How to Select the Right HVAC Certification Class near Foley Alabama
Now that you have made a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioner professional, the next step is to find an HVAC technical school near Foley AL. But with so many to choose from, how do you choose the right one to receive the training that you need? A number of potential students will make their choice based entirely on the price of tuition or how close the school is to their home. Even though these are relevant factors to consider, they are not the only ones to evaluate. Some of the other things 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 additional criteria will be covered in more detail later within this article. But before we explore how to select an HVAC technical school, let's look at what a heating and air conditioning professional does to become a licensed professional tradesman.
How to Become an HVAC Contractor
HVAC is an acronym that is extensively used in the trade that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC techs specialize in the installation, repair and maintenance of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As professional tradesmen, they are generally required to be licensed, although each state and local municipality has its own prerequisites. Earning professional certification is not compulsory, but an alternative way for Foley AL HVAC specialists to establish that they are highly qualified and experienced in their area of expertise. There are many respected certifications within the field that are offered. Following are a few of the significant ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally acknowledged certification for HVAC technicians. The certification is earned by passing a competency exam and may be received 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 required for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have 3 years of experience together with a passing result on the professional level exam. As with NATE, certifications are provided in various specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is required for specialists that work with refrigerants. There are three types of certification offered, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Considering that licensing could be required in your location, and you may also desire to obtain certification, it's important that you select an HVAC technical school that will prepare you for both. And since you will probably be working with refrigerants, make sure that the program you select readies you for passing the EPA Section 608 exams.
HVAC Degree Training Programs
There are a number of choices available for HVAC training in a trade or technical school. You can attain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Obtaining a certificate will take the minimum amount of time, often achieved in just 6 months, though some programs are longer. A certificate will qualify you for most HVAC positions, particularly if you are licensed and have certification appropriate to the position. The degree training programs can provide a competitive edge in the job market and will provide more in-depth training than the certificate programs. Below is a brief description of each option offered near Foley AL.
- Certificate. Normally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among entry level commercial or residential HVAC technicians. They furnish a solid foundation of skills for employment within the industry.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program provides a more comprehensive understanding of heating and cooling systems than the certificate program. Normally taking 2 years to finish, many degrees include an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is geared more for a career in management or even business ownership. Some programs require an Associate Degree, while others are a standard 4 year program. In addition to mastering 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 goals are, in addition to the time and money that you have to commit. One option is to begin with a certificate or even an Associate Degree program, and after getting some experience in the field in Foley AL, subsequently returning to acquire a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your tactic, make sure to ask the HVAC tech school you are considering about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Online Courses
Attending an HVAC school online is one alternative to obtaining your education and earning a degree or certificate. Almost all schools will require some attendance on campus to participate in practical training. Some 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 approach may be a more practical solution for some Foley AL students that are pressed for time. And a number of online degree programs are less expensive than other on campus options. Even commuting expenses from Foley and study materials can be minimized, helping to make education more economical. And many online programs are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your career or family commitments have left you with little time to attend classes, maybe an HVAC online training program will make it easier to fit school into your busy schedule.
What to Ask HVAC Certification Classes
Once you have picked the type of certificate or degree that you would like to earn, either online or on campus, you can start to limit your list of schools. As you are probably aware, there are numerous HVAC trade schools in the Foley AL area and across the USA to pick from. That's why it is imperative to have a list of key qualifications when making school evaluations. As formerly stated in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will undoubtedly be the initial 2 variables you will take into consideration. Following are some additional ones that you will want to research before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Numerous HVAC technical schools in the Foley AL area have earned either a regional or a national accreditation. They can acquire Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school's programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to a specific program, for instance HVAC technology. Verify that the school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization, which includes the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping ensure that you obtain a quality education, it can help in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are in many cases unavailable for non-accredited programs. Furthermore, a number of states mandate that the HVAC training program be accredited in order to qualify for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the Heating and Cooling schools you are considering what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students who enroll in and finish the course. A low completion rate might signify that students were unhappy with the program and quit. It might also mean that the instructors were not competent to instruct the students. It's also important that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader list of alumni, 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 affirm that the school has a good reputation within the industry, but also that it has the network of Foley AL HVAC employers to help grads obtain apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. Many HVAC trade programs are taught in conjunction with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating vocational and trade programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of Heating and Cooling businesses or labor unions. Find out if the schools you are reviewing have referring partnerships with local Foley AL HVAC contractors. An apprenticeship not only provides a valuable experience by supplying hands-on training, but it also supplies job opportunities and helps to form relationships in the regional HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make sure that the campus facilities and the equipment 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 technician you are working with concerning what you should be expecting. Otherwise, ask a local Foley AL HVAC company if they can provide some tips. Also keep in mind that unless you can move, the school needs to be within driving distance of your Foley AL residence. Remember that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides the added relocation costs there may be higher tuition charges compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's important that you receive as much personalized instruction as possible, which can be challenging in larger 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 teachers and students. Talk with a few of the students and get their comments concerning class sizes and instruction. Finally, speak with some of the teachers and find out what their level of expertise is and what degrees or certifications 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 Foley AL, confirm that the schools you are comparing provide those options. If you can only attend part-time, be sure that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Finally, check out what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, illness or family issues.
Earn Your Heating and Cooling Certificate or Degree
Choosing the right HVAC school course is an important beginning toward a fulfilling career in the heating and air conditioning industry. As we have covered in this article, you need to pick a Heating and Cooling training program and a certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have excellent reputations within the HVAC profession. Other things to search for are plenty of practical training and modern facilities. You should visit 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. Attempt to get a feel for the quality of the teaching and the interaction between them. In addition, inquire about scheduling choices and whether or not evening or weekend classes are available if needed. And don't forget to inquire about financial assistance and student loan options too. If you ask the proper questions as we have detailed in our guidelines for assessing schools, you'll be able to narrow down your choices so that you can make an informed decision. With the right training, hard work and dedication, you can eventually become a licensed HVAC specialist in Foley AL.