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How to Enroll In the Right HVAC Training Program near East Florence Alabama

East Florence Alabama home air conditioning condensersNow that you have decided on a career as a heating and air conditioning technician, the next action is to choose an HVAC technical school near East Florence AL. But with so many to pick from, how do you pick the ideal one to receive the training that you require? Many potential students will make their choice based entirely on the cost of tuition or how close the school is to their home. Even though these are necessary concerns, they are not the only ones to investigate. A few of the other things that you need to investigate are the graduation rates of the HVAC schools, their reputations, and if they are accredited by professional trade organizations. Those and other benchmarks will be addressed in more detail later in this article. But before we discuss how to pick an HVAC vocational school, let's take a look at what a heating and a/c technician does to become a licensed qualified tradesman.

Becoming an HVAC Professional

East Florence Alabama HVAC Contractor inspecting air conditioning condenserHVAC is an acronym that is extensively used in the trade that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC technicians specialize in the installation, maintenance and repair of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are generally required to be licensed, though each state and local municipality has its own prerequisites. Earning professional certification is not mandatory, but an alternative means for East Florence AL HVAC specialists to establish that they are exceptionally skilled and knowledgeable in their area of specialization. There are multiple recognized certifications within the field that are offered. Here are some of the important ones.

  • North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally acknowledged certification for HVAC technicians. The certification is attained by passing a competency exam and can be earned in one or more specialties.
  • HVAC Excellence. This certification offers 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 need to have 3 years of experience along with a passing score on the professional level exam. Similar to NATE, certifications are provided in various specialties.
  • EPA Section 608. This certification is necessary for technicians that work with refrigerants. There are three forms of certification offered, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.

Since licensing could be required in your location, and you may also desire to earn certification, it's essential that you enroll in an HVAC technical school that will prepare you for both. And since you will probably be handling refrigerants, make certain that the program you decide on readies you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.

HVAC Certificate and Degree Schools

East Florence Alabama residential heater

There are a number of choices offered for HVAC training 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 minimum amount of time, often completed in as little as 6 months, although 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 can provide a competitive advantage in the job market and will provide more comprehensive 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 beginning residential or commercial HVAC technicians. They provide a strong foundation of skills for job opportunities within the trade.
  • Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program supplies a more detailed knowledge of heating & cooling systems than the certificate program. Usually taking 2 years to finish, some degrees include an internship or work-study program.
  • Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is tailored more for a career in management as well as business ownership. Some programs call for an Associate Degree, while others are a conventional four year program. In addition to learning how to service and maintain heating and cooling systems, you will also learn how to design them.

Selecting the right credential program will be dependent on what your long term career objectives are, in addition to the time and financial resources that you have to invest. One option is to start with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after gaining some experience in the trade in East Florence AL, subsequently going back to acquire a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your approach, make sure to ask the HVAC technician school you are considering about how their returning student program works.

HVAC Online Courses

Enrolling in an HVAC school online is one possibility in attaining 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 sponsor internship or work-study programs in addition to or in place of practical lab work. But since the rest of the classes may be attended via the internet, this approach may be a more accessible solution for some East Florence AL students that are short on time. And a number of online degree programs are cheaper than other on campus choices. Even commuting expenses from East Florence and study materials can be minimized, helping to make schooling more economical. And many online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your job or family obligations have left you with limited time to attend classes, perhaps an HVAC online training program will make it easier to fit school into your hectic schedule.

Questions For HVAC Certification Courses

East Florence Alabama Heating and Cooling technician installing water heater

After you have selected the type of certificate or degree that you wish to attain, either on campus or online, you can start to decrease your list of schools. As you are certainly aware, there are numerous HVAC vocational schools in the East Florence AL area and throughout the USA to select from. That's why it is imperative to have a list of important qualifications when making school comparisons. As previously mentioned in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will most likely be the initial two factors you will consider. Following are some additional ones that you will want to investigate before enrolling in your school of choice.

Accreditation.  A large number of HVAC technical programs in the East Florence AL area have earned either a regional or a national accreditation. They may receive Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to an individual program, such as HVAC technology. Make certain that the school and program are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting agency, which includes the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping guarantee that you acquire an excellent education, it can assist in obtaining financial assistance or student loans, which are in many cases not available for non-accredited schools. Also, many states require that the HVAC training program be accredited for it to qualify for licensing.

High Completion Rates.  Ask the Heating and Cooling 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 low completion rate might suggest that students were unhappy with the program and quit. It might also suggest that the teachers were not competent to train 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 graduates, which may result in 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 industry, but additionally that it has the network of East Florence AL HVAC employers to assist students acquire apprenticeships or jobs.

Apprenticeship Programs.  Most HVAC technical programs are taught in conjunction with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating vocational and trade programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of HVAC businesses or trade unions. Check if the schools you are comparing have working partnerships with local East Florence AL HVAC contractors. An apprenticeship not only provides a valuable experience by providing hands-on training, but it also provides job opportunities and helps to build relationships in the regional HVAC professional community.

Modern Facilities.  Make sure that the campus facilities and the tools 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, consult with the HVAC specialist you are working under concerning what you should be expecting. If not, ask a local East Florence AL HVAC contracting company if they can give you some pointers. Additionally keep in mind that unless you are able to relocate, the school needs to be within commuting distance of your East Florence AL residence. Remember that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, besides the added relocation costs there may be increased tuition fees compared to in-state residents.

Smaller Classes.   It's important that you receive as much individualized training as possible, which can be difficult in bigger classes. Ask if you can sit in on a couple of the classes so that you can see how large they are and witness first hand the interaction between students and instructors. Speak with some of the students and get their feedback concerning class sizes and instruction. Last, talk with some of the teachers and learn what their level of experience is and what degrees or certifications they have earned.

Flexible Scheduling.  Make sure that the class schedules for the programs you are assessing are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you are only able to go to classes at night or on weekends near East Florence AL, verify that the schools you are considering provide those options. If you can only attend part-time, make sure that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Additionally, find out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, sickness or family responsibilities.

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

Earn Your Heating and Cooling Training and Certification

Picking the right HVAC training program is an important first step toward a fulfilling career in the heating and air conditioning industry. As we have discussed in this article, you should select 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 lots of practical training and modern facilities. You need to go to each of the schools personally 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 training and the interaction between them. Also, inquire about scheduling options and if night or weekend classes are available if needed. And remember to ask about financial assistance and student loan options as well. If you ask the proper questions as we have outlined in our checklist for evaluating schools, you'll be able to narrow down your choices so that you can make an educated decision. With the appropriate training, hard work and commitment, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC contractor in East Florence AL.