How to Pick the Right HVAC Training Class near East Florence Alabama
Once you have made a decision on a career as a heating and cooling technician, the next action is to look for an HVAC technical school near East Florence AL. But with so many to select from, how do you choose the ideal one to get the training that you require? Many prospective students will make their selection based entirely on the cost of tuition or how near the school is to their residence. Although these are necessary considerations, they are not the only ones to take into account. A few 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. Those and other benchmarks will be covered in more detail later in this article. But before we explore how to pick an HVAC trade school, let's take a look at what a heating and cooling specialist does to become a licensed professional tradesman.
How to Become an HVAC Professional
HVAC is an acronym that is extensively used in the business that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC contractors specialize in the installation, maintenance and repair of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are commonly required to be licensed, however each state and regional municipality has its own prerequisites. Obtaining professional certification is not mandatory, but an alternative means for East Florence AL HVAC techs to prove that they are exceptionally skilled and knowledgeable in their area of specialization. There are a number of acknowledged certifications within the field that are available. Below are some of the significant ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally recognized certification for HVAC technicians. The certification is achieved by passing a competency exam and may be received in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification offers both a professional and a master specialist credential. Two years of professional experience in addition to passing a comprehensive examination are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have three years of experience in addition to a passing score on the professional level examination. Similar to NATE, certifications are offered in various specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is required for specialists that work with refrigerants. There are three types of certification obtainable, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Because licensing might be required in your area, and you may also intend to earn certification, it's imperative that you enroll in an HVAC trade school that will train you for both. And since you will most likely be handling refrigerants, make certain that the school you select readies you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
HVAC Certificate and Degree Courses
There are several alternatives available for HVAC instruction in a vocational or trade school. You can earn a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Acquiring a certificate will take the lesser amount of time, often completed in as little as six months, though some programs are longer. A certificate will qualify you for most HVAC positions, especially 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 short explanation of each option offered near East Florence AL.
- Certificate. Normally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among entry level commercial or residential HVAC specialists. They furnish a solid foundation of skills for employment within the trade.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program supplies a more extensive background of heating and cooling 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 suited more for a career in management or even business ownership. Some programs call for an Associate Degree, while others are a traditional 4 year program. In addition to being taught how to service and maintain heating and air conditioning systems, you will also learn how to design them.
Picking the right credential program will be based on what your future career objectives are, together with the time and money that you have to invest. One possibility is to begin with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after acquiring some experience in the trade in East Florence AL, subsequently going back to earn a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your strategy, make certain to ask the HVAC technician school you are considering about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Online Schools
Enrolling in an HVAC program online is one approach to obtaining your education and receiving a certificate or degree. Most schools will require some attendance on campus to complete practical training. Many also offer internship or work-study programs in addition to or in place of practical lab work. But since the remainder of the classes may be attended on the web, this option may be a more practical solution for many East Florence AL students that are short on time. And many online degree programs are cheaper than other traditional options. Even commuting expenses from East Florence and study materials can be reduced, helping to make education more economical. And many online programs are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your job or family responsibilities have left you with minimal time to attend classes, maybe an HVAC online training program will make it easier to fit school into your active schedule.
What to Ask HVAC Training Programs
After you have decided on the type of degree or certificate that you wish to acquire, either on campus or online, you can start to decrease your selection of schools. As you are certainly aware, there are numerous HVAC technical schools in the East Florence AL area and throughout the Country to select from. That's why it is essential to have a list of key qualifiers when making school comparisons. As formerly mentioned in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will undoubtedly be the initial two factors you will consider. Following are several additional ones that you should investigate before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. A large number of HVAC technical schools in the East Florence AL area have acquired either a regional or a national accreditation. They may receive Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to a specific program, such as HVAC technology. Verify that the school and program are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency, for example the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping ensure that you acquire an excellent education, it may help in securing financial assistance or student loans, which are often not available for non-accredited programs. Additionally, some states require that the HVAC training program be accredited in order to be approved 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 portion or percentage of students who enroll in and finish the course. A lower completion rate may indicate that students were unhappy with the course and dropped out. It might also indicate that the teachers were not qualified to instruct the students. It's similarly important that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader directory of alumni, which may produce more contacts for the school to employ for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate can not only confirm that the school has a good reputation within the field, but also that it has the network of East Florence AL HVAC employers to assist grads secure apprenticeships or jobs.
Apprenticeship Programs. Many HVAC vocational programs are taught in conjunction with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating vocational and trade schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of HVAC contractors or labor unions. Check if the schools you are reviewing have referring relationships with local East Florence AL HVAC contractors. An apprenticeship not only provides a valuable experience by supplying hands-on training, but it also provides job 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 trained on are up-to-date and what you will be using on the job. If you are currently in an internship or an apprenticeship, check with the HVAC tech you are working under regarding what you should be expecting. If not, ask a local East Florence AL HVAC contractor if they can provide some pointers. Additionally bear in mind that unless you can move, the school needs to be within driving distance of your East Florence AL residence. Take note that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, besides the added moving costs there might be higher tuition fees compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's desirable that you receive as much personalized training as possible, which can be difficult in bigger classes. Ask if you can monitor a few of the classes so that you can see how big they are and witness first hand the interaction between instructors and students. Talk with several of the students and get their comments regarding class sizes and instruction. Last, speak to some of the instructors and learn what their level of expertise is and what certifications or degrees they have earned.
Flexible Scheduling. Verify that the class schedules for the schools you are assessing are flexible enough to handle your needs. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near East Florence AL, confirm that the schools you are reviewing offer those options. If you can only attend part-time, be 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, sickness or family issues.
Get Your Heating and Cooling Degree and Certification
Picking the right HVAC training course is a critical beginning toward a fulfilling career in the heating and cooling trade. As we have addressed in this article, you should choose a Heating and Cooling training program and a certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have outstanding reputations within the HVAC community. Other things to search for are plenty of hands-on training and modern facilities. You need to go to 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 training and the interaction between them. Also, inquire about scheduling choices and whether evening or weekend classes are available if needed. And remember to inquire about financial assistance and student loan options too. If you ask the appropriate questions as we have outlined in our checklist for evaluating schools, you'll be able to filter your choices so that you can make an informed decision. With the proper training, hard work and commitment, you can eventually become a licensed HVAC professional in East Florence AL.