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How to Pick the Right HVAC Certificate Program near Dixiana Alabama

Dixiana Alabama residential A/C condensersNow that you have made a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioner professional, the next action is to locate an HVAC vocational school near Dixiana AL. But with so many to select from, how do you select the ideal one to get the training that you need? Some future students will make their selection based entirely on the cost of tuition or how near the school is to their home. While these are necessary concerns, they are not the only ones to investigate. 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 criteria will be covered in more detail later in this article. But before we discuss how to pick an HVAC technical school, let's take a look at what a heating and cooling specialist does to become a licensed skilled tradesman.

How to Become an HVAC Contractor

Dixiana Alabama Heating and Cooling Contractor repairing air conditioning condenserHVAC is an acronym that is widely used in the trade that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC contractors provide services for the installation, repair and maintenance of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are generally mandated to be licensed, though each state and regional municipality has its own requirements. Attaining professional certification is not compulsory, but a voluntary means for Dixiana AL HVAC technicians to demonstrate that they are exceptionally qualified and accomplished in their area of expertise. There are a number of respected certifications within the trade 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 earned by passing a competency 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 together with passing a comprehensive exam are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have 3 years of experience as well as a passing score on the professional level exam. Similar to NATE, certifications are offered in several specialties.
  • EPA Section 608. This certification is required for techs that work with refrigerants. There are 3 forms of certification offered, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.

Since licensing might be mandated in your area, and you may also desire to obtain certification, it's essential that you pick an HVAC technical school that will prepare you for both. And since you will more than likely be working with refrigerants, make sure that the program you pick preps you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.

HVAC Degree and Certificate Classes

Dixiana Alabama home heating pump

There are several choices available for HVAC instruction in a vocational or trade school. You can earn a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Obtaining a certificate will take the minimum amount of time, usually completed in just 6 months, although some courses are longer. A certificate will qualify you for the majority of HVAC positions, particularly if you are licensed and have certification applicable to the position. The degree training programs may provide a competitive advantage for securing employment and will furnish more comprehensive training than the certificate programs. Below is a brief summary of each option offered near Dixiana AL.

  • Certificate. Normally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among entry level commercial or residential HVAC technicians. They provide a strong foundation of skills for employment 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 taking two years to complete, a number of degrees feature an internship or work-study program.
  • Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is suited more for 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 being taught how to service and maintain heating and cooling systems, you will also learn how to design them.

Selecting the appropriate credential program will be based on what your future career aspirations are, in addition to the time and money that you have to commit. One approach is to start with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after getting some experience in the trade in Dixiana AL, later returning to obtain a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your tactic, make sure to ask the HVAC technician school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.

HVAC Training Online

Enrolling in an HVAC school online is one approach to attaining your training and receiving a degree or certificate. Almost all schools will call for some attendance on campus to complete hands on training. A number also sponsor internship or work-study programs in addition to or instead of practical lab work. But since the balance of the classes may be attended online, this approach may be a more accessible solution for some Dixiana AL students that are pressed for time. And a number of online degree programs are more economical than other traditional choices. Even travelling expenses from Dixiana and study supplies may be minimized, helping to make schooling more budget-friendly. And many online programs are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your career or family responsibilities have left you with limited time to attend classes, perhaps an online HVAC degree program will make it less complicated to fit school into your busy lifestyle.

Questions to Ask HVAC Training Programs

Dixiana Alabama Heating and Cooling tech replacing water heater

Once you have selected the type of degree or certificate that you wish to attain, either online or on campus, you can begin to limit your list of schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are numerous HVAC vocational schools in the Dixiana AL area and all over the United States to pick from. That's why it is very important to have a list of important qualifiers when making school assessments. As earlier mentioned in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will probably be the first two aspects you will consider. Following are several additional ones that you will want to investigate before enrolling in your school of choice.

Accreditation.  Many HVAC technical schools in the Dixiana AL area have acquired either a regional or a national accreditation. They can receive Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to an individual program, such as HVAC technology. Confirm that the school and program are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting organization, for example the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping ensure that you obtain a superior education, it can help in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are often unavailable for non-accredited schools. Also, some states mandate that the HVAC training program be accredited for it to qualify for licensing.

High Completion Rates.  Ask the Heating and Air Conditioning schools you are reviewing what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage of students who enroll in and complete the program. A lower completion rate may signify that students were disappointed with the program and quit. It might also suggest that the teachers were not competent to instruct the students. It's similarly imperative 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 use 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 trade, but also that it has the network of Dixiana AL HVAC employers to help graduates obtain apprenticeships or jobs.

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

Modern Facilities.  Make certain 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 in the field. If you are presently in an internship or an apprenticeship, talk to the HVAC specialist you are working under concerning what you should be expecting. Otherwise, ask a local Dixiana AL HVAC contracting company if they can provide some tips. Also keep in mind that unless you are willing to move, the school must be within driving distance of your Dixiana AL residence. Remember that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, besides the added relocation costs there can be higher tuition charges compared to in-state residents.

Smaller Classes.   It's important that you receive as much individualized instruction as possible, which can be challenging in bigger classes. Ask if you can monitor some of the classes so that you can observe how large they are and experience the interaction between students and instructors. Speak to a few of the students and get their comments relating to class sizes and instruction. Last, speak to some of the teachers and find out what their level of experience is and what certifications or degrees they have earned.

Flexible Scheduling.  Verify that the class schedules for the programs you are assessing are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Dixiana AL, confirm that the programs you are considering offer those choices. If you can only attend part-time, be sure that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Also, ask what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, sickness or family emergencies.

Find Out More About Dixiana HVAC Programs In Your Area

Earn Your Heating and Cooling Degree and Certification

Enrolling in the ideal HVAC school program is a critical beginning toward a gratifying career in the heating and air conditioning trade. As we have covered in this article, you should select a Heating and Cooling training program and a degree or certificate program that are both accredited and have excellent reputations within the HVAC trade. Other features to search for are ample practical training and modern facilities. You need to visit each of the schools in person that you are most interested in to explore the campus and talk with both the faculty and current students. Try to get a feel for the quality of the teaching and the interaction between them. Also, inquire about scheduling choices and if evening or weekend classes are offered if needed. And remember to ask about financial assistance and student loan options too. If you ask the proper 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 informed decision. With the proper training, hard work and dedication, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC technician in Dixiana AL.