How to Pick the Right Heating and Cooling Certification Class near Center Point Alabama
Once you have come to a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioning technician, the next step is to locate an HVAC vocational school near Center Point AL. But with so many to choose from, how do you select the right one to receive the training that you need? Many prospective students will make their choice based solely on the price of tuition or how near the school is to their residence. Although these are necessary considerations, they are not the only ones to investigate. Just 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. Those and additional benchmarks will be discussed in more detail later within this article. But before we tackle how to pick an HVAC technical school, let's take a look at what a heating and a/c specialist does to become a licensed professional tradesman.
Becoming an HVAC Professional
HVAC is an acronym that is extensively used in the business that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC techs specialize in the installation, repair and maintenance of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are typically mandated to be licensed, though each state and local municipality has its own requirements. Obtaining professional certification is not compulsory, but a voluntary means for Center Point AL HVAC specialists to demonstrate that they are highly qualified and experienced in their area of specialization. There are a number of respected certifications within the industry that are offered. Below are some of the important ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally recognized certification for HVAC technicians. The certification is earned by passing a competency examination and can be received in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification makes available both a professional and a master specialist credential. 2 years of field experience as well as passing a comprehensive exam are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have 3 years of experience together with a passing result on the professional level exam. As with NATE, certifications are made available in multiple specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is mandatory for techs that handle refrigerants. There are 3 forms of certification available, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Since licensing might be mandated in your area, and you may also intend to earn certification, it's important that you select an HVAC technical school that will prepare you for both. And since you will more than likely be handling refrigerants, make certain that the program you pick prepares you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
HVAC Certificate and Degree Training Programs
There are a number of choices offered for HVAC instruction in a vocational or trade school. You can earn a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Acquiring a certificate will take the minimum amount of time, often achieved in just six months, though some programs are longer. A certificate will train you for most HVAC positions, especially if you are licensed and have certification appropriate to the position. The degree programs may provide a competitive advantage for securing employment and will provide more comprehensive training than the certificate programs. Below is a brief summary of each credential offered near Center Point AL.
- Certificate. Normally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among beginning residential or commercial HVAC specialists. They provide a solid foundation of skills for job opportunities within the industry.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program provides a more detailed knowledge of heating & cooling systems than the certificate program. Usually requiring 2 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 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 learning how to service and maintain heating and cooling systems, you will also learn how to design them.
Selecting the right credential program will be based on what your future career objectives are, as well as the time and financial resources that you have to invest. One option is to begin with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after gaining some experience in the field in Center Point AL, later returning to acquire a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your approach, make sure to ask the HVAC technician school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Online Training
Choosing an HVAC program online is one approach to obtaining your education and earning a certificate or degree. Nearly all schools will call for some attendance on campus to take part in practical training. Some also provide internship or work-study programs in addition to or in place of practical lab work. But since the balance of the classes may be participated in on the web, this alternative may be a more convenient solution for some Center Point AL students that are pressed for time. And many online degree programs are less costly than other traditional alternatives. Even driving expenses from Center Point and study supplies may be reduced, helping to make education more economical. And many online programs are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your career or family responsibilities have left you with little time to attend classes, maybe an online HVAC degree program will make it more convenient to accommodate school into your hectic lifestyle.
Questions to Ask HVAC Training Programs
As soon as you have chosen the type of certificate or degree that you would like to obtain, either online or on campus, you can start to narrow down your selection of schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are a large number of HVAC technical schools in the Center Point AL area and across the United States to select from. That's why it is very important to have a checklist of important qualifiers when making school comparisons. As previously mentioned in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will most likely be the initial 2 variables you will look at. Following are several additional ones that you need to investigate before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Numerous HVAC technical schools in the Center Point AL area have acquired either a regional or a national accreditation. They can receive Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to a specific program, for example HVAC technology. Make sure that the school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization, such as the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping ensure 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 schools. Additionally, a number of states mandate that the HVAC training program be accredited in order to be approved for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the Heating and Air Conditioning schools you are looking at what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students who enroll in and finish the course. A low completion rate might indicate that students were disappointed with the course and quit. It could also suggest that the instructors were not competent to train the students. It's similarly important that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive directory of graduates, which can mean more contacts for the school to employ for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate can not only affirm that the school has a good reputation within the industry, but additionally that it has the network of Center Point AL HVAC employers to help grads obtain apprenticeships or jobs.
Apprenticeship Programs. Most HVAC trade programs are taught in conjunction with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating trade and vocational programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of HVAC contractors or labor unions. Check if the schools you are comparing have working relationships with local Center Point AL HVAC companies. An apprenticeship not only provides a rewarding experience by furnishing hands-on training, but it also furnishes job opportunities and helps to establish relationships in the area HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make certain that the school facilities and the equipment that you will be trained 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 technician you are working under regarding what you should be expecting. Otherwise, ask a local Center Point AL HVAC company if they can provide some tips. Additionally bear in mind that unless you are willing to relocate, the school must be within driving distance of your Center Point AL home. Remember that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, in addition to moving costs there might be increased tuition fees compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's desirable that you receive as much one-on-one instruction as possible, which can be challenging in larger classes. Ask if you can sit in on some of the classes so that you can observe how large they are and experience the interaction between instructors and students. Talk to a few of the students and get their comments relating to class sizes and instruction. Finally, talk with a few of the teachers and learn what their level of expertise is and what degrees or certifications they have earned.
Flexible Scheduling. Confirm that the class schedules for the schools 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 Center Point AL, check that the programs you are comparing offer those options. If you can only attend part-time, make certain that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Additionally, check out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, illness or family issues.
Learn More About Center Point HVAC Training Programs Near You
Get Your HVAC Certificate or Degree
Picking the right HVAC school program is a crucial beginning toward a fulfilling career in the heating and cooling industry. As we have addressed in this article, you should select a Heating and Cooling training program and a certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have exceptional reputations within the HVAC community. Other things to look for are plenty of practical training and state-of-the-art facilities. You should visit each of the schools personally that you are most interested in to explore 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, ask about scheduling choices and whether or not evening or weekend classes are offered 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 outlined in our guidelines 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 professional in Center Point AL.