How to Find the Right Heating and Cooling Certification Training near Enterprise Alabama
Now that you have decided on a career as a heating and cooling professional, the next step is to look for an HVAC vocational school near Enterprise AL. But with so many to select from, how do you select the right one to get the training that you need? Some future students will make their decision based exclusively on the cost of tuition or how near the school is to their home. While these are necessary concerns, they are not the only ones to investigate. Just some of the other details that you need to research 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 addressed in more detail later in this article. But before we examine how to select an HVAC technical school, let's take a look at what a heating and a/c professional does to become a licensed skilled tradesman.
How to Become an HVAC Technician
HVAC is an acronym that is commonly used in the trade that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC technicians provide services for the installation, repair and maintenance of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are generally required to be licensed, though every state and local municipality has its own prerequisites. Earning professional certification is not compulsory, but an optional way for Enterprise AL HVAC techs to establish that they are exceptionally proficient and accomplished in their area of expertise. There are many acknowledged certifications within the industry that are offered. Below are some of the significant 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 may be acquired in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification offers both a professional and a master specialist credential. Two years of professional experience in addition to passing a comprehensive exam are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have three years of experience together with a passing score on the professional level examination. As with NATE, certifications are made available in multiple specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is required for technicians that work with refrigerants. There are three forms of certification available, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Because licensing could be mandated in your location, and you may also wish to earn certification, it's imperative that you enroll in an HVAC technical school that will prepare you for both. And since you will probably be dealing with refrigerants, make sure that the school you choose preps you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
HVAC Degree Schools
There are several choices available for HVAC instruction in a vocational or trade school. You can earn a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Acquiring a certificate will take the least amount of time, usually achieved in just six months, although some programs are longer. A certificate will qualify 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 in the job market and will provide more extensive training than the certificate programs. Following is a brief explanation of each option offered near Enterprise AL.
- Certificate. Usually requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among entry level residential or commercial HVAC professionals. They provide a solid foundation of skills for job opportunities within the trade.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program supplies a more exhaustive background of heating and a/c systems than the certificate program. Generally taking 2 years to complete, a number of degrees incorporate an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is suited 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 learning how to service and maintain heating and air conditioning systems, you will also study how to design them.
Picking the appropriate credential program will be based on what your long term career objectives are, along with the time and money that you have to commit. One approach is to start with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after gaining some experience in the field in Enterprise AL, eventually going back to earn a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your tactic, make sure to ask the HVAC technician school you are considering about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Online Training
Choosing an HVAC program online is one alternative to getting your training and receiving a degree or certificate. Most schools will call for some attendance on campus to take part in hands on training. Some also offer internship or work-study programs in addition to or in place of practical lab work. But since the rest of the classes can be participated in via the internet, this approach may be a more convenient solution for many Enterprise AL students that are pressed for time. And some online degree programs are more economical than other on campus options. Even travelling expenses from Enterprise and study supplies can be reduced, helping to make schooling more economical. And many online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your career or family responsibilities have left you with minimal time to attend classes, maybe an online HVAC degree program will make it less complicated to fit school into your active schedule.
Questions to Ask HVAC Certification Classes
When you have decided on the type of degree or certificate that you would like to acquire, either online or on campus, you can start to narrow down your list of schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are a large number of HVAC trade schools in the Enterprise AL area and all over the USA to pick from. That's why it is essential to have a checklist of key qualifications when making school comparisons. As previously stated in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will most likely be the initial two variables you will consider. Following are several additional ones that you should research before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Many HVAC vocational schools in the Enterprise AL area have earned either a regional or a national accreditation. They may acquire Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to a specific program, for instance HVAC technology. Confirm that the school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency, such as the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping guarantee that you acquire a quality education, it can assist in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are in many cases not available for non-accredited programs. Also, many states mandate that the HVAC training course be accredited for it to be approved for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the HVAC 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 low completion rate might signify that students were dissatisfied with the program and dropped out. It could also indicate that the instructors were not qualified to train 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 may produce more contacts for the school to utilize for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate can not only confirm that the school has an excellent reputation within the trade, but additionally that it has the network of Enterprise AL HVAC employers to assist grads acquire apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. Most HVAC training programs are taught together with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating technical and vocational schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of HVAC businesses or labor unions. Check if the schools you are considering have working partnerships with local Enterprise AL HVAC specialists. An apprenticeship not only provides a rewarding experience by furnishing practical 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 state-of-the-art and what you will be working with in the field. If you are already in an internship or an apprenticeship, consult with the HVAC specialist you are working under concerning what you should be expecting. Otherwise, ask a local Enterprise AL HVAC company if they can give you some suggestions. Additionally keep in mind that unless you are able to relocate, the school must be within commuting distance of your Enterprise AL home. Remember that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides the added moving costs there can be increased tuition charges compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's important that you receive as much individualized instruction as possible, which can be difficult in larger classes. Ask if you can sit in on a few of the classes so that you can see how large they are and experience the interaction between students and teachers. Speak to several of the students and get their feedback concerning class sizes and instruction. Finally, talk with a few of the instructors and learn what their level of experience is and what certifications or degrees they have earned.
Flexible Scheduling. Make sure that the class schedules for the programs you are reviewing are flexible enough to handle your needs. If you are only able to attend classes at night or on weekends near Enterprise AL, verify that the programs you are considering provide those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Additionally, ask what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, illness or family issues.
Get Your Heating and Cooling Certificate or Degree
Choosing the ideal HVAC school program is a critical beginning toward a fulfilling career in the heating and air conditioning industry. As we have covered in this article, you should select a Heating and Cooling training program and a degree or certificate program that are both accredited and have exceptional reputations within the HVAC field. Other features to search for are lots of practical training and state-of-the-art facilities. You need to check out 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 instruction and the interaction between them. In addition, inquire about scheduling choices and whether evening or weekend classes are offered if needed. And don't forget to inquire about financial assistance and student loan options too. If you ask the proper questions as we have outlined in our checklist for comparing schools, you'll be able to narrow down your options so that you can make an educated decision. With the right training, hard work and commitment, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC technician in Enterprise AL.