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How to Find the Right HVAC Certification Class near East Florence Alabama

East Florence Alabama home air conditioning condensersOnce you have come to a decision on a career as a heating and cooling professional, the next step is to locate an HVAC technical school near East Florence AL. But with so many to pick from, how do you choose the ideal one to get the training that you need? Many potential students will make their choice based entirely on the price of tuition or how near the school is to their home. Although these are important considerations, they are not the only ones to take into account. Just some of the other details that you need to look into 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 discussed in more detail later within this article. But before we discuss how to choose an HVAC trade school, let's take a look at what a heating and cooling specialist does to become a licensed skilled tradesman.

Becoming an HVAC Professional

East Florence Alabama Heating and Cooling Contractor servicing A/C condenserHVAC is an acronym that is frequently used in the trade that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC professionals provide services for the installation, maintenance and repair 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 local municipality has its own criteria. Acquiring professional certification is not mandatory, but an alternative means for East Florence AL HVAC technicians to demonstrate that they are highly skilled and experienced in their area of expertise. There are a number of respected certifications within the trade that are available. Here are a few of the important ones.

  • North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally acknowledged certification for HVAC techs. The certification is earned by passing a competency examination 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 field experience in addition to passing a comprehensive exam are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have 3 years of experience together with a passing result on the professional level exam. Similar to NATE, certifications are made available in various specialties.
  • EPA Section 608. This certification is necessary for specialists that work with refrigerants. There are three forms of certification obtainable, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.

Because licensing might be required in your area, and you may also intend to acquire certification, it's important that you choose an HVAC vocational school that will train you for both. And since you will more than likely be handling refrigerants, make certain that the school you choose prepares you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.

HVAC Degree and Certificate Courses

East Florence Alabama residential heating pump

There are a number of choices available for HVAC training in a technical or vocational school. You can obtain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Earning a certificate will take the lesser period of time, typically accomplished in just 6 months, however 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 might provide a competitive edge for securing employment and will deliver more comprehensive training than the certificate programs. Below is a short summary of each option offered near East Florence AL.

  • Certificate. Usually requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among entry level commercial or residential HVAC professionals. They provide a solid foundation of skills for employment within the trade.
  • Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program delivers a more comprehensive background of heating & cooling systems than the certificate program. Typically requiring 2 years to finish, many degrees include an internship or work-study program.
  • Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is geared more towards 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 air conditioning systems, you will also learn how to design them.

Selecting the ideal credential program will be dependent on what your future career objectives are, as well as the time and financial resources that you have to commit. One approach is to start with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after acquiring some experience in the trade in East Florence AL, eventually going back to obtain 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 Training

Attending an HVAC program online is one possibility to attaining your education and receiving a degree or certificate. Almost all schools will call for some attendance on campus to take part in hands on training. Many also sponsor internship or work-study programs in addition to or instead of practical lab work. But since the rest of the classes can be participated in via the internet, 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 costly than other on campus options. Even commuting expenses from East Florence and study supplies can be lessened, helping to make education more affordable. And many online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your career or family commitments have left you with limited time to attend classes, maybe an HVAC online training program will make it easier to fit school into your active schedule.

Questions to Ask HVAC Training Programs

East Florence Alabama HVAC tech installing water heater

When you have picked the type of certificate or degree that you wish to attain, either online or on campus, you can begin to narrow down your selection of schools. As you are probably aware, there are a large number of HVAC vocational schools in the East Florence AL area and across the USA to pick from. That's why it is imperative to have a checklist of important qualifications when making school comparisons. As formerly mentioned in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will undoubtedly be the initial two factors you will consider. Following are some additional ones that you need to research before enrolling in your school of choice.

Accreditation.  A large number of HVAC vocational schools in the East Florence AL area have acquired either a regional or a national accreditation. They can earn Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to an individual program, for example HVAC technology. Verify that the program is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting organization, 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 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 looking at what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage or portion of students who enroll in and finish the course. A lower completion rate could indicate that students were unhappy with the course and dropped out. It might also signify that the instructors were not competent to instruct the students. It's also imperative that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive list of alumni, which may result in more contacts for the school to employ 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 field, but additionally that it has the network of East Florence AL HVAC employers to help graduates secure apprenticeships or employment.

Apprenticeship Programs.  Many HVAC training programs are taught together with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating trade and vocational schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of HVAC contractors or trade unions. Find out if the schools you are reviewing have referring partnerships with local East Florence AL HVAC contractors. An apprenticeship not only offers a valuable experience by supplying practical training, but it also provides job opportunities and helps to build relationships in the local HVAC professional community.

Modern Facilities.  Confirm that the school facilities and the tools that you will be instructed on are state-of-the-art and what you will be working with on the job. If you are presently in an internship or an apprenticeship, talk to the HVAC tech you are working under regarding what you should be expecting. Otherwise, ask a local East Florence AL HVAC contracting company if they can give you some pointers. Additionally keep in mind that unless you are willing to move, the school must be within commuting distance of your East Florence AL home. Take note that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, besides the added relocation costs there can 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 larger classes. Ask if you can monitor a few of the classes so that you can observe how large they are and witness first hand the interaction between students and instructors. Talk to some of the students and get their comments relating to class sizes and instruction. Last, talk to a few of the teachers and find out what their level of expertise is and what degrees or certifications they have earned.

Flexible Scheduling.  Make sure that the class schedules for the programs you are evaluating are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you are only able to attend classes in the evening or on weekends near East Florence AL, verify that the programs you are comparing provide those options. If you can only attend part-time, be sure that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Also, check out what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, illness or family issues.

Find Out More About East Florence Heating and Cooling Training Programs Near You

Earn Your HVAC Certificate or Degree

Choosing the ideal HVAC school program is a crucial first step toward a fulfilling career in the heating and cooling industry. As we have addressed 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 profession. Other factors to look for are sufficient hands-on training and state-of-the-art 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 faculty and current students. Try to get a feel for the quality of the teaching and the interaction between them. In addition, ask about scheduling choices and whether or not evening or weekend classes are available if needed. And don't forget to inquire about financial aid and student loan options as well. If you ask the proper questions as we have detailed in our checklist for assessing schools, you'll be able to narrow down your options so that you can make an informed decision. With the proper training, hard work and dedication, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC professional in East Florence AL.