How to Select the Right Heating and Cooling Certification Training near Cullman Alabama
Now that you have made a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioner professional, the next action is to locate an HVAC vocational school near Cullman AL. But with so many to pick from, how do you pick the best one to obtain the training that you need? A number of potential students will make their choice based exclusively on the cost of tuition or how near the school is to their residence. Even though these are necessary factors to consider, they are not the only ones to investigate. 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. These and additional criteria will be addressed in more detail later in this article. But before we discuss how to choose an HVAC technical school, let's look at what a heating and a/c professional does to become a licensed professional tradesman.
How to Become an HVAC Professional
HVAC is an acronym that is extensively used in the industry that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC techs specialize in the installation, repair and maintenance of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are typically required to be licensed, though each state and local municipality has its own criteria. Obtaining professional certification is not compulsory, but an alternative means for Cullman AL HVAC techs to prove that they are highly skilled and accomplished in their area of specialization. There are several acknowledged certifications within the field that are available. Following are some of the important ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally acknowledged certification for HVAC technicians. The certification is achieved by passing a competency examination and may be acquired in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification makes available both a professional and a master specialist credential. 2 years of field experience together with passing a comprehensive examination are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have 3 years of experience as well as a passing score on the professional level examination. Similar to NATE, certifications are made available in multiple specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is mandatory for technicians that handle refrigerants. There are three forms of certification available, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Considering that licensing could be required in your location, and you may also intend to acquire certification, it's imperative that you pick an HVAC trade school that will train you for both. And since you will probably be working with refrigerants, make sure that the program you select prepares you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.
HVAC Degree Classes
There are several alternatives available for HVAC instruction in a trade or technical 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 achieved in as little as 6 months, though some programs are longer. A certificate will train you for most HVAC positions, especially if you are licensed and have certification applicable to the position. The degree programs can provide a competitive advantage for securing employment and will deliver more in-depth training than the certificate programs. Following is a brief summary of each option offered near Cullman AL.
- Certificate. Usually requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among beginning commercial or residential HVAC professionals. They provide a solid foundation of skills for job opportunities within the trade.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program provides a more extensive background of heating & cooling systems than the certificate program. Usually taking two years to finish, many 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 as well as business ownership. Some programs call for an Associate Degree, while others are a traditional 4 year program. In addition to learning how to service and maintain heating and cooling systems, you will also learn how to design them.
Picking the appropriate credential program will be dependent on what your long term career goals are, together with the time and money that you have to commit. One possibility is to begin with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after getting some experience in the field in Cullman AL, later returning to acquire a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your strategy, make sure to ask the HVAC technician school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Classes Online
Attending an HVAC school online is one option in getting your education and receiving a certificate or degree. Most schools will call for some attendance on campus to complete hands on training. A number also provide internship or work-study programs in addition to or in place of practical lab work. But since the balance of the classes can be participated in via the internet, this option may be a more convenient solution for many Cullman AL students that are pressed for time. And a number of online degree programs are cheaper than other traditional choices. Even driving expenses from Cullman and study supplies may 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 career or family commitments have left you with little time to attend classes, perhaps an online HVAC degree program will make it less complicated to fit school into your busy schedule.
What to Ask HVAC Certification Classes
Once you have selected the type of certificate or degree that you would like to earn, either on campus or online, you can begin to limit your list of schools. As you are probably aware, there are many HVAC technical schools in the Cullman AL area and throughout the USA to choose from. That's why it is very important to have a checklist of important qualifications when making school evaluations. As formerly mentioned in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will undoubtedly be the first 2 variables you will take into consideration. Following are several additional ones that you should explore before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. A large number of HVAC technical schools in the Cullman AL area have earned either a regional or a national accreditation. They may receive Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to a specific program, for instance HVAC technology. Verify that the program is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency, which includes the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping ensure that you receive a quality education, it may help in securing financial assistance or student loans, which are in many cases not available for non-accredited schools. Furthermore, many states mandate that the HVAC training course be accredited in order to qualify 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 percentage or portion of students who enroll in and finish the course. A low completion rate might signify that students were unhappy with the program and quit. It may also indicate that the teachers were not competent to instruct the students. It's also essential that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive list of alumni, which may result in 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 an excellent reputation within the field, but also that it has the network of Cullman AL HVAC employers to help students secure apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. Many HVAC trade programs are taught together with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating trade and technical programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of Heating and Cooling businesses or trade unions. Check if the schools you are reviewing have referring relationships with local Cullman AL HVAC companies. An apprenticeship not only provides a valuable experience by supplying hands-on training, but it also supplies job 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 in the field. If you are presently in an internship or an apprenticeship, talk to the HVAC tech you are working with regarding what you should be expecting. Otherwise, ask a local Cullman AL HVAC contracting company if they can give you some suggestions. Also bear in mind that unless you can relocate, the school must be within commuting distance of your Cullman AL residence. Remember that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, besides the added relocation costs there may be increased tuition charges compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's important that you receive as much personalized training as possible, which can be difficult in larger classes. Ask if you can monitor some of the classes so that you can observe how big they are and experience the interaction between instructors and students. Talk to some of the students and get their feedback concerning class sizes and instruction. Last, speak with a few of the instructors and find out what their level of expertise is and what certifications or degrees they hold.
Flexible Scheduling. Verify that the class schedules for the programs you are assessing are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Cullman AL, check that the programs you are reviewing offer those choices. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Also, check out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, illness or family issues.
Earn Your Heating and Cooling Certificate or Degree
Picking the right HVAC school program is a crucial beginning toward a rewarding career in the heating and air conditioning trade. As we have discussed 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 community. Other factors to look for are plenty of practical training and modern facilities. You should visit each of the schools personally that you are most interested in to tour the campus and talk with both the current students and faculty. Try to get a feel for the quality of the instruction and the interaction between them. Additionally, ask about scheduling choices and if evening or weekend classes are offered if needed. And don't forget to inquire about financial assistance and student loan options as well. If you ask the right questions as we have outlined in our guidelines for comparing schools, you'll be able to narrow down your choices so that you can make an informed decision. With the right training, hard work and commitment, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC technician in Cullman AL.