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How to Find the Right HVAC Certification Class near Daphne Alabama

Daphne Alabama home air conditioning condensersOnce you have made a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioner specialist, the next step is to look for an HVAC vocational school near Daphne AL. But with so many to choose from, how do you decide on the best one to obtain the training that you need? A number of prospective students will make their choice based exclusively on the price of tuition or how close the school is to their residence. Even though these are relevant considerations, they are not the only ones to take into account. A few of the other details that you need to research are the graduation completion rates of the HVAC schools, their reputations, and if they are accredited by professional trade organizations. These and additional benchmarks will be covered in more detail later within this article. But before we tackle how to choose an HVAC vocational school, let's take a look at what a heating and a/c professional does to become a licensed professional tradesman.

How to Become an HVAC Professional

Daphne Alabama HVAC Technician fixing air conditioning condenserHVAC is an acronym that is widely used in the trade that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC professionals provide services for the installation, repair and maintenance of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are typically mandated to be licensed, though every state and regional municipality has its own criteria. Attaining professional certification is not compulsory, but an alternative way for Daphne AL HVAC specialists to prove that they are highly proficient and knowledgeable in their area of expertise. There are many acknowledged certifications within the trade that are offered. Here are a few of the significant ones.

  • North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally recognized certification for HVAC technicians. The certification is attained by passing a proficiency exam and may be acquired in one or more specialties.
  • HVAC Excellence. This certification offers both a professional and a master specialist credential. Two years of field experience as well as passing a comprehensive exam are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have three years of experience in addition to a passing result on the professional level exam. As with NATE, certifications are provided in multiple specialties.
  • EPA Section 608. This certification is mandatory for technicians that handle refrigerants. There are 3 types of certification offered, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.

Considering that licensing might be required in your area, and you may also wish to obtain certification, it's important that you pick an HVAC trade school that will prepare you for both. And since you will probably be working with refrigerants, make sure that the school you pick prepares you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.

HVAC Degree and Certificate Courses

Daphne Alabama home heat pump

There are several alternatives offered for HVAC instruction in a vocational or trade school. You can obtain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Earning a certificate will take the minimum amount of time, typically achieved in just 6 months, though some courses are longer. A certificate will train you for most HVAC positions, particularly if you are licensed and have certification applicable to the position. The degree programs can provide a competitive edge in the job market and will furnish more in-depth training than the certificate programs. Following is a brief description of each option offered near Daphne AL.

  • Certificate. Generally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among beginning commercial or residential HVAC specialists. They furnish a solid foundation of skills for job opportunities within the trade.
  • Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program delivers a more extensive background of heating and a/c systems than the certificate program. Generally taking 2 years to complete, a number of degrees include an internship or work-study program.
  • Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is tailored more for a career in management as well as business ownership. Some programs require an Associate Degree, while others are a traditional four year program. In addition to mastering how to service and maintain heating and cooling systems, you will also learn how to design them.

Selecting the right credential program will be dependent on what your future career goals are, together with the time and financial resources that you have to invest. One approach is to start with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after gaining some experience in the field in Daphne AL, later returning to acquire a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your tactic, make certain to ask the HVAC technician school you are considering about how their returning student program works.

HVAC Classes Online

Attending an HVAC school online is one possibility in getting your training and receiving a certificate or degree. Almost all schools will require some attendance on campus to participate in hands on training. Some also provide internship or work-study programs in addition to or as an alternative to practical lab work. But since the remainder of the classes may be participated in on the web, this approach may be a more convenient solution for many Daphne AL students that are short on time. And some online degree programs are more economical than other on campus options. Even driving expenses from Daphne and study materials may be minimized, helping to make education more economical. And a large number of online programs are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your career or family commitments have left you with little time to attend classes, maybe an online HVAC degree program will make it less complicated to accommodate school into your hectic schedule.

What to Ask HVAC Training Classes

Daphne Alabama HVAC technician repairing water heater

After you have picked the type of degree or certificate that you desire to earn, either online or on campus, you can begin to decrease your selection of schools. As you are certainly aware, there are numerous HVAC technical schools in the Daphne AL area and all over the United States to choose from. That's why it is imperative to have a list of key qualifiers when making school assessments. As earlier mentioned in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will most likely be the first two variables you will consider. Following are some additional ones that you should research before enrolling in your school of choice.

Accreditation.  Many HVAC vocational programs in the Daphne AL area have attained either a regional or a national accreditation. They can attain Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to an individual program, for example HVAC technology. Verify that the program and school are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting organization, such as the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping ensure that you obtain a superior education, it may help in obtaining financial assistance or student loans, which are in many cases not available for non-accredited schools. Furthermore, many states require that the HVAC training course be accredited in order to be approved for licensing.

High Completion Rates.  Ask the Heating and Air Conditioning schools you are reviewing what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage or portion of students who enroll in and finish the course. A lower completion rate could suggest that students were disappointed with the program and dropped out. It could also mean that the instructors 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 broader directory of graduates, which may result in more contacts for the school to use 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 industry, but also that it has the network of Daphne AL HVAC employers to help grads acquire apprenticeships or jobs.

Apprenticeship Programs.  A large number of HVAC training programs are taught along with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating trade and vocational schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of Heating and Cooling companies or labor unions. Find out if the schools you are considering have working relationships with local Daphne AL HVAC contractors. An apprenticeship not only provides a rewarding experience by furnishing hands-on training, but it also provides employment opportunities and helps to build relationships in the area HVAC professional community.

Modern Facilities.  Confirm that the campus facilities and the equipment that you will be trained on are up-to-date and what you will be working with in the field. If you are already in an internship or an apprenticeship, talk to the HVAC tech you are working under regarding what you should be expecting. If not, ask a local Daphne AL HVAC contracting company if they can provide some suggestions. Also keep in mind that unless you are willing to move, the school needs to be within driving distance of your Daphne AL residence. Take note that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, besides the added relocation costs there can be higher tuition charges compared to in-state residents.

Smaller Classes.   It's important that you receive as much one-on-one training as possible, which can be challenging in bigger classes. Ask if you can sit in on a couple of the classes so that you can see how large they are and witness first hand the interaction between teachers and students. Talk with a few of the students and get their feedback concerning class sizes and instruction. Last, speak with some of the instructors and learn what their level of experience is and what degrees or certifications they hold.

Flexible Scheduling.  Make sure that the class schedules for the programs you are evaluating are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Daphne AL, confirm that the schools you are looking at offer those options. If you can only attend part-time, be sure that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Additionally, ask what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, illness or family issues.

Learn More About Daphne Heating and Cooling Trade Schools Near You

Earn Your Heating and Cooling Certificate or Degree

Finding the right HVAC school course is a critical first step toward a fulfilling career in the heating & cooling field. 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 outstanding reputations within the HVAC profession. Other things to search for are lots of practical training and modern facilities. You should go to 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 training and the interaction between them. In addition, ask about scheduling choices and if 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 checklist for comparing schools, you'll be able to narrow down your options so that you can make an educated decision. With the appropriate training, hard work and dedication, you can eventually become a licensed HVAC technician in Daphne AL.