How to Enroll In the Right Heating and Cooling Certificate Program near Cullman Alabama
Now that you have come to a decision on a career as a heating and cooling specialist, the next step is to look for an HVAC technical school near Cullman AL. But with so many to select from, how do you decide on the ideal one to get the training that you need? A number of prospective students will make their choice based exclusively on the price of tuition or how near the school is to their home. While these are important considerations, they are not the only ones to evaluate. Just 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. Those and other benchmarks will be addressed in more detail later in this article. But before we examine how to choose an HVAC training program, let's take a look at what a heating and cooling professional does to become a licensed qualified tradesman.
Becoming an HVAC Pro
HVAC is an acronym that is extensively 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 skilled tradesmen, they are commonly required to be licensed, however each state and local municipality has its own prerequisites. Obtaining professional certification is not compulsory, but an optional way for Cullman AL HVAC technicians to establish that they are exceptionally proficient and accomplished in their area of specialization. There are several recognized certifications within the field that are available. Below are a few 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 can be acquired in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification offers both a professional and a master specialist credential. 2 years of professional experience in addition to passing a comprehensive exam are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have 3 years of experience in addition to a passing result on the professional level exam. Similar to NATE, certifications are provided in various specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is necessary for technicians that work with refrigerants. There are 3 forms of certification available, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Since licensing could be required in your area, and you may also wish to acquire certification, it's essential that you select an HVAC vocational school that will train you for both. And since you will probably 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 variety of choices offered for HVAC instruction in a vocational or trade school. You can obtain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Obtaining a certificate will take the least amount of time, often accomplished in as little as six months, although 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 training programs might provide a competitive edge for securing employment and will deliver more extensive training than the certificate programs. Following is a short summary of each option offered near Cullman AL.
- Certificate. Generally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among beginning residential or commercial HVAC technicians. They provide a strong foundation of skills for employment within the trade.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program supplies a more detailed knowledge of heating and cooling systems than the certificate program. Generally taking two years to finish, some degrees incorporate 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 call for an Associate Degree, while others are a standard 4 year program. In addition to mastering how to service and maintain heating and air conditioning systems, you will also study how to design them.
Selecting the right credential program will be dependent on what your long term career objectives are, together with the time and money that you have to commit. One approach is to begin with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after getting some experience in the trade in Cullman AL, later returning to earn a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your approach, be sure to ask the HVAC tech school you are considering about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Online Courses
Attending 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 take part in practical training. Some also offer internship or work-study programs in addition to or as an alternative to practical lab work. But since the balance of the classes may be participated in on the web, this approach may be a more convenient solution for some Cullman AL students that are pressed for time. And many online degree programs are less costly than other on campus alternatives. Even commuting expenses from Cullman and study supplies can be minimized, helping to make education more economical. And a large number of online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your work or family responsibilities have left you with minimal time to attend classes, perhaps an online HVAC degree program will make it less complicated to fit school into your hectic lifestyle.
What to Ask HVAC Trade Schools
As soon as you have selected the type of certificate or degree that you would like to obtain, either on campus or online, you can start to limit your list of schools. As you are probably aware, there are numerous HVAC technical schools in the Cullman AL area and throughout the USA to choose from. That's why it is essential to have a checklist of key qualifications when making school comparisons. As formerly mentioned in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will probably be the initial 2 factors you will look at. Following are some additional ones that you should research before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Many HVAC trade schools in the Cullman AL area have earned either a regional or a national accreditation. They can acquire Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to an individual program, for instance HVAC technology. Confirm that the program and school are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting organization, for example the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping make certain that you obtain an excellent education, it may assist in obtaining financial aid 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 in order 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 percentage of students who enroll in and finish the course. A low completion rate might indicate that students were dissatisfied with the program and quit. It could also suggest that the teachers were not competent to instruct the students. It's similarly imperative that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive list of graduates, which can mean more contacts for the school to employ for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate will not only validate that the school has a good reputation within the industry, but also that it has the network of Cullman AL HVAC employers to assist students obtain apprenticeships or jobs.
Apprenticeship Programs. Most HVAC trade programs are taught together with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating trade and vocational programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of Heating and Cooling businesses or trade unions. Check if the schools you are reviewing have referring partnerships with local Cullman AL HVAC specialists. An apprenticeship not only provides a rewarding experience by providing practical training, but it also supplies employment opportunities and helps to build relationships in the regional HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make sure that the school facilities and the tools that you will be trained on are up-to-date and what you will be using on the job. If you are already in an internship or an apprenticeship, check with the HVAC technician you are working under concerning what you should be looking for. Otherwise, ask a local Cullman AL HVAC company if they can provide some tips. Additionally bear in mind that unless you are able to move, the school must be within driving distance of your Cullman AL residence. Take note that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation costs there can be higher tuition fees compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's desirable that you get as much individualized training as possible, which can be difficult in bigger classes. Ask if you can monitor a couple of the classes so that you can see how large they are and witness first hand the interaction between students and instructors. Speak to some of the students and get their comments concerning class sizes and instruction. Last, talk to a few of the teachers 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 Cullman AL, check that the schools you are considering provide those choices. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, be sure that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Additionally, find out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, illness or family responsibilities.
Get Your HVAC Training and Certification
Picking the right HVAC training course is a critical first step toward a gratifying career in the heating & cooling field. As we have covered in this article, you need to choose a Heating and Cooling training program and a degree or certificate program that are both accredited and have excellent reputations within the HVAC profession. Other factors to look for are sufficient practical training and state-of-the-art facilities. You should check out each of the schools personally that you are most interested in to inspect the campus and talk with both the current students and faculty. Attempt to get a feel for the quality of the teaching and the interaction between them. Also, inquire about scheduling options and whether or not night or weekend classes are available if needed. And remember to inquire about financial assistance and student loan options as well. If you ask the appropriate questions as we have laid out in our guidelines for evaluating schools, you'll be able to filter your choices so that you can make an informed decision. With the appropriate training, hard work and dedication, you can eventually become a licensed HVAC contractor in Cullman AL.