC specialists. They provide a solid foundation of skills for employment within the trade.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program supplies a more detailed understanding of heating & cooling systems than the certificate program. Normally taking two years to finish, a number of 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 require an Associate Degree, while others are a traditional 4 year program. In addition to learning how to service and maintain heating and air conditioning systems, you will also study how to design them.
Choosing the right credential program will be based on what your long term career goals are, in addition to the time and financial resources that you have to commit. One approach is to begin with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after acquiring some experience in the trade in Auburn AL, subsequently going back to obtain a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your strategy, make certain to ask the HVAC technician school you are considering about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Training Online
Attending an HVAC program online is one approach in getting your education and receiving a certificate or degree. Almost all schools will require some attendance on campus to take part in hands on training. A number also sponsor internship or work-study programs in addition to or instead of practical lab work. But since the rest of the classes may be attended on the web, this option may be a more convenient solution for some Auburn AL students that are pressed for time. And some online degree programs are more economical than other on campus alternatives. Even driving expenses from Auburn and study materials may be lessened, helping to make education more economical. And many online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your career or family responsibilities have left you with little time to attend classes, perhaps an HVAC online training program will make it more convenient to fit school into your active schedule.
Questions For HVAC Certification Classes
After you have picked the type of degree or certificate that you would like to acquire, either on campus or online, you can begin to limit your selection of schools. As you are certainly aware, there are numerous HVAC vocational schools in the Auburn AL area and across the USA to choose from. That's why it is very important to have a list of key qualifications when making school assessments. As earlier stated in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will most likely be the initial 2 variables you will consider. Following are some additional ones that you will want to explore before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Numerous HVAC vocational schools in the Auburn AL area have received either a regional or a national accreditation. They may attain Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to a specific program, for example HVAC technology. Confirm that the program is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency, such as the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping make certain that you obtain a quality education, it may help in obtaining financial assistance or student loans, which are in many cases not available for non-accredited programs. Additionally, many states require 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 reviewing what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students who enroll in and complete the course. A low completion rate might suggest that students were unhappy with the program and dropped out. It might also indicate that the teachers were not competent to train the students. It's also imperative that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive directory of graduates, which may mean more contacts for the school to employ 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 field, but additionally that it has the network of Auburn AL HVAC employers to assist students obtain apprenticeships or jobs.
Apprenticeship Programs. Many HVAC technical programs are taught in conjunction with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating trade and vocational programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of Heating and Cooling contractors or labor unions. Check if the schools you are reviewing have working relationships with local Auburn AL HVAC contractors. An apprenticeship not only offers a valuable experience by supplying practical training, but it also supplies job opportunities and helps to establish relationships in the local HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make certain that the school facilities and the tools that you will be instructed on are up-to-date and what you will be working with on the job. If you are currently in an internship or an apprenticeship, consult with the HVAC tech you are working under concerning what you should be expecting. If not, ask a local Auburn AL HVAC contracting company if they can provide some suggestions. Also bear in mind that unless you are willing to move, the school needs to be within driving distance of your Auburn AL home. Remember that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides the added moving costs there can be increased tuition fees compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's desirable that you get as much individualized instruction as possible, which can be challenging in bigger classes. Ask if you can monitor a few of the classes so that you can observe how big they are and witness first hand the interaction between students and instructors. Speak with some of the students and get their opinions regarding class sizes and instruction. Last, talk with a few of the instructors and find out what their level of experience 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 Auburn AL, verify that the programs you are considering offer those options. 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 policy is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, illness or family emergencies.
Earn Your HVAC Degree and Certification
Finding the ideal HVAC school program is a critical first step toward a rewarding career in the heating and air conditioning industry. As we have covered in this article, you need to choose a Heating and Cooling training program and a certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have outstanding reputations within the HVAC profession. Other factors to search for are ample practical training and modern facilities. You should visit each of the schools personally that you are most interested in to inspect the campus and speak with both the faculty and current students. Attempt to get a feel for the quality of the teaching and the interaction between them. In addition, inquire about scheduling options and if evening or weekend classes are available 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 assessing schools, you'll be able to filter your choices so that you can make an educated decision. With the right training, hard work and dedication, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC contractor in Auburn AL.