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How to Pick the Right Heating and Cooling Certification Training near Enterprise Alabama

Enterprise Alabama home A/C condensersOnce you have made a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioner professional, the next action is to find an HVAC trade school near Enterprise AL. But with so many to choose from, how do you select the right one to obtain the training that you require? Some potential students will make their decision based exclusively on the price of tuition or how close the school is to their residence. Although these are important concerns, they are not the only ones to take into account. Some of the other things that you need to investigate are the graduation completion rates of the HVAC schools, their reputations, and if they are accredited by professional trade organizations. These and other benchmarks will be covered in more detail later in this article. But before we examine how to choose an HVAC technical school, let's look at what a heating and cooling specialist does to become a licensed qualified tradesman.

Becoming an HVAC Pro

Enterprise Alabama Heating and Cooling Contractor servicing A/C condenserHVAC is an acronym that is widely used in the business that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC contractors specialize in the installation, maintenance and repair of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are commonly mandated to be licensed, though each state and regional municipality has its own prerequisites. Earning professional certification is not required, but a voluntary way for Enterprise AL HVAC specialists to establish that they are highly qualified and experienced in their area of specialization. There are multiple acknowledged certifications within the industry that are offered. Below are some of the important ones.

  • North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally recognized certification for HVAC technicians. The certification is achieved by passing a proficiency exam and may be received in one or more specialties.
  • HVAC Excellence. This certification offers both a professional and a master specialist credential. 2 years of professional 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 result on the professional level examination. As with NATE, certifications are made available in several specialties.
  • EPA Section 608. This certification is necessary for techs that work with refrigerants. There are 3 forms of certification offered, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.

Because licensing might be mandated in your area, and you may also desire to earn certification, it's important that you choose an HVAC trade school that will train you for both. And since you will probably be handling refrigerants, make sure that the program you decide on readies you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.

HVAC Certificate and Degree Courses

Enterprise Alabama residential heat pump

There are several choices available for HVAC training in a trade or technical school. You can attain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Acquiring a certificate will take the least amount of time, usually accomplished in just 6 months, although some courses are longer. A certificate will qualify you for most HVAC positions, especially if you are licensed and have certification appropriate 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. Normally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among beginning commercial or residential HVAC professionals. They furnish a strong foundation of skills for job opportunities within the industry.
  • Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program supplies a more exhaustive understanding of heating and a/c systems than the certificate program. Usually taking two years to finish, some degrees feature an internship or work-study program.
  • Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is geared 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 mastering 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 dependent on what your long term career goals are, as well as the time and money that you have to commit. One option is to start with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after acquiring some experience in the trade in Enterprise AL, later 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 Courses Online

Choosing an HVAC program online is one possibility in obtaining your training and earning a certificate or degree. Most schools will call for some attendance on campus to take part in practical training. A number also offer internship or work-study programs in addition to or instead of practical lab work. But since the rest of the classes may be participated in via the internet, this alternative may be a more convenient solution for some Enterprise AL students that are short on time. And a number of online degree programs are less expensive than other traditional choices. Even driving expenses from Enterprise and study supplies may be reduced, helping to make education more budget-friendly. And a large number of online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your job or family responsibilities have left you with minimal time to attend classes, perhaps an HVAC online training program will make it easier to fit school into your busy lifestyle.

What to Ask HVAC Certification Classes

Enterprise Alabama HVAC technician repairing water heater

After you have chosen the type of certificate or degree that you desire 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 Enterprise AL area and all over the United States to select from. That's why it is essential to have a checklist of relevant qualifiers when making school assessments. As previously stated in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will probably be the initial two aspects you will consider. Following are several additional ones that you will want to research before enrolling in your school of choice.

Accreditation.  A large number of HVAC vocational programs in the Enterprise AL area have earned either a regional or a national accreditation. They may acquire Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to an individual program, such as HVAC technology. Confirm that the program and school are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting organization, for instance the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping make certain that you acquire a superior education, it can help in securing financial assistance or student loans, which are often not available for non-accredited programs. Furthermore, many states require that the HVAC training program be accredited in order to be approved for licensing.

High Completion Rates.  Ask the Heating and Air Conditioning schools you are considering what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage or portion of students who enroll in and complete the program. A low completion rate could suggest that students were disappointed with the course and quit. It could also indicate that the instructors were not qualified to instruct the students. It's also imperative that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader directory of graduates, which may mean more contacts for the school to employ for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate will 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 graduates obtain apprenticeships or jobs.

Apprenticeship Programs.  Many HVAC trade programs are taught in conjunction 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 contractors or labor unions. Ask if the schools you are considering have referring relationships with local Enterprise AL HVAC specialists. An apprenticeship not only provides a rewarding experience by supplying practical training, but it also supplies job opportunities and helps to build relationships in the area HVAC professional community.

Modern Facilities.  Make certain that the campus facilities and the tools that you will be trained on are state-of-the-art and what you will be using in the field. If you are already in an internship or an apprenticeship, talk to the HVAC specialist you are working with concerning what you should be expecting. Otherwise, ask a local Enterprise AL HVAC contracting company if they can provide some pointers. Also keep in mind that unless you can relocate, the school needs to 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 relocation costs there can be higher tuition fees 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 monitor a few of the classes so that you can see how large they are and experience the interaction between teachers and students. Speak with several of the students and get their feedback regarding class sizes and instruction. Finally, speak with some of the instructors and learn what their level of experience is and what degrees or certifications they hold.

Flexible Scheduling.  Make sure that the class schedules for the schools 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 Enterprise AL, confirm that the programs you are considering provide those options. If you can only attend part-time, make sure that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Also, check out what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, sickness or family responsibilities.

Learn More About Enterprise Heating and Cooling Courses Near You

Earn Your Heating and Cooling Degree and Certification

Picking the right HVAC school program is an important beginning toward a rewarding career in the heating and cooling trade. As we have covered in this article, you should choose a Heating and Cooling training program and a certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have outstanding reputations within the HVAC field. Other things to look for are plenty of practical training and modern facilities. You should check out each of the schools in person that you are most interested in to inspect the campus and speak with both the faculty and current students. Try to get a feel for the quality of the teaching and the interaction between them. Additionally, ask about scheduling choices and whether or not night or weekend classes are available if needed. And remember to ask about financial assistance and student loan options also. If you ask the right questions as we have detailed in our guidelines for evaluating schools, you'll be able to filter your options so that you can make an educated decision. With the proper training, hard work and dedication, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC contractor in Enterprise AL.