How to Enroll In the Right HVAC Certificate Program near Dixiana Alabama
Now that you have come to a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioning specialist, the next action is to find an HVAC technical school near Dixiana AL. But with so many to pick from, how do you pick the right one to receive the training that you require? Some potential students will make their selection based solely on the cost of tuition or how near the school is to their home. Although these are important considerations, they are not the only ones to evaluate. Just some of the other details that you need to investigate are the graduation rates of the HVAC schools, their reputations, and if they are accredited by professional trade organizations. Those and additional benchmarks will be discussed in more detail later within this article. But before we tackle how to pick an HVAC trade school, let's take a look at what a heating and cooling technician does to become a licensed qualified tradesman.
How to Become an HVAC Professional
HVAC is an acronym that is frequently used in the business that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC contractors provide services for the installation, repair and maintenance of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are commonly required to be licensed, though every state and regional municipality has its own prerequisites. Acquiring professional certification is not required, but an alternative way for Dixiana AL HVAC technicians to demonstrate that they are exceptionally proficient and knowledgeable in their area of expertise. There are multiple respected certifications within the industry 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 exam and can be received in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification makes available both a professional and a master specialist credential. 2 years of professional experience as well as passing a comprehensive exam are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have three years of experience together with a passing result on the professional level examination. As with NATE, certifications are made available in multiple specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is necessary for specialists that handle refrigerants. There are 3 types of certification obtainable, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Considering that licensing might be mandated in your location, and you may also intend to obtain certification, it's imperative that you enroll in an HVAC trade school that will train you for both. And since you will more than likely be handling refrigerants, make sure that the school you choose readies you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
HVAC Degree Schools
There are a number of alternatives offered for HVAC instruction in a technical or vocational school. You can attain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Obtaining a certificate will take the minimum period of time, usually completed in as little as 6 months, though some courses are longer. A certificate will train you for the majority of HVAC positions, particularly if you are licensed and have certification related to the position. The degree training programs may provide a competitive edge in the job market and will furnish more in-depth training than the certificate programs. Following is a brief summary of each credential offered near Dixiana AL.
- Certificate. Normally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among beginning residential or commercial HVAC specialists. They furnish a solid foundation of skills for job opportunities within the trade.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program supplies a more detailed background of heating & cooling systems than the certificate program. Generally requiring 2 years to finish, many degrees incorporate an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is tailored more towards a career in management or even business ownership. Some programs require an Associate Degree, while others are a conventional 4 year program. In addition to being taught how to service and maintain heating and cooling systems, you will also study how to design them.
Choosing the right credential program will be based on what your future career objectives are, together with the time and money that you have to commit. One possibility is to start with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after getting some experience in the trade in Dixiana AL, later returning to acquire a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your strategy, be sure to ask the HVAC tech school you are considering about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Online Schools
Enrolling in an HVAC school online is one option in obtaining your education and earning a certificate or degree. Almost 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 instead of practical lab work. But since the balance of the classes may be attended on the web, this approach may be a more accessible solution for many Dixiana AL students that are pressed for time. And some online degree programs are less expensive than other on campus alternatives. Even commuting expenses from Dixiana and study supplies can be minimized, helping to make schooling more economical. And numerous online programs are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your career or family commitments have left you with limited time to attend classes, maybe an online HVAC degree program will make it easier to fit school into your hectic schedule.
What to Ask HVAC Schools
As soon as you have decided on the type of degree or certificate that you would like to obtain, either online or on campus, you can begin to narrow down your selection of schools. As you are certainly 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 list of key qualifications when making school assessments. As earlier stated in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will undoubtedly be the initial 2 variables you will take into consideration. Following are several additional ones that you need to research before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Numerous HVAC technical schools in the Dixiana AL area have acquired either a regional or a national accreditation. They may acquire Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to a specific program, such as HVAC technology. Confirm that the program is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency, such as the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping guarantee that you receive a superior education, it may assist in acquiring financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently not available for non-accredited programs. Also, a number of states require that the HVAC training course be accredited for it to qualify for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the HVAC schools you are reviewing what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students who enroll in and complete the course. A lower completion rate might indicate that students were dissatisfied with the program and dropped out. It may also signify that the teachers were not competent to train the students. It's similarly imperative that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive directory of alumni, which can mean more contacts for the school to employ for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate can not only affirm that the school has a good reputation within the field, but also that it has the network of Dixiana AL HVAC employers to assist grads obtain apprenticeships or jobs.
Apprenticeship Programs. A large number of HVAC training programs are taught along with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating vocational and technical schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of Heating and Cooling contractors or trade unions. Find out if the schools you are comparing have referring partnerships with local Dixiana AL HVAC specialists. 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 local HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make certain that the school facilities and the equipment that you will be instructed 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 concerning what you should be looking for. If not, ask a local Dixiana AL HVAC contracting company if they can provide some pointers. Additionally keep in mind that unless you are able to move, the school must be within commuting distance of your Dixiana AL home. Take note that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation costs there can be increased tuition charges compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's desirable that you receive as much personalized training as possible, which can be challenging in bigger classes. Ask if you can sit in on some of the classes so that you can observe how big they are and experience the interaction between students and instructors. Speak to a few of the students and get their feedback relating to class sizes and instruction. Finally, talk with some of the instructors and find out what their level of expertise is and what degrees or certifications they have earned.
Flexible Scheduling. Confirm that the class schedules for the schools you are reviewing are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you are only able to go to classes at night or on weekends near Dixiana AL, verify that the programs you are comparing offer those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Also, find out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, illness or family issues.
Get Your HVAC Certificate or Degree
Choosing the ideal HVAC school course is a crucial beginning toward a gratifying career in the heating and air conditioning trade. As we have discussed in this article, you should pick a Heating and Cooling training program and a certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have exceptional reputations within the HVAC trade. Other features to look for are ample hands-on training and state-of-the-art facilities. You need to check out each of the schools in person that you are most interested in to inspect the campus and talk with both the current students and faculty. Attempt to get a feel for the quality of the instruction and the interaction between them. Additionally, inquire about scheduling options and whether evening or weekend classes are offered if needed. And don't forget to ask about financial assistance and student loan options as well. If you ask the right questions as we have outlined in our checklist for evaluating schools, you'll be able to filter your options so that you can make an informed decision. With the appropriate training, hard work and dedication, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC professional in Dixiana AL.