How to Choose the Right Heating and Cooling Certification Course near Center Point Alabama
Now that you have made a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioner technician, the next action is to find an HVAC technical school near Center Point AL. But with so many to choose from, how do you pick the right one to receive the training that you need? A number of future students will make their choice based exclusively on the price of tuition or how near the school is to their residence. Even though these are important considerations, they are not the only ones to take into account. A few of the other factors 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 discuss how to select an HVAC training program, let's take a look at what a heating and air conditioning professional does to become a licensed qualified tradesman.
How to Become an HVAC Contractor
HVAC is an acronym that is commonly used in the industry that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC professionals provide services for the installation, maintenance and repair of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are typically required to be licensed, although each state and local municipality has its own criteria. Earning professional certification is not required, but a voluntary means for Center Point AL HVAC techs to prove that they are exceptionally proficient and accomplished in their area of specialization. There are a number of recognized certifications within the field that are offered. Below 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 can be acquired in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification offers both a professional and a master specialist credential. 2 years of field experience as well as 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 provided in various specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is mandatory for techs that work with refrigerants. There are three forms of certification offered, 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 desire to acquire certification, it's imperative that you choose an HVAC technical school that will prepare you for both. And since you will most likely be handling refrigerants, make sure that the school you choose prepares you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
HVAC Degree Classes
There are a variety of choices available for HVAC instruction in a trade or technical school. You can attain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Acquiring a certificate will take the lesser amount of time, usually achieved in just six 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 appropriate to the position. The degree programs might provide a competitive advantage in the job market and will deliver more comprehensive training than the certificate programs. Following is a short summary of each credential offered near Center Point AL.
- Certificate. Usually 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 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. Normally taking 2 years to complete, some degrees incorporate an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is tailored more towards a career in management as well as business ownership. Some programs call for an Associate Degree, while others are a standard 4 year program. In addition to learning how to service and maintain heating and cooling systems, you will also study how to design them.
Choosing the right credential program will be based on what your long term career objectives are, along with 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 Center Point AL, later returning to obtain a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your strategy, make sure to ask the HVAC tech school you are considering about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Training Online
Enrolling in an HVAC program online is one option to attaining your education and earning a certificate or degree. Almost all schools will require some attendance on campus to complete hands on training. Some also sponsor internship or work-study programs in addition to or in place of practical lab work. But since the balance of the classes can be attended online, this option may be a more convenient solution for some Center Point AL students that are short on time. And many online degree programs are more economical than other on campus options. Even travelling expenses from Center Point and study materials can be reduced, helping to make schooling more affordable. And a large number of online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your work or family obligations have left you with little time to attend classes, perhaps an HVAC online training program will make it less complicated to accommodate school into your busy lifestyle.
Questions For HVAC Certification Courses
Once you have selected the type of certificate or degree that you want to obtain, either on campus or online, you can start to limit your selection of schools. As you are probably aware, there are a large number of HVAC trade schools in the Center Point AL area and all over the Country to select from. That's why it is extremely important to have a list of relevant qualifications when making school evaluations. As earlier mentioned in our opening paragraph, location and tuition 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. Numerous HVAC trade schools in the Center Point 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 relates to a specific program, such as HVAC technology. Verify that the program and school are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization, which includes the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping ensure that you receive an excellent education, it can help in acquiring financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently not available for non-accredited schools. Furthermore, a number of states mandate that the HVAC training course be accredited for it to qualify for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the HVAC 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 program. A low completion rate may signify that students were dissatisfied with the course and quit. It could also indicate that the instructors 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 directory of graduates, which may produce more contacts for the school to use 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 trade, but also that it has the network of Center Point AL HVAC employers to assist grads secure apprenticeships or jobs.
Apprenticeship Programs. Numerous HVAC vocational programs are taught along with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating vocational and trade programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of HVAC businesses or labor unions. Check if the schools you are considering have working relationships with local Center Point AL HVAC companies. An apprenticeship not only offers a valuable experience by supplying hands-on training, but it also provides employment opportunities and helps to establish relationships in the area HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Confirm 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 currently in an internship or an apprenticeship, consult with the HVAC technician you are working with regarding what you should be looking for. If not, ask a local Center Point AL HVAC contractor if they can give you some tips. Additionally bear in mind that unless you are able to move, the school needs to be within commuting distance of your Center Point AL home. Remember that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation costs there may be higher tuition charges compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's important that you get as much individualized instruction as possible, which can be difficult in bigger classes. Ask if you can monitor a few of the classes so that you can see how big they are and witness first hand the interaction between teachers and students. Talk with some of the students and get their feedback relating to class sizes and instruction. Finally, speak with some of the instructors and learn what their level of expertise is and what degrees or certifications they have earned.
Flexible Scheduling. Verify that the class schedules for the schools you are reviewing are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Center Point AL, check that the schools you are looking at provide those choices. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Also, ask what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, illness or family responsibilities.
Get Your HVAC Training and Certification
Choosing the right HVAC school course is a crucial beginning toward a rewarding career in the heating and cooling industry. As we have discussed in this article, you should pick a Heating and Cooling training program and a certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have exceptional reputations within the HVAC trade. Other factors to look for are sufficient hands-on 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 speak with both the current students and faculty. Try to get a feel for the quality of the training and the interaction between them. Also, inquire about scheduling options and whether evening or weekend classes are offered if needed. And remember to inquire about financial assistance and student loan options too. If you ask the proper questions as we have detailed in our guidelines for assessing schools, you'll be able to narrow down your choices so that you can make an educated decision. With the right training, hard work and commitment, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC contractor in Center Point AL.