How to Enroll In the Right Heating and Cooling Certification Training near Florence Alabama
Once you have come to a decision on a career as a heating and cooling specialist, the next action is to look for an HVAC trade school near Florence AL. But with so many to select from, how do you decide on the best one to receive the training that you require? A number of potential students will make their selection based entirely 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. Some of the other details that you need to look into are the graduation completion rates of the HVAC schools, their reputations, and if they are accredited by professional trade organizations. Those and other criteria will be addressed in more detail later in this article. But before we examine how to select an HVAC trade school, let's look at what a heating and cooling specialist does to become a licensed qualified tradesman.
How to Become an HVAC Professional
HVAC is an acronym that is widely used in the industry that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC techs provide services for the installation, repair and maintenance of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are generally required to be licensed, although every state and regional municipality has its own criteria. Attaining professional certification is not required, but an alternative way for Florence AL HVAC technicians to establish that they are highly skilled and experienced in their area of specialization. There are multiple acknowledged certifications within the industry that are available. Here are a few of the significant ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally acknowledged certification for HVAC techs. The certification is earned by passing a competency examination and can be earned in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification makes available both a professional and a master specialist credential. 2 years of field experience as well as passing a comprehensive examination 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 made available in several specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is necessary for techs that handle refrigerants. There are 3 types of certification available, one for small appliances, and the other two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Considering that licensing could be mandated in your location, and you may also intend to earn certification, it's imperative that you choose an HVAC trade school that will train you for both. And since you will most likely be dealing with refrigerants, make certain that the program you pick readies you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
HVAC Degree Classes
There are several choices available for HVAC instruction in a technical or trade school. You can earn a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Obtaining a certificate will take the minimum amount of time, typically achieved in just six months, although some programs are longer. A certificate will qualify you for the majority of HVAC positions, especially if you are licensed and have certification applicable to the position. The degree training programs might provide a competitive edge in the job market and will deliver more in-depth training than the certificate programs. Following is a brief description of each credential offered near Florence AL.
- Certificate. Normally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are very popular among entry level commercial or residential HVAC professionals. They furnish a solid foundation of skills for job opportunities within the industry.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program delivers a more comprehensive background of heating & cooling systems than the certificate program. Generally requiring 2 years to finish, a number of degrees incorporate an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is geared more towards a career in management or even business ownership. Some programs call for an Associate Degree, while others are a standard 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.
Selecting the right 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 perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after gaining some experience in the field in Florence AL, eventually going back to acquire a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your tactic, make certain to ask the HVAC tech school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Schools Online
Enrolling in an HVAC school online is one possibility in getting your training and receiving a certificate or degree. Nearly all schools will require some attendance on campus to take part in practical training. Some also sponsor internship or work-study programs in addition to or as an alternative to practical lab work. But since the rest of the classes can be attended on the web, this approach may be a more practical solution for some Florence AL students that are short on time. And many online degree programs are cheaper than other on campus choices. Even travelling expenses from Florence and study materials can be lessened, helping to make schooling more affordable. And a large number of online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your work or family responsibilities have left you with minimal time to attend classes, maybe an online HVAC degree program will make it more convenient to fit school into your active schedule.
What to Ask HVAC Certification Courses
Once you have decided on the type of degree or certificate that you want to obtain, either on campus or online, you can start to narrow down your list of schools. As you are probably aware, there are a large number of HVAC technical schools in the Florence AL area and throughout the USA to choose from. That's why it is imperative to have a list of key qualifications when making school evaluations. As formerly mentioned in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will most likely be the initial 2 factors you will consider. Following are several additional ones that you need to explore before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. A large number of HVAC vocational programs in the Florence 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 relates to an individual program, for instance HVAC technology. Make certain that the program and school are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency, for instance the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping guarantee that you get a quality education, it can assist in securing financial assistance or student loans, which are in many cases unavailable for non-accredited schools. Also, many states require 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 of students who enroll in and complete the course. A low completion rate could suggest that students were disappointed with the program and dropped out. It may also signify that the instructors were not qualified to train the students. It's also essential that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader list of graduates, which can mean more contacts for the school to use for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate can not only validate that the school has a good reputation within the trade, but also that it has the network of Florence AL HVAC employers to help graduates obtain apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. Most HVAC technical 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 within their network of Heating and Cooling companies or trade unions. Find out if the schools you are comparing have referring relationships with local Florence AL HVAC contractors. An apprenticeship not only offers a valuable experience by furnishing practical training, but it also provides employment opportunities and helps to establish 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 state-of-the-art and what you will be working with on the job. If you are currently in an internship or an apprenticeship, consult with the HVAC tech you are working under regarding what you should be looking for. If not, ask a local Florence AL HVAC company if they can provide some pointers. Additionally keep in mind that unless you are able to relocate, the school must be within driving distance of your Florence AL residence. Remember that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, besides the added moving costs there might be increased tuition fees compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's desirable that you receive as much personalized training as possible, which can be challenging in bigger classes. Ask if you can monitor some of the classes so that you can observe how big they are and experience the interaction between students and teachers. Talk to several of the students and get their comments relating to class sizes and instruction. Last, talk with a few of the instructors and learn what their level of expertise is and what certifications or degrees they have earned.
Flexible Scheduling. Confirm that the class schedules for the programs you are evaluating are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Florence AL, confirm that the programs you are looking at provide those choices. If you can only attend part-time, be sure that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Also, ask what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Get Your Heating and Cooling Training and Certification
Enrolling in the right HVAC training program is a critical beginning toward a fulfilling career in the heating & cooling field. As we have discussed in this article, you should choose a Heating and Cooling training program and a degree or certificate program that are both accredited and have excellent reputations within the HVAC profession. Other factors to search for are sufficient hands-on training and state-of-the-art facilities. You need to visit each of the schools personally that you are most interested in to tour the campus and talk with both the faculty and current students. Try to get a feel for the quality of the training and the interaction between them. Also, inquire 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 also. If you ask the appropriate questions as we have laid out in our guidelines for comparing schools, you'll be able to narrow down your choices so that you can make an educated decision. With the proper training, hard work and dedication, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC specialist in Florence AL.