How to Pick the Right HVAC Degree Program near Enterprise Alabama
Once you have decided on a career as a heating and cooling specialist, the next step is to locate an HVAC vocational school near Enterprise AL. But with so many to choose from, how do you pick the ideal one to receive the training that you require? Many potential students will make their selection based entirely on the cost of tuition or how near the school is to their home. Although these are relevant factors to consider, they are not the only ones to take into account. Some of the other factors that you need to look into are the graduation rates of the HVAC schools, their reputations, and if they are accredited by professional trade organizations. Those and other benchmarks will be covered in more detail later in this article. But before we discuss how to select an HVAC trade school, let's take a look at what a heating and a/c contractor does to become a licensed professional tradesman.
How to Become an HVAC Pro
HVAC is an acronym that is commonly used in the trade 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 professional tradesmen, they are commonly mandated to be licensed, however each state and local municipality has its own criteria. Obtaining professional certification is not compulsory, but an optional means for Enterprise AL HVAC technicians to demonstrate that they are highly proficient and accomplished in their area of expertise. There are several respected certifications within the field that are available. Following are a few 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 proficiency exam and can be acquired in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification makes available both a professional and a master specialist credential. 2 years of professional experience in addition to passing a comprehensive exam are needed for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have three years of experience along with a passing result on the professional level examination. Similar to NATE, certifications are offered in several specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is necessary for specialists that work with refrigerants. There are 3 forms of certification obtainable, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Because licensing may be required in your area, and you may also intend to acquire certification, it's important that you choose an HVAC trade school that will prepare you for both. And since you will more than likely be handling refrigerants, make certain that the program you select readies you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.
HVAC Degree and Certificate Classes
There are several choices offered 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 as little as 6 months, although some courses are longer. A certificate will train you for most HVAC positions, particularly if you are licensed and have certification related to the position. The degree programs might provide a competitive advantage for securing employment and will deliver more comprehensive training than the certificate programs. Below is a brief summary of each credential offered near Enterprise AL.
- Certificate. Generally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among entry level commercial or residential HVAC technicians. They furnish a strong foundation of skills for job opportunities within the industry.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program provides a more exhaustive knowledge of heating and a/c systems than the certificate program. Usually requiring two years to complete, some degrees feature an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is tailored more towards a career in management or even 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 cooling systems, you will also learn how to design them.
Picking the appropriate credential program will be based on what your long term career aspirations are, along with the time and money that you have to invest. One possibility is to start with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after getting some experience in the trade in Enterprise AL, eventually going back to obtain a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your strategy, make sure to ask the HVAC tech school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Online Training
Choosing an HVAC program online is one possibility in attaining your training and earning a degree or certificate. Most schools will call for some attendance on campus to complete hands on training. Many also offer internship or work-study programs in addition to or in place of practical lab work. But since the balance of the classes may be participated in online, this alternative may be a more convenient solution for many Enterprise AL students that are short on time. And many online degree programs are less expensive than other traditional choices. Even commuting expenses from Enterprise and study materials may be reduced, helping to make education more economical. And many online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your work or family obligations have left you with little time to attend classes, maybe an HVAC online training program will make it more convenient to accommodate school into your hectic schedule.
Questions For HVAC Training Classes
Once you have decided on the type of certificate or degree that you wish to earn, 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 United States to select from. That's why it is essential to have a list of key qualifiers when making school assessments. As previously mentioned in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will undoubtedly be the first two variables you will look at. Following are several additional ones that you need to research before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Many HVAC vocational programs in the Enterprise AL area have acquired either a regional or a national accreditation. They can earn Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to a specific program, such as HVAC technology. Make certain that the school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting organization, for example the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping make certain that you obtain a quality education, it may assist in securing financial aid or student loans, which are frequently not available for non-accredited schools. Also, 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 course. A low completion rate might indicate that students were disappointed with the program and quit. It could also signify that the teachers were not competent to train the students. It's similarly 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 produce more contacts for the school to employ for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate can not only affirm that the school has a good reputation within the field, but also that it has the network of Enterprise AL HVAC employers to assist grads secure apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. Many HVAC trade programs are taught in conjunction with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating vocational and technical schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of Heating and Cooling businesses or trade unions. Check if the schools you are reviewing have referring relationships with local Enterprise AL HVAC professionals. An apprenticeship not only provides a rewarding experience by furnishing practical training, but it also supplies employment opportunities and helps to form relationships in the area HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make certain that the school facilities and the tools that you will be instructed on are up-to-date and what you will be working with in the field. If you are already in an internship or an apprenticeship, talk to the HVAC technician you are working under regarding what you should be looking for. Otherwise, ask a local Enterprise AL HVAC contractor if they can give you some tips. Additionally bear in mind that unless you can relocate, the school must be within driving distance of your Enterprise AL residence. Take note that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to moving costs there might be higher tuition charges compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's desirable that you get as much personalized instruction as possible, which can be challenging in bigger classes. Ask if you can monitor a few of the classes so that you can observe how big they are and witness first hand the interaction between students and teachers. Speak with a few of the students and get their comments concerning class sizes and instruction. Finally, speak to some of the teachers and find out what their level of expertise is and what certifications or degrees they hold.
Flexible Scheduling. Make sure that the class schedules for the schools you are assessing are flexible enough to handle your needs. If you are only able to go to classes at night or on weekends near Enterprise AL, check that the programs you are looking at offer those options. If you can only attend part-time, be sure that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Also, ask what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, illness or family responsibilities.
Learn More About Enterprise Heating and Cooling Trade Schools Near You
Get Your Heating and Cooling Certificate or Degree
Picking the right HVAC school program is a critical beginning toward a fulfilling career in the heating and air conditioning field. 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 community. Other features to search for are sufficient hands-on 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 current students and faculty. Try to get a feel for the quality of the instruction and the interaction between them. In addition, inquire about scheduling choices and whether or not evening or weekend classes are offered if needed. And remember to inquire about financial assistance and student loan options as well. If you ask the appropriate questions as we have outlined in our checklist for comparing schools, you'll be able to filter 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 technician in Enterprise AL.