How to Find the Right HVAC Program near East Florence Alabama
Once you have decided on a career as a heating and air conditioning technician, the next action is to locate an HVAC trade 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 future students will make their decision based exclusively on the price of tuition or how close the school is to their home. Even though these are significant concerns, they are not the only ones to evaluate. Just 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 additional criteria will be covered in more detail later within this article. But before we examine how to pick an HVAC technical school, let's look at what a heating and air conditioning professional does to become a licensed skilled tradesman.
Becoming an HVAC Contractor
HVAC is an acronym that is frequently used in the trade that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC technicians provide services for the installation, maintenance and repair of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are generally required to be licensed, though every state and regional municipality has its own prerequisites. Earning professional certification is not required, but an optional way for East Florence AL HVAC techs to demonstrate that they are highly qualified and knowledgeable in their area of specialization. There are a number of recognized certifications within the trade that are offered. Following are some of the significant ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally recognized certification for HVAC techs. The certification is earned 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 field experience as well as passing a comprehensive exam are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have 3 years of experience in addition to a passing score on the professional level exam. As with NATE, certifications are offered in several specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is required for technicians that handle refrigerants. There are three types of certification offered, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Because licensing might be required in your location, and you may also intend to earn certification, it's imperative that you enroll in an HVAC technical school that will prepare you for both. And since you will more than likely be dealing with refrigerants, make sure that the school you select prepares you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
HVAC Degree Schools
There are a variety of options offered for HVAC instruction in a technical or vocational school. You can earn a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Acquiring a certificate will take the lesser period of time, often completed in as little as six months, although some courses are longer. A certificate will train you for the majority of HVAC positions, especially if you are licensed and have certification relevant to the position. The degree programs may 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 option offered near East Florence AL.
- Certificate. Generally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among beginning commercial or residential HVAC technicians. They provide a solid foundation of skills for job opportunities within the industry.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program provides a more exhaustive understanding of heating and cooling systems than the certificate program. Normally requiring two years to complete, a number of degrees feature 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 standard four 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 ideal credential program will be based on what your long term career aspirations are, together with the time and money that you have to commit. One approach is to begin with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after gaining some experience in the field in East Florence AL, subsequently returning to obtain a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your approach, make certain to ask the HVAC technician school you are considering about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Training Online
Attending an HVAC program online is one alternative to attaining your training and receiving a degree or certificate. Most schools will call for some attendance on campus to take part in practical training. A number also provide internship or work-study programs in addition to or as an alternative to practical lab work. But since the remainder 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 pressed for time. And a number of online degree programs are less expensive than other on campus options. Even commuting expenses from East Florence and study materials may be minimized, helping to make schooling more budget-friendly. And many online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your job or family commitments have left you with little time to attend classes, maybe an HVAC online training program will make it easier to fit school into your busy schedule.
Questions to Ask HVAC Certification Courses
After you have selected the type of degree or certificate that you would like to earn, either on campus or online, you can begin to limit your selection of schools. As you are probably aware, there are many HVAC vocational schools in the East Florence AL area and all over the Country to pick from. That's why it is extremely important to have a checklist of key qualifications when making school assessments. As formerly mentioned in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will undoubtedly be the first 2 variables you will take into consideration. Following are several additional ones that you will want to research before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. A large number of HVAC technical schools in the East Florence AL area have received either a regional or a national accreditation. They can receive Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to a specific program, for instance HVAC technology. Confirm that the school and program are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization, for example the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping ensure that you obtain a superior education, it can assist in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are often not available for non-accredited schools. Furthermore, some states mandate that the HVAC training course 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 could signify that students were dissatisfied with the course and dropped out. It might also suggest that the instructors were not competent to train the students. It's also important that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive list of alumni, which may mean more contacts for the school to utilize for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate will not only validate that the school has an excellent reputation within the industry, but also that it has the network of East Florence AL HVAC employers to help students secure apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. Numerous HVAC technical programs are taught along with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating vocational and trade programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of Heating and Cooling companies or trade unions. Check if the schools you are reviewing have referring relationships with local East Florence AL HVAC specialists. An apprenticeship not only provides a rewarding experience by furnishing hands-on training, but it also furnishes employment opportunities and helps to form relationships in the area HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Confirm that the campus facilities and the equipment that you will be trained on are up-to-date and what you will be working with on the job. If you are already in an internship or an apprenticeship, check with the HVAC specialist you are working under regarding what you should be looking for. If not, ask a local East Florence AL HVAC company if they can give you some suggestions. Additionally bear in mind that unless you are willing to relocate, the school must 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 can be higher tuition charges compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's important that you receive as much individualized training as possible, which can be challenging in bigger classes. Ask if you can sit in on some of the classes so that you can observe how large they are and experience the interaction between students and teachers. Talk to a few of the students and get their feedback relating to class sizes and instruction. Last, speak with some of the instructors and learn what their level of expertise is and what certifications or degrees they have earned.
Flexible Scheduling. Confirm that the class schedules for the schools you are reviewing are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near East Florence AL, check that the programs you are considering provide those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Also, ask what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, illness or family issues.
Get Your HVAC Training and Certification
Enrolling in the ideal HVAC school course is a critical beginning toward a rewarding career in the heating and air conditioning field. As we have covered in this article, you need to pick a Heating and Cooling training program and a degree or certificate program that are both accredited and have excellent reputations within the HVAC community. 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 inspect 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. In addition, inquire about scheduling options and whether night or weekend classes are available if needed. And remember to ask about financial aid and student loan options too. If you ask the right questions as we have detailed 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 professional in East Florence AL.