How to Pick the Right HVAC Training Program near Daphne Alabama
Once you have come to a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioner professional, the next step is to find an HVAC trade school near Daphne AL. But with so many to choose from, how do you decide on the ideal one to get the training that you need? Many potential students will make their choice based exclusively on the price of tuition or how near the school is to their residence. While these are necessary factors to consider, they are not the only ones to take into account. A few 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 benchmarks will be covered in more detail later within this article. But before we tackle how to pick an HVAC training program, let's look at what a heating and air conditioning professional does to become a licensed qualified tradesman.
How to Become an HVAC Tech
HVAC is an acronym that is extensively used in the trade that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC techs provide services for the installation, repair and maintenance of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are commonly mandated to be licensed, although every state and regional municipality has its own criteria. Obtaining professional certification is not required, but an alternative way for Daphne AL HVAC technicians to prove that they are exceptionally qualified and experienced in their area of expertise. There are several recognized certifications within the field that are offered. Following are some of the significant ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally recognized certification for HVAC techs. The certification is earned by passing a proficiency examination and can be earned 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 as well as a passing score on the professional level exam. Similar to NATE, certifications are provided in various specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is required for technicians that work with refrigerants. There are three forms of certification obtainable, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Considering that licensing may be mandated in your area, and you may also desire to acquire certification, it's essential that you select an HVAC vocational school that will train you for both. And since you will most likely be dealing with refrigerants, make sure that the program you choose readies you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
HVAC Degree Training Programs
There are a variety of choices offered for HVAC training in a trade or technical school. You can attain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Obtaining a certificate will take the lesser amount of time, often accomplished in just 6 months, although some programs are longer. A certificate will qualify you for most HVAC positions, particularly if you are licensed and have certification appropriate to the position. The degree programs can provide a competitive edge in the job market and will provide more extensive training than the certificate programs. Below is a brief summary of each credential offered near Daphne AL.
- Certificate. Generally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among beginning commercial or residential HVAC technicians. They provide a strong foundation of skills for job opportunities within the trade.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program delivers a more detailed knowledge of heating and a/c systems than the certificate program. Typically taking two years to complete, 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 standard 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.
Choosing the ideal credential program will be dependent on what your future career objectives are, in addition to the time and money that you have to invest. One possibility is to start with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after gaining some experience in the field in Daphne AL, subsequently returning to earn a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your tactic, be sure to ask the HVAC technician school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Online Schools
Enrolling in an HVAC school online is one approach in obtaining your education and receiving a degree or certificate. Most schools will call for some attendance on campus to complete practical training. A number also sponsor internship or work-study programs in addition to or in place of practical lab work. But since the rest of the classes may be attended via the internet, this option may be a more convenient solution for many Daphne AL students that are short on time. And some online degree programs are less expensive than other on campus choices. Even commuting expenses from Daphne and study materials may be lessened, helping to make schooling more affordable. And numerous online schools 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 HVAC online training program will make it more convenient to accommodate school into your busy lifestyle.
What to Ask HVAC Training Classes
When you have decided on the type of certificate or degree that you wish to obtain, either on campus or online, you can begin to limit your list of schools. As you are probably aware, there are numerous HVAC vocational schools in the Daphne AL area and throughout the Country to select from. That's why it is very important to have a checklist of key qualifiers when making school evaluations. As previously mentioned in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will most likely be the first 2 variables you will take into consideration. Following are some additional ones that you will want to explore before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. A large number of HVAC technical programs in the Daphne AL area have attained either a regional or a national accreditation. They may earn Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to an individual program, for instance HVAC technology. Make sure that the program is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency, for example the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping make certain that you get a quality education, it can assist in securing financial aid or student loans, which are frequently unavailable for non-accredited programs. Additionally, some states mandate 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 program. A low completion rate might indicate that students were dissatisfied with the course and dropped out. It could also mean that the instructors were not qualified to train the students. It's also important that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader directory of alumni, which can produce 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 an excellent reputation within the field, but also that it has the network of Daphne AL HVAC employers to help graduates obtain apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. Numerous HVAC trade 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 companies or labor unions. Check if the schools you are comparing have working relationships with local Daphne AL HVAC professionals. An apprenticeship not only offers a rewarding experience by supplying hands-on training, but it also furnishes job opportunities and helps to build relationships in the area HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make sure that the campus facilities and the tools that you will be trained 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, talk to the HVAC technician you are working with concerning what you should be looking for. If not, ask a local Daphne AL HVAC company if they can provide some tips. Additionally keep in mind that unless you can relocate, the school must be within driving distance of your Daphne AL home. Remember that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, besides the added relocation costs there might be increased tuition fees compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's important that you get as much personalized instruction as possible, which can be difficult in bigger classes. Ask if you can sit in on a couple of the classes so that you can observe how big they are and experience the interaction between students and instructors. Talk to a few of the students and get their opinions concerning class sizes and instruction. Last, talk to a few of the teachers and find out what their level of expertise is and what certifications or degrees they hold.
Flexible Scheduling. Confirm that the class schedules for the programs you are reviewing are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Daphne AL, check that the schools you are reviewing offer those choices. If you can only attend part-time, make sure that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Finally, find out what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, sickness or family responsibilities.
Earn Your HVAC Certificate or Degree
Enrolling in the ideal HVAC school course is a crucial beginning toward a rewarding career in the heating & cooling field. As we have covered 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 factors to search for are plenty of practical training and state-of-the-art facilities. You need to go to each of the schools personally that you are most interested in to inspect 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 if night or weekend classes are offered if needed. And don't forget to ask about financial aid and student loan options also. If you ask the appropriate questions as we have detailed in our guidelines for comparing schools, you'll be able to filter your options so that you can make an informed decision. With the right training, hard work and dedication, you can eventually become a licensed HVAC contractor in Daphne AL.