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How to Find the Right Heating and Cooling Certification Course near Fairhope Alabama

Fairhope Alabama home A/C condensersOnce you have decided on a career as a heating and air conditioner professional, the next action is to choose an HVAC vocational school near Fairhope AL. But with so many to pick from, how do you decide on the right one to obtain the training that you require? A number of prospective students will make their decision based entirely on the price of tuition or how near the school is to their home. While these are relevant factors to consider, they are not the only ones to investigate. A few 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 criteria will be discussed in more detail later within this article. But before we discuss how to select an HVAC technical school, let's look at what a heating and cooling contractor does to become a licensed qualified tradesman.

Becoming an HVAC Tech

Fairhope Alabama Heating and Cooling Tech inspecting air conditioning condenserHVAC is an acronym that is commonly used in the trade that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC professionals specialize in the installation, maintenance and repair of central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are commonly mandated to be licensed, though each state and local municipality has its own requirements. Obtaining professional certification is not compulsory, but an optional means for Fairhope AL HVAC techs to demonstrate that they are highly proficient and accomplished in their area of specialization. There are several respected certifications within the trade that are available. Following are a few of the significant ones.

  • North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally recognized certification for HVAC technicians. The certification is attained by passing a competency exam and may 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 together with passing a comprehensive exam are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have 3 years of experience as well as a passing score on the professional level examination. As with NATE, certifications are offered in various specialties.
  • EPA Section 608. This certification is necessary for technicians that handle refrigerants. There are three forms of certification obtainable, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.

Considering that licensing may be required in your area, and you may also wish to earn certification, it's important that you enroll in an HVAC trade school that will train you for both. And since you will probably be handling refrigerants, make certain that the school you decide on readies you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.

HVAC Certificate and Degree Courses

Fairhope Alabama residential heating pump

There are a number of options offered 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 achieved in as little as 6 months, although some programs are longer. A certificate will qualify you for most HVAC positions, especially if you are licensed and have certification related to the position. The degree training programs may provide a competitive advantage for securing employment and will furnish more extensive training than the certificate programs. Below is a short summary of each credential offered near Fairhope AL.

  • Certificate. Normally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among entry level 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 delivers a more exhaustive knowledge of heating & cooling systems than the certificate program. Usually taking 2 years to finish, some degrees incorporate an internship or work-study program.
  • Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is tailored more for a career in management or even business ownership. Some programs call for an Associate Degree, while others are a traditional 4 year program. In addition to being taught how to service and maintain heating and cooling systems, you will also study how to design them.

Choosing the appropriate credential program will be dependent on what your future career aspirations are, together with the time and money that you have to commit. One approach is to begin with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after getting some experience in the field in Fairhope AL, later going back to obtain a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your strategy, be sure to ask the HVAC technician school you are considering about how their returning student program works.

HVAC Online Schools

Choosing an HVAC school online is one approach to obtaining your training and receiving a certificate or degree. Almost all schools will require some attendance on campus to participate in practical training. Many also offer internship or work-study programs in addition to or in place of practical lab work. But since the rest of the classes may be attended via the internet, this approach may be a more convenient solution for some Fairhope AL students that are short on time. And many online degree programs are less costly than other on campus alternatives. Even commuting expenses from Fairhope and study supplies can be lessened, helping to make schooling more affordable. And many online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your job or family commitments have left you with limited time to attend classes, maybe an HVAC online training program will make it easier to accommodate school into your hectic lifestyle.

Questions to Ask HVAC Training Classes

Fairhope Alabama Heating and Cooling technician installing water heater

When you have decided on the type of certificate or degree that you wish to attain, either online or on campus, you can start to narrow down your list of schools. As you are certainly aware, there are a large number of HVAC trade schools in the Fairhope AL area and across the Country to pick from. That's why it is essential to have a list of relevant qualifications when making school assessments. As formerly stated in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will undoubtedly be the first 2 aspects you will consider. Following are some additional ones that you will want to research before enrolling in your school of choice.

Accreditation.  Numerous HVAC trade programs in the Fairhope AL area have attained either a regional or a national accreditation. They may earn Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to a specific program, for example HVAC technology. Confirm that the program is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization, for example the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping guarantee that you receive a superior education, it may assist in securing financial assistance or student loans, which are in many cases not available for non-accredited schools. Furthermore, a number of states mandate that the HVAC training course be accredited in order 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 of students who enroll in and finish the program. A lower completion rate may indicate that students were dissatisfied with the program and dropped out. It might also suggest that the teachers were not qualified to train the students. It's similarly important that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader list of alumni, which can result in more contacts for the school to employ for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate can not only validate that the school has an excellent reputation within the trade, but also that it has the network of Fairhope AL HVAC employers to assist graduates obtain apprenticeships or jobs.

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

Modern Facilities.  Make sure that the campus 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, consult with the HVAC tech you are working with concerning what you should be looking for. Otherwise, ask a local Fairhope AL HVAC company if they can give you some pointers. Additionally bear in mind that unless you are willing to move, the school needs to be within commuting distance of your Fairhope AL residence. Remember that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides the added relocation costs there may be increased tuition fees compared to in-state residents.

Smaller Classes.   It's desirable that you get as much personalized training 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 observe how large they are and experience the interaction between teachers and students. Speak to a few of the students and get their opinions regarding class sizes and instruction. Last, talk to a few of the instructors and learn what their level of experience is and what certifications or degrees they hold.

Flexible Scheduling.  Verify that the class schedules for the programs you are reviewing are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Fairhope AL, verify that the schools you are considering provide those choices. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, be sure that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Finally, ask what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, illness or family issues.

Find Out More About Fairhope HVAC Training Classes In Your Area

Get Your Heating and Cooling Degree and Certification

Finding the ideal HVAC training program is a critical beginning toward a gratifying career in the heating & cooling industry. As we have discussed in this article, you need to choose a Heating and Cooling training program and a degree or certificate program that are both accredited and have outstanding reputations within the HVAC trade. Other factors to search for are lots of practical training and state-of-the-art facilities. You should check out each of the schools in person that you are most interested in to explore the campus and speak with both the current students and faculty. 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 night or weekend classes are available if needed. And remember to ask about financial aid and student loan options as well. If you ask the proper questions as we have detailed in our guidelines for comparing schools, you'll be able to filter your options so that you can make an educated decision. With the right training, hard work and commitment, you can eventually become a licensed HVAC professional in Fairhope AL.