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How to Enroll In the Right Heating and Cooling Certification Class near Cullman Alabama

Cullman Alabama home A/C condensersOnce you have come to a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioner professional, the next action is to locate an HVAC technical school near Cullman AL. But with so many to select from, how do you decide on the ideal one to obtain the training that you require? A number of potential students will make their selection based exclusively on the price of tuition or how close the school is to their residence. While these are significant concerns, they are not the only ones to investigate. Some of the other details 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 other criteria will be addressed in more detail later within this article. But before we explore how to pick an HVAC trade school, let's take a look at what a heating and a/c contractor does to become a licensed qualified tradesman.

How to Become an HVAC Pro

Cullman Alabama Heating and Cooling Tech inspecting A/C condenserHVAC is an acronym that is commonly used in the industry that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC technicians provide services for the installation, maintenance and repair of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are generally required to be licensed, although each state and regional municipality has its own criteria. Attaining professional certification is not compulsory, but a voluntary means for Cullman AL HVAC specialists to demonstrate that they are exceptionally proficient and experienced in their area of specialization. There are several acknowledged certifications within the industry that are available. Here are some of the important ones.

  • North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally recognized certification for HVAC techs. The certification is attained 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. 2 years of professional experience as well as passing a comprehensive examination are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have three years of experience together with a passing score on the professional level examination. As with NATE, certifications are offered in several specialties.
  • EPA Section 608. This certification is required for specialists that handle refrigerants. There are three types of certification obtainable, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.

Considering that licensing might be mandated in your location, and you may also intend to earn certification, it's important that you pick an HVAC technical school that will prepare you for both. And since you will more than likely be handling refrigerants, make certain that the school you pick prepares you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.

HVAC Degree Schools

Cullman Alabama home heat pump

There are a number of alternatives available for HVAC training in a technical or vocational school. You can attain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Earning a certificate will take the lesser amount of time, usually achieved in as little as 6 months, however some programs are longer. A certificate will qualify you for the majority of HVAC positions, especially if you are licensed and have certification relevant to the position. The degree training programs may provide a competitive advantage in the job market and will deliver more comprehensive training than the certificate programs. Below is a brief explanation of each option offered near Cullman AL.

  • Certificate. Usually 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 comprehensive knowledge of heating and a/c systems than the certificate program. Generally taking 2 years to finish, a number of degrees include an internship or work-study program.
  • Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is suited more towards a career in management as well as business ownership. Some programs require an Associate Degree, while others are a traditional 4 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.

Selecting the appropriate credential program will be based on what your long term career aspirations are, together with the time and money that you have to invest. One approach is to begin with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after acquiring some experience in the trade in Cullman AL, eventually going back to obtain a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your approach, make sure to ask the HVAC tech school you are considering about how their returning student program works.

HVAC Online Schools

Choosing an HVAC school online is one option in attaining your training and earning a degree or certificate. Almost all schools will require some attendance on campus to participate in hands on 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 via the internet, this option may be a more accessible solution for some Cullman AL students that are short on time. And a number of online degree programs are cheaper than other on campus options. Even driving expenses from Cullman and study supplies may be minimized, helping to make schooling more economical. And a large number of online programs are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your work or family commitments have left you with minimal time to attend classes, maybe an online HVAC degree program will make it easier to accommodate school into your active lifestyle.

What to Ask HVAC Training Programs

Cullman Alabama Heating and Cooling contractor servicing water heater

As soon as you have selected the type of certificate or degree that you want to acquire, either online or on campus, you can start to decrease your selection of schools. As you are probably aware, there are numerous HVAC technical schools in the Cullman AL area and all over the United States to choose from. That's why it is imperative to have a list of key qualifications when making school evaluations. As previously mentioned in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will probably be the initial 2 variables you will consider. Following are some additional ones that you need to investigate before enrolling in your school of choice.

Accreditation.  Numerous HVAC trade schools in the Cullman AL area have earned either a regional or a national accreditation. They can earn Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to a specific program, for example HVAC technology. Confirm that the program and school are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization, for example the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping ensure that you get a superior education, it can help in securing financial assistance or student loans, which are in many cases unavailable for non-accredited schools. Also, many states require that the HVAC training program be accredited in order to qualify for licensing.

High Completion Rates.  Ask the Heating and Cooling 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 lower completion rate could signify that students were dissatisfied with the course and dropped out. It might also suggest that the teachers were not competent to train the students. It's also essential that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader list of alumni, 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 a good reputation within the industry, but also that it has the network of Cullman AL HVAC employers to help grads obtain apprenticeships or jobs.

Apprenticeship Programs.  A large number of HVAC trade programs are taught along with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating trade and technical programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of Heating and Cooling companies or trade unions. Ask if the schools you are comparing have working partnerships with local Cullman AL HVAC contractors. An apprenticeship not only provides a valuable experience by furnishing hands-on training, but it also supplies job opportunities and helps to form relationships in the regional HVAC professional community.

Modern Facilities.  Confirm that the campus facilities and the equipment that you will be instructed on are state-of-the-art and what you will be working with on the job. If you are already in an internship or an apprenticeship, check with the HVAC specialist you are working with concerning what you should be expecting. If not, ask a local Cullman AL HVAC contracting company if they can give you some pointers. Also bear in mind that unless you are willing to relocate, the school needs to be within driving distance of your Cullman AL home. Take note that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation costs there may be higher tuition fees compared to in-state residents.

Smaller Classes.   It's important that you receive as much personalized instruction as possible, which can be challenging in larger classes. Ask if you can monitor a couple of the classes so that you can observe how big they are and experience the interaction between students and teachers. Speak with a few of the students and get their feedback concerning class sizes and instruction. Finally, speak with a few of the teachers and find out 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 assessing are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Cullman AL, verify that the programs you are comparing provide those choices. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, be sure that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Additionally, check out what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, sickness or family emergencies.

Learn More About Cullman HVAC Trade Schools Near You

Get Your HVAC Degree and Certification

Finding the ideal HVAC school program is an important first step toward a fulfilling career in the heating and cooling industry. As we have addressed in this article, you need to pick a Heating and Cooling training program and a degree or certificate program that are both accredited and have excellent reputations within the HVAC field. Other features to search for are plenty of hands-on training and modern facilities. You need to check out each of the schools personally that you are most interested in to tour the campus and speak with both the faculty and current students. Try to get a feel for the quality of the teaching and the interaction between them. Additionally, inquire about scheduling options and whether evening or weekend classes are offered if needed. And remember to inquire about financial aid and student loan options as well. If you ask the right questions as we have outlined in our checklist for comparing schools, you'll be able to filter 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 Cullman AL.