How to Find the Right HVAC Certification Class near Dothan Alabama
Once you have come to a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioner professional, the next action is to locate an HVAC technical school near Dothan AL. But with so many to choose from, how do you select the right one to get the training that you require? A number of prospective students will make their selection based entirely on the cost of tuition or how close the school is to their home. Although 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. These and other criteria will be addressed in more detail later within this article. But before we tackle how to choose an HVAC training program, let's take a look at what a heating and air conditioning contractor does to become a licensed professional tradesman.
Becoming an HVAC Technician
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 professional tradesmen, they are generally required to be licensed, however each state and regional municipality has its own criteria. Acquiring professional certification is not compulsory, but a voluntary way for Dothan AL HVAC specialists to prove that they are exceptionally skilled and knowledgeable in their area of expertise. There are many acknowledged certifications within the field that are offered. Below are some of the significant ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally recognized certification for HVAC technicians. The certification is attained by passing a proficiency exam and may be received in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification makes available both a professional and a master specialist credential. 2 years of field experience in addition to passing a comprehensive exam are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have three years of experience along with a passing result on the professional level examination. Similar to NATE, certifications are provided in multiple specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is necessary for specialists that work with refrigerants. There are three types of certification offered, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Since licensing may be required in your area, and you may also wish to earn certification, it's imperative that you enroll in an HVAC trade school that will prepare you for both. And since you will probably be dealing with refrigerants, make sure that the school you select readies you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
HVAC Certificate and Degree Courses
There are a variety of choices offered for HVAC instruction in a vocational or trade school. You can attain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Acquiring a certificate will take the least period of time, often accomplished in just 6 months, though some programs 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 may provide a competitive edge for securing employment and will provide more in-depth training than the certificate programs. Below is a short description of each credential offered near Dothan AL.
- Certificate. Normally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among entry level residential or commercial HVAC professionals. They provide a strong foundation of skills for job opportunities within the industry.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program delivers a more exhaustive understanding of heating and a/c systems than the certificate program. Generally taking 2 years to finish, a number of degrees incorporate an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is geared 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 mastering how to service and maintain heating and cooling systems, you will also study how to design them.
Choosing the right credential program will be dependent on what your future career aspirations are, in addition to the time and money that you have to commit. One approach is to begin with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after gaining some experience in the trade in Dothan AL, subsequently going back to earn a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your tactic, make sure to ask the HVAC technician school you are considering about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Online Courses
Attending an HVAC program online is one possibility to obtaining your education and earning a certificate or degree. Most schools will call for some attendance on campus to take part in hands on training. A number also provide internship or work-study programs in addition to or instead of practical lab work. But since the rest of the classes can be participated in on the web, this approach may be a more convenient solution for some Dothan AL students that are pressed for time. And a number of online degree programs are more economical than other traditional alternatives. Even driving expenses from Dothan and study materials can be lessened, helping to make education more economical. And many 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 HVAC online training program will make it easier to fit school into your busy schedule.
Questions to Ask HVAC Training Classes
When you have chosen the type of certificate or degree that you would like to attain, either on campus or online, you can begin to decrease your selection of schools. As you are certainly aware, there are many HVAC trade schools in the Dothan AL area and throughout the Country to select from. That's why it is extremely important to have a checklist of important qualifications when making school assessments. As earlier stated in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will probably be the initial two aspects you will take into consideration. Following are several additional ones that you will want to investigate before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Numerous HVAC vocational schools in the Dothan AL area have received either a regional or a national accreditation. They can earn Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to an individual program, for example HVAC technology. Confirm that the school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency, such as the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping ensure that you obtain a superior education, it can help in securing financial aid or student loans, which are often unavailable for non-accredited schools. Also, many states require that the HVAC training course be accredited for it to qualify 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 complete the program. A low completion rate might suggest that students were dissatisfied with the program and quit. It might also signify that the teachers were not qualified to instruct 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 directory of graduates, 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 an excellent reputation within the trade, but also that it has the network of Dothan AL HVAC employers to help grads obtain apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. Many HVAC training programs are taught in conjunction with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating vocational and technical schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of HVAC businesses or labor unions. Check if the schools you are considering have working relationships with local Dothan AL HVAC companies. An apprenticeship not only provides a valuable experience by providing practical training, but it also furnishes job opportunities and helps to build 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 up-to-date and what you will be using in the field. If you are presently in an internship or an apprenticeship, consult with the HVAC tech you are working under concerning what you should be expecting. If not, ask a local Dothan AL HVAC contractor if they can provide some pointers. Additionally bear in mind that unless you are able to move, the school must be within driving distance of your Dothan AL home. Take note that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides the added moving costs there may be increased tuition fees compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's important that you receive as much one-on-one instruction as possible, which can be challenging in larger classes. Ask if you can monitor some of the classes so that you can see how big they are and experience the interaction between students and teachers. Talk to a few of the students and get their opinions regarding class sizes and instruction. Finally, talk with some of the instructors and learn what their level of experience is and what certifications or degrees they have earned.
Flexible Scheduling. Make sure that the class schedules for the programs you are assessing are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you are only able to attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Dothan AL, check that the programs you are considering provide those choices. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Additionally, check out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, sickness or family responsibilities.
Get Your HVAC Training and Certification
Selecting the ideal HVAC training program is a crucial first step toward a gratifying career in the heating and cooling trade. As we have discussed in this article, you need to pick a Heating and Cooling training program and a degree or certificate program that are both accredited and have exceptional reputations within the HVAC field. Other factors to search for are ample practical training and modern facilities. You need to visit each of the schools personally that you are most interested in to inspect 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. In addition, inquire about scheduling choices and whether or not night 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 guidelines for comparing 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 ultimately become a licensed HVAC contractor in Dothan AL.