How to Select the Right HVAC Certification Course near Center Point Alabama
Now that you have made a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioner professional, the next step is to find an HVAC vocational school near Center Point AL. But with so many to select from, how do you pick the best one to obtain the training that you require? Many prospective students will make their selection based solely on the price of tuition or how near the school is to their residence. While these are relevant concerns, they are not the only ones to evaluate. Just some of the other things 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 benchmarks will be addressed in more detail later in this article. But before we explore how to select an HVAC trade school, let's look at what a heating and cooling technician does to become a licensed skilled tradesman.
Becoming an HVAC Technician
HVAC is an acronym that is widely used in the industry that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC contractors provide services for the installation, repair and maintenance of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are commonly required to be licensed, although every state and regional municipality has its own requirements. Attaining professional certification is not compulsory, but an optional way for Center Point AL HVAC specialists to establish that they are highly qualified and accomplished in their area of specialization. There are multiple acknowledged certifications within the trade that are offered. Following are a few of the significant 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 may be received in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification offers both a professional and a master specialist credential. Two years of professional experience as well as passing a comprehensive examination are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have 3 years of experience as well as a passing score on the professional level examination. Similar to NATE, certifications are offered in multiple specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is mandatory for techs that work with refrigerants. There are three types of certification obtainable, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Because licensing might be mandated in your area, and you may also intend to acquire certification, it's important that you pick an HVAC vocational school that will train you for both. And since you will more than likely be handling refrigerants, make sure that the school you pick readies you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
HVAC Degree Courses
There are a number of choices offered for HVAC instruction in a vocational or trade school. You can attain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Acquiring a certificate will take the least amount of time, typically accomplished in just six months, however some courses are longer. A certificate will qualify you for most HVAC positions, particularly if you are licensed and have certification appropriate 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 brief summary of each option offered near Center Point AL.
- Certificate. Usually requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among entry level commercial or residential HVAC professionals. They furnish a strong foundation of skills for job opportunities within the industry.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program delivers a more detailed background of heating and 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 or even 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.
Picking the appropriate credential program will be based on what your future career goals are, together with the time and money that you have to commit. One approach is to begin with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after acquiring some experience in the field in Center Point AL, later going back to earn a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your tactic, be sure to ask the HVAC technician school you are considering about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Online Classes
Choosing an HVAC program online is one possibility to attaining your training and earning a certificate or degree. Almost all schools will require some attendance on campus to take part in hands on training. Many also offer internship or work-study programs in addition to or in place of practical lab work. But since the rest of the classes may be participated in on the web, this approach may be a more practical solution for many Center Point AL students that are pressed for time. And many online degree programs are more economical than other traditional options. Even driving expenses from Center Point and study materials can be minimized, helping to make schooling more economical. And numerous online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your job or family commitments have left you with minimal time to attend classes, maybe an online HVAC degree program will make it less complicated to accommodate school into your busy schedule.
Questions to Ask HVAC Certification Courses
Once you have picked the type of certificate or degree that you desire to attain, either online or on campus, you can start to decrease your selection of schools. As you are probably aware, there are many HVAC trade schools in the Center Point AL area and throughout the USA to choose from. That's why it is extremely important to have a checklist of key qualifications when making school assessments. As formerly mentioned in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will undoubtedly be the initial 2 factors you will look at. Following are some additional ones that you need to research before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Many HVAC trade schools in the Center Point AL area have received either a regional or a national accreditation. They may earn Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to a specific program, such as HVAC technology. Confirm that the school and program are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting organization, which includes the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping make certain that you get a quality education, it can help in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are in many cases unavailable for non-accredited schools. Furthermore, 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 course. A low completion rate might signify that students were disappointed with the program and quit. It may also indicate that the instructors were not qualified 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 more extensive list of graduates, which may produce more contacts for the school to employ 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 also that it has the network of Center Point AL HVAC employers to assist grads obtain apprenticeships or jobs.
Apprenticeship Programs. Most HVAC technical programs are taught in conjunction with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating vocational and trade schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of HVAC contractors or trade unions. Ask if the schools you are considering have referring partnerships with local Center Point AL HVAC specialists. An apprenticeship not only offers a rewarding experience by furnishing hands-on training, but it also furnishes job opportunities and helps to form relationships in the area HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make certain that the school facilities and the tools that you will be trained on are up-to-date and what you will be working with on the job. If you are already in an internship or an apprenticeship, consult with the HVAC tech you are working under concerning what you should be expecting. Otherwise, ask a local Center Point AL HVAC contracting company if they can give you some tips. Also bear in mind that unless you are able to move, the school needs to be within driving distance of your Center Point AL home. Take note that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation costs there might be higher tuition fees compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's important that you receive as much individualized training as possible, which can be challenging in bigger classes. Ask if you can monitor a couple of the classes so that you can see how large they are and experience the interaction between students and instructors. Speak with several of the students and get their opinions concerning class sizes and instruction. Last, speak with some of the instructors and learn what their level of expertise is and what degrees or certifications they have earned.
Flexible Scheduling. Make sure that the class schedules for the schools you are evaluating are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you are only able to go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Center Point AL, confirm that the programs you are comparing provide those options. If you can only attend part-time, make sure that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Additionally, ask what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, sickness or family issues.
Earn Your Heating and Cooling Degree and Certification
Finding the ideal HVAC training course is an important first step toward a gratifying career in the heating and cooling field. As we have covered in this article, you should pick a Heating and Cooling training program and a degree or certificate program that are both accredited and have outstanding reputations within the HVAC profession. Other things to search for are sufficient hands-on training and modern facilities. You need to go to each of the schools personally that you are most interested in to inspect the campus and speak with both the current students and faculty. Attempt to get a feel for the quality of the instruction and the interaction between them. Additionally, ask about scheduling options and whether evening or weekend classes are available if needed. And don't forget to inquire about financial aid and student loan options too. If you ask the appropriate questions as we have outlined in our checklist for evaluating schools, you'll be able to narrow down your options so that you can make an informed decision. With the appropriate training, hard work and dedication, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC specialist in Center Point AL.