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How to Find the Right Heating and Cooling Training Program near East Florence Alabama

East Florence Alabama residential air conditioning condensersOnce you have made a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioner technician, the next action is to find an HVAC vocational school near East Florence AL. But with so many to choose from, how do you pick the ideal one to receive the training that you require? Some future students will make their choice based exclusively on the cost of tuition or how close the school is to their residence. While these are important considerations, they are not the only ones to take into account. 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. These and other benchmarks will be addressed in more detail later in this article. But before we tackle how to pick an HVAC technical school, let's take a look at what a heating and air conditioning professional does to become a licensed professional tradesman.

How to Become an HVAC Specialist

East Florence Alabama Heating and Cooling Tech repairing A/C condenserHVAC is an acronym that is widely used in the industry that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC techs provide services for the installation, maintenance and repair of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are commonly mandated to be licensed, although every state and local municipality has its own requirements. Earning professional certification is not required, but an alternative way for East Florence AL HVAC techs to establish that they are highly proficient and knowledgeable in their area of specialization. There are a number of respected certifications within the industry that are available. Here are some of the important ones.

  • North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally acknowledged certification for HVAC techs. The certification is attained 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 field experience as well as passing a comprehensive exam are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have three years of experience as well as a passing result on the professional level exam. Similar to NATE, certifications are offered in multiple specialties.
  • EPA Section 608. This certification is required for techs that work with refrigerants. There are three types 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 desire to acquire certification, it's essential that you choose an HVAC technical school that will train you for both. And since you will most likely be working with refrigerants, make sure that the program you choose preps you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.

HVAC Degree and Certificate Classes

East Florence Alabama home heat pump

There are several alternatives available for HVAC instruction in a technical or vocational school. You can earn a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Earning a certificate will take the lesser amount of time, often achieved in as little as six months, however some programs are longer. A certificate will qualify you for most HVAC positions, especially if you are licensed and have certification relevant to the position. The degree programs can provide a competitive advantage for securing employment and will deliver more comprehensive training than the certificate programs. Below is a short summary of each credential offered near East Florence AL.

  • Certificate. Normally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among beginning residential or commercial HVAC professionals. They furnish a solid foundation of skills for employment within the trade.
  • Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program delivers a more detailed background of heating and a/c systems than the certificate program. Typically taking two 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 for a career in management or even business ownership. Some programs require an Associate Degree, while others are a standard 4 year program. In addition to learning how to service and maintain heating and cooling systems, you will also study how to design them.

Picking the ideal credential program will be dependent on what your future career objectives are, in addition to the time and money that you have to invest. One approach is to begin with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after acquiring some experience in the field in East Florence AL, subsequently going back to acquire a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your tactic, be sure to ask the HVAC technician school you are considering about how their returning student program works.

HVAC Schools Online

Attending 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 hands on training. A number also provide internship or work-study programs in addition to or as an alternative to practical lab work. But since the balance of the classes may be attended on the web, this alternative may be a more accessible solution for many East Florence AL students that are short on time. And a number of online degree programs are more economical than other on campus choices. Even commuting expenses from East Florence and study materials can be minimized, helping to make schooling more budget-friendly. And a large number of online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your job or family commitments have left you with limited time to attend classes, maybe an online HVAC degree program will make it more convenient to accommodate school into your hectic schedule.

Questions For HVAC Training Classes

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When you have chosen the type of certificate or degree that you would like to earn, either on campus or online, you can begin to decrease your selection of schools. As you are certainly aware, there are a large number of HVAC trade schools in the East Florence AL area and throughout the USA to pick from. That's why it is essential to have a list of important qualifiers when making school comparisons. As previously mentioned in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will undoubtedly be the initial 2 factors you will look at. Following are several additional ones that you should research before enrolling in your school of choice.

Accreditation.  Numerous HVAC trade schools in the East Florence AL area have earned either a regional or a national accreditation. They may attain Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to an individual program, such as HVAC technology. Verify that the school and program are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency, such as the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping guarantee that you get a quality education, it can assist in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are often unavailable for non-accredited programs. Also, many states mandate 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 program. A low completion rate may signify that students were unhappy with the course and quit. It could also signify that the teachers were not competent to instruct 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 graduates, which can result in more contacts for the school to use for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate will not only confirm that the school has an excellent reputation within the industry, but also that it has the network of East Florence AL HVAC employers to assist grads acquire apprenticeships or employment.

Apprenticeship Programs.  Most HVAC training programs are taught along with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating trade and vocational programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of Heating and Cooling contractors or trade unions. Check if the schools you are reviewing have referring relationships with local East Florence AL HVAC specialists. An apprenticeship not only offers a rewarding experience by furnishing practical training, but it also supplies job opportunities and helps to establish relationships in the local HVAC professional community.

Modern Facilities.  Make certain that the campus 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 with concerning what you should be expecting. Otherwise, ask a local East Florence AL HVAC contracting company if they can give you some pointers. Additionally bear in mind that unless you are able to relocate, the school needs to be within commuting distance of your East Florence AL home. Remember that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides the added moving costs there can be higher tuition fees compared to in-state residents.

Smaller Classes.   It's desirable that you receive as much individualized instruction as possible, which can be challenging in larger classes. Ask if you can monitor a few of the classes so that you can observe how large they are and witness first hand the interaction between students and instructors. Talk with several of the students and get their comments relating to class sizes and instruction. Finally, speak to a few of the instructors and learn what their level of experience is and what degrees or certifications they have earned.

Flexible Scheduling.  Verify that the class schedules for the schools you are reviewing are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near East Florence AL, confirm that the programs you are reviewing provide those options. 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 policy is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, illness or family issues.

Learn More About East Florence Heating and Cooling Training In Your Area

Earn Your Heating and Cooling Certificate or Degree

Enrolling in the ideal HVAC training course is a crucial beginning toward a fulfilling career in the heating and air conditioning industry. As we have discussed in this article, you need to pick a Heating and Cooling training program and a certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have exceptional reputations within the HVAC community. Other factors to look for are plenty of practical training and state-of-the-art 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. Attempt to get a feel for the quality of the instruction and the interaction between them. Also, ask about scheduling choices and whether or not night or weekend classes are available if needed. And don't forget to ask about financial aid and student loan options as well. If you ask the proper questions as we have laid out in our guidelines for evaluating 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 dedication, you can eventually become a licensed HVAC specialist in East Florence AL.