How to Select the Right Heating and Cooling Certification Course near Enterprise Alabama
Once you have come to a decision on a career as a heating and cooling specialist, the next step is to choose an HVAC vocational school near Enterprise AL. But with so many to select from, how do you pick the right one to get the training that you need? Some prospective students will make their choice based solely on the cost of tuition or how near the school is to their home. Even though these are necessary factors to consider, they are not the only ones to investigate. 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 benchmarks will be addressed in more detail later in this article. But before we tackle how to choose an HVAC vocational school, let's take a look at what a heating and cooling professional does to become a licensed professional tradesman.
How to Become an HVAC Professional
HVAC is an acronym that is commonly used in the business that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC technicians specialize in 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 every state and regional municipality has its own criteria. Earning professional certification is not mandatory, but an optional means for Enterprise AL HVAC specialists to prove that they are exceptionally qualified and experienced in their area of expertise. There are many 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 recognized certification for HVAC technicians. The certification is achieved by passing a proficiency examination 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 professional experience together with passing a comprehensive examination are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have three years of experience along with a passing result on the professional level examination. As with NATE, certifications are provided in various specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is required for specialists 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.
Considering that licensing might be required in your area, and you may also desire to acquire certification, it's essential that you select an HVAC technical school that will prepare you for both. And since you will most likely be handling refrigerants, make certain that the program you choose preps you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.
HVAC Degree Classes
There are a variety of choices available for HVAC training in a vocational or trade school. You can earn a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Obtaining a certificate will take the least amount of time, often accomplished in just six months, however some courses are longer. A certificate will qualify you for the majority of HVAC positions, particularly if you are licensed and have certification related to the position. The degree programs can provide a competitive edge in the job market and will provide more extensive training than the certificate programs. Below is a brief description of each credential offered near Enterprise AL.
- Certificate. Normally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among entry level residential or commercial HVAC specialists. They furnish a strong foundation of skills for employment within the industry.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program delivers a more comprehensive knowledge of heating & cooling systems than the certificate program. Usually requiring two years to complete, a number of degrees incorporate an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is tailored more towards a career in management as well as business ownership. Some programs require an Associate Degree, while others are a conventional 4 year program. In addition to being taught how to service and maintain heating and air conditioning systems, you will also study how to design them.
Choosing the ideal credential program will be dependent on what your long term career aspirations are, in addition to the time and money that you have to invest. One option is to start with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after gaining some experience in the field in Enterprise AL, subsequently returning to obtain a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your tactic, make certain to ask the HVAC technician school you are considering about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Courses Online
Attending an HVAC program online is one possibility in attaining your education and earning a degree or certificate. Nearly all schools will call for some attendance on campus to take part in hands on training. A number also sponsor internship or work-study programs in addition to or in place of practical lab work. But since the remainder of the classes may be attended via the internet, this alternative may be a more practical solution for some Enterprise AL students that are pressed for time. And many online degree programs are less expensive than other on campus choices. Even driving expenses from Enterprise and study materials can be lessened, helping to make schooling more budget-friendly. And numerous online programs are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your career or family responsibilities have left you with limited time to attend classes, maybe an online HVAC degree program will make it easier to fit school into your active lifestyle.
Questions to Ask HVAC Training Classes
As soon as you have selected the type of certificate or degree that you desire to earn, either on campus or online, you can start to limit your selection of schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are many HVAC vocational schools in the Enterprise AL area and across the USA to select from. That's why it is extremely important to have a list of important qualifications when making school evaluations. As formerly stated in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will probably be the initial two aspects 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 attained either a regional or a national accreditation. They can attain 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. Make certain that the program and school are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization, which includes the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping make certain that you obtain a quality education, it can assist in obtaining financial assistance or student loans, which are often unavailable for non-accredited programs. Also, many states mandate that the HVAC training program be accredited in order to qualify for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the HVAC schools you are considering 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 may indicate that students were disappointed with the program and dropped out. It may also suggest 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 more extensive directory of alumni, which can produce more contacts for the school to use for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate will not only affirm 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. Most HVAC vocational 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 Heating and Cooling businesses or trade unions. Ask if the schools you are comparing have working relationships with local Enterprise AL HVAC professionals. 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 sure that the school facilities and the tools that you will be trained on are up-to-date and what you will be using in the field. If you are currently in an internship or an apprenticeship, check with the HVAC specialist you are working under concerning what you should be expecting. If not, ask a local Enterprise AL HVAC company if they can provide some tips. Additionally bear in mind that unless you can move, 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, in addition to moving costs there may be higher tuition fees compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's desirable that you get as much individualized instruction as possible, which can be challenging in bigger 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. Talk with some of the students and get their feedback concerning class sizes and instruction. Finally, talk with a few of the instructors and find out what their level of expertise is and what degrees or certifications they hold.
Flexible Scheduling. Confirm that the class schedules for the programs you are assessing are flexible enough to handle your needs. If you are only able to go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Enterprise AL, check that the programs you are reviewing provide those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Also, ask what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, sickness or family issues.
Earn Your HVAC Training and Certification
Selecting the ideal HVAC training program is a crucial beginning toward a rewarding career in the heating and air conditioning trade. As we have covered 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 field. Other things to search for are plenty of hands-on training and state-of-the-art facilities. You should check out each of the schools personally 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 instruction and the interaction between them. In addition, ask about scheduling choices and whether or not night 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 outlined in our guidelines for evaluating schools, you'll be able to narrow down your choices 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 Enterprise AL.