How to Pick the Right Heating and Cooling Certification Class near Dixiana Alabama
Now that you have made a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioner technician, 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 ideal one to receive the training that you need? A number of prospective students will make their decision based exclusively on the price of tuition or how close the school is to their home. Even though these are significant factors to consider, they are not the only ones to investigate. Just some of the other factors that you need to investigate are the graduation completion rates of the HVAC schools, their reputations, and if they are accredited by professional trade organizations. Those and other criteria will be addressed in more detail later within this article. But before we tackle how to select an HVAC trade school, let's take a look at what a heating and cooling contractor does to become a licensed professional tradesman.
How to Become an HVAC Pro
HVAC is an acronym that is extensively used in the business 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 required to be licensed, although every state and local municipality has its own requirements. Earning professional certification is not mandatory, but an alternative means for Dixiana AL HVAC specialists to demonstrate that they are exceptionally qualified and accomplished in their area of specialization. There are several respected certifications within the trade 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 achieved by passing a competency exam 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 together with passing a comprehensive exam are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have 3 years of experience together with a passing score on the professional level exam. As with NATE, certifications are offered in various specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is mandatory for specialists that work with refrigerants. There are 3 forms of certification obtainable, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Since licensing might be mandated in your location, and you may also intend to obtain certification, it's important that you pick an HVAC technical school that will train you for both. And since you will probably be handling refrigerants, make sure that the program you decide on readies you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
HVAC Certificate and Degree Classes
There are a variety of choices offered for HVAC training in a technical or vocational 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, though some courses are longer. A certificate will train you for the majority of HVAC positions, particularly if you are licensed and have certification applicable to the position. The degree training programs can provide a competitive edge for securing employment and will provide more extensive training than the certificate programs. Following is a brief explanation of each option offered near Dixiana AL.
- Certificate. Generally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among beginning commercial or residential HVAC professionals. They provide a solid foundation of skills for employment within the trade.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program supplies a more comprehensive knowledge of heating & cooling systems than the certificate program. Usually requiring 2 years to finish, some 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 or even business ownership. Some programs require an Associate Degree, while others are a conventional 4 year program. In addition to mastering how to service and maintain heating and cooling systems, you will also learn how to design them.
Picking the right credential program will be dependent on what your long term career goals are, as well as the time and financial resources that you have to commit. One approach is to begin with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after acquiring some experience in the trade in Dixiana AL, later going back to earn a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your approach, make sure to ask the HVAC tech school you are considering about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Online Courses
Choosing an HVAC school online is one option in getting your education and earning a degree or certificate. Most schools will call for some attendance on campus to complete practical training. Many also provide internship or work-study programs in addition to or in place of practical lab work. But since the remainder of the classes can be participated in on the web, this approach may be a more practical solution for some Dixiana AL students that are short on time. And some online degree programs are cheaper than other traditional options. Even commuting expenses from Dixiana and study materials can be reduced, helping to make schooling more economical. And a large number of online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your work or family obligations have left you with little time to attend classes, maybe an online HVAC degree program will make it easier to accommodate school into your busy lifestyle.
Questions to Ask HVAC Trade Schools
When you have decided on the type of certificate or degree that you want to obtain, either online or on campus, you can begin to limit your list of schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are a large number of HVAC technical schools in the Dixiana AL area and across the United States to choose from. That's why it is essential to have a checklist of important qualifiers when making school evaluations. As formerly stated in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will most likely be the initial two aspects you will consider. Following are several additional ones that you will want to research before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Many HVAC technical schools in the Dixiana AL area have earned either a regional or a national accreditation. They can attain Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to a specific program, for example HVAC technology. Make sure that the program and school are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization, which includes the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping make certain that you obtain a quality education, it can assist in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are in many cases not available for non-accredited schools. Additionally, some states mandate that the HVAC training program be accredited for it to be approved for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the Heating and Air Conditioning 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 lower completion rate could signify that students were disappointed with the course and quit. It may 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 list of alumni, which may result in more contacts for the school to utilize for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate can not only affirm that the school has an excellent reputation within the field, but additionally that it has the network of Dixiana AL HVAC employers to help grads obtain apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. Many HVAC training programs are taught along with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating vocational and technical programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of Heating and Cooling companies or trade unions. Find out if the schools you are reviewing have working relationships with local Dixiana AL HVAC specialists. An apprenticeship not only offers a valuable experience by providing practical training, but it also supplies employment 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 working with on the job. If you are already in an internship or an apprenticeship, talk to the HVAC technician you are working under concerning what you should be looking for. If not, ask a local Dixiana AL HVAC contractor if they can give you some pointers. Additionally keep in mind that unless you are able to move, the school needs to be within driving distance of your Dixiana AL home. Remember that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation costs there may be higher tuition charges compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's important that you get as much personalized instruction as possible, which can be challenging in bigger classes. Ask if you can monitor some of the classes so that you can see how large they are and experience the interaction between teachers and students. Talk to several of the students and get their comments regarding class sizes and instruction. Last, talk with some of the instructors and learn what their level of expertise is and what certifications or degrees they hold.
Flexible Scheduling. Verify that the class schedules for the programs you are evaluating are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Dixiana AL, verify that the schools you are considering provide those choices. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Finally, check out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, sickness or family emergencies.
Find Out More About Dixiana Heating and Cooling Schools In Your Area
Get Your HVAC Degree and Certification
Finding the ideal HVAC school course is a crucial first step toward a rewarding career in the heating and cooling field. As we have covered 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 outstanding reputations within the HVAC trade. Other things to look for are lots of hands-on training and modern facilities. You need to visit each of the schools in person that you are most interested in to tour the campus and speak with both the faculty and current students. Try to get a feel for the quality of the instruction and the interaction between them. Also, inquire about scheduling options and whether night or weekend classes are available if needed. And don't forget to ask about financial aid and student loan options too. If you ask the appropriate questions as we have detailed in our checklist for assessing schools, you'll be able to narrow down your choices so that you can make an educated decision. With the proper training, hard work and commitment, you can eventually become a licensed HVAC specialist in Dixiana AL.