How to Enroll In the Right HVAC College near Daphne Alabama
Once you have decided on a career as a heating and air conditioning professional, the next step is to find an HVAC vocational school near Daphne AL. But with so many to choose from, how do you choose the best one to receive the training that you require? Many future students will make their decision based solely on the cost of tuition or how near the school is to their home. Even though these are significant factors to consider, they are not the only ones to take into account. Just some of the other factors 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. Those and additional benchmarks will be addressed in more detail later within this article. But before we discuss how to pick an HVAC technical school, let's look at what a heating and cooling technician does to become a licensed qualified tradesman.
How to Become an HVAC Specialist
HVAC is an acronym that is widely used in the industry that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC professionals provide services for the installation, maintenance and repair of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are generally required to be licensed, though every state and local municipality has its own criteria. Acquiring professional certification is not mandatory, but a voluntary way for Daphne AL HVAC technicians to establish that they are highly proficient and experienced in their area of expertise. There are multiple respected certifications within the industry that are offered. Here are some of the important ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally acknowledged certification for HVAC techs. The certification is earned by passing a competency examination and may be received in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification makes available both a professional and a master specialist credential. Two years of field experience as well as passing a comprehensive examination are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have 3 years of experience as well as a passing result on the professional level examination. As with NATE, certifications are offered in various specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is necessary for techs that handle refrigerants. There are three types of certification obtainable, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Considering that licensing might be mandated in your area, and you may also intend to acquire certification, it's important that you choose an HVAC vocational school that will prepare you for both. And since you will most likely be working with refrigerants, make certain that the school you select readies you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
HVAC Degree Courses
There are a variety of options available 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 period of time, usually completed 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 applicable to the position. The degree programs might provide a competitive advantage in the job market and will deliver more comprehensive training than the certificate programs. Following is a brief explanation of each option offered near Daphne AL.
- Certificate. Normally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among entry level commercial or residential HVAC specialists. They provide a solid foundation of skills for employment within the trade.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program delivers a more detailed knowledge of heating and cooling systems than the certificate program. Typically taking two years to finish, many 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 or even business ownership. Some programs require an Associate Degree, while others are a conventional four year program. In addition to mastering how to service and maintain heating and air conditioning systems, you will also study how to design them.
Choosing 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 start with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after acquiring some experience in the trade in Daphne AL, eventually going back to earn a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your tactic, make certain to ask the HVAC tech school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Training Online
Enrolling in an HVAC program online is one approach to attaining your training and earning a degree or certificate. Nearly all schools will call for some attendance on campus to take part in hands on training. Many also provide internship or work-study programs in addition to or as an alternative to practical lab work. But since the rest of the classes may be participated in online, this alternative may be a more accessible solution for many Daphne AL students that are short on time. And some online degree programs are less costly than other on campus options. Even commuting expenses from Daphne and study supplies may be minimized, helping to make education more affordable. And a large number of online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your job or family commitments have left you with minimal time to attend classes, maybe an HVAC online training program will make it easier to fit school into your active lifestyle.
What to Ask HVAC Training Classes
When you have picked the type of degree or certificate that you desire to acquire, either online or on campus, you can begin to narrow down your selection of schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are a large number of HVAC trade schools in the Daphne AL area and across the United States to pick from. That's why it is essential to have a checklist of key qualifiers when making school assessments. As formerly mentioned in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will most likely be the initial 2 aspects you will take into consideration. Following are some additional ones that you should explore before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Many HVAC vocational schools in the Daphne AL area have earned either a regional or a national accreditation. They may receive Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to an individual program, for example HVAC technology. Make certain that the school and program are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization, for instance the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping make certain that you receive a quality education, it may assist in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are frequently not available for non-accredited programs. Furthermore, many states mandate that the HVAC training program be accredited for it to be approved for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the HVAC schools you are considering 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 signify that students were unhappy with the course and quit. It may also suggest that the instructors were not qualified to instruct the students. It's similarly imperative that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader list of graduates, which can result in more contacts for the school to use for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate will not only confirm that the school has a good reputation within the field, but additionally that it has the network of Daphne AL HVAC employers to assist graduates acquire apprenticeships or jobs.
Apprenticeship Programs. A large number of HVAC technical programs are taught in conjunction with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating trade and technical schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of Heating and Cooling contractors or labor unions. Check if the schools you are comparing have working partnerships with local Daphne AL HVAC specialists. 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. Make sure that the campus facilities and the equipment that you will be trained on are state-of-the-art and what you will be working with on the job. If you are currently in an internship or an apprenticeship, consult with the HVAC specialist you are working under concerning what you should be expecting. Otherwise, ask a local Daphne AL HVAC contracting company if they can provide some tips. Also bear in mind that unless you are willing to move, the school must be within driving distance of your Daphne AL residence. Remember that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides the added moving costs there can be higher tuition charges compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's desirable that you get as much one-on-one training 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 large they are and experience the interaction between students and instructors. Talk to several of the students and get their comments regarding class sizes and instruction. Finally, speak to some of the instructors and learn what their level of experience is and what certifications or degrees they hold.
Flexible Scheduling. Make sure that the class schedules for the programs you are assessing are flexible enough to handle your needs. If you are only able to go to classes at night or on weekends near Daphne AL, verify that the programs you are considering offer those choices. If you can only attend part-time, make sure that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Finally, check out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, illness or family responsibilities.
Get Your Heating and Cooling Degree and Certification
Enrolling in the right HVAC training program is a critical first step toward a rewarding career in the heating and air conditioning field. As we have discussed in this article, you should choose a Heating and Cooling training program and a certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have excellent reputations within the HVAC profession. Other factors to search for are sufficient hands-on training and modern facilities. You should go to each of the schools in person that you are most interested in to explore the campus and talk with both the current students and faculty. Try to get a feel for the quality of the teaching and the interaction between them. Additionally, ask about scheduling choices and whether or not evening or weekend classes are offered if needed. And remember to inquire about financial aid and student loan options also. If you ask the proper questions as we have detailed in our guidelines for evaluating schools, you'll be able to filter your choices so that you can make an informed decision. With the proper training, hard work and dedication, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC contractor in Daphne AL.