How to Find the Right HVAC School near East Florence Alabama
Once you have made a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioner technician, the next action is to locate an HVAC vocational school near East Florence AL. But with so many to choose from, how do you decide on the ideal one to get the training that you require? Many future students will make their selection based solely on the cost of tuition or how near the school is to their home. Even though these are relevant considerations, they are not the only ones to investigate. 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. Those and other benchmarks will be addressed in more detail later in this article. But before we discuss how to choose an HVAC vocational school, let's take a look at what a heating and air conditioning contractor does to become a licensed professional tradesman.
Becoming an HVAC Professional
HVAC is an acronym that is widely used in the industry that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC professionals specialize in the installation, maintenance and repair of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are typically required to be licensed, however every state and regional municipality has its own requirements. Earning professional certification is not required, but an alternative means for East Florence AL HVAC techs to prove that they are exceptionally qualified and accomplished in their area of specialization. There are a number of acknowledged certifications within the trade that are available. Here are some of the important ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally recognized certification for HVAC techs. The certification is attained by passing a proficiency examination and may be acquired in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification makes available both a professional and a master specialist credential. Two years of professional experience in addition to passing a comprehensive examination are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have three years of experience as well as a passing result on the professional level exam. As with NATE, certifications are offered 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 might be mandated in your location, and you may also intend to acquire certification, it's imperative that you select an HVAC technical school that will train you for both. And since you will more than likely be working with refrigerants, make sure that the program you choose readies you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
HVAC Degree Training Programs
There are a number of options offered for HVAC instruction in a technical or vocational school. You can attain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Obtaining a certificate will take the lesser period of time, typically achieved 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 might provide a competitive edge in the job market and will deliver more extensive training than the certificate programs. Following is a short description of each option offered near East Florence AL.
- Certificate. Generally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among entry level residential or commercial HVAC specialists. They provide a solid foundation of skills for employment within the trade.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program supplies a more exhaustive knowledge of heating & cooling systems than the certificate program. Normally taking 2 years to complete, a number of degrees include an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is suited more towards a career in management or even business ownership. Some programs call for an Associate Degree, while others are a standard four year program. In addition to mastering how to service and maintain heating and air conditioning systems, you will also study how to design them.
Selecting the appropriate credential program will be dependent on what your long term career goals are, in addition to the time and money that you have to commit. One option is to begin with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after getting some experience in the trade in East Florence AL, eventually returning to acquire a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your approach, be sure to ask the HVAC tech school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Online Courses
Choosing an HVAC program online is one possibility in getting your education and receiving a certificate or degree. Nearly all schools will call for some attendance on campus to complete hands on training. Some also sponsor internship or work-study programs in addition to or as an alternative to practical lab work. But since the rest of the classes can be attended on the web, this approach may be a more practical solution for many East Florence AL students that are short on time. And many online degree programs are less costly than other traditional options. Even commuting expenses from East Florence and study materials can be minimized, helping to make education more economical. And numerous online programs are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your work or family commitments have left you with little time to attend classes, perhaps an HVAC online training program will make it more convenient to fit school into your active lifestyle.
What to Ask HVAC Training Classes
As soon as you have chosen the type of degree or certificate that you wish to obtain, either on campus or online, you can begin to narrow down your selection of schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are numerous HVAC trade schools in the East Florence AL area and across the USA to select from. That's why it is extremely important to have a list of key qualifiers when making school comparisons. As formerly mentioned in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will probably be the first 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. Many HVAC trade schools in the East Florence AL area have attained 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 pertains to an individual program, such as HVAC technology. Verify that the program and school are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency, such as the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping make certain that you acquire a quality education, it may assist in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are frequently unavailable for non-accredited programs. Additionally, a number of states require that the HVAC training course be accredited in order to qualify for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the Heating and Cooling schools you are looking at 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 could suggest that students were unhappy with the course and quit. It could also indicate that the instructors were not qualified to train 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 list of graduates, which may mean more contacts for the school to use for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate can not only affirm 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 graduates secure apprenticeships or jobs.
Apprenticeship Programs. A large number of HVAC vocational programs are taught along with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating vocational and trade schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of HVAC businesses or trade unions. Find out if the schools you are considering have working partnerships with local East Florence AL HVAC companies. An apprenticeship not only provides a rewarding experience by supplying hands-on training, but it also furnishes 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 instructed on are up-to-date and what you will be working with in the field. If you are currently in an internship or an apprenticeship, consult with the HVAC specialist you are working with concerning what you should be looking for. Otherwise, ask a local East Florence AL HVAC company if they can give you some suggestions. Additionally keep in mind that unless you can move, the school must be within commuting distance of your East Florence AL home. Remember that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, besides the added moving costs there may be higher 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 larger classes. Ask if you can monitor a couple of the classes so that you can observe how large they are and witness first hand the interaction between students and instructors. Talk to a few of the students and get their comments concerning class sizes and instruction. Finally, talk with a few of the instructors and find out what their level of expertise is and what certifications or degrees they hold.
Flexible Scheduling. Make sure that the class schedules for the schools you are assessing are flexible enough to handle 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 looking at offer those choices. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Additionally, check out what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, sickness or family emergencies.
Earn Your Heating and Cooling Training and Certification
Choosing the ideal HVAC school course is a critical first step toward a gratifying career in the heating and air conditioning trade. As we have discussed in this article, you should pick a Heating and Cooling training program and a certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have outstanding reputations within the HVAC profession. Other things to search for are sufficient hands-on training and modern facilities. You should visit each of the schools in person that you are most interested in to explore the campus and talk with both the current students and faculty. Attempt to get a feel for the quality of the teaching and the interaction between them. Additionally, ask about scheduling options and if evening or weekend classes are offered if needed. And don't forget to ask about financial aid and student loan options too. If you ask the proper questions as we have laid out in our guidelines for evaluating schools, you'll be able to filter your choices so that you can make an educated decision. With the right training, hard work and commitment, you can eventually become a licensed HVAC professional in East Florence AL.