How to Find the Right Heating and Cooling Certification Class near East Florence Alabama
Once you have decided on a career as a heating and air conditioner technician, the next step is to find an HVAC technical school near East Florence AL. But with so many to select from, how do you select the ideal one to obtain the training that you require? Some potential students will make their choice based exclusively on the price of tuition or how close the school is to their residence. Although these are necessary considerations, they are not the only ones to investigate. Some of the other details 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 criteria will be covered in more detail later in this article. But before we discuss 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.
Becoming an HVAC Contractor
HVAC is an acronym that is commonly used in the business that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC technicians specialize in the installation, repair and maintenance of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are commonly mandated to be licensed, though each state and regional municipality has its own requirements. Obtaining professional certification is not required, but a voluntary means for East Florence AL HVAC specialists to demonstrate that they are exceptionally skilled and experienced in their area of specialization. There are a number of recognized certifications within the trade that are available. Here are some of the important ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally acknowledged certification for HVAC technicians. The certification is earned by passing a proficiency examination and can 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 as well as passing a comprehensive exam are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have 3 years of experience as well as a passing result on the professional level exam. Similar to NATE, certifications are made available in various specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is required for specialists that work with refrigerants. There are 3 types of certification obtainable, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Considering that licensing could be mandated in your location, and you may also wish to acquire certification, it's imperative that you enroll in an HVAC technical school that will train you for both. And since you will more than likely be dealing with refrigerants, make sure that the school you decide on prepares you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.
HVAC Certificate and Degree Classes
There are a variety of options offered for HVAC instruction in a vocational or trade school. You can obtain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Obtaining a certificate will take the lesser amount of time, usually completed in just 6 months, although some programs are longer. A certificate will train you for most HVAC positions, particularly if you are licensed and have certification applicable to the position. The degree programs might provide a competitive edge for securing employment and will deliver more in-depth training than the certificate programs. Following is a short summary of each credential offered near East Florence AL.
- Certificate. Normally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among entry level residential or commercial HVAC specialists. They furnish a strong foundation of skills for job opportunities within the trade.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program provides a more comprehensive background of heating and cooling systems than the certificate program. Generally 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 as well as business ownership. Some programs call for an Associate Degree, while others are a conventional 4 year program. In addition to mastering how to service and maintain heating and air conditioning systems, you will also learn how to design them.
Choosing the right credential program will be dependent on what your future career aspirations are, together with the time and money that you have to invest. One approach is to start with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after gaining some experience in the field in East Florence AL, eventually returning to earn a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your strategy, be sure to ask the HVAC technician school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Online Training
Choosing an HVAC school online is one approach to attaining your training and earning a certificate or degree. Almost all schools will call for some attendance on campus to complete practical 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 option may be a more convenient solution for some East Florence AL students that are short on time. And many online degree programs are cheaper than other on campus choices. Even commuting expenses from East Florence and study supplies may be minimized, helping to make education more affordable. 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 HVAC online training program will make it more convenient to fit school into your busy lifestyle.
What to Ask HVAC Schools
After you have decided on the type of certificate or degree that you desire to acquire, either online or on campus, you can begin to decrease your list of schools. As you are certainly aware, there are many HVAC vocational schools in the East Florence AL area and throughout the United States to choose from. That's why it is essential to have a list of key qualifications when making school evaluations. As previously mentioned in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will probably be the initial two factors you will look at. Following are several additional ones that you will want to 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 earn Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to an individual program, for example HVAC technology. Make certain that the program and school are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency, such as the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping guarantee that you get an excellent education, it may help in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are in many cases not available for non-accredited programs. Furthermore, many states mandate that the HVAC training course be accredited in order 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 or portion of students who enroll in and finish the program. A lower completion rate might signify that students were unhappy with the course and dropped out. It could 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 can mean more contacts for the school to utilize for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate will not only affirm that the school has a good reputation within the industry, but also that it has the network of East Florence AL HVAC employers to assist graduates acquire apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. Numerous HVAC vocational programs are taught in conjunction with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating trade and technical programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of Heating and Cooling companies or labor unions. Ask if the schools you are reviewing have working partnerships with local East Florence AL HVAC contractors. An apprenticeship not only provides a rewarding experience by providing practical training, but it also supplies job opportunities and helps to form relationships in the regional HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make certain that the campus facilities and the tools that you will be trained on are up-to-date and what you will be working with in the field. If you are already in an internship or an apprenticeship, talk to the HVAC technician you are working with concerning what you should be expecting. If not, ask a local East Florence AL HVAC company if they can provide some suggestions. Also bear in mind that unless you are able to relocate, the school needs to be within driving distance of your East Florence 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 desirable that you receive as much individualized training as possible, which can be challenging in bigger classes. Ask if you can sit in on a few of the classes so that you can see how big they are and experience the interaction between teachers and students. Speak to a few of the students and get their feedback relating to class sizes and instruction. Last, speak with a few of the instructors and learn what their level of experience is and what degrees or certifications they hold.
Flexible Scheduling. Confirm that the class schedules for the programs you are evaluating are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near East Florence AL, verify that the schools you are looking at provide those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Additionally, check out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, sickness or family emergencies.
Earn Your HVAC Degree and Certification
Selecting the right HVAC school course is a critical first step toward a gratifying career in the heating and air conditioning industry. As we have covered in this article, you should choose 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 features to look for are lots of 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 faculty and current students. Try to get a feel for the quality of the instruction and the interaction between them. In addition, ask about scheduling choices and if evening or weekend classes are available if needed. And don't forget to ask about financial assistance and student loan options as well. If you ask the proper questions as we have detailed in our guidelines for evaluating schools, you'll be able to filter your choices so that you can make an educated decision. With the appropriate training, hard work and dedication, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC contractor in East Florence AL.