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How to Select the Right HVAC Certification Course near Dixiana Alabama

Dixiana Alabama home air conditioning condensersOnce you have decided on a career as a heating and air conditioning specialist, the next step is to locate an HVAC trade school near Dixiana AL. But with so many to choose from, how do you pick the best one to receive the training that you require? Some future students will make their choice based exclusively on the cost of tuition or how near the school is to their home. Although these are relevant considerations, they are not the only ones to evaluate. A few of the other things 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. Those and other benchmarks will be discussed in more detail later within this article. But before we discuss how to choose an HVAC training program, let's look at what a heating and cooling specialist does to become a licensed qualified tradesman.

Becoming an HVAC Pro

Dixiana Alabama HVAC Contractor inspecting A/C condenserHVAC is an acronym that is widely used in the industry that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC contractors provide services for the installation, maintenance and repair of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are generally required to be licensed, though every state and local municipality has its own requirements. Acquiring professional certification is not mandatory, but a voluntary means for Dixiana AL HVAC technicians to prove that they are highly skilled and knowledgeable in their area of expertise. There are many recognized certifications within the industry that are available. Below are a few of the significant ones.

  • North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally acknowledged certification for HVAC technicians. The certification is attained by passing a proficiency examination and may 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 examination are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have three years of experience as well as a passing result on the professional level examination. As with NATE, certifications are made available in multiple specialties.
  • EPA Section 608. This certification is required for technicians that handle refrigerants. There are three forms of certification obtainable, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.

Since licensing could be required in your location, and you may also desire to earn certification, it's essential that you select an HVAC trade school that will train you for both. And since you will more than likely be dealing with refrigerants, make certain that the school you select prepares you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.

HVAC Certificate and Degree Courses

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There are several choices available for HVAC instruction in a trade or technical school. You can attain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Acquiring a certificate will take the least amount of time, typically completed in as little as 6 months, although some programs are longer. A certificate will train you for most HVAC positions, particularly if you are licensed and have certification relevant to the position. The degree training programs may provide a competitive advantage for securing employment and will deliver more in-depth training than the certificate programs. Below is a brief explanation of each credential offered near Dixiana AL.

  • Certificate. Usually requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among entry level residential or commercial HVAC professionals. They furnish a strong foundation of skills for job opportunities within the industry.
  • Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program delivers a more comprehensive understanding of heating and a/c systems than the certificate program. Typically taking two years to complete, some degrees feature 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 conventional four year program. In addition to learning how to service and maintain heating and cooling systems, you will also learn how to design them.

Choosing the ideal credential program will be dependent on what your future career objectives are, along with the time and financial resources 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 Dixiana AL, subsequently returning to acquire a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your approach, make sure to ask the HVAC technician school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.

HVAC Schools Online

Choosing an HVAC school online is one approach in attaining your training and earning a degree or certificate. Nearly all schools will require some attendance on campus to take part in hands on training. Many 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 online, this alternative may be a more accessible solution for many Dixiana AL students that are pressed for time. And some online degree programs are more economical than other on campus options. Even travelling expenses from Dixiana and study materials may be reduced, helping to make education more budget-friendly. And many online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your work or family obligations have left you with minimal time to attend classes, perhaps an HVAC online training program will make it easier to accommodate school into your hectic schedule.

Questions For HVAC Certification Classes

Dixiana Alabama Heating and Cooling contractor replacing water heater

Once you have picked the type of degree or certificate that you desire to acquire, either on campus or online, you can begin to limit your list of schools. As you are probably aware, there are a large number of HVAC vocational schools in the Dixiana AL area and across the United States to choose from. That's why it is extremely important to have a checklist of key qualifiers when making school comparisons. As earlier mentioned in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will most likely be the initial two variables you will consider. Following are several additional ones that you should investigate before enrolling in your school of choice.

Accreditation.  Numerous HVAC vocational schools in the Dixiana AL area have attained either a regional or a national accreditation. They may receive Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to a specific program, for instance HVAC technology. Confirm that the program is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization, for example the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping guarantee that you obtain a superior education, it may help in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are often unavailable for non-accredited programs. Also, some states mandate 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 considering what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students who enroll in and finish the course. A lower completion rate may suggest that students were dissatisfied with the program and dropped out. It could also suggest that the instructors were not competent to train the students. It's also important that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive list of graduates, which may produce 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 industry, but also that it has the network of Dixiana AL HVAC employers to assist students obtain apprenticeships or employment.

Apprenticeship Programs.  Many HVAC technical programs are taught in conjunction with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating vocational and trade schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of HVAC contractors or trade unions. Find out if the schools you are reviewing have working partnerships with local Dixiana AL HVAC specialists. An apprenticeship not only offers a rewarding experience by supplying practical training, but it also supplies job opportunities and helps to establish relationships in the local HVAC professional community.

Modern Facilities.  Make sure that the school facilities and the equipment that you will be trained on are state-of-the-art and what you will be using in the field. If you are currently in an internship or an apprenticeship, check with the HVAC specialist you are working under regarding what you should be expecting. If not, ask a local Dixiana AL HVAC contracting company if they can provide some tips. Additionally keep in mind that unless you can move, the school must be within driving distance of your Dixiana AL residence. Take note that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides the added moving costs there might be higher tuition charges compared to in-state residents.

Smaller Classes.   It's desirable that you get as much individualized instruction as possible, which can be challenging in bigger classes. Ask if you can monitor a couple of the classes so that you can see how big they are and experience the interaction between instructors and students. Speak with some of the students and get their comments concerning class sizes and instruction. Finally, speak with some of the teachers and learn what their level of expertise is and what certifications or degrees they hold.

Flexible Scheduling.  Make sure that the class schedules for the schools you are reviewing are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you are only able to attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Dixiana AL, verify that the programs you are considering offer those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Finally, check out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, illness or family emergencies.

Find Out More About Dixiana Heating and Cooling Training Programs Near You

Get Your Heating and Cooling Certificate or Degree

Enrolling in the ideal HVAC school course is a crucial beginning toward a rewarding career in the heating & cooling trade. As we have addressed in this article, you need to select a Heating and Cooling training program and a degree or certificate program that are both accredited and have exceptional reputations within the HVAC trade. Other factors to look for are sufficient practical training and state-of-the-art facilities. You should check out each of the schools in person that you are most interested in to explore the campus and speak with both the current students and faculty. Try to get a feel for the quality of the instruction and the interaction between them. Also, ask about scheduling options and whether night or weekend classes are offered if needed. And don't forget to ask about financial assistance and student loan options also. If you ask the right questions as we have outlined in our checklist for comparing schools, you'll be able to narrow down your options so that you can make an informed decision. With the appropriate training, hard work and commitment, you can eventually become a licensed HVAC specialist in Dixiana AL.